This post was written by Jesse Woo and originally published on the Washington Lawyers for the Arts Blog. Read the full post.
In addition to the basic overview and fair use analysis, public perception of Girls and this case raises another issue that I want to address. There has been much talk of the Beastie Boys’ decision not to allow commercial advertising of their songs and the provision in Adam Yauch’s will to that effect. That discussion is unintentionally touching on a concept call moral rights, or the ability of an artist to prevent revision, alteration, or destruction of her original work, as well as a right of attribution. Whereas copyrights are statutorily granted property rights over a work of artistic expression (sometimes called economic rights), moral rights are thought of as flowing from the author’s personality and personal connection with her creative work. They are non-economic in nature. So, for example, an artist might exercise her moral rights to prevent her sculpture from being changed or destroyed, and she may require that her name be associated with the work.