Integrity, attribution, and exploitation : contractual and normative moral rights protection in open licensing

Suzor, Nicolas P. (2010) Integrity, attribution, and exploitation : contractual and normative moral rights protection in open licensing. In Copyright 2010 Conference : a Decade of Moral Rights and the Digital Agenda, 21-22 June 2010, Australian National University, A. C. T. (Unpublished)

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Over the last twenty years, the use of open content licenses has become increasingly and surprisingly popular. The use of such licences challenges the traditional incentive-based model of exclusive rights under copyright. Instead of providing a means to charge for the use of particular works, what seems important is mitigating against potential personal harm to the author and, in some cases, preventing non-consensual commercial exploitation. It is interesting in this context to observe the primacy of what are essentially moral rights over the exclusionary economic rights. The core elements of common open content licences map somewhat closely to continental conceptions of the moral rights of authorship. Most obviously, almost all free software and free culture licences require attribution of authorship. More interestingly, there is a tension between social norms developed in free software communities and those that have emerged in the creative arts over integrity and commercial exploitation. For programmers interested in free software, licence terms that prohibit commercial use or modification are almost completely inconsistent with the ideological and utilitarian values that underpin the movement. For those in the creative industries, on the other hand, non-commercial terms and, to a lesser extent, terms that prohibit all but verbatim distribution continue to play an extremely important role in the sharing of copyright material. While prohibitions on commercial use often serve an economic imperative, there is also a certain personal interest for many creators in avoiding harmful exploitation of their expression – an interest that has sometimes been recognised as forming a component of the moral right of integrity. One particular continental moral right – the right of withdrawal – is present neither in Australian law or in any of the common open content licences. Despite some marked differences, both free software and free culture participants are using contractual methods to articulate the norms of permissible sharing. Legal enforcement is rare and often prohibitively expensive, and the various communities accordingly rely upon shared understandings of acceptable behaviour. The licences that are commonly used represent a formalised expression of these community norms and provide the theoretically enforceable legal baseline that lends them legitimacy. The core terms of these licences are designed primarily to alleviate risk in sharing and minimise transaction costs in sharing and using copyright expression. Importantly, however, the range of available licences reflect different optional balances in the norms of creating and sharing material. Generally, it is possible to see that, stemming particularly from the US, open content licences are fundamentally important in providing a set of normatively accepted copyright balances that reflect the interests sought to be protected through moral rights regimes. As the cost of creation, distribution, storage, and processing of expression continues to fall towards zero, there are increasing incentives to adopt open content licences to facilitate wide distribution and reuse of creative expression. Thinking of these protocols not only as reducing transaction costs but of setting normative principles of participation assists in conceptualising the role of open content licences and the continuing tensions that permeate modern copyright law.

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ID Code: 53031
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: No
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 please consult the author
Deposited On: 10 Aug 2012 02:35
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2012 02:35

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