In Voyager's episode, "Author, Author," the rights to the EMH's holonovel come into question.

While I can understand a discussion as to why the novel may not belong to the EMH, I can't understand why the publisher would immediately assume the story was free game.
In today's world, when we buy a copy of software, it comes with restrictions, and true ownership of the software is rarely ours.

In the event that the Doctor didn't own his own novel's rights, wouldn't the rights fall back to Zimmerman, or whomever funded/commissioned (or however it works in a no-money future) Zimmerman?

  • Considering that Zimmerman thought of Mark1 as antiquated and reason for his face being bound to all labors who dig up dilithium, I don't think he could care less as to who has the copyright/ownership of the content written by Mark1. Nov 20, 2015 at 16:45
  • But Starfleet clearly argues that they care. In the transcript there best argument is, "maybe we can claim it has security secrets," but no one bothers to even ask who else might have rights. Nov 20, 2015 at 16:48
  • Also, we are Borg, that's a good point. Nov 20, 2015 at 16:50
  • But your question is about Zimmerman, not starfleet. Eventhough Zimmerman is a member of federation citizen, it's not a collective that what federation is concerned about, zimmerman should also be concerned about that. Nov 20, 2015 at 17:00
  • Perhaps a second question to ask (obviously not in this question) is under whose jurisdiction is the daystrom institute, since Zimmerman is connected to them. Nov 20, 2015 at 17:03

1 Answer 1


Consider the following dialogue from the episode itself, involving the EMH, the publisher, Janeway, and Admiral Paris:

ADMIRAL PARIS [on screen]: I had the dubious privilege of playing a new holonovel apparently written by your EMH. I'm surprised that you would allow the Doctor to discredit your crew like this.

JANEWAY: He's still making revisions. The programme shouldn't have been distributed yet.

ADMIRAL PARIS [on screen]: Well, it has been. Mister Barclay tells me it's already being played in thousands of holosuites.

EMH: You assured me you were going to wait for my revisions. I demand that you recall every copy and issue a public apology to Captain Janeway and her crew.

BROHT [on screen]: I won't do anything of the sort.

JANEWAY: I don't see that you have a choice, Mister Broht. Authors have rights.

BROHT [on screen]: Not in this case.

EMH: What do you mean?

BROHT [on screen]: The Doctor is a hologram.

EMH: So?

BROHT [on screen]: According to Federation law, holograms have no rights.

I believe it is clear from this dialogue that the publisher (Broht) saw an opportunity — he had accurately predicted the popularity of the holonovel — and simply refused to wait for the EMH to finish his many revisions.

Knowing that the EMH would have continued delaying in order to accommodate revisions, Broht went ahead and published the holonovel on his own, under the premise that the EMH has no rights and therefore has no say in the fate of the holonovel.

It may have crossed Broht's mind that Zimmerman may have rights regarding the holonovel (as a creation by proxy), but Broht had already taken the action of publishing and distributing the holonovel and therefore needed to come up with a fairly solid reason for why he felt he had the privilege to do so.

  • That's quite reasonable. Although, admittedly, I was hoping someone had stumbled upon canon of copyrights somewhere (the depth of star trek knowledge here often astounds me), this may just be the best we can get. I think I'll leave this open for a bit just in case, but your answer is likely the best given the question Nov 20, 2015 at 19:46

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