The Author-Performer Divide in Intellectual Property Law: A Comparative Analysis of the American, Australian, British and French Legal Frameworks
Pavis, Mathilde Goizane Alice
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
To pursue publication opportunities
Western intellectual property frameworks have at least one feature in common: performers are less protected than authors. This situation knows many justifications, although all but one have been dismissed by the literature: performers are simply less creative than authors. As a result, the legal protection covering their work has been proportionally reduced compared to that of their authorial peers. This thesis investigates this phenomenon that it calls the 'author-performer divide'. It uncovers the culturally-rooted principles and legal reasoning that policy-makers and judges of Australia, France, the United Kingdom and the United States have developed to create in the legal narrative a hierarchy between authors and performers. It reveals that those intellectual property systems, though continuously reformed, still contain outdated conceptions of creativity based on the belief in ex nihilo creation and over-intellectualised representations of the creative process. Those two precepts combined have led legal discourse to portray performers as their authors' puppets, thus underserving of authorship themselves. This thesis reviews arguments raised against improving the performers' regime to challenge the preconception of performers as uncreative agents and questions the divide it supports. To this end, it seeks to update the representations of creativity currently conveyed in the law by drawing on the findings of other academic disciplines such as creativity research, performance theories as well as music, theatre and dance studies. This comparative inter-disciplinary study aims to move current legal debates on performers' rights away from the recurring themes and repeated arguments in the scholarship such as issues of fixation or of competing claims, all of which have made conversations stagnate. By including disciplines beyond the law, this analysis seeks to advance the legal literature on the question of performers' intellectual property protection and shift thinking about performative forms of creativity.
PhD in Law