Washington Law Review


The human impulse for attribution symbolizes the linkage between an author and her creative work. In many countries, authors are afforded a right of attribution as part of a broader doctrine known as moral rights. The United States, however, does not adequately protect moral rights. This Article focuses exclusively on the right of attribution as one component of the moral rights doctrine. Initially, it examines the connection between copyright law and the right of attribution and establishes the inadequacy of the current copyright law as a means of safeguarding the right of attribution. Next, it addresses why section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, which frequently has been hailed as a viable substitute for the right of attribution, is an inadequate safeguard for the attribution interest. The underlying theme of this Article is that because United States' copyright law and section 43(a) are grounded in objectives other than the personality and non-monetary interests with which the right of attribution is concerned, the federal enactment of a right of attribution applicable to a broad category of copyrightable works is vital. The adoption of this approach is necessary for protecting fully the authorial interests that currently are insufficiently addressed under our legal system. Such explicit recognition for a right of attribution can be accomplished with a relatively minimal degree of controversy and disruption to our current legal fabric.

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