The Federation Press

Moral Rights

and their application in Australia


In December 2000 Australian architects, filmmakers, writers, performers, visual artists, makers of multimedia products and other similar 'authors' gained additional protection of their reputation (and therefore income) in connection to the outcomes of their intellectual and creative endeavours. They gained in law the 'moral' rights of attribution and integrity. The right of attribution gives the author the right to be acknowledged as the author whenever certain acts, such as publication, reproduction or public performance occur. The right of integrity gives the author the right to prevent any action in relation to the work that is prejudicial to his or her honour or reputation.

This book explains moral rights and how they apply in Australia. It is intended for legal practitioners and those who advise people who possess moral rights or who work with material to which moral rights apply. There are specific chapters explaining how moral rights apply to particular fields, ie, indigenous creators, digital works, films, architects, visual artists and performers.

Author Maree Sainsbury also includes checklists of risk management considerations from both the user's and the author's (creator's) perspective.


This book serves both as an excellent introduction and a useful reference on its subject, which may be both more pervasive and less comprehensive than might first appear. A protected work can include a building, but Indigenous works are poorly served by the legislation. When it comes to films, the producer, director and screenwriter all have moral rights, as will the author of a book or play on which it might be based, the author of any musical work, and the author of any artistic work including buildings used in the film. Moral rights are nor transferable but contractual arrangements are important in expressing consents to acts or omissions which might otherwise infringe an author’s rights. The book is conveniently organise with succinct overviews preceding more detailed explanations throughout, as well as a general overview. A chapter on digital works includes a discussion of moral rights in relation to software and computer-generated work. There is also a useful discussion of the international application of moral rights, and a chapter on applying moral rights provides practical guidance for working through relevant questions. - John Kernick, Law Society (NSW) Journal, Vol 43/2, March 2005

Table of Contents

Introduction: What are Moral Rights and Why are they Important?
Moral Rights
The Australian Moral Rights Legislation
Protecting Moral Rights using Related Laws
Applying Moral Rights Generally
Moral Rights and Indigenous Authors
Moral Rights and Digital Works
Moral Rights and Films
Moral Rights and Architects
Moral Rights and Visual Artists
Moral Rights and Performers
International Application of Moral Rights
Appendix A : The Moral Rights Provisions of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)
Appendix B: The Former Part IX Provisions of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (false attribution)
Bibliography / Index

Of interest...