Moral rights

Moral rights are rights of creators of copyrighted works generally recognized in civil law jurisdictions and, to a lesser extent, in some common law jurisdictions. They include the right of attribution, the right to have a work published anonymously or pseudonymously, and the right to the integrity of the work.[1] The preserving of the integrity of the work allows the author to object to alteration, distortion, or mutilation of the work that is "prejudicial to the author's honor or reputation".[2] 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 copyrights. Even if an artist has assigned his or her copyright rights to a work to a third party, he or she still maintains the moral rights to the work.[3]

Moral rights were first recognized in France and Germany,[4] before they were included in the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works in 1928.[5]:37 Canada recognizes moral rights (droits moraux) in its Copyright Act (Loi sur le droit d'auteur).[6] The United States became a signatory to the convention in 1989,[7] and incorporated a version of moral rights under its copyright law under Title 17 of the U.S. Code.

Some jurisdictions allow for the waiver of moral rights.[5]:44-45 In the United States, the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA) recognizes moral rights, but applies only to a narrow subset of works of visual art.[8]

Some jurisdictions like Austria differentiate between narrow and wide moral rights. Whilst the former is about integrity of the work, the latter limits usages, which may harm the author's integrity. Some copyright timestamp services allow an author to publish allowed and disallowed usage intentions to prevent a violation of such wider moral rights.[9]

Berne Convention

Through the Rome Revision of the Berne Convention in 1928, the Berne Convention accepted two forms of moral rights; paternity and integrity. These rights are included in Article 6bis of the Berne Convention as follows:

Independent of the author's economic rights, and even after the transfer of the said rights, the author shall have the right to claim authorship of the work and to object to any distortion, modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to the said work, which would be prejudicial to the author's honor or reputation.[10]

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