A Plea For Moral Rights

The BBC’s Bill Thompson is always good for a different take on things. Here, he suggests that an increasingly backwatered legal doctrine ought to get more attention: The copyright ‘copyfight’ is on

However the question of reusing work does uncover a fundamental divide in this debate, one which I think may be irreconcilable.

It concerns moral rights – the rights I have as a creator to control how my work is used and exploited.

Moral rights are not about money but about integrity, and they pose great problems for those who want to liberalise copyright because they open questions of judgment, taste and even politics.

Put simply, if the law is changed to allow for remixing of work without my explicit permission, perhaps by introducing a compulsory license, then I cannot stop people I do not like or approve of using it.

This is not about getting paid – I would not want an article I had written to be used by a neo-Nazi group in their newsletter, however much I was offered.

Unfortunately most of the copyfighters take the US view of copyright as entirely about economics, and neither understand nor are interested in moral rights.

(Lessig’s response: on the challenge of moral rights)

Later: commentary at The Register – Doonesbury savages Pepperland’s copyright utopians (Lessig’s response: well, no one ever called him Jimmy Olsen) – also see Seth’s comments – Bill Thompson, Creative Commons, and “Moral Rights” in Copyright

Note that the Doonesbury comics cited are actually reprises, with new words and positions as Trudeau shifts his position. Here’s the current cycle

Hmmm – He’s put up a pay wall, so you’ll have to decide if you want to pony up the change to see how he’s changed – here’s an archive of my postings discussing the way he revisits this topic