GPL and Moral Rights
eda-qa at disemia.com
Sat Aug 30 13:06:58 UTC 2003
João Miguel Neves wrote:
> The moral rights can not be waived (neither by authorisation nor
> contract), but there are some decisions made by the author that limit
In our friendly litigious society (USA), one can waive these rights, and
in neighbouring Canada I thought one couldn't, but then the copyright
act implies one can.
> Such reasoning also applies for the integrity: if the author allowed
> specific modification defending the works integrity doesn't make sense.
A concern I would have is in the event of the author's death, when the
estate inherits their copyrights. In theory, the estate could then make
a moral objection to *any* modification of the work as it devalues the
contribution of the original author at a time when they can no longer
guide contributions and derivations.
In a sense, could an estate not argue that the code, at time of death,
should be maintained as is out of respect, and to honour, the deceased.
The argument being that while the person was alive, they intended to
continually contribute to the project as to build their fame -- if
modifications which removed his contribution after death, would be an
afront to the fame/honour that he built.
It's a stretch, but it sounds plausible, and certainly we've seen a lot
sillier arguments make it through the judicial system (in regardless of
which country we live).
> author prevent distribution of a derived work whose distribution and
> modification he/she authorised? My first answer would be no, but I
> haven't found such a court case.
My first answer is yes, but my theoretical example (at this time) is
from the movie/book industry instead. Author A gives license to Studio
B to create a screenplay of their work, which is an inspiring novel
about the pursuit of peace. In this agreement A allows a creative
license in order to adapt the book to film. Then B goes out and
produces a movie that glorifies war and twists the words of the book so
that one would believe the author felt peace was only obtainable when
one side remains.
Has A actually authorized this adaptation of his work?
> That's one of the reasons FSF requires copyright assignements.
But this is where I found it interesting, is that even in the case of
copyright assignment, the original author retains their moral rights.
However, now the recipient would have a single license from FSF if
everybody assigned copyright, but that would not preclude any one of
those individuals from raising a moral objection (in which case, the
single license may be worse...?)
(Note: I think you meant to say FSF *requests* copyright assignments, as
they don't require them for the GPL)
> If he authorised any modification (by using the GPL) I doubt the
> objection would be valid. In the worst case scenario, probably one of
> the other authors would be able to replace the contested contribution.
Referring to my first example, what if a large system was built, and in
order not to prejudice the author's honor, it was no longer legal to
remove his contributions?
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