Authorship: From Quill to Keyboard and Cyberspace

Authorship: From Quill to Keyboard and Cyberspace

Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5214-9.ch004
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The role of the author and the meaning of authorship is examined first in the context of legislation and case law and second as seen by critical theorists. The author’s position as natural rights holder and moral rights holder within the ambit of the law is considered against existing legislation and case law. The discussion then moves to an account of the author as creator, first in the 21st century and, thereafter, in the digital era. New challenges to authorship and changes in the perceptions of readers are highlighted and discussed.
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“It is only the unimaginative who ever invents. The true artist is known by what he annexes, and he annexes everything.”Oscar Wilde

The concepts of ‘the author’ and ‘authorship’ are central to this research. This chapter deals with the traditional and contemporary definitions of what an author is. The ‘author’ referred to in this research can be more specifically described as a ‘literary,’ ‘fiction,’ ‘non fiction’ or ‘academic’ author, rather than related groups such as journalists, poets, composers, song writers, artists and performers. The term is further defined later in the chapter.

This enquiry will first consider the legal position of the author and his/her legal rights, which include the proprietary rights of the author as natural rights holder and moral rights owner (Rose, 1988, p. 64). Second, it will examine some of the critical theories that provided the foundation for the current perception of authorship, and third, it will investigate who and what the author is today.

In doing so, this chapter examines the evolving perception of authorship and argues that the definition of ‘author’ is an ever expanding concept, influenced by a changing literary public sphere and, more specifically, technological advances. It further shows that the understanding of what an author is in the early 21st is inextricably linked with the perception of authorship that developed through the course of critical theory of the 20th century and the recognition of the author’s legal status. Much as the invention of the printing press signalled an irrevocable change in the status and recognition of authorship, so too has digital technology precipitated a different perspective on the subject of authorship.

This investigation requires an acknowledgement of the close link between the philosophical theories of copyright (as discussed in the last chapter) and the critical theories relating to the concept of authorship, discussed in this chapter. Furthermore, these theories have to be considered within the ambits of the broader public sphere, within which the rights of the author as creator is recognised through various protective legislative structures, such as The Berne Convention of 1886 (‘the Berne Convention’) and the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (as amended) (‘the Copyright Act’).


Authorship And The Law

As discussed in Chapter 2, Part III of the Copyright Act protects authors’ copyright in their original work, while Part IX defines and protects authors’ moral rights. Authors further enjoy specific protection of their moral rights under Article 6bis of the Berne Convention.

However, the question of how the legislation has interpreted the concept of authorship and whether authors’ rights are sufficiently protected merits further investigation. It is further necessary to consider the 20th century critical theory on authorship, as well as current perceptions of authorship, against the backdrop of the moral rights and natural rights theories relating to copyright ownership. This chapter takes into account the dual nature of the author’s persona: the author as both creator and rights holder, as well as the various factors that impact on the perception of authorship in a digital era.

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