Digital technologies enable growing numbers of cultural entrepreneurs in Africa and Asia to produce and share music and video. Current copyright law understands these products as the exclusive property of their creators, ignoring their often hybrid character, which recombines established local repertoires with various global genres.

Digital technologies have challenged existing legal regulations. They facilitate access to popular cultural production for entrepreneurial individuals and allow larger audiences to participate. These activities entail a growing demand for affordable technical devices, which are increasingly imported from Asia to Africa. In their cultural productions, specifically in music and video (which are examined in working area 1), artists recombine known African themes and genres with components from other cultural industries in Asia and Latin America in novel and innovative ways and incorporate them again into local, regional, and transregional exchange circuits. In the event of this ongoing creative process of appropriation, recombination, quoting and improvisation the question arises as to how far existing legal regulations have been able to take these developments into account.

This working area explores the following questions: Are legal instruments appropriate to meet the changed production conditions, i.e., do they contribute to the creation of value chains and a feeling of legal security, or do they discourage creative production? How do cultural entrepreneurs understand and deal with copyright law? Does the law respond to requirements of differentiation between the similarity and uniqueness of novel cultural products and the grey zones of quotation, improvisation, imitation, and acknowledgement of the contributions of pre-existing work? What role does the concept of exclusive property play in relation to concepts of shared ownership, cultural heritage, and archival bodies of existing cultural productions (which are examined in working area C)?


To find answers to these questions, this working area employs a mix of ethnographic methods, discourse analysis, and the examination of legal regulations with the objective to understand the legal situation in which cultural entrepreneurs currently find themselves. Based on selected case studies in the fields of film and music, the decisions of cultural entrepreneurs are investigated in the context of digital technological affordances, using narrative interviews, participant observation, and individual and group discussion.