GPL and Moral Rights

Wouter Vanden Hove wouter.vanden.hove at
Sat Aug 30 00:21:20 UTC 2003

Op vr 29-08-2003, om 22:34 schreef edA-qa mort-ora-y:
> 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 funny thing is that these objections are always made in relation to
the GPL, while other licenses like BSD/ MIT are far more problematic in
this area than the GPL. 

> The GPL does not appear to make any mention of moral rights, 
What license does?

There some Europan license like the Free Art License that do mention it.
On the other hand, take a look at the Terms of Use of the Disneysite

By uploading materials to any Forum or submitting any materials to us,
you automatically grant (or warrant that the owner of such rights has
expressly granted) us a perpetual, royalty free, irrevocable,
nonexclusive right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt,
publish, translate, create derivative works from, and distribute such
materials or incorporate such materials into any form, medium, or
technology now known or later developed throughout the universe. In
addition, you warrant that all so-called ``moral rights'' in those
materials have been waived.

> 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."

> 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.

This raises interesting concerns. Could Tim Berners-Lee object to an
extend and embrace of W3-standards? Could the Kerkeros-team object to an
extend & embrace of Microsoft?

I like the way the GPL make people think. Now it just up to us to
broaden the issues.

Wouter Vanden Hove

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