Moral rights

Moral rights

Moral rights

A copyright work often means more than just the economic value it can generate from its exploitation. The person who creates it will often have invested a lot in the work, emotionally and/or intellectually. As a result, copyright works need to be protected in ways that are different to traditional forms of property. Moral rights protect those non-economic interests.

Unlike economic rights, moral rights cannot be sold or otherwise transferred. However, the rights holder can choose to waive these rights.

Moral rights are divided into 4 categories as follows:

  • The right to be identified as the author or director of a work, often known as the paternity right
  • The right to object to derogatory treatment of a work, sometimes known as the integrity right
  • The right to privacy in respect of certain photographs and films
  • The right not to suffer false attribution of a work

Moral rights apply to literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works and films. They do not apply in the case of sound recordings, broadcasts or typographical arrangements.

The first 3 rights mentioned above exist for as long as copyright exists in a work, i.e. life plus 70 years. The last right, to prevent false attribution of a work, lasts until 20 years after the author's death.

Consent and waiver of rights

It is not an infringement of any moral right to do any act to which the person entitled to the right has consented.

Any moral right may be waived by a document signed by the person giving up the right.

A waiver may relate to a specific work, to works of a specified description or to works generally, and may relate to existing or future works.

A waiver may be conditional or unconditional and may be expressed to be subject to revocation.

If a waiver is made in favour of the owner or prospective owner of the copyright in the work or works to which it relates, it shall be presumed to extend to their licensees and successors in title unless a contrary intention is stated.

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