Saturday, October 2, 2004

CC Canada and moral rights

Why do I hear about interesting things the day *after* they happen? Yesterday, the Canadian version of the Creative Commons license was made public and the issues were discussed in an Ottawa Citizen news article. Now, I always have a hard time with legal-speak, and so I'm not quite sure I understand the moral rights issues, but I'm interested.

According to the cc-ca discussion archives, "existing functionality does not allow a creator to choose to retain or waive their moral rights when completing the licence generation form. As a result, a moral rights waiver or non-waiver must be encoded into the master licence or not mentioned at all." In July, the iCommons Canada group decided to include an assertion of moral rights in works licensed under the Canadian Creative Commons licence 2.0. By the end of August, this decision was reversed because some open-source community members withdrew their support for the cc-ca license, and "to introduce and retain this right in the cc-ca licence only serves to reduce interoperability" with the generic US license.

So, what is the moral right to the integrity of a work?

"This is the right that protects an author's work from mutilation or distortion ... The right of integrity also protects creators from having their works associated with products, services, causes or institutions that would harm their honour or reputation."

I don't know about the mutilation and distortion bit - what qualifies as such? - but I do know that I very much want to prevent my research being used by people I think are dangerous or who generally suck. And this got me thinking...

My research is federally-funded and I have no idea if they have any rights to it. I mean, can they do whatever they want with it? I would have been devastated to be one of the academics whose research was used to, say, help the Canadian government "assimilate" Native peoples into reservations or Japanese into war-time internment camps. And even if my government can't use my research anyway they want, I would also hate, for example, to have my work primarily serve the interests of profit and greed, or guide oppressive corporate practices like the exploitation of workers.

Do I have the moral right of integrity under standard Canadian copyright law? If I can't exercise that right under my cc-ca license, am I helpless to prohibit the use of my research in ways similar to those described above?


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