Moral rights policy


Effective from December 21, 2000, the Copyright Act 1968 now gives authors of copyright works (as distinct from the copyright owners) three moral rights. These rights are quite distinct from the “economic” rights held by the copyright owner and are as follows:

  • right of attribution – i.e. the right of authors to be identified with their works;
  • right against false attribution – i.e. the corresponding right not to have authorship falsely attributed;
  • right of integrity – the right of authors to ensure that their work is not treated in a derogatory way by doing something to the work which is prejudicial to the author’s honour and reputation, e.g. materially altering, mutilating or distorting the work

In the case of work created by a University staff member in the course of his or her employment (e.g. courseware) copyright in the work will be owned by the University under the provisions of the Copyright Act 1968, the University’s Intellectual Property Statute 7.1 and the University’s standard contracts of employment. The University will therefore retain the usual rights associated with copyright work which include rights to:

  • reproduce the work;
  • communicate the work to the public; and
  • make an adaptation of the work

However, the author’s (i.e. staff member’s) moral rights will continue to exist notwithstanding that the University owns copyright in the work.

A person or organisation who does not attribute an author or who treats work in a derogatory way would not infringe those moral rights if the person’s/organisation’s action or omission was reasonable in the circumstances. There are a number factors to take into account in order to determine whether such action or inaction is reasonable. These include the nature of the work, the purpose for which it is used and relevant industry practice. The University’s Legal Services Group takes the view that it is reasonable to re-use a work with appropriate alterations for another purpose related to the University’s business activities, and that to do so would not breach the moral rights of the author. However, staff proposing to use University copyright work should be sensitive to the honour and reputation of the staff member who originally created the work and avoid making unnecessary or inappropriate alterations to the work. The author should also be attributed unless it is impractical to do. Tensions can be avoided by contacting the author in the first instance and discussing with him/her the proposed use.

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