Moral Rights as Explained by Copyright Attorneys
This article is not intended as legal or expert advice and should you want to know specific information regarding intellectual property laws or applications, it is recommended that you contact copyright attorneys for assistance.
Moral Rights as Related to Intellectual Property
Moral rights as related to intellectual property, and more specifically copyright, are rights of the authors of the works qualifying for copyrights. Such rights can include the right to be identified with a work as the author, the right not disclose identity and the right to uphold the integrity of the author’s name and the particular work.
The term comes from a French phrase that refers not to morals such as ethical or religiously related, but to the rights of the creators to control the outcome of the works. As such one can also refer to such as the controlling rights of an author or creator. In addition, such rights can also be referred to as connection rights – thus the right to be connected to a work.
One should note that such rights as will be explained by copyright experts or attorneys are not directly related to monetary value, but more to the deep rooted rights of the author to be associated or not to be associated with the work and to uphold the reputation of the author and the work. There can be monetary compensation involved as well, although the focus point is the personal rights of the creator.
Scope of the Rights
What often makes it difficult to understand or assess whether the moral rights of the creator have been violated is the fact there are no clear boundaries and such may differ from country to country or even from one culture to another. In South Africa, moral rights are protected under the Copyright Act of 1978 and its amendments.
The creator of the copyrighted work has the right to prevent changes to a work, alterations or any distortion which can affect the integrity of the work or the reputation of the author. The author furthermore has the right not to be associated with a work that is not completely the work of the creator, but has been changed or worked upon by other parties.
Who Gets the Moral Rights?
Copyright attorneys often have to assist in resolving disputes between publishers and authors where the moral rights of the author are affected. One should understand that although the author may not be the copyright holder of a work because of assignment that the moral rights of the author cannot be assigned. As such the moral rights are associated with the author and not the copyright holder.
The rights will only end when the author dies. Even if the creator has transferred the copyrights the moral rights stay vested in the author. There is the exception where an author waives rights to a work by means of a written agreement. It is strongly recommended that you get assistance from copyright attorneys before doing so.
Can Moral Rights be Infringed?
Because the rights are protected in the same way as all other copyrights, infringement can take place. If a work is mis-attributed to an author an infringement takes place. The same for instance, occurs when the author’s right to be identified as the creator of the work is ignored.
A practical example is where an author writes a book and the publisher omits the name of the author on the cover page. Although the name may still be on the title page, the author has a right to have his or her name on the cover page unless requested by the author self not to have it in clearly stated letters on the cover page.
Many more aspects surrounding moral rights of authors and how such can be infringed can be explained in more detail by experienced copyright attorneys.