Cultural Rights: Technology, Legality, and Personality

By Celia Lury | Go to book overview

4

BRANDING, TRADEMARK AND THE VIRTUAL AUDIENCE

(with Nicholas Abercrombie, Scott Lash and Dan Shapiro)1

This chapter will provide an account of recent changes in the organisation of the culture industry. The framework it adopts draws on both the analysis of changes in the popular music sector developed by Richard Peterson and David Berger (1975) and the elaboration of this framework proposed by Paul DiMaggio (1977). It will be argued that while both accounts are important for the ways in which they make links between the social relations of cultural production for the market and the characteristics of cultural works, neither takes sufficient account of long-term transformations in the characteristics of the cultural work itself—notably, those associated with the increasing importance to its circulation of exhibition value—in their analyses of changes in the organisation of the culture industry. It will further be argued that the culture industry is increasingly organised in terms of a regime of rights characterised by branding, in which the manipulation of innovation as novelty is subsumed within the more general phenomenon of the simulation of innovation. This regime is associated with the development of the right of publicity and the constitution of cultural goods as intellectual property through trademark rather than through copyright law, and is an adaptation to the increasing importance of exhibition value in cycles of cultural reproduction.

In their influential article published in 1975, Peterson and Berger put forward the view that there is a relation between homogeneity or innovation in production and market structure. More specifically, they show that from 1948 to 1973 popular music production was characterised by stagnation and product homogeneity during periods in which there were high degrees of

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