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Archived updates for Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Short History of Moral Rights

In "Moral Rights" from PLI’s Treatise "All About Rights for Visual Artists," Ralph E. Lerner and and Judith Bresler discuss the

  • Right of Disclosure (Droit de Divulgation)
  • Right to Withdraw from Publication or to Make Modifications (Droit de Retrait ou de Repentir)
  • Right of Authorship (Droit à la Paternité) and
  • Right of Integrity (Droit au Respect de l’Oeuvre)

The authors trace the beginnings of these "Droit Moral" to the philosophy of individualism that accompanied the French Revolution:

However, the central debate over the nature of artists’ rights occurred in
Germany near the close of the nineteenth century: an intellectual work had
either a dualist Doppelrecht—that is, an incorporeal property giving rise to
personal rights of either a patrimonial or a moral nature—or a monist nature,
whereby both the personal and the patrimonial rights were inseparable parts of a
single Persönlichkeitsrecht. The debate over those two views was resolved in the
first half of the twentieth century. The dualist view prevailed in France while the monist view predominated in Germany.

Moral Rights were included in included in Article 6bis of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works in 1928 which states:

Independently of the author's economic rights, and even after the transfer of
the said rights, the author shall have the right to claim authorship of the work
and 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.

While the United States became a signatory to that convention in 1988, it still does not completely recognize moral rights as part of copyright law.
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