What Are Moral Rights?

labels of IP law

Generally, people hold some knowledge about the meaning and application of copyright and what copyright protects. Moral rights, on the other hand, are much less talked about and you might be hard pressed to find a good explanation or definition of those rights. 

Typically, moral rights are personal rights that belong to the creator or author of a work. A key feature of moral rights is that they are inalienable, which means that they remain with the author even though the copyright in a work may have been assigned to a third party. 

The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) addresses three moral rights that apply to artistic, dramatic, literary and cinematographic works as well as computer programs: 

  • the right of attribution (i.e. the right to be named as author of a work) 
  • the right of integrity (i.e. the right to object to derogatory treatment of a work)
  • the right not to have authorship falsely attributed.

For more information about the rights and obligations of copyright and moral rights owners and users, and how to best achieve a balance of the rights of creators with the need of the public to access and use copyright works, read our newly updated chapter in the Queensland Law Handbook on ‘Copyright and Moral Rights’.