Re: Copyright of laws

From: R.G.McCracken -Rich. McCracken <R.G.McCracken[_at_]>
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 94 10:58:00 GMT

A European case on moral rights involved a dispute between the heirs of John Huston and the French tv channel Le Cinq.

Le Cinq wished to transmit a colourised version of The Asphalt Jungle, directed by Huston for MGM, who held copyright in the work. The film was originally shot in black and white.

Huston's heirs sought an injunction, claiming that colourising the film,(framed, lit, designed and shot to be in black and white) amounted to derogatory treatment of the work in violation of Huston's moral rights. Even though MGM's ownership of copyright was perfectly valid under Californian law, the French Supreme Court heard the case under French law, under which moral rights are inalienable.

Le Cinq argued that Huston's moral rights expired on his death and were not transmissable. That argument was rejected. Le Cinq was prohibited from transmitting a colourised version of the film in France.

Only four days after that ruling the same channel was ordered to pay FFr 50,000 damages for displaying its channel identifying logo as part of the tv film Yvette, in defiance of the express wishes of the scriptwriter and director of the film.

In another case involving moral rights, the heirs of Edgar Rice Burroughs sued French Vogue magazine as a result of a fashion article which showed representations of Tarzan in suggestive poses. The heirs claimed this represented a distortion of the image of the character.

Richard McCracken,
Rights Manager, Open University

>Date: Wed, 23 Nov 1994 11:18:53 -0500
>From: Lesley Harris <harris[_at_]>
>To: Multiple recipients of list <cni-copyright[_at_]>
>Subject: Re: Copyright of laws
>Moral rights are a part of copyright and instead of protecting the
>reproduction from and compensation for the reproduction of a creation,
>moral rights protect the honour and reputation of the creator and
>therefore any changes to a work that may be "prejudicial to the honour
>or reputation of the creator." It also ensures that authors can claim
>authorship with their work. These rights of integrity and paternity are
>the two basic rights found in the leading convention on copyright, the
>Berne Convention. The U.K. statute as well as other copyright laws have
>at least these moral rights. The u.S. on the other hand has minimum
>moralrights in their copyright statute (primarily for fine artists) and
>claims that other laws for passing off, defamation, etc. protect the
>moral rights of the author. This is a somewhat controversial position.
>Let me know if you have further questions on this issue. Also, if you
>have any interesting quotes on moral rights, please pass them along as
>I write on various copyright issues and alwys like to include
>interesting quotes.
>Lesley Harris (Author of "Canadian Copyright Law" published by
>McGraw-Hill in 1992.)
>On Tue, 22 Nov 1994, Charles E. Keller wrote:
>> The first time i saw the words `moral right' printed in a verso
>> i thot it was either a "joke" or marketing hype... i gather that
>> it is something serious? (excuse my ignorance of the law--but since
>> UK law is copyright protected i guess i can be excused?) <Grin>
>> For example:
>> `_Rumpole a la Carte_ by John Mortimer
>> (C) Avanpress Ltd. 1990
>> The moral right of the author has been asserted'
>> Perhaps someone would enlighten us as to what this legal "right"
>> is, how it might be violated, and its intended purpose. I assume
>> this is not a form of intellectual property created by Jerry Falwell
>> et. al. since it appears to be UK law. ;-)
>> Any thoughts as to why the US objects to "moral rights" might be
>> interesting as well.
>> Charles Keller (non-lawyer)
>> <keller[_at_]Ra.MsState.Edu>
>> >From cni-copyright[_at_] Mon Nov 21 14:34:33 1994
>> >From: Paul Robinson <PAUL[_at_]>
>> >
>> >either. For example, the U.S. *specifically* objected to the "Moral
>> >Rights" provisions of the treaty in its accession to the treaty, with
>> >Teddy Kennedy sneaking adherence to the Moral Rights clause into some
>> >other unrelated bill that was signed by President Bush.
Received on Thu Nov 24 1994 - 11:02:41 GMT

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