Wednesday 2 September 2015

Neighbouring rights and Fascist Italy: a challenging article

Life is full of surprises. Volume 5 issue 3 of the Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property (QMJIP) has just been published, and with it comes news of its choice of free-access-for-all-readers article: it's "Protecting the musicians and/or the record industry? On the history of ‘neighbouring rights’ and the role of Fascist Italy". The author is Copyriot anti-copyright blogger Rasmus Fleischer (Department of Economic History, Stockholm University) and the abstract reads like this:
"The early history of the so-called ‘neighbouring rights’, as part of the history of copyright, has so far been given very little attention by scholars. This article sheds light on a European contest over the rights in sound recordings during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. This forms an important part of the background to the Rome Convention of 1961. The article first looks separately at how musicians’ unions and the record industry were raising different demands for protective legislation, motivated by the use of new electronic media. At the beginning, no one imagined that these protections would be bundled together as ‘neighbouring rights’. While the International Labour Organization (ILO) put great efforts into creating a convention protecting only the performers, another actor turned out to be more influential in the long run, proposing a hierarchical bundling of rights in which only record companies were entitled to compensation for the use of recordings. This actor was the Fascist government of Italy. The article argues that there are some continuities from the legal philosophy of Italian Fascism to the system of ‘neighbouring rights’ established in the Rome Convention".
A good deal of effort has gone into identifying and evaluating source materials and, while not every reader of this blog may subscribe to the author's feelings about copyright or some of the comments contained in this article's lengthy Conclusion, it is a worthy contribution to discussion and debate about the balance of power and politics that has either shaped the copyright law we have to day or has allowed it to take that shape.

1 comment:

john r walker said...

Jeremy That is a fascinating piece of history!
Have always thought that there was more than a whiff of ideology about neighboring rights, and the concept of a ' individual right to, compulsory collective management' .