Copyright assignment

Georg Jakob jack at
Thu Jun 13 12:22:50 UTC 2002


On Thu, 13 Jun 2002, Joerg Schilling kindly wrote:

> >From: Loic Dachary <loic at>
> >Georg C. F. Greve writes:
> > > What you can transfer are "exclusive exploitation rights," which
> > > economically behave like the anglo-american Copyright, but it does not
> > > contain the "personality rights" of the author.
> >	That's what we call "droits moraux" (moral rights) in France.
> >Maybe Till can tell us if these "personality rights" are common to all
> >countries in Europe. Are there European countries that have no such
> >concept ? It exists in Germany (my guess), in France and ... ?

This is indeed a very important distinction to which more attention should 
be paid in the political discussion. In fact, Copyright is the privilege 
of printing and distributing which was granted to publishers after the 
invention of the printing press. This is where Anglo-american Copyright 
Law is stuck until today: If a contract has no explicit description of 
what is transferred, the author sells all his rights on a work to the 
publisher (best example: Superman was sold for U$ 130, but US Courts seem 
to see that in a different light - after more than 50 years... )

In opposition to that, Author's rights give back the control to the 
Author, generally resolving possible conflicts in favor of the latter.
(This is also why we need a different assignement in Europe than in the 

"Moral Rights" (Urheberpersoenlichkeitsrecht) exist in most EU countries 
(I don't know of any in which they wouldn't), albeit to a differnt extent.
In France for example, they are much stronger, the droit d'retention 
(i.e. withdrawing a license under certain circumstances) is commonly accepted, 
whereas in Austria this right was granted only once in a high court 
decision - to the surprise of most scholars. 

> It does exist in Germany and is called "Urheberrecht" commonly falsely 
> translated into "Copyright" - I would rather use the term "Authorship rights".
> >From my understanding, all progressive (so probably all continental european)
> countries use a law definition derived from ideas of the french revolution 
> while the UK is still using laws derived from the roman law.

Not exacly Roman Law, at least as far as Copy-/Author's Rights are 
concerned. If you're interested in the history of Author's Rights and 
their connection to things like DMCA/EUCD I might recommend a paper I 
presented recently at the International Conference on E-Business in 
Beijing. You can find it at (most recent version) 

kindest regards,                   University of Salzburg
Georg Jakob            Department for Law and Informatics
jack at                 ++43-(0)662-8044-3559
key ID 1ADA7E2C

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