Authors’ rights vs. textual scholarship: a Portuguese overview


  • Elsa Pereira


textual scholarship, digital scholarly editing, copyright, personal rights, cultural heritage, cross-border-access, licensing, freedom of research


This article addresses the main restrictions that European textual and genetic scholars face when the literary works they study are not in the public domain. Using Portugal as an example, the essay illustrates the most relevant contours of copyright policy and licensing in countries with a legal tradition of Droit d’Auteur, which protects not only intellectual property but also the sensitive moral interests of authors. While considering a few limitations and exceptions for teaching and scientific research secured in the law, the paper refers to case studies that showcase legal shortcomings in balancing authors’ rights with the academic freedom of textual scholars, especially when digital editorial methodologies are involved. We argue that the dominant protection currently afforded to copyright holders in Europe undermines the research ecosystem of this disciplinary field, rendering knowledge production and scientific publication practically unfeasible for anyone investigating textual variance in the works of 20th- and 21st-century writers. After drawing attention to the problem, we plead for policy-making adjustments to allow greater freedom in using copyrighted works for humanities research and scholarship.