What are moral rights?

Whereas copyright is concerned with protecting economic rights, moral rights provide the author with the ability to protect the artistic integrity of his or her work.

Whilst copyright is a property right which can be transferred through being sold, assigned or through legacy, moral rights cannot be transferred, although they can be waived.

In some territories, to benefit from the right of paternity, the author must assert it. IOP's standard Assignment of Copyright includes an explicit assertion of this right.

In most countries, the right of paternity and the right to object to derogatory treatment last for at least as long as a work is protected by copyright. The right to object to false attribution may be more limited.

In some countries, such as the US and the UK, work produced by staff during the course of their employment attracts a lower level of moral rights protection.

Moral rights are important to adhere to because of the ease with which content can be curated, altered, changed and manipulated, particularly when in electronic format. If digital images are reproduced electronically, it is important to ensure that they are reproduced in their entirety unless permission has been secured from the copyright owner for a change. Similarly, authors should be credited appropriately.

Moral rights can be summarised as:

1 The right of the author of a literary work to be acknowledged as the author or creator (known as the right of paternity)

2 The right of the author to object to false attribution

3 The right of the author not to have his or her work subjected to ‘derogatory' treatment

An artistic interpretation of the error distribution in PIV image data, showing that when measuring the peripheral displacement in the y-direction, measurements performed close to the x-axis result in the highest errors

An artistic interpretation of the error distribution in PIV image data, showing that when measuring the peripheral displacement in the y-direction, measurements performed close to the x-axis result in the highest errors
A Armellini et al 2012 Meas. Sci. Technol. 23 025302.

Moral rights and Creative Commons licences

Each of the Creative Commons licences provides protection very similar to that afforded by moral rights. Since moral rights are personal to the author, this gives the copyright holder the right to enforce the authors' moral rights on their behalf..