2022 Culpeper Conference


Copy/Rights and Early Cinema

Call for Papers >>

While the conference will be free for attendees, we ask that presenters pay a nominal registration fee ($70 for fully-waged presenters, $40 for students, precariously or unemployed presenters, and citizens of countries with significant exchange-rate limitations) to help offset costs for putting on the conference, screenings, and publishing the proceedings. Presenters who do not receive institutional support for conference participation may elect not to pay the fee.


To register directly on Zoom, use Webinar ID: 979 3081 3507 and Passcode: 754423




The Library of Congress, National Audio-Visual Conservation Center – Packard Campus – NOW ENTIRELY ONLINE

Copyright, droits d’auteur (author’s rights), licensing: Who owns the right to copy film, and how do those copyrights shape access to other spheres of democracy and culture? Across a range of national contexts, the legal right to copy, distribute and exhibit motion pictures was as central to the early film business as patents. Piracy in the early period was also rampant, and arguably helped to power the rapid development of an international film industry. Bureaucratic processes of copyrighting produced records of works that are themselves no longer extant. Other rights were in play, too. There were questions of rights over a dramatic performance or a screen adaptation of a text. There was the matter of the right to be filmed, or not to be filmed, which entailed questions of privacy and unwanted publicity. And, of course, such rights were not available to all, marked as they were by differences in race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, and nationality that continue to restrict access today.

This conference takes up the question of rights in this diverse landscape of ownership, copying, piracy, and privacy in early cinema. We might think of the familiar challenges manufacturers faced in trying to apply “copyright” to the new commodity of “film”; trademarks and the patent wars; and the first recognition of “cinematographic works” at the 1908 Berlin Convention. But, what other national and local stories are there yet to be told? Who did legal rights to copy protect and legitimate in the first decades of cinema? Who has benefited from the legal vacuum, and what has the absence of copyright allowed for in terms of creation? Who was marginalized or disempowered by those protections? What did issues of copyright mean for African American filmmakers and performers or filmmakers beyond Europe and North America? And how can we open the topic up to new ways of thinking about film history in the context of other struggles, such as the relation between citizenship rights and the politics of social reproduction (housework, maternity, caring for children)?

As Domitor meets for its seventeenth international conference in collaboration with the Library of Congress in 2022, we invite proposals that re-examine known cases of “rights at issue” and unearth hitherto unknown ones that shed light on the challenge of film’s novelty during its first twenty years. Possible topics include:

  • early legal cases
  • differing national definitions and precedents for legal rights to copy film or elements contained therein
  • attempts at international coordination of copyright practices
  • rights expressed in ways other than through copyright or droits d’auteur
  • copyright as preservation source today (paper prints at the Library of Congress and the legal deposit of scripts at the National Library of France)
  • questions of rights in relation to early “orphaned” and/or non-theatrical films
  • sales versus licensing
  • trademarks and logos
  • early censorship regimes
  • cartels and trusts
  • piracy and copying
  • authors’ rights
  • performers’ rights
  • implications of copyright practices in relation to social/political rights
  • copyright in the context of scholarship and teaching on early films
  • impacts of digital media and the internet on copyright issues for early films

Proposal Submission Process

Send proposals to domitor2022@gmail.com no later than December 3rd, 2021. Questions about the submission process should also be sent to that address. Proposals for individual presentations should be no longer than 300 words, plus a bibliography of three to five sources, and a brief biographical statement. Proposals may be written in either English or French. Only papers written in one of those two languages can be presented at the conference. Conference papers should be no longer than 3,000 words and must fit within a 20-minute presentation time (including audiovisual materials). Conference participants may be asked to submit final drafts by 6 May 2022 to allow for translation.

Proposals for pre-constituted panels of three participants will also be considered; such proposals should be submitted by the panel chair and consist of the collected individual paper proposals in addition to a brief rationale for the panel. While membership in Domitor is not required to submit a proposal, anyone presenting a paper at the conference must be a member: https://domitor.org/membership/. For more information on Domitor, the International Society for the Study of Early Cinema, visit https://domitor.org/.

Conference Registration

While the conference will be free for attendees, we ask that presenters pay a nominal registration fee ($70 for fully-waged presenters, $40 for students, precariously or unemployed presenters, and citizens of countries with significant exchange-rate limitations) to help offset costs for putting on the conference, screenings, and publishing the proceedings. Presenters who do not receive institutional support for conference participation may elect not to pay the fee.

Conference Program

Thursday, June 9

10:00 AM – 10:15 AM (EDT – NY) / 16:00 – 16:15 (CEDT – Paris)

Welcome and Introduction

Tami Williams (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

Martin L. Johnson (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)


10:15 AM – 11:45 AM (EDT – NY) / 16:15 – 17:45 (CEDT – Paris)

Panel 1: Early Copyright in an International Context

Ian Christie (Birkbeck College), “Product, Artwork or Performance? Identifying Films in Law in the Early 20th Century”

Zvi S. Rosen (Southern Illinois University School of Law), “The Legal Context of Copyright in Early Motion Pictures in America”

Claudy Op den Kamp (Bournemouth University / Library of Congress), “Ainsworth Rand Spofford and the Formation of the Paper Print Collection”

Lance Lomax (Texas Tech University), “Conflicting Voices: Copyright, Censorship, and Audience in Japan’s Early Motion Picture Industry”


12:00 PM – 1:00 PM (EDT – NY) / 18:00 – 19:00 (CEDT – Paris)

Panel 2: Preservation and Identification

Alexis Ainsworth (Library of Congress), “The Paper Print Collection at the Library of Congress”

Tracey Goessel (Film Preservation Society), “The Biograph Project: A Joint Endeavor with the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art, Film Preservation Society and Multiple Other Archives”

David Pierce (Library of Congress), “Copyright and the Library of Congress”


1:15 PM – 3:00 PM (EDT – NY) / 19:15 – 21:00 (CEDT – Paris)

Panel 3: Pre-cinematic/Intermedial Copyright

Frank Ming (Columbia University), “The Case of Muybridge: A Photographer’s Problem in Motion”

Michael Cowan (University of Iowa), “Marey, Pettigrew and the Wings of the Insect”

Valentine Robert (University of Lausanne), “Early Cinema Sued by Painting”

Artemis Willis (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), “Lola Yberri: Early Woman Media Pioneer”

Paula Amad (University of Iowa), “‘Pictures that move and ship that fly’: ‘Professor’ F.W. Brinton and the Kinship between Early Aviation and Early Cinema”


Friday, June 10

10:00 AM – 11:30 AM (EDT – NY) / 16:00 – 17:30 (CEDT – Paris)

Panel 4: Rights-Copies-Rights: Post-Colonial Case Studies in Early Cinema

Alison Griffiths (City University of New York), “The Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial, Gallup, NM: Cultural Memory, Repatriation, and Home Movie Footage”

Grazia Ingravalle (Queen Mary University of London), “Panorama of Calcutta, India, From the River Ganges (1899): Copies, Rights, and Cultural Ownership”

Aboubakar Sanogo (Carleton University), “An African Pioneer of Cinema: Albert Samama Chikly”

Mark Williams (Dartmouth College), “Surveying ‘The Idea of Africa’ within U.S. Archival Silent Era Film Collections”


11:45 AM – 1:15 PM (EDT – NY) / 17:45 – 19:15 (CEDT – Paris)

Panel 5: Privation and Piracy

Jane M. Gaines (Columbia University), “What Piracy Tells Us About Motion Picture Technology That We Didn’t Want to Know”

Hunter Koch (University of Chicago), “Edison, the Plaintiff: Copyright, Patents, and the Technical Dimensions of Early Cinema Piracy”

Janelle Blankenship (University of Western Ontario), “Imposters and Patent Wars: Max Skladanowsky’s Creative Copy Culture Revisited”

Tami Williams (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), “Choreographies, Copies, and Rights: Discipline and Defiance in Modern Dance and Early Cinema”


1:30 PM – 3:00 PM (EDT – NY) / 19:30 – 21:00 (CEDT – Paris)

Panel 6: Censorship and Regulation

Nadi Tofighian (Stockholm University), “Evil, Indecent and Immoral Films: Colonial Censorship in the Philippines”

Marina Dahlquist (Stockholm University), “Pre-Censorship Regimes and Practices: Film Rights, Title Changes and Piracy in Stockholm 1908-1911”

Özde Çeliktemel-Thomen (Middle East Technical University), “Tracing Early Film Censorship in the Late Ottoman Empire”

Luca Mazzei (University of Rome) and Maria Assunta Pimpinelli (Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia), “War and Law: Unexpected Consequences of the Italo-Turkish War (1911-1912) on Italian Copyright and Censorship Lawmaking”



Saturday, June 11

10:00 AM – 11:45 AM (EDT -NY) / 16:00 – 17:45 (CEDT – Paris)

Panel 7: International Distribution

Kathy Bowrey (University of New South Wales, Australia), “How Hollywood Came to Dominate Early 20th Century Film Distribution without Significant International Copyrights”

Dimitrios Latsis (University of Alabama), “Across the Border, Around the Law: Copyright, Ontology and the Johnson-Willard Fight film”

Rafael de Luna Freire (Fluminense Federal University), “‘Films are industrially produced, so they can’t be anyone’s monopoly’: An Exemplary Legal Case in Brazil, in 1912”

Danielle Crepaldi Carvalho (Fundação Biblioteca Nacional), “Copyright in Times of Family Businesses: The Pathé and Gaumont Film Exhibition Contracts in the Correspondence between the Ferrez Family and Achille Nevière (Brazil-Paris, 1914-1915)”

Lorena Bordigoni (independent scholar), “From San Cristobal to Lodz, the Long Journey of Two Early Argentinian Films”


12 – 1 PM (EDT – NY) / 18:00 – 19:00 (CEDT – Paris)

Panel 8: Duplicitous Marketing and Copyright Declarations

Julie K. Allen (Brigham Young University), “Copyright and Copycat Marketing: Capitalizing on Quo Vadis? (1913) in Australia”

Joël Lehmann (University of Montreal), “Le Sacre d’Édouard VII (1902) : un renversement de perspective”

Veronica Johnson (National University of Ireland, Galway), “Competing Copyright Claims and the Emergence of a Female Film Company Owner: Ireland 1919”


1:00 PM – 2:00 PM (EDT – NY) / 19:00 – 20:00 (CEDT – Paris)

General Assembly and virtual cocktail



Sunday, June 12

10:00 AM – 11:30 AM (EDT – NY) / 16:00 – 17:30 (CEDT – Paris)

Panel 9: Compensation, Privacy, and Rights to the Image

Paolo Tosini (Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia), “Re-editing a Revolution: Charles Pryor and the Circulation of Films on the Mexican Revolution”

Stéphanie Salmon (Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé), “Le paiement par redevances aux opérateurs de prise de vues chez Pathé”

Elyse Singer (The Graduate Center, City University of New York), “Release Forms: Disability and Privacy Rights in Early Cinema”

Jessica Lake (Australian Catholic University), “Spectacles of Maternal Monstrosity, Medical Men and Rights to Privacy in Early Cinema”


11:45 PM – 1:15 PM (EDT – NY) / 17:45 – 19:15 (CEDT – Paris)

Panel 10: Infamy and Defamation

Anna Kovalova (European University of St. Petersburg), “The Banned Superstar: Jesus Christ on Early Russian Screen”

Kiki Loveday (University of California, Santa Cruz), “Sapho Kiss: Copyright and Queer Reproduction in Early Cinema (1896-1905)”

Vassiliki Tsitsopoulou (Indiana University, Bloomington), “Paramount, Société des Cinéromans and Defamation in Fiction Film: Comparing two French Court Decisions from the 1920s”

Martin L. Johnson (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) “Imposters, Notoriety, and the Right Of Publicity in The Battle of Cameron Dam (1913)”


1:15 PM – 1:30 PM (EDT – NY) / 19:15 – 19:30 (CEDT – Paris)

Closing Remarks and Farewell

Martin L. Johnson (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)