Politics of Intellectual Property
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Politics of Intellectual Property

Contestation Over the Ownership, Use, and Control of Knowledge and Information

Edited by Sebastian Haunss and Kenneth C. Shadlen

This book offers empirical analyses of conflicts over the ownership, control, and use of knowledge and information in developed and developing countries.
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Chapter 8: Intellectual Property Rights in the Digital Movie Industry: Contemporary Political Conflicts in Germany

Lars Bretthauer


Lars Bretthauer INTRODUCTION With the market introduction of digital technologies of reproduction and consumption (DVD, DVD- and CD-burners, peer-to-peer technology) during the late 1990s in Germany, political conflicts emerged among artists, companies and consumers in the movie industry, state actors, hardware-producers and German civil society actors. As in many other countries, the German movie industry started a campaign with the slogan ‘Copythieves are criminals’, criticising consumers for the non-licensed appropriation, exchange and consumption of digital movies. At the same time, disputes evolved between companies and movie artists about the limits of the German Urheberrecht (copyright law) in the digital age. These conflicts were concerned with the different shares companies and artists should earn out of the production and distribution of movies and the economic potentials of the industry’s transformation in the digital age. Simultaneously the revision of the German Filmförderungsgesetz (film funding law) fostered the strategic reorientation of state subsidies for movie production from an artistically oriented form to a mode of industrial policy. In this chapter, I will discuss these three different lines of political conflict in the processes of copyright and film funding law-making in the period from 1998 until 2008 in Germany. These laws have undergone a process of revision since the digitalisation of the industry. Drawing on contributions from materialist state theories (Gramsci 1971; Jessop 1990; Poulantzas 1999 [1978]), I will discuss how different social forces engaged in the processes of law-making and how they benefited from the re-regulation of movie politics. The focus of...

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