Moral rights

Moral rights relate to the author of an original work, and are sometimes described as ‘personal rights’. 


In New Zealand, moral rights are set out under Part 4 of the Copyright Act 1994, and include:

  • the right of attribution, meaning the right to be identified as the author of the original work or the director of a film;
  • the right of integrity, meaning the right to object to derogatory treatment of the work;
  • the right not to have a work falsely attributed or credited to you, or for certain other false representations to be made; and
  • the right to privacy of specific, privately commissioned photographs and films.

These rights cannot be sold or assigned, which means moral rights and copyright ownership (sometimes referred to as ‘economic rights’) in a work can be separated. In other words, even if copyright ownership is assigned from the author to someone else, the author may separately retain and exercise their moral rights. However, it is possible for the author to waive their moral rights, either generally or for specific purposes.

Enforcement of moral rights is different to enforcement of copyright. The term of moral rights also differs. Some last for the duration of the copyright for the original work, and others expire 20 years after the death of the author.

If you have any questions or concerns about moral rights, please contact our team of copyright specialists.

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