Moral rights are
rights Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory ...
of creators of copyrighted works generally recognized in civil law jurisdictions and, to a lesser extent, in some
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions."The common law is not a brooding omniprese ...
jurisdictions. The moral rights include the right of
attribution Attribution may refer to: * Attribution (copyright), concept in copyright law requiring an author to be credited * Attribution (journalism), the identification of the source of reported information * Attribution (law), legal doctrines by which l ...
, the right to have a work published anonymously or
pseudonym A pseudonym (; ) or alias () is a fictitious name that a person or group assumes for a particular purpose, which differs from their original or true name (orthonym). This also differs from a new name that entirely or legally replaces an individua ...
ously, and the right to the integrity of the work. The preserving of the integrity of the work allows the author to object to alteration, distortion, or mutilation of the work that is "prejudicial to the author's honor or reputation".
Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, September 9, 1886, art. 6bis, S. Treaty Doc. No. 27, 99th Cong., 2d Sess. 41 (1986).
Anything else that may detract from the artist's relationship with the work even after it leaves the artist's possession or ownership may bring these moral rights into play. Moral rights are distinct from any economic rights tied to copyrights. Even if an artist has assigned his or her copyright rights to a work to a third party, he or she still maintains the moral rights to the work. Moral rights were first recognized in
France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Its metropolitan area e ...
Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated betwee ...
, before they were included in the ''
Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, usually known as the Berne Convention, was an international assembly held in 1886 in the Swiss city of Bern by ten European countries with the goal to agree on a set of leg ...
'' in 1928. Kwall, Roberta Rosenthal (2010
''The Soul of Creativity: Forging a Moral Rights Law for the United States''
Stanford University Press
Canada Canada is a country in North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering over , making it the world's second-largest country by to ...
recognizes moral rights (''droits moraux'') in its ''Copyright Act'' (''Loi sur le droit d'auteur''). The
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
became a signatory to the convention in 1989, and incorporated a version of moral rights under its copyright law under Title 17 of the U.S. Code. The Berne convention is not a self-executing treaty, and the US Berne Convention Implementation Act excludes the US from the moral rights section. Some jurisdictions allow for the waiver of moral rights. In the United States, the '' Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA)'' recognizes moral rights, but applies only to a narrow subset of works of
visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, photography, video, filmmaking, design, crafts and architecture. Many artistic disciplines such as performing arts, conceptual art, and textile arts ...
. "For the purposes of VARA, visual art includes paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and photographs, existing in a single copy or a limited edition of 200 signed and numbered copies or fewer". A photograph must be taken only for exhibition purposes to be recognized under this subcategory. Independent art is not a focus of this waiver, for VARA only works in protecting artwork that can be considered as having "recognized stature"; Some of the items that are voided from VARA's protection include posters, maps, globes, motion pictures, electronic publications, and applied art. The VARA grants artists two specific rights: the right of attribution, and the right of integrity. The right of attribution allows an author to enforce the attribution of their work, prevent the misattribution of their work to another author, and permits the author to retain anonymous or pseudo-anonymous ownership of the work. The right of integrity does its best to prevent distortion or modification of their work, easing an artists' worries surrounding negative defamation directly applied to their work affecting their own personal, creative, or professional reputation through misrepresentation. In the United States, moral rights are not transferable, and end only with the life of the author. Authors may, however, waive their moral rights if this is done in writing. Some jurisdictions like Austria differentiate between narrow and wide moral rights. Whilst the former is about integrity of the work, the latter limits usages, which may harm the author's integrity. Some copyright timestamp services allow an author to publish allowed and disallowed usage intentions to prevent a violation of such wider moral rights.

Berne Convention

Through the Rome Revision of the Berne Convention in 1928, the Berne Convention accepted two forms of moral rights; paternity and integrity. These rights are included in Article 6bis of the ''Berne Convention'' as follows:
Independent of the author's economic rights, and even after the transfer of the said rights, the author shall have the right to claim authorship of the work and to object to any distortion, modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to the said work, which would be prejudicial to the author's honor or reputation.

Worldwide situation


Legend: * ∞: infinity (to identify perpetual moral rights, though countries and areas may have different wordings in their laws and regulations) * = economic rights: equal to or same as economic rights

In Europe

In most of Europe, it is not possible for authors to assign or even waive their moral rights. This is following a tradition in European copyright itself, which is regarded as an item of property which cannot be sold, but only licensed. The author can agree to waive them to a limited extent (and such terms are very common in contracts in Europe). There may also be a requirement for the author to 'assert' these moral rights before they can be enforced. In many books, for example, this is done on a page near the beginning, in and amongst the British Library/Library of Congress data.

In Canada

Section 14.1 of Canada's Copyright Act protects the moral rights of authors. The moral rights cannot be assigned, but can be waived contractually. Many publishing contracts in Canada now contain a standard moral right waiver. Moral rights in Canada were famously exercised in the case of '' Snow v. The Eaton Centre Ltd.'' In this case
Toronto Eaton Centre The Toronto Eaton Centre (corporately styled as the CF Toronto Eaton Centre since September 2015, and commonly referred to simply as the Eaton Centre) is a shopping mall and office complex in the downtown core of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is ...
, a large shopping mall, had commissioned the artist Michael Snow for a sculpture of Canada Geese. Snow successfully stopped Eaton's from decorating the geese with bows at Christmas.

In China

Article 20 of the Copyright Law of the People's Republic of China (1990) provides unlimited term of protection of the rights of authorship, alteration, and integrity of an author. As Article 55 of the same Law provides retroactive protection of unexpired term on the date of entry into force of this Law, the Chinese perpetual moral rights are retroactive as well. The
2001 The September 11 attacks against the United States by Al-Qaeda, which killed 2,977 people and instigated the global war on terror, were a defining event of 2001. The United States led a multi-national coalition in an invasion of Afghanista ...
version retains this provision and the original Article 55 becomes Article 59.

In Ghana

Art. 18
Copyright Act, 2005
provides perpetual moral rights. The moral rights in Art. 6 are for proper attribution and against any distortion, mutilation or other modification of the work where that act would be or is prejudicial to the reputation of the author or where the work is discredited by the act.

In Hong Kong

Moral Rights is specified under Copyright Ordinance (Chapter 528) Division IV, starting from section 89. Author of computer program does not have Moral Rights (section 91). Moral Rights cannot be transferred unless on the death of moral rights holder (section 105 and 106).

In India

Moral rights are recognised under section 57 of India copyright act. Section 57 of India Copyright act refers to Author's Special rights. It states: :(1) Independently of author's copyright, and even after the assignment either wholly or partially of the said copyright, the author of the work shall have the right to claim authorship of the work as well as the right to restrain, or claim damages in respect of ::(a) any distortion, mutilation or other modification of the said work; or ::(b) any other action in relation to the said work which would be prejudicial to his honour or reputation. :(2) The right conferred upon an author of a work by sub section (1), other than the right to claim authorship of the work, may be exercised by the legal representatives of the author. The issue of moral rights was discussed in Amar Nath Sehgal V Union of India & Ors.(Amar Nath Sehgal V Union of India & Ors CS/OS/No.2074/1992 decided on 21st Feb 2005. Court of Mr. Justice Pradeep Nandrajog). The case pertained to a mural that was commissioned in 1957 by Government of India during construction of
Vigyan Bhavan Vigyan Bhawan ("science building") is a premier conference centre of the Government of India in New Delhi. Built in 1956, over the years it has been the venue of conferences of national and international stature, seminars and award ceremonies a ...
at New Delhi. The mural in question was made of bronze had span of 140 feet sweep of 40 feet. The mural remained on display and was much appreciated till pulled down in 1979 and then consigned to storerooms of Union of India. Delhi High Court specifically referred to Berne Convention in delivering judgement. Court also awarded damages Rs. 500000 (half million) and also decreed in favor of the Amar Nath Sehgal that he would have an absolute right to recreate the mural at any place and right to sale the same. The Court accepted existence of moral rights despite the work being commissioned work and copyright had passed over to union of India and suit being brought 13years after the said act(defense of limitations as pleaded by Government was rejected by the court).

In Macao

Article 41 of th
provides inalienable, unrenounceable and imprescriptible author's personal rights.

In Taiwan

Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia, at the junction of the East and South China Seas in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, with the People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the nort ...
, the Copyright Act has provided authors' perpetual moral rights with regard of attribution and protection against alteration in bad faith, even if the works are in the
public domain The public domain (PD) consists of all the creative work to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply. Those rights may have expired, been forfeited, expressly waived, or may be inapplicable. Because those rights have expired, ...
, as follows: *Article 25 of the Copyright Act 192

*Article 21 of the Copyright Act 194

*Article 21 of the Copyright Act 1948, unchanged from the 1944 Ac

(The effective jurisdiction of the Republic of China became limited to Taiwan Area in 1949.) *Article 21 of the Copyright Act 1964, unchanged from the 1948 Ac

*Article 26 of the Copyright Act 198

*Article 26 of the Copyright Act 1990, unchanged from the 1985 Ac

*Section 3, Articles 15-21 of the Copyright Act 1992, with the Article unchanged in the subsequent versions of the Copyright Ac

In the United States

Moral rights traditionally have not been recognized in American law.''Nimmer on Copyright'', vol. 3, § 8D.02. Some elements of moral rights do exist in the United States, but are usually protected through specific contract provisions between parties, or else through individual states' laws or the derivative work rights in Copyright law in the United States, U.S. copyright law. U.S. copyright law emphasizes protection of financial reward over protection of creative attribution. The exclusive rights tradition in the United States is inconsistent with the notion of moral rights as it was constituted in the Civil Code tradition stemming from post-Revolutionary France. When the United States acceded to the
Berne Convention The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, usually known as the Berne Convention, was an international assembly held in 1886 in the Swiss city of Bern by ten European countries with the goal to agree on a set of leg ...
, it stipulated that the Convention's "moral rights" provisions were addressed sufficiently by other statutes, such as laws covering
slander and libel Defamation is the act of communicating to a third party false statements about a person, place or thing that results in damage to its reputation. It can be spoken (slander) or written (libel). It constitutes a tort or a crime. The legal defini ...
. Some individual states have moral rights laws, particularly pertaining to visual art and artists (''See'', ''e.g.'' California Art Preservation Act, Artists Authorship Rights Act (New York)). However, it is unclear if these laws, or portions thereof, are preempted by federal laws, such as the Visual Artists Rights Act. In '' Gilliam v. American Broadcasting'', the
Monty Python Monty Python (also collectively known as the Pythons) were a British comedy troupe who created the sketch comedy television show ''Monty Python's Flying Circus'', which first aired on the BBC in 1969. Forty-five episodes were made over four ...
comedy troupe made a claim of "mutilation" (akin to a moral rights claim) in 1975 in legal proceedings against American TV network
ABC ABC are the first three letters of the Latin script known as the alphabet. ABC or abc may also refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Broadcasting * American Broadcasting Company, a commercial U.S. TV broadcaster ** Disney–ABC Television ...
for airing re-edited versions of ''
Monty Python's Flying Circus ''Monty Python's Flying Circus'' (also known as simply ''Monty Python'') is a British surreal humour, surreal sketch comedy series created by and starring Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam, wh ...
''. However, the case was primarily decided on the basis of whether the BBC was licensed in such a way as to allow ABC to edit the videos (paragraph 20).

Visual Artists Rights Act

The Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 grants authors of a "work of visual art" - e.g. photographs, paintings, sculptures, etc. - the non-transferable right to *claim authorship *prevent the use of one's name on any work the author did not create *prevent use of one's name on any work that has been distorted, mutilated, or modified in a way that would be prejudicial to the author's honor or reputation *prevent any intentional distortion, mutilation, or modification that would prejudice the author's honor or reputation *prevent the destruction of a work of art if it is of "recognized stature" These rights are distinct from any rights of copyright and ownership of a copy of the work.

Adaptation right

Copyright holders have the right to control adaptations, or the preparation of " derivative works". This right is given under
copyright law A copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to copy, distribute, adapt, display, and perform a creative work, usually for a limited time. The creative work may be in a literary, artistic, education ...
. ''See'' 17 U.S.C. § 106.

Lanham Act

Section 43 of the Lanham Act governs false and misleading advertising, and can apply in some instances to attribution of protected works. However, it cannot be used to create moral rights for works outside of the Act. ''See'' '' Dastar v. Twentieth Century Fox''. By the start of the twentieth century, U.S. decisions on unfair competition found that representing as the author's work a version of the work that substantially departed from the original was a cause of action. Section §43(a) of the Lanham Act, which protects brands and trademarks, also provides similar protection to laws based on moral rights. For any goods or services, it bans false designation of origin or a false description or representation. In '' Gilliam v. American Broadcasting'' the British comedy group called ''
Monty Python Monty Python (also collectively known as the Pythons) were a British comedy troupe who created the sketch comedy television show ''Monty Python's Flying Circus'', which first aired on the BBC in 1969. Forty-five episodes were made over four ...
'' took action against the ABC network for broadcasting versions of their programs which had been correctly attributed to them but had been extensively edited, in part to remove content that their audience might consider offensive or obscene. The judgement of the
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (in case citations, 2d Cir.) is one of the thirteen United States Courts of Appeals. Its territory comprises the states of Connecticut, New York and Vermont. The court has appellate jur ...
was in favor of ''Monty Python'', finding the cuts might be an "actionable mutilation" that violated the Lanham Act.

Courtesy of non-attribution

Authors occasionally wish to distance themselves from work they've been involved with, some to the point of not wishing to be recognized as the work's author. One way they may do this is by signing the work under a pseudonym. Alan Smithee was a traditional, collective pseudonym used between 1968 and 1999 by discontented
Hollywood Hollywood usually refers to: * Hollywood, Los Angeles, a neighborhood in California * Hollywood, a metonym for the cinema of the United States Hollywood may also refer to: Places United States * Hollywood District (disambiguation) * Hollywo ...
film director A film director controls a film's artistic and dramatic aspects and visualizes the screenplay (or script) while guiding the film crew and actors in the fulfilment of that vision. The director has a key role in choosing the cast members, ...
s who no longer wanted to be credited. This courtesy was not always extended, however. The director of '' Highlander II'',
Russell Mulcahy Russell Mulcahy ( ; born 23 June 1953) is an Australian film director. Mulcahy's work is recognisable by the use of fast cuts, tracking shots and use of glowing lights, neo-noir lighting, windblown drapery, and fans. He directed music videos ...
, wanted his name removed after the completion bond company took over film production, but he was contractually obliged not to impugn the film and he was told that using a pseudonym would impugn it. If the work was unfinished, sometimes the original author will choose a pseudonym as permission for the copyright holder to do whatever they wish to finish and market the unwanted work, cutting ties from the product.

See also

Personality rights Personality rights, sometimes referred to as the right of publicity, are rights for an individual to control the commercial use of their identity, such as name, image, likeness, or other unequivocal identifiers. They are generally considered as ...
* Protection of Classics


;General *

Further reading

*Peter E. Berlowe, Laura J. Berlowe-Heinish, and Peter A. Koziol
"In this Digital Age, Are We Protecting Tomorrow's 'Masterpieces'? Protection of the Moral Rights of the Digital Graphic Artist"
81 Fla. Bar J. 30 (2007) *Laura Gassaway
"Copyright and moral rights" (Copyright Corner)
''Information Outlook'', Vol. 6, No. 12 (December 2002), pp. 40–41. *Patrick Masiyakurima
"The Trouble with Moral Rights"
''The Modern Law Review'' (May 2005), 68 (3), pp. 411–434 *Cyrill P. Rigamonti
"Deconstructing Moral Rights"
47 ''Harv. Int'l L.J.'' 353 (2006) (PDF) *Cyrill P. Rigamonti
"The Conceptual Transformation of Moral Rights"
55 ''American Journal of Comparative Law'' 67 (2007) *Mira T. Sundara Rajan
"Moral Rights and Copyright Harmonisation - Prospects for an 'International Moral Right
British and Irish Law Conference, 2002, Free University, Amsterdam {{DEFAULTSORT:Moral Rights Intellectual property law Copyright law Art and culture law