Inaugural Lecture: Professor Uma Suthersanen

4 April 2012

Time: 6:30pm
Venue: GO2 Old Anatomy Lecture Theatre, Charterhouse Square Campus

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Authors and Institutional Users: Finding A Fair and Appropriate Equilibrium in Copyright Law

External Chair: Professor Ysolde Gendreau, Université de Montréal.

National and international copyright laws are traditionally premised on the notion that this species of law is concerned primarily with protecting authors’ rights. Upon closer scrutiny, however, one observes two glaring contradictions. First, copyright law benefits a far wider range of stakeholders than just the author. These include employers, producers, corporations, publishers and collective management organisations. The theoretical position is that the “author” is best off by being represented and remunerated by one of these institutional stakeholders. However, the practical position is that the author is surprisingly ill-served under copyright law, as she struggles to retain both acknowledgement and remuneration. Secondly, it is often forgotten that copyright law’s overriding purpose is to support creativity not solely out of a moral obligation to do so but as a way to benefit society as a whole. It follows from this that copyright law has a public policy obligation to protect the rights and duties of public cultural institutions which promote the “conservation, development and diffusion of science and culture.” Drawing on the lessons of the recent “orphan works” debate, and employing intellectual property and human rights laws, this lecture argues that we urgently need to clarify our view of what copyright law is for in order to counter the current discrimination, and instead achieve a more fair and appropriate equilibrium which recognises the interests of authors, public cultural institutions and the general public.

Uma Suthersanen is a Professor of International Intellectual Property Law at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies in the School of Law at Queen Mary, University of London. She is currently a Vice-Chairman of the British Literary and Artistic Copyright Association (having held the Chairmanship from 2006-2010), an Executive Committee Member of L’Association Littéraire et Artistique Internationale, and a Visiting Fellow at the Intellectual Property Academy of Singapore. Her research focuses on the global and interdisciplinary aspects of intellectual property law, and she has acted as consultant to UNCTAD, UNESCO, and the World Intellectual Property Organisation. Her recent publications include Global Intellectual Property Law (2008), Global Copyright: Three Hundred Years since the Statute of Anne (2010), and Design Law: European Union and United States (2010).

The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception in The Shield.

See also -   Map and Directions to the Charterhouse Square campus