Copyrighting Culture: The Political Economy of Intellectual Property

By Ronald V. Bettig | Go to book overview

3
"Who Owns the Message?" The Ownership and Control of Culture and Information

This chapter begins to lay out the theoretical framework that guides this inquiry into the relationships among filmed entertainment, new communications technology, and intellectual property rights. The framework combines radical political economy with information economics, Marxist and radical theories of the capitalist state, and critical legal studies. Radical political-economic communications theory and research can be organized into three fundamental categories: (1) the economic structure of communications industries; (2) the effects of the logic of capital on the production, distribution, and consumption of culture and information; and (3) the contradictions and forms of resistance within capitalist communications systems.1 This chapter contributes primarily to research in the first category, the analysis of the structure of the communications industry. More precisely, the focus here is on the structure of the filmed entertainment industry and on who owns and controls the communications industry and its core asset, intellectual property.

Chapter 4 then examines how the logic of capital and the peculiar nature of the product of this industry sector affect the structure and performance of the communications system. Chapters 5 and 6 fill out the theoretical framework by introducing the political and legal theories that are germane to the analysis of the roles of the state and of law in organizing and regulating informational and cultural markets. This interdisciplinary combination of critical theory produces a holistic framework for the analysis of the filmed entertainment industry's structure and performance, the role of the state vis-à-vis this industry, and the specific relationship between communications technology and the filmed entertainment copyright system. The normative purpose of this study is to contribute further to our understanding of the relationships between capitalism, the state, and communications media.

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