In 1990, the Copyright Act was amended to name visual artists, alone among protected authors, possessors of "moral rights," a set of non-economic intellectual property rights originating in nineteenth-century Europe. Although enhancing authors' rights in a user-oriented system was a novel undertaking, it was rendered further anomalous by the statute's designated class, given copyright's longstanding alliance with text. And although moral rights epitomize the legacy of the Romantic author as a cultural trope embedded in the law, American culture offered little to support or explain the apparent privileging of visual artists over other authors. What, if not a legal or cultural disposition toward visual artists, precipitated the enactment of a moral rights statute like the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (''VARA")? This Article demonstrates that the answer is less related to authorship concerns than would reasonably be surmised from a doctrine premised on the theory that a creative work embodies the author's honor, personhood, and even soul.
87 St. John's L. Rev. 47-105
Scholarly Commons Citation
Bonneau, Sonya G., "Honor and Destruction: The Conflicted Object in Moral Rights Law" (2013). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. Paper 1687.