[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: [OT] Droit d'auteur vs. free software?

Dylan Thurston <dpt@math.harvard.edu>:

> Whatever you may think of the specific merits of the droit d'auteur
> system, please bear in mind that every legal system gives you rights
> you cannot barter away.  For instance, no modern legal system lets you
> sell yourself into slavery, and I think that that is a good thing.  So
> the question is which rights are fundamental and irrevocable and
> unable to be sold, not whether there are such rights.

Agreed. However the use of the term "rights" is not universal and can
cause annoyance. For example, in the UK there are huge restrictions on
what is allowed in a contract of employment. For example, as far as I
know, if the contract says the employee can't go and work for a
competitor, then the employee can ignore that condition.[1] However,
although people could call this a "right to go and work for a
competitor", they don't, and people don't use the word "rights" very
much at all in this context.

Also, there is no close comparison between a law against slavery and
droit d'auteur. Treating someone as a slave is likely to be a criminal
offense even if the abused person doesn't complain (in principle; in
practice it might be hard to procecute if the abused person refuses to
cooperate as a witness) and the law prevents slavery by refusing to
enforce certain kinds of contract. This is rather different from the
courts actively helping an author (or an author's heirs) who complain
about moral rights. On the one hand we have the police refusing to
help recapture an escaped "slave" and the courts not awarding damages
to the "slave owner". On the other hand we have the courts awarding
damages against a building owner who changes the colour of the blinds
on their own property. Not much of an analogy, IMHO.


[1] A friend of mine got a job in London working for a US company. He
was asked to travel to the USA to sign his employment contract,
perhaps to prevent him leaving and going to work for a competitor in
the USA, even if they couldn't stop him leaving to work for a
(possibly US) competitor in Europe.

Reply to: