U.S. intellectual property law is firmly rooted in utilitarian principles. Copyright law is viewed as a means to give proper monetary incentives to authors for their creative effort. Many European copyright systems pursue additional goals: Authors have the right to be named as author, to control alterations and to retract their work in case their artistic beliefs have changed. Protecting these “moral rights” might be justified by the preferences of typical authors. We present the first field experiment on moral rights revealing the true valuation of these rights by over 200 authors from 24 countries. A majority of authors are not willing to trade moral rights in the first place. They demand substantial prices in case they decide to trade. The differences between authors from the U.S. and Europe are small. These results call into question whether moral rights protection should differ across the Atlantic and whether a purely profit-based theory of copyright law is sufficient to capture the complex relationship between human behavior and creativity.
The Valuation of Moral Rights: A Field Experiment
Bechtold, Stefan and Engel, Christoph, The Valuation of Moral Rights: A Field Experiment (March 25, 2017). MPI Collective Goods Preprint, No. 2017/4.