GHOSTWRITING AND COPYRIGHTS: LAW & ETHICS
ADVOCATE & CS, REX LAW CHAMBERS, BENGALURU
The Law on copyright has its unique presence in the largely converging, yet unique world. The protection of copyrightable subject-matter comes with publication of the same, and is owned by the Author.
An Entrepreneur is interested in protecting his own ideas, and seeks to take ownership of any Intellectual Property that comes into existence during the course of employment. And in Employment, among the various contractual obligations that one agrees thereto, on also agrees that any potential intellectual property that may come into existence during the employment, an employee agrees to vest the same in the Employer because, it is under the direction, aid and supervision of the Entrepreneur that any “TOM-DICK-HARRY” is able to come with such an intellectual property.
It should be known that writing is an art, but knowledge is not; expression is art, but substance is not. A person with knowledge and substance need not necessarily be a good writer. Ghostwriting, wherein there is a named public Author to a Research-work, where numerous other persons, basically Research Assistants paid to write also contribute chapters or other valuable contribution to the work. Few Authors give a credit or an ode to the Research Assistants for helping them publish the copyrightable subject matter, whereas few do not.
The ethical and legal issues trickle primarily unto issues of rights and permissions and the circumstances under which these rights and permissions are exchanged by the Ghost-writers. It is often criticized that Ghost-writing amounts to Plagiarism that is either theft or co-optation of original work (authorship, a status connected to intellectual property) without permission or attribution by an individual.
Ghost-writing is an employment relationship where you “work for hire,” whereas plagiarism is a one-way, anonymous act wherein you steal the writings of another person without the consent of such person. It is also be understood that Ghost-writing involves the production of an original work for transfer of exclusive use by , and ownership of, by the Research Assistant vide mutual consent and, usually, remuneration.
Wherefore in the Corporate World, the theory seems to be having its golden charm, it is considered an Anathema in the Academic World, as people who engage persons for Research Assistance under the head “research for hire” are criticised or crippled by other persons, as an act of unforgiven sin.
Ghost-Writing is basically a contract that says, “I write it, but you own it.” In Academic Writing, it is a boon for Teachers, who find it tough to pen down their thoughts in an expressive communicative form, and the ghost-writers help in the same either by mere acting as a passive scribe, to an active contributor by working on the topic in the manner directed and supervised by the Author.