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By Bart Verschaffel

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The rationale behind these legal developments is largely economic, explaining some of the controversies created around copyright issues that should be culturally based. The increasing reliance on other laws to tackle copyright issues only demonstrates the powerful internal contradictions within legal discourse. qxd 8/11/05 9:52 AM Page 21 Expressions, originality, and fixation 21 In terms of form, the distinction between idea and expression is also highly problematic. Theoretically, no pure “ideas” can be communicated without some “expressive” form.

We will further examine copyright’s volatility in the next chapter. The means of fixation can be varied: a musical work can be fixated on a piece of sheet or a compact disc (CD), but in general having a commodifiable and communicable form is a precondition of copyright protection. This demand for fixation reveals most clearly that copyright is not a philosophical doctrine to be used in speculative situations but one designed to regulate real commercial activities. qxd 8/11/05 9:52 AM Page 30 30 Expressions, originality, and fixation the beginning of the chapter, to qualify for copyright, the work must be an original work of authorship fixated in a tangible medium of expression.

For example, David Bordwell (2000) argues that Hong Kong cinema is unique in that it manifests some kind of auteurism of the city-collective with the specific blending of art and commerce, implying a collective identity/authorship of the vast numbers of films produced in the city. While both the concepts of auteur and national cinemas are under some theoretical attack, they are still widely circulated in movie markets. What I would like to emphasize here is that the notion of authorship and originality in contemporary culture is not an ontological given nor an ethical obligation, but a function, as Foucault has argued, that is embedded in specific discourses and power.

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