There are two main justification for the legal protection provided by copyright. The first argumentation is linked to economic considerations, the second line of thought stems from theories referring to natural law. Practically all copyright laws have taken into account elements from these two lines of argument, although different counties may give varying emphasis to each of them.
From an economic point of view, the grant of an exclusive right ensure for the author an economic reward for the exploitation of the work for a certain period and hence constitutes an incentive for creativity.
According to justifications based on natural law, on the other hand, each person has a natural right of property to the products of her labour. It is argued that this must also apply in the case of intellectual creations.
The economic argument has been particularly prevalent in countries which are part of the Anglo-American world, while the doctrine of natural law has had greater influence on the European continent and in countries of Roman law tradition. Accordingly, we may distinguish two major traditions in copyright law, the Anglo-American, or common law copyright system, and the continental European, or civil law author’s right system. As this terminology might suggest, the former tends to emphasise the protection of the work, while the latter is rather centred on the personality of the work’s creator. The distintion becomes particularly relevant with respect to such questions as moral rights or legal entity’s eligibility as author.