Capitalism, the State, and Intellectual Property: A Case Study of Compulsory Licenses for Cable Retransmissions
In this chapter I examine the incorporation of cable television into the filmed entertainment copyright system. The specific focus is on the origin and development of copyright mechanisms for cable retransmission of television broadcasts. The case of cable retransmissions represented the first real challenge to the filmed entertainment copyright system, which until that time had encompassed only theatrical exhibition and television broadcasting. Although broadcast television provided the first nontheatrical outlet for motion pictures, the precedent that radio broadcasting established in regard to the use of copyrighted programming (primarily recorded music) left little doubt that television broadcasters would also have to acquire authorization to "perform" (broadcast) filmed entertainment programming. Curiously, the copyright obligation was not as obvious in the case of simultaneous retransmission of broadcasts by cable systems. It took a little more than a decade (roughly from 1965 to 1976) to settle the question of copyrights for cable.
This case study utilizes theoretical tools drawn from radical and Marxist theories of the state and of law, approaches that take state intervention into the economy as an essential feature of contemporary capitalism. Like the political economy of communications, Marxist- and radical-state theory can be divided into three distinct areas: (1) the relation between the capitalist class and the state; (2) the relation between the logic of capital and state policies; and (3) the class struggle and the state.1
As demostrated in previous chapters, the history and development of copyright, from book publishing through computer software, reflect the successive en