Utilitarianism v. Deontology: A Philosophy for Copyright

41 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2018

Date Written: December 10, 2018


The Anglosaxon copyright system is founded upon theories of utilitarianism, whereas the European system, generally upon deontology. A series of particular traits aid us at the identification of which theory a copyright system supports. For example, the management of the moral rights of authors and creators shows this difference very eloquently. In Europe, starting with the Berne Convention of 1886, authors and creators enjoy a right to paternity, a right to first publication and a right to integrity of the work; in the US, it is mainly visual artists only who enjoy similar protection, under the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990. In the last decade or so, the European Union has proceeded with a number of copyright Directives which approach the American system much more than in the past ever thought possible. Whereas national legislations on moral rights remain intact, the 1991 Directive on Computer Programs, the 1996 Database Directive, the 2001 Information Society Directive of 2001 and the 2001 Resale Right Directive lean strongly towards the economic rationale of copyrights. The work attempts to show how this approach has occurred, at a time where no major change in philosophical thought of copyright in the European Union appears sustainable. This work also attempts to explain why the economic rationale seems to have superseded the deontological one in the EU, stressing the impact of lobbying by the copyright industries and pressure from forces outside the European Union. The work, finally, arrives at a conclusion founded upon the supremacy of the deontological reasoning behind copyright.

Keywords: copyright, moral rights, authors, utilitarianism, deontology, EU Directives, Database Directive, Resale Directive, Information Society Directive, incentives theory, EU lobbying

Suggested Citation

Canellopoulou-Bottis, Maria, Utilitarianism v. Deontology: A Philosophy for Copyright (December 10, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3298655 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3298655

Maria Canellopoulou-Bottis (Contact Author)

Information Law, DALMS, Ionian University ( email )

7, Rizospaston Voulefton av.
49100 Corfu

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