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Moral Rights in Copyright

Moral Rights in Copyright

Roald Dahl did not like the first film adaptation of his book, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, thus, a second one was created. India’s Mannu Bhandari too, faced a difference in creative opinion when she assigned the cinematograph rights of her book ‘Aap ka Bunty’, to a third party, which ensued in a lengthy court case. Thus, with buddying aspirations of authorship and other artistic works, it is important that we discuss the inherent moral rights given to us as a creator.

The literary and artistic works of an author are a direct reflection of his soul. As a creator of his literary and artistic works, the author has the right to “preserve, protect, and nurture” his creations through what is known as the ‘moral rights’ given to him by law (Amarnath Sehgal vs. Union of India, 2005 (30) PTC 253.).

Moral rights are special rights protecting the right of the author to claim authorship of his own work and to protect the integrity of his work from being distorted, mutilated, or altered. Thus, the moral rights of an author can be divided into two heads-

The Moral Rights of an Author

  1. Right of Paternity- Right of Paternity is the right conveying the authorship of the author upon his own work, and prevent any other person to claim authorship of the said work. Through this right, the author can also demand that his name appears in all the copies of his work and prevent others from using his name in their works.
  2. Right of Integrity- Right of Integrity conveys those rights of the author, that enable him to prevent distortion, mutilation or alteration of his works and protect it overall from any prejudicial action that can harm the author’s honour or reputation.

Application of Moral Rights in India

These moral rights were included in Article 6 of the Berne convention and in India mentioned in Section 57 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

Salient Features of the Moral Rights of an Author (The Copyright Act, 1957)

  1. The author still retains the authorship to his work even after assigning the copyright to a publisher.
  2. The author can restrain or claim damages in the event that his work has been distorted, mutilated, altered or modified, which in turn is prejudicial to his honor and public image.
  3. The author does not have the right to restrain or claim damages under this Act, in respect of any adaptation of a computer program.
  4. The author’s rights are not infringed upon the wrong or unsatisfactory display of his work as it does not fall under the ambit of distortion, mutilation, alteration or modification.


The literary and artistic works of an author are like a mirror held up to his soul and an insight into his psyche. It intrinsically calls for protection and preservation, for it nurtures creativity, and the legal protection of such rights will ensure that.


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