According to Handy, every artist should learn about their moral rights since it allows them to protect the integrity of their artwork and reputation. Unlike copyright, your moral rights remain even after your death and can be exercised by your personal representatives and beneficiaries to protect your interests.
Here are a few important moral rights that artists and collectors need to know:
- The Right of Attribution – Every artist has the right to be identified as the creator of their artwork when their artwork is published, exhibited publicly, or included in a broadcast or film. It is prudent to assert the right of attribution as soon as possible. Otherwise, you might miss the chance to be identified as the creator of your artwork.
To assert this right, you can simply insert a clause in a written document such as a licensing contract stating that you assert your right to be identified as the creator of your artwork.
- The Right of Integrity – The right of integrity (AKA the right to object to derogatory treatment) allows artists to protect their reputation. Typically, the term ‘treatment’ includes any type of manipulation to your work such as deletions, additions, adaptations, etc. that modify the composition or structure of the original work. However, the treatment must also be ‘derogatory’ which includes some form of mutilation or distortion of your artwork which aims to ruin your reputation.
When you believe that somebody has infringed upon this right, you can provide records such as testimonials, reviews, expert opinions, quotes, or other things that clearly show your reputation and how much damage has been caused to your reputation due to the infringement of this right.
- The Right to Object False Attribution – You can exercise the right to object false attribution whenever you notice that you have been falsely attributed for any work. This doesn’t mean that you have to have any original artwork.
This right applies to forged artwork as well as any alterations done by a third party. However, it is only infringed or violated when the artwork that is falsely attributed to you is exhibited in a public setting. Unlike other forms of moral rights, this right applies in all situations since there are no exceptions to this right.
- The Right of Privacy – The right of privacy allows artists who have commissioned films or photographs for domestic or private purposes to not have any copies issued or communicated publicly. This includes cable and broadcast services as well as public exhibitions. This right is infringed upon when a third party violates the rules of this right and displays copies of the artwork in a public setting.
Handy suggests artists carefully read and understand the terms of a contract or licensing agreement before agreeing to the terms written in it. It is crucial to pay attention to any sentence that states the waiver of moral rights since doing so would mean you won’t be able to enforce your moral rights if they are breached.