What are moral rights?

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 protects a number of rights, which are collectively known as “moral rights”. They are as follows:
  • The right to be identified as the author or director of the work (also known as “the right of paternity”);

  • The right to object to derogatory treatment of work (also known as “the right of integrity”);

  • The right not to be falsely attributed to work (also known as “the false attribution right”);

  • The right to privacy of certain photographs and films.

The right to be identified as the author

This right gives an author of a copyright literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work the right to be identified as the author of the work in certain circumstances.

Authors of literary work (other than words intended to be sung or spoken with music)

An author of a literary work (other than words intended to be sung or spoken with music) or a dramatic work has the right to be identified as the author of the work in the following situations:

  • Whenever the work is published commercially, performed in public or communicated to the public; or

  • Copies of a film or sound recording which includes the work are issued to the public.

The right to be indentified as the author of the work also applies in relation to adaptations of the work.

Authors of musical work and literary work consisting of words intended to be sung or spoken with music

An author of a musical work or a literary work consisting of words intended to be sung or spoken with music has the right to be identified as the author of the work in the following situations:

  • Whenever the work is published commercially;

  • Whenever copies of a sound recording of the work are issued to the public; or

  • In the case of films, which include a sound-track, whenever the film is shown in public or copies of the film are issued to the public.

The right to be indentified as the author of the work also applies in relation to adaptations of the work.

Authors of artistic work

An author of an artistic work has the right to be identified as the author of the work in the following situations:

  • Whenever the work is published commercially or exhibited in public or a visual image of it is communicated to the public;

  • Whenever a film including a visual image of the work is shown in public or copies of such a film are issued to the public; or

  • In the case of a work of architecture in the form of a building or a model for a building, a sculpture or a work of artistic craftsmanship, whenever copies of a graphic work representing it, or a photograph of it, are issued to the public.

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For more information on:

  • The right to be identified as the director
  • In what manner does an author or director have the right to be identified?
  • Does the right to be identified as the author or director of the work apply in every case?
  • The right to object to derogatory treatment of work
  • The author of a copyright literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, and the director of a copyright film, has the right in certain circumstances not to have his work subjected to derogatory treatment.
  • False attribution of work
  • The right to privacy of certain photographs and films