Moral rights

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The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (the Act) contains provisions that expressly recognise and protect the moral rights of authors. While copyright concerns the economic rights of a copyright owner (usually the author but not always the case) to control their material, moral rights are rights aimed at protecting the author's honour and reputation.

Moral rights belong to the authors of copyright material (eg artistic works such as architectural plans). It is separate to copyright. They are personal to the author and cannot be assigned to another party. Only individual authors (eg architects) can possess moral rights, not corporate bodies (eg architectural firms). Moral rights last for the same length of time as copyright – life of the author plus 70 years.

Moral rights were introduced in Australia on 21 December 2000 under the Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000. Authors will still have moral rights in material created before 21 December 2000, however, they can only enforce their moral rights in relation to acts that take place after this date.

There are three types of moral rights:

  1. The right of attribution
  2. The right against false attribution
  3. The right of integrity