The Digital Media Project


Philip Merrill


TRU #32 Right of withdrawal/objection





Philip Merrill

Affiliation/additional information:

Active Contributor, Pasadena, California

Date submitted:







Name of TRU

Right of withdrawal/objection


Summary description of TRU

Moral right under several legal systems to either withdraw a published work from publication, requiring remuneration for Middlemen economically hurt by this, as well as the right to assert that a published work no longer reflects the creator's current views.


Use records of TRU

Although relatively few countries treat this as a formal moral right, it comes up more frequently under economic rights when a creator no longer feels that a work reflects their views and wishes to withdraw it from publication or at least disavow its content.

The sort of verbal dialogue that could illustrate this would be if someone asked "Did you really mean that?" or "What were you thinking when you said that?" Possible answers to which could be "I meant it at the time but I don't feel that way now" or "I must have been out of my mind and I'm ashamed that I said that."

Considering how mutable an artist's creative thoughts may be, it is easy to imagine that giving them the power to repeatedly assert this right could allow them to cause quite a nuisance. On the other hand, the principle involved deserves a certain respect and protection, particularly since competitors or enemies might seek to damage a person's reputation by publicizing the poor qualities of their previous creations.

Examples could include politicians' statements made during an earlier period in their career, artistic works edited and hyped by Middlemen that then fall flat causing the artist to claim "that didn't reflect who I really am" during subsequent efforts to promote new works, periods of religious zeal causing output created during this period to have a dogmatic or tedious character, and the same result as the preceeding however caused by a proclivity for so-called "adult" content such as sex, violence or foul language.

When competitors or enemies refer to works that a creator might wish to disavow, there is a tendency to misrepresent the time or context in which the works were made public. For example, an enemy could say "Do you know that he said ___?" to which the speaker might reply "That was 30 years ago and I had just been insulted. That doesn't represent who I am or what I really think."


Nature of TRU

A right rarely asserted and primarily supported by France, Germany, Italy and Spain (ref. Goldstein, International Copyright, Sec. See also 59. TRU moral rights, with respect to the nature of moral rights generally. It is considered related to economic rights of reversion of ownership to the author or "termination of transfer".


Benefits of TRU

Benefits Right-holders and End-users. Can be adverse to Middle-men.


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).

It should not be too challenging to provide fields in a reputational database allowing creators to express negative comments about their own previous work.



DMP shall support the right of withdrawal/objection

Note the proposed Integrity RQs support most of what's needed for this.