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Moral Rights 

Moral Rights

Ethical and Legal Considerations

Annette Flanagin

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Subscriber: null; date: 29 September 2016

Moral Rights

Moral rights, first introduced by the French as droit moral, is a doctrine of copyright law intended to protect individual creators' noneconomic investments in their work and the personality of the creator as it relates to the work regardless of copyright ownership or transfer.38(§26.01),58 Two moral rights that are most often recognized are the right to attribution and right to integrity (ie, right to prevent destruction or mutilation of work).38(§26.01) This doctrine is endorsed by most member countries of the Berne Convention. Although the United States is a member of the Berne Convention, US law does not provide for moral rights, except for certain visual works of art to protect them from mutilation or misattribution through the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990.14(§106A) Creators of other works in the United States are provided limited moral rights protection under other federal laws (such as the Lanham Act), state laws, or contracts that include specific provisions for moral rights.38(§26.01) Under interpretations of relevant US laws as well as any applicable contract provisions, US editors and publishers may not give authorship credit to someone who has not written the work and may not credit an author of a written work without the author’s permission (see 5.1.2, Authorship Responsibility, Guest and Ghost Authors). In the United States, courts have also held that mutilation of a work (distortion or substantial alteration of the work without consent of the author) may result in a violation of the Lanham Act.38(§26.03B) However, authors are not similarly protected against unauthorized changes made during editing, proofreading, and typesetting of their work.38(§26.03C) Because of the ease of manipulation and distortion of electronic works, concerns about moral rights in the context of electronic publishing are increasing in the United States and may portend changes in this area of law in the future.38(§26.03E)

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