What are moral rights?
Moral rights are granted to the authors of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and to film directors:
- to be identified as the author of the work or director of the film in certain circumstances, e.g. when copies are issued to the public
- to object to derogatory treatment of the work or film which amounts to a distortion or mutilation or is otherwise prejudicial to the honour or reputation of the author or director
In contrast to the economic rights under copyright, moral rights are concerned with protecting the personality and reputation of authors. The right to be identified cannot be exercised unless it has been asserted, i.e. the author or director has indicated their wish to exercise the right by giving notice to this effect (which generally has to be in writing and signed) to those seeking to use or exploit the work or film. Moreover, both the right to be identified and the right to object to derogatory treatment can be waived by the author or director.
There are also several situations in which these rights do not apply:
- computer programs
- where ownership of a work originally vested in an author's employer
- where material is used in newspapers or magazines
- reference works such as encyclopaedias or dictionaries
Authors of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and film directors are also granted the moral right not to have a work or film falsely attributed to them.