Moral rights - something that you can take with you

If deep down you are a Latin, fiery-tempered, Hemingway sort caught in the world of the metro male, then moral rights are for you, as they are about honour, respect and reputation. 

Moral rights are: 
1. For attribution of authorship. Meaning, when people use your holiday photographs, they must say that it was your creative work. This right can often be waived in common law countries like Australia, which is a great relief in the case of some works. 
2. Against your work being falsely attributed to another. If you create something worthwhile, other people will step forward to say it is theirs. In some cases, they are right. 
3. For integrity of authorship against derogatory treatment of your work. This means unauthorised alterations, or, more hysterically, “distortions and mutilations” that are prejudicial to your honour or reputation, for instance, alterations which associate the author with something that he is not, e.g., strong drink, or places doubt on the author’s skills, e.g., lousy in bed or bad at driving. 
It is a defence if the use was reasonable. It is a subjective test taking into account your feelings.
The court will look at the nature of the work, the purpose for which it is used and the manner and context of use, for instance, the author’s investment of his personality in the creation of the work. Therefore, in moral rights, as in law, a huge ego can give you quite an advantage. 
Moral rights are only available during your lifetime; they are one of the few things that you can take with you. 
Disappointingly, moral rights are about injunctions and public apologies rather than money. Of course, you can claim compensation, but if you really are the fiery, Hemingway sort, the insultingly low damages awarded by a court may just set you off all over again.

© Paul Brennan 2010-2019. All rights Reserved.


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