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Books Year : 2002

La propriété intellectuelle, c'est le vol !


The purpose of this book is to present the main terms of the intellectual property debate in the XIX century. The French civil-law notion of droit d'auteur is frequency contrasted with the common-law notion of copyright, which is closer to the concept of patent law. In the Anglo Saxon system, all of the assigned rights are exclusive and transferable, which, according to the theory of property rights, enables them to be more efficiently valued. The word copyright itself--the right to copy--refers explicitly to an economic function rather than any notion of authorship. Copyright is aimed at encouraging creation, in light of the difference in cost between the conception and the reproduction of an original work. It is not necessarily held by the author; it can be the property of an employer or producer. Under French law, conversely, the droit d'auteur does not derive directly from the economic conditions under which the work is offered to the public. It appeals instead to the idea of the author's "natural right" in his or her own work, which cannot be alienated by economic considerations of market efficiency. In particular, the author's moral right, which confers control over the future uses of the work (integrity, disclosure, even retraction, etc.), can come into conflict with economic efficiency. The debate between these conflicting notions of rights in intellectual works--as the author's natural ownership of the work or as an efficient contract designed to foster creation--was especially virulent in France in the second half of the 19th century. This debate was part of a wider deliberation on the underpinnings of property rights, which the liberal economists defended in response to the socialists' questioning of the notion of property. It was against this backdrop that in 1861 Jules Dupuit published, in the Journal des économistes, a two-part article on property rights in which he argues for a Benthamite conception of copyright, contrary to most of the liberal economists of the age. The article takes the form of a critical appraisal of a book by Passy, Modeste and Paillotet (1859) in which the authors defend a Lockean position on intellectual property, of which Jobard's theory of monautopoly is the most radical illustration. Léon Walras had also reacted to the book in 1859, notably by enquiring whether intellectual property was a form of social wealth, and Proudhon's Majorats littéraires was again a response to Modeste et alii.
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halshs-00827331 , version 1 (29-05-2013)


  • HAL Id : halshs-00827331 , version 1


Dominique Sagot-Duvauroux. La propriété intellectuelle, c'est le vol ! : Les majorats littéraires de Proudhon et un choix de contributions au débat sur le droit d'auteur au XIXe siècle. Les presses du réel, pp.206, 2002. ⟨halshs-00827331⟩
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