University of Pittsburgh

Post-doctoral Fellow David Fossum Gives Humanities Center Lecture

Dietrich School Postdoctoral Fellow David Fossum will give a lecture titled "Copyright as Culture: Ethnography of the Law, the Global, and Turkey’s Music Industry" as part of the Humanities Center Colloquium Series. The lecture and discussion take place on Thursday, October 19, at 12:30 p.m. in the Humanities Center (602 Cathedral of Learning).

The paper will be pre-circulated (not presented at the colloquium) and will be posted here after Oct. 5.

Abstract

Ethnomusicological scholarship on copyright has often viewed it as an ethnocentric institution whose central (Western-derived) concepts such as “the work,” “the author,” and “property rights” clash with diverse traditional practices of creativity and concepts of ownership. But this approach fails to grapple with how copyright law is itself a diverse and varied phenomenon. Levels and kinds of protection for different kinds of work can vary from country to country, and despite the framework of international agreements in place, many policy matters are left up to local bureaucrats, organizations, and courts to decide. In Turkey, even as the country has strived to harmonize its laws with those of others in order to comply with international norms and agreements, the system of musical copyright administration has developed some unique features. I focus on two examples. One is the presence of multiple collective rights organizations (CROs) for musical authors; most countries have only one such CRO since this maximizes rights holders’ leverage and streamlines administration. The second are criteria for membership in the CROs, criteria that diverge from international norms on some points, including the denial of voting membership to music publishers. Drawing on interviews and archival sources, I argue that these peculiarities in part reflect local frames for understanding social reality that speak to historical narratives about Turkey’s place in the world as well as local perceptions of the value of different aspects of musical production. These seeming bureaucratic quirks thus illustrate one of the subtler ways that the implementation of copyright law—despite its universal trappings—turns out to be a cultural practice.

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