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There are ways in which law is a set of illusions, and legal scholarship is about things which are said to happen, rather than really occur; where law is the expression of hope and passion rather than the embodiment of practical relationships. I have long thought that the area of intellectual property called "moral rights" or droit moral had these qualities of elegant fiction. Moral rights, in this special sense of art and literature, have to do with the personal and continuing involvement of the author or painter in a work of art, even after property owner shifts. Moral rights have to do, in their most dramatic manifestations, with physical changes in works of art - violence, deprecations, even the dissipation in integrity that inevitably comes with the passage of time. Moral rights are or can be violated when an artist's name is associated with a work that is not truly his or hers or when the work is represented as being the creation of another. Closely related are the issues that arise when a work is scarred or defaced, when it is reshaped or even placed in a hostile and unfriendly environment.
Date Posted: 15 February 2008