The Digital Media Project


Philip Merrill


TRU #22 Right to be recognized as the author (paternity)





Philip Merrill

Affiliation/additional information:

Active Contributor, Pasadena, California

Date submitted:







Name of TRU

Right to be recognized as the author (paternity)


Summary description of TRU

Right of the creator of a literary or artistic work to claim authorship or otherwise assert personal credit for the work's creation.


Use records of TRU

Historically, before the institution of royalties became common, it was normal for authors and artists to receive a one-time fee when turning a manuscript or other work over to a publisher or other "buyer". In practice, some could point out that advances frequently work the same way in the present day although the promise of royalties exists. But without royalties, an author's branding of their creation with their name was essential to the value of future sales of their work to middlemen. In many ways, the "paternity" association of one's name with one's work is the essential bond between creator and creation from which the creator receives an expectation that they will benefit in the future.

Because publishing under a pseudonym (or anonymously) is an option, paternity also extends to the right to claim authorship to one's own work which was previously published under a pseudonym (or anonymously).

Although authors might contract to allow someone else to take credit for their own work, the paternity TRU can allow the true author to take credit even when this might be economically unfair.

On collective works such as motion pictures, the right to have one's name associated with one's creation - and the separation of this from the economic contracts involved - becomes essential to the lengthy "roll credits" that often occurs at the end of the movie.

It is worth noting anecdotal evidence that writers guilds commonly resolve disputes over who is entitled to have their name appear and how, and that these conflicts are frequent, lengthy and contentious.

The use of names also can involve two people with the same name and problematic cross-cultural issues such as foreign alphabet support, the use of diacrital marks with Roman text, and pronunciation difficulties. For example, the composer Dvorjak's name is missing a hacek diacritical mark, the Russian author Solzhenitsyn is distributed under a romanization (versus Cyrillic) that is commonly mispronounced, and sounds such as the German "e" at the end of Hesse and Nietzsche can lead to heated debate as to whether it should be not-pronounced or pronounced with a strong "uh" sound, both of which are wrong.


Nature of TRU

Legally supported. See also 59. TRU moral rights, with respect to the nature of moral rights generally.

Treaty landmarks include addition of paternity and integrity to Berne in 1928 Rome Act with Article 6bis according to Goldstein's International Copyright Sec. 2.I.2.I, and note mention of droit moral in 1928 Article 11bis. Also of note is Article 5 of the 1996 Geneva WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. At Sec. 2.2.3, Goldstein says, "This is the first time moral rights have been prescribed for performers in an international agreement." A notable law case was decided 1991 by the Court of Cassation in France regarding movie colorization (Goldstein Sec., interpreting moral rights being "inalienable" as providing authors from foreign countries with full access to the French court system to assert these rights (at a minimum, inside France).

At Sec. 5.4.2.I, Goldstein quotes the WIPO Guide to the Berne Convention as calling Paternity the "first and foremost" moral right and the Guide says it "may be exercised by the author as he wishes; it can even be used in a negative way i.e., by publishing his work under a pseudonym or by keeping it anonymous, and he can, at any time, change his mind and reject his pseudonym or abandon his anonymity."

Also at that section, Goldstein points to the U.S. as primarily protectng similar interests (to Paternity) through Trademark law at 15 U.S.C. Sec. 1125(a) (link to statute) titled "False designations of origin, false descriptions, and dilution forbidden" or when a licensee's obligation to give attribution is imposed on them by contractual agreement.


Benefits of TRU

Benefits Right-holders and End-users. Constrains the permissible behavior of Middle-men and others who might want to claim credit.


Possible digital support

The absolutist nature of moral rights lends itself to an information technology approach being as it embodies easily distinguished factual information that can be stored and provided readily through both a server system and databases protected by some sort of trusted digital repository (TDR, ref. RLG/OCLC report).

Parternity should first be addressed by separating what is trivial from what is non-trivial about its support. Names are all over the place attached to most important consumer-priced digital media for sale. The company that produces the piece of media for sale is likely to be featured, as well as the "title" of the piece, perhaps a brief authorised "description" and whatever other personal information, quite likely to include a number of common human names such as Jose or Michael.

Indeed one of the most problematic factors is local alphabet support either by or similar to Unicode. A treat for many audiences would be to hear the author pronounce his or her own name, and to have a way to choose to hear this alongside whatever alphabetic appearance the person's name has, in the spelling conventions of the author's native language.

Additional material could be provided; it wouldn't be hard to price audio recordings of authors' mothers, wives or kids telling humorous stories about them or video clips of interviews with fans saying what was most meaingful about the creator's work. If all of this was author-approved, it could be trivial to provide all of this and much more, as well as many different approaches. For example, an XML RSS-feed type server could provide international mirror-hosting and be easily available online globally, although there would likely be local censorship concerns in many countries, especially respecting titles that are forbidden or are permitted for research purposes only.

As a personal fan of "It's a small world after all" who grew up near the U.N., I can vouch for being an interested consumer in global atlases for which authors and artists can describe where they grew up and countries they travel to in cross-referenced databases.

Especially obvious to DMP by now are the issues of quoting. TRU Paternity support in TRU Quote is essential.

Note that moral rights vest more immediately in flesh-and-blood authors and so behave differently from data from sources more controlled by Middle-men or created as a collective work such that there is some consequential dilution of name recognition except for well-known stars. In some ways, in this system, any name that is a "star" name or a "hero" name should actually be cross-referenceable within the Paternity-support system.

Along the lines of the WIPO digital agenda there is excellent potential for ecommerce support.

A primary challenge is to specify curatorial supervision of the database, challenging authors' contributions when they veer away from reasonable and sensible data worth storing on their behalf within the trusted digital repository. Note that the database itself is specifically required to be trusted; there is a likelihood of economic harm if the database is not well-maintained as content per se.



DMP shall support the right to be recognized as the author (paternity)

DMP shall support the ability of creators to record the pronunciation of their name in their native language as well as the ability to display the native-language written form of their name.

DMP shall support straightforward global atlas referencing as well as the ability to associate 3D locations with time and short comments or descriptions.

DMP shall support paternity by providing a means to cross-reference prominent names, distinguishing people or parties that are identical from other entries with similar details.

DMP shall support ecommerce transactions consistent with the WIPO Digital Agenda.

DMP shall support the specification of conditions for maintenance of a trusted database, such that both its technological delivery as well as the integrity of its content are both well-maintained.

8. References