GPL and Moral Rights

edA-qa mort-ora-y eda-qa at
Fri Aug 29 20:34:40 UTC 2003

On my recent quest to compare contracts, licenses, and the GPL, I 
stumbled across something that is disconcerting to me: the moral rights 
provided by the Berne Convention seem to impose limits on the freedom 
provided by the GPL.

The GPL does not appear to make any mention of moral rights, so 
according to the convention (and some law resources I checked) the moral 
rights stay with the author (even in the case of copyright assignment).

As stated, the concerning bit is the author's ability "to object to any 
distortion, mutilation or other modification of, or other derogatory 
action in relation to, the said work, which would be prejudicial to his 
honor or reputation."

Best as I can tell, what might be accepted as prejudicial may vary 
greatly from country to country.  This of course makes the problem 
worse, as the GPL does not join licenses, when distributing the linux 
kernel, you actually have a license from every copyright holder 
contributing to that kernel.

What is to prevent any one contributor to a large GPL project from 
objecting on moral grounds and thereby halting any 
distribution/modification?  Though our opinions to such objections might 
vary, I would tend to assume that software is open to such objections.

edA-qa mort-ora-y
Idea Architect

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