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MGMT Seminar by Omri Alter

Fairness towards authors – Does it necessarily mean caring for the weak?

2018.04.10 | Merete Elmann

Date Tue 01 May
Time 13:00 14:00
Location Room 2628-M211, Department of Management, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University

Tuesday 1 May 2018 at 13:00 in room 2628-M211, Omri Alter, LL.M., Hebrew University of Jerusalem, will give a seminar entitled

Fairness towards authors – Does it necessarily mean caring for the weak?
An economic behavioural and social psychological analysis of recent interventions to ‘strengthen’ authors in author-publisher contracts 


Everyone is welcome!


According to a common narrative in recent copyright scholarship, authors deserve fairness in their relationship with commercial entities, such as publishers and producers. This narrative is reflected most conspicuously in a growing trend all around the world to adopt mandatory rules designed to provide authors with a larger share of the profits generated by the exploitation of their work.

The most common normative argument in favor of mandatory rules rests on considerations of distributive justice, according to which authors are poor and suffer from low bargaining power. Framing the issue as a conflict between weak starving authors and large capitalist conglomerates has a broad intuitive appeal; in all likelihood explaining why the issue has been the subject of little critical discussion.

By contrast, this article offers a novel explanation for these mandatory rules in copyright law. Relying on empirical findings from the discipline of social psychology, concerning how individuals judge fairness in the allocation of resources, it argues that society disapproves of the typical transaction between authors and commercial entities not due to any desire to balance the differences of power between the parties; rather this stems from our psychological aversion to certain patterns of profit division. Accordingly, it claims that mandatory rules in copyright law are arbitrary legislation which should not benefit from the normative importance attributed to caring for the weak.


For more info on Omri Alter, who is visiting Dept. of Management on an Erasmus+ grant, please contact local host John Howells. 



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