Public Ownership of Private Spectacles: Copyright and Television

4 September, ACIPA IP Seminar Series, Brad Sherman

This talk explored the role that copyright law played in the development of television in Britain from the 1930s to the 1950s. Focusing on the activities of the Association for Protection of Copyright in Sport and the BBC, the talk examined the way that privately owned and organized spectacles, notably sporting events, came to be considered as public property, and the role that copyright played in ensuring that these private events were placed in the public domain. In so doing the talk argued that in this context copyright law had little to do with private rights, but more to do with the enablement of networks that linked sporting events, broadcasters, relay stations and viewers. While many accounts of broadcast copyright focus on the abstract neutral rights granted to broadcasters, the talk also argued that a driving concern in the formation of this new type of copyright was the content of what was broadcast.


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