Crime doesn't pay, or so they say even when some (nearly) dash away with millions of pounds worth of jewellery in broad daylight in London. No matter what your crime has been, be it big or small, one should not be able to benefit from that crime financially, so as to not encourage others to take the same route with the aim to benefit in a similar fashion. With this in mind, could a criminal, even when their crimes are unrelated to the IP rights conferred, benefit from those rights in the light of their criminal status?
This Kat is a big history fanatic, and has spent a great deal of his youth reading about a variety of historical topics; a prominent one of which was World War II. For those less familiar with the topic [although this Kat would be surprised if someone would not be aware of this individual], Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister for the Nazi regime in the 1940s, was instrumental in the success of the regime in its early days, especially in relation to the rising disdain towards ethnic and religious minorities in Germany and the rise of the party in general in its formative years. Along with his prolific writings during that time, he also kept a meticulous journal of his plans and events that occurred, proving a very valuable insight into the lesser known facets of the regime itself through a figure that was instrumental to its success and ideologies.
|Anyone can be evil, no matter how fluffy|
In their argument, although outside of court, Reiner Dresen, counsel for Random House, argued that no royalties should be paid to Ms Schaht as "...no money should go to a war criminal". Due to his heavy involvement in the Nazi regime, Random House clearly believed that they had a moral obligation to withdraw payment due to the heinous crimes committed during this time. Mr Dresen also relied on a non-moral argument, as Mr Goebbels was included in a list by the Allied Control Council, banning his estate from any financial transactions (possibly to prevent any moving of financial assets outside of Germany, unduly gained during WW2).
The Munich District Court saw otherwise [and if any readers would have access to the case, this Kat would happily update the post with it], and awarded Ms Schaht her due royalty payments, although highlighting the expiry of any rights in the works in the end of 2015, which marks 70 years from Joseph Goebbels' death. Random House has indicated that they will appeal the decision to the German Supreme Court, but whether their case has any likelihood of success is uncertain.
The case made this Kat ponder, should copyright take morality into account when awarding protection or the benefit from said rights? What do our readers think? Arguably, when looking at the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, the answer would be no, as protection is awarded to any work, irrespective of the author's past or the work's content. This is important, since who would be the judge of what is morally acceptable or who is worthy of copyright protection; a question that is ripe with subjectivity and uncertainty.