Sociology Index

Moral Rights And Copyright Law

The right of attribution, the right to have a work published anonymously or pseudonymously, and the right to the integrity of the work are some examples of moral rights. Anything else that may detract from the artist's relationship with the work even after it leaves the artist's possession or ownership may bring these moral rights into play. Moral rights are distinct from any economic rights tied to copyright, thus even if an artist has assigned their rights to a work to a third party they still maintain the moral rights to the work. Some jurisdictions allow for the waiver of moral rights.

If the work must be credited and published to recover its costs, the actual author may decide to hide behind a pseudonym as a way to practically "abandon" the moral rights. In the United States, the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 recognizes moral rights, but only applies to works of visual art. France recognizes four categories of “moral rights” that differ from U.S. law. The first is the “right of disclosure” – the right to decide whether or not to publish. Under French law, even a paraphrase of an unpublished writing could violate le droit moral.

The concept of droit moral is the basis for all copyright laws. Droit moral is a French term for "moral right" refers particularly to certain rights which all civilizations should recognize are held by those who create intellectual properties? artists, or their estates. Discussions of droit moral eventually turn to the extent to which moral rights should be tied to monetary rights, and the extent to which moral rights should be alienable. These include artists' rights to:

Attribution: the right to be identified as the creator of a work.

Disclosure: the right to decide when and where to publish the work.

Withdrawal: the right to withdraw a work from circulation.

Integrity: the right to preserve the integrity of the work.

Moral rights are rights of creators of copyrighted works generally recognized in civil law jurisdictions and first recognized in France and Germany, before they were included in the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works in 1928. Jurisdictions that include moral rights in their copyright statutes are called droit d'auteur states, which literally means "right of the author."

United States became a signatory to the convention in 1988, but it still does not completely recognize moral rights as part of copyright law It recognizes moral rights as part of other bodies of law, such as defamation or unfair competition.

In Dastar v. Twentieth Century Fox, the Supreme Court quashed an attempt to bootstrap moral rights onto works in the public domain through section 43(a) of the Lanham Act. Coincidentally, Twentieth Century Fox had previously been the defendant in a similar suit almost sixty years earlier. Russian composers, whose work was in the public domain, sued Fox for using their work in the film The Iron Curtain, regarded as anti-Communist.  found against the composers on similar grounds.

Authors, Attribution, and Integrity: Examining Moral Rights in the United States

The U.S. Copyright Office has completed its comprehensive study of attribution and integrity rights in the United States. The report presents an extensive review of the U.S. moral rights regime, exploring the current state of attribution and integrity interests, particularly with respect to legal and technological changes since the United States joined the Berne Convention thirty years ago. This report also presents recommendations for enhancing existing moral rights protections should Congress decide that potential changes are desirable.

The term “moral rights” comes from the French phrase droit moral and generally refers to certain noneconomic rights that are considered personal to an author. Chief among these rights are the right of an author to be credited as the author of their work (the right of attribution) and the right to prevent prejudicial distortions of the work (the right of integrity). While these rights have a long history in international copyright law, the United States did not consider formal adoption of moral rights until it prepared to join the Berne Convention, which it ultimately did in 1989.

The Register of Copyrights recommended further study of moral rights under U.S. law in her testimony April 2015, and at that hearing, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee requested this study. As part of the preparation for this study, the Office co-hosted a day-long symposium on moral rights in April 2016 to hear views about current issues in this area.

In reviewing the U.S. framework regarding moral rights protection, the Copyright Office identified three important principles: respecting foundational principles of U.S. law (including the First Amendment, fair use, and limited terms), appreciating the importance creators place on their attribution and integrity interests, and recognizing and respecting the diversity among industry sectors and different types of works.

Books On Moral Rights and Copyrights

Protecting Moral Rights Under Copyright Law: The Stride Forward by POKU ADUSEI.

The Soul of Creativity: Forging a Moral Rights Law for the United States (Stanford Law Books) by Roberta Rosenthal Kwall.

Toward an Ameircan moral rights in copyright : An article from: Washington and Lee Law Review by Ilhyung Lee.

Deriving a (moral) right for creators : An article from: Texas International Law Journal by Thierry Joffrain.

The Moral Rights of Authors and Performers : An International and Comparative Analysis Oxford University Press, USA; 6th edition by Elizabeth Adeney.