What are moral rights?

"Moral rights are about keeping the connection between you and your work"

Moral rights are personal rights that connect the creator of a work to their work.

Moral rights are about being properly named or credited when your work is used, and the way your work is treated and shown.

Moral rights require that your name is always shown with your work. This is called right of attribution. For example:

  • your name should always appear next to your artwork in an exhibition
  • your name should always appear in the credits of a film you performed in
  • your name should always appear with any writing you have published

Moral rights also require that your work is not treated in any way that hurts your reputation. This is called right of integrity. For example, it means that:

  • no one can change your work without your permission
  • no one can destroy your work without first asking you if you want to take it back
  • no one can show your work in a way that damages its meaning

Who has moral rights and how long do they last?

  • Anyone who creates artistic works, dramatic works, musical works, literary works or films have morals rights in relation to their work.
  • Performers in live performances or in recorded performance also have moral rights relating to their performance.

Moral rights begin when a work is created. They continue for your lifetime and for up to 70 years after your death.

Moral rights infringement
Moral rights infringement is when you have not been properly named or credited when your work is used. If someone has treated your work in a way that hurts your reputation, this is called derogatory treatment.

You have the right to protect yourself against moral rights infringements. Learn how to protect yourself against a moral rights infringement in Taking action: what are the legal steps?

Summary

  • Moral rights are about keeping the connection between you and your work.
  • You have moral rights in relation to the work you create.
  • You have the right to be recognised, or named, as the creator of your work.
  • No one should do anything to your work that hurts your reputation.
  • You cannot give away your moral rights. They are for you only.
  • Moral rights last for your lifetime and up to 70 years after your death.
  • If someone does not show your name with your work, or treats your work in a way that hurts your reputation, this is called a moral rights infringement.

Legal Tips
If your artwork is shown in public these details should be near it somewhere, or in a catalogue:

  • your name
  • title of artwork (in italics)
  • the materials used in the artwork
  • the year the work was made
  • For example: Name Surname, Still Life, Acrylic paint on canvas, 2010
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