Moral Rights of an Author

The following article states some general information about the moral rights a copyright law provides to the author of a particular piece of copyrightable work. This is not legal or expert advice and for more specific information a professional copyright lawyer should be contacted.

Moral Rights

Moral rights are those of an author over his tangible piece of work; his authority over his creation. A copyrightable work may be in literature, art, design, music, or drama, its author gets the protection rights against any infringement. Copyright law accepts the originator to be the lawful owner of his work without disclosing his name and other details of his work.

The phrase moral right has its origins in the French language. This moral is not related to ethics or religious values but it refers to the rights of an author over his work and his control over the changes, exhibitions, results or any outcomes related to his copyrightable work. Such rights are also called connection rights. This refers to the connection and authority of the author to his work.

Why need these rights?

The rules defining the violation of this law are quite vague. Therefore, at times its hard to judge the intensity and possibility of an infringement. Besides, it also varies from country to country and culture to culture. For instance, copyright laws in South Africa are very different from those in the United States of America as the former follow the Copyright Act of 1978 and its amendments.

The author has complete rights to prevent any changes or alterations made to his work which may affect the reputation and integrity of the author or his work. He may also completely dissociate himself from any altered reproduction or a copy of his work with undesirable changes.

Legal Rights Holder

At times there are certain disputes between the author and publisher where the rights of the author are ignored. The author may not always be the copyright holder of his publication but the moral rights still reside with him. An attorney generally has to take care of such matters as he has more knowledge and information about the copyright law. 

Even if the author transfers his rights to someone else, his moral rights will always be with him till he dies. Unless a written agreement is made in the presence of a lawyer, these rights cannot be transferred.


As these rights are similar to copyrights, they can be infringed too. An example is when the publisher ignores the author’s name without…

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