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Moral rights

Moral rights

Types of IP

Moral rights


Moral rights recognised in Hong Kong include the rights of an author of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, and a director of a film:

  • to be attributed (that is, credited) as author or director of the work respectively (called the right of attribution); and
  • not to have his work treated in a derogatory way (called the right of integrity).

Separately, a person has the right not to have a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work falsely attributed to him as author, or a film falsely attributed to him as director (called the right against false attribution).

Moral rights are separate to copyright.

The rights of attribution and integrity last for the same duration as copyright, and arise at the same time that copyright arises.  The right against false attribution continues to subsist until 20 years after a person’s death.

Ownership of copyright can pass from one person to another.

Moral rights however cannot be sold or transferred, except that the rights of attribution and integrity may be passed to another person upon the death of the author or director.  Meanwhile, an infringement after a person’s death of his right against false attribution is actionable by his personal representatives.

An author’s moral rights continue independently of the transfer of ownership of copyright.

The rights of attribution and integrity are subject to exceptions.  For instance, such rights do not apply to computer programs and computer-generated works. 

Moral rights can be waived. It is not uncommon for an employer to request its employees, for instance in relation to business documents, to waive their moral rights.