A regime of droit moral detached from software copyright - the undeath of the ‘author’ in free and open source software licensing

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Abstract

This article seeks to understand the authorial personas of free and open source software (FOSS) programmers as shaped by their licensing schemes. It argues that neither the Romantic author-vision nor the postmodern authorless creativity is suitable for defining FOSS programmers’ authorial consciousness. Instead, it finds that the sociologist Richard Sennett’s ‘craftsmanship’ theory—which explains craftsmen’s intrinsic motive to do a job well for its own sake—is more adequate for addressing these programmers’ authorial personas. The craftsmanship persona is also reflected in the prevalent ‘attribution’ clause in FOSS licensing, which enables the peer assessment of the quality of programmers’ work associated with their reputation. It is proposed that FOSS authors’ attributional interests should depart from their copyright ownership and be re-anchored in their stewardship of the relevant projects, which are taken care of under FOSS programmer-craftsmen’s authorial responsibility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-392
JournalInternational Journal of Law and Information Technology
Volume22
Issue number4
Early online date11 Jun 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014

Keywords

  • software copyright
  • software licensing
  • authorship
  • moral rights
  • right of attribution
  • free software
  • open source
  • craftsmanship
  • Richard Sennett
  • US copyright

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