GPL and Moral Rights

João Miguel Neves joao at
Sun Aug 31 08:18:49 UTC 2003

A Sáb, 2003-08-30 às 14:06, edA-qa mort-ora-y escreveu:
> João Miguel Neves wrote:
> > 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 different. That's a derived work that is said to be based on the
story and "adapted" it too far. It's still the same story. With GPL the
author authorises you to change the story. See the difference?

> > 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...?)
Yes, but you can't legally avoid that. Anyway, the great thing about CVS
and source management systems is that they allow you to identify who did
what. And every code always needs improvement. So the most plausible
result in such a case would be that contributor's code to be replaced by
a better version.

> (Note: I think you meant to say FSF *requests* copyright assignments, as 
> they don't require them for the GPL)
No, they require copyright assignments for any GNU project.

> > 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?

That doesn't make sense. Someone (in your case, the state) says that
that dead author's work can not be in the code because of moral reasons
and, at the same time, says it can't be withdraw for moral reasons? That
is to weird to even think about...
João Miguel Neves <joao at>
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