What are an author’s moral rights?

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Moral rights differ from normal rights to a copyright in that they serve to protect an author’s image even in cases where there is otherwise no infringement.  For example, an author’s moral rights might be violated when his or her work is used in a way that damages the author’s reputation, such as if a composer’s religious hymn is used as the background music for a pornographic movie.  Even if this behavior would otherwise not infringe on the author’s copyright, the author may claim that his or her moral rights have been infringed by use of the work.

Moral rights relate to the honor and reputation of a creator and therefore they are exclusively granted to the author of a work.  This means that moral rights can only be enforced by the author, rather than the copyright’s owner.  When the author of a work dies, generally the moral rights cannot continue to be enforced.  However, certain situations allow for the deceased author’s family members or appointed representative to make posthumous claims based on moral rights on his or her behalf.

If you have questions about infringement of your moral rights please contact our office for a legal consultation.