Moral rights were introduced into Australian law in 2001 [Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) Part IX]. These rights are personal and inalienable. This means that they are granted to authors and performers personally and may be exercised by them even though the copyright is owned by someone else; also, they cannot be sold to another party.
Moral rights consist of the following rights:
- The right of attribution: this provides that the creator of a work must be identified as such whenever a work is reproduced, published, peformed or adapted (for literary, dramatic or musical works); reproduced, published, exhibited or communicated (for artistic works); or copied, exhibited or transmitted (for films). See Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) s 194.
- The right not to have authorship falsely attributed: this means that, in any reproduction or use of a work, there is a duty to the author of the work not to insert another person’s name in or on the work in such a way as to suggest falsely that the other person is the author. See Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) ss 195AC – 195AH for an exhaustive list of the types of acts that would constitute false attribution according to the category of work. The right against false attribution also exists for performers under sections 195AHA – 195AHC.
- The right of integrity: this is a right to prevent derogatory treatment of a work that is detrimental to their honour or reputation. Derogatory treatment includes anything that results in material distortion, mutilation, or alteration of a work that is prejudicial to the author’s honour or reputation. See Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) ss 195AI – 195AL. Authors may consent to certain treatments of their work, and in some cases a defence may be raised that the act was reasonable in the circumstances [ss 195AR – 195AT and 195AXD – 195AXE].
For more information, see the information sheet on Moral Rights produced by the Australian Copyright Council.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.