Second Book Project

Creativity in Predigitalia: An Economic and Cultural History of Copyright in Trans-Atlantic Perspective, c. 1950-1980

Creativity is currently considered to be “the ‘salvational word’ of the present moment” (U. Bröckling). It should help to successfully overcome economic and societal challenges, especially in Western economies. In recent years, creativity even has become an ‘imperative’ (A. Reckwitz) that has left its origin in the artistic field: Be it politics and economics, be it professional or private life – everyone has to be creative. However, why has this been happened and how could this notion having been established?

The planned project should contribute to a history of creativity which is currently less developed, especially regarding economic and cultural history. The artistic field is in the centre stage of the analysis and, thus, the origin of creativity. ‘Copyright law’ / ‘author’s law’ constitutes the topic on which changes and continuities of the creative will be researched. This legal framework can be understood as part of a creative policy that enables creativity: Negotiation processes related to those rights not only allow insights into several notions of the ‘creative’. They also determine the configuration of creative practices, including actions and decisions, that were executed by actors that were productive in generating new ideas and expressions.

The main goal of the project is to investigate the relation between creativity and copyrights from c. 1950 to c. 1980. The investigation covers four spaces that offer insights into this relation: (1) the politico-juridical debates and reforms on copyright and author’s rights; (2) processes and decisions within creative industries and creative corporations; (3) legal cases and negotiations and, finally, (4) the self-perceptions and practices of ‘creative’ actors, including artists and authors.

The project focuses on the development in the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States, both representing a different legal framework and both implementing important copyright reforms during the 1960s/1970s. The film and book industry will take centre stage and, therefore, two industries that offer a broad insight into the phenomenon ‘creativity’ due to the circumstance that the creation of the respective works underwent different processes.