Qu'est-ce qu'un auteur de cinéma ? Copyright, droit d'auteur et division du travail (années 1900-2010)

Abstract : Why are motion pictures often attributed to authors – or “filmmakers” – while dozens of names and occupations appear in film credits? Following Foucault’s definition of authorship as a form of appropriation, this dissertation focuses on copyright law and authorship battles in order to explain the origins and existence of film authors. Rather than considering authors as the individuals who “make” movies or as a fiction overshadowing the collective nature of filmmaking, I show that the attribution of films to authors is the result of the division of filmmaking labor and its power relations. This research uses a sociohistorical perspective and a transnational approach centered on the United States and France, where film authors are not granted the same authorship rights. It sheds light on the national, international and transnational dimensions of the appropriation of motion pictures. This study starts when film authors first appeared in copyright law: as early as the 1900s. The first part of this dissertation focuses on the writing of motion pictures’ property rights from the birth of cinema to the passing of the French copyright law of 1957 and of the Copyright Act of 1976. After decades of battles, these laws provided different definitions of film authors and granted them with different property rights. Using legal publications, congressional records and reports, as well as film journals, I study French and American laws as the results of a codification process shaped by preexisting law and by the cooperation and power relations between lawyers, public officials, politicians and film organizations. A study of the revisions of the Berne Convention for the protection of literary and artistic works also show the interdependency between national and international norms of film authorship and copyright law. The second part of the dissertation study the appropriation of motion pictures as a social relation based on the division of filmmaking labor and social labor. Film authorship battles which started in the 1910s contributed to the creation of professional hierarchies and to the differentiation of film value from other forms of economic and artistic value. I use various writings of film professionals, along with other sources, to show that film authorship was shaped by various aspects of film production, dissemination and reception (including the power relations between film professionals, the diversity of film careers and the uses of authors’ names by film critics and audiences). To study the division of filmmaking labor, I use Pierre Bourdieu’s research on cultural fields, Howard Becker’s work on art worlds as well as scholarship on professions. The dissertation also shows that the professional hierarchies of motion picture production interrelate with various forms of domination common to other fields. For example, gender helped to establish and legitimate hierarchies between professions and occupations, to distribute film labor and to exclude women from dominant professions. Film production also generated huge economic inequalities which nurtured authorship battles and rose the prestige of authors. Lastly, I show that film authorship was influenced by transnational circulations of movies, workers and ideas, by the asymmetries of the international film market and by film nationalism. To study the international division of filmmaking labor, I use world-systems theory, research on translations and quantitative data. The third part of the dissertation focuses on film directors and their copyright battles since the 1960s. Film directors took part in the negotiations of bargaining agreements, the French copyright law of 1985, the ratification of the Berne Convention by the United States and various laws sanctioning “internet piracy” (such as HADOPI law and the SOPA law). In these legal battles, film directors claimed to be authors in order to be granted with rights fostering their power, recognition and earnings. The legal claims were denounced by other filmmakers who challenged film authorship, copyright law and the interests of dominant film companies. Using the concept of field, biographical data, network analysis and multiple correspondence analysis, I explain that the alliances and oppositions of filmmakers in copyright battles were shaped by their professional careers. I study the political representation of film directors by members and leaders of their professional organizations. I conducted dozens of interviews to understand the points of views of French filmmakers on their property rights and on economic inequalities between film professionals. I show that their points of view vary according to their incomes and positions in the filmmaking field. This dissertation is meant to be useful for scholars interested in the history of copyright law, motion pictures, authorship, the division of (artistic) labor, professions and transnational approaches.
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Submitted on : Monday, February 25, 2019 - 3:23:39 PM
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Pacouret J., thèse, Qu'est-ce...
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Jérôme Pacouret. Qu'est-ce qu'un auteur de cinéma ? Copyright, droit d'auteur et division du travail (années 1900-2010). Sociologie. PSL Research University; EHESS, 2018. Français. ⟨tel-01986825⟩



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