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Film archives own, or hold on deposit, many physical works of film, whereas the copyright holder to these might be someone quite different. The colourisation debate of the late 1980s in the US and Als twee druppels water (The Spitting Image, NL 1963, Fons Rademakers), an embargoed film in a public-sector archive, are both examples of this copyright dichotomy between material and intellectual property. The examples expose the archive as a vulnerable place. On the one hand, the archive cannot guarantee a fixed and stable environment for cinematic memories. On the other hand, an inhibited visibility of important works of film that are arguably crucial to an understanding of the history of film is the result if a film archive cannot provide access to its holdings. The examples provide new insights into the wider cultural implications of the intellectual property (IP) system. They demonstrate how IP underpins understandings of public accessibility to (a limited range of) primary source material and their subsequent potential for history making.
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