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Copyright - Moral Rights

Written by Michael Coyle on 14 September 2011

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Copyright - Moral Rights

What are Moral Rights?

English law contains detailed provisions for four moral rights. Three are associated with certain copyright works namely;

(1) Literary

(2) Dramatic;

(3) Musical or artistic works and films.

The authors of such copyright works or the director of a copyright film have the right to be identified as such (right to be identified) and the right not to have their work subjected to derogatory treatment (the right of integrity). Any person also has the right not to have such works falsely attributed to him as author or, in the case of a copyright film, as director (the false attribution right).

The fourth right belongs to a person who for private and domestic purposes commissions the taking of a photograph or the making of a film (s.85 --right to privacy). If copyright subsists in the resulting work, then the owner of the right, who need not own the copyright, has the right not to have copies of the work issued to the public, the work exhibited or broadcast in public.

The right to be identified and the rights of integrity and privacy last as long as copyright in the work. The false attribution right continues for 20 years after the person's death.

Moral rights are not assignable but are transmissible upon death.

There are numerous exceptions and qualifications to all four rights which mean that in practice they are very much more limited rights than their brief descriptions suggest.

For example there is no infringement of the right to be identified unless the right has been asserted, either specifically or generally. The right does not apply to anything done by the employer of an author where the employer is the first owner of copyright under s.11(2). The right to be identified and the right of integrity do not apply to works made for the purpose of reporting current events, or for publication in a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical, or in collective works of reference such as dictionaries. They do not apply to computer programs or computer-generated works.

Lawdit Solicitors are a commercial firm of solicitors which specialise in Copyright law.
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