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Challenging Communication Research


Edited By Leah A. Lievrouw

Communication scholarship has not enjoyed the same kind of theoretical cohesion or ontological security as some disciplines. The field’s intellectual «roving eye» and resistance to establishing a single core body of knowledge has inspired serial rounds of soul-searching and existential doubt among communication scholars, on one hand, and celebration and intellectual adventurism, on the other. The theme of the 2013 ICA annual conference thus raised an interesting question: For a field that is perpetually in flux and «decentered», what exactly is, or should be, challenged? How, and by whom?
The chapters in this collection, chosen from among the top papers presented in London, suggest that the challenges themselves are constantly being reinvented, broken down and reorganized. The communication discipline undergoes continuous change rather than following an orderly, stepwise path toward the neat, complete accumulation of knowledge. The chapters challenge familiar approaches, notions or assumptions in communication research and scholarship and reflect on the field’s multifaceted and increasingly open character in an era of shifting social relations, formations and technologies.
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Chapter Nine: iAuthor: The Fluid State of Creativity Rights and the Vanishing Author


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The Fluid State of Creativity Rights and the Vanishing Author


The “author” is a matter of copyright governance. An almost-mythical dimension in the public domain, she or he is constructed by state- and industry-led campaigns emphasizing the impact of copy theft on the livelihood of the “hero” of the cultural work. Copyright laws originate from the idealized author-creator (Silbey, 2008), an idea that varies across time and “constituencies” of thought. The question that motivates this chapter is: What is the place of the “author” in the current copyright regimes, particularly under the new conditions of production and consumption in the digital context? We discuss the conflictive transformation of authorship by juxtaposing available practices and understandings of authorship to its selective constructions found in copyright law across time and the terms and conditions of user-generated content in cross-media productions and so-called do-it-yourself (DIY) platforms. The aim is to identify the ways in which authorship is conceived in the governance of copyright. We argue that the figure of the author is shrinking in the governance of cultures of sharing, remixing, and nonprofessional production. We conclude with a critical reasoning of why these practical changes do not enter the debates and initiatives involving intellectual property policy regimes.

In recent years, the possibilities brought by technologies have multiplied the forms of authorship, which has become a focal point in public...

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