Moral rights, being one aspect of copyright, refer to the protection of the intangible interests of the author. The moral rights have an important role to maintain the integrity of the author’s work and protect author’s “private” interests in relation to the use of the works by users under a license.

Moral rights cannot be waived or assigned, and cease to exist upon the author’s death. Any assignment of such rights (under a contract or otherwise) is unlawful, and thus void ab initio. After the death of the author no other person may claim authorship of the work; the work may be used only in a manner which does not depreciate its value and, unless the work is an anonymous work, the name of the author, if known, must be indicated. The protection may be sought by any person close to the author even after the economic rights have expired (i.e. essentially forever).

The author’s rights include:

  • the right to decide whether to make the work public; the author may decide whether and in what form to make the work public. If the work has been created jointly by more authors, all of them will enjoy this right.

  • the right to claim authorship, including the right to determine whether and in what form the authorship should be indicated when making the work public. The author may decide to remain anonymous or use a pseudonym without losing the moral rights;

  • the right to the inviolability of the work; subject to certain exceptions, this right includes protection against infringement, alterations, distortion or destruction of the work as compared to its original form created by the author. In the field of theatre, this may include alterations of plays, their reductions, modifications, adding new scenes or dialogues, turning a novel into a play without the author’s consent etc.

  • the right to access the work to make an author’s copy of the work unless this is contrary to the legitimate interests of the owner of the tangible representation of the work (if the author has sold the work, or its tangible representation) to a third party; please note that under the Copyright Act, the right to access the work is one of the economic rights (and is thus inheritable) even though it is essentially a moral right;

  • to use the work in a way not depreciating its value,

  • the right to supervision over the compliance by the users with the obligations related to the author’s moral rights.

Naturally performers also enjoy moral rights. Their regulation is, however, slightly different:

  1. performers have the right to decide whether to make a work public; a soloist, where he or she creates the performance alone, the conductor, choirmaster, theatre director and soloist, where they create the performance together with the members of an artistic ensemble, have the right to decide whether and how their name is to be indicated when their performance is being made public.

  2. Performers as members of an artistic ensemble enjoy this right only in relation to the joint name (joint pseudonym) under which they jointly create the performance); this will not prejudice an agreement on the indication of their name.

  3. Performers are not entitled to decide whether and how their name is to be indicated when their performance is being made public in cases justified by the use of the performances.

  4. Throughout their life, performers have the right for their artistic performance not to be distorted or misrepresented, if used by another person, in a manner depreciating the reputation of the artists (unlike in the case of authors who may protest any change). After the performer’s death, persons close to the performer may prevent such use of the performance depreciating value (as in the case of authors).

  5. Performers such as members of an orchestra, choir, dancing company or other artistic ensemble shall be reasonably considerate to one another.

Example No. 1

Dancers in group dance performances may simultaneously be, to some extent, co-authors of the choreography (if they developed it together), and thus are entitled to have their joint authorship recognized. In addition, they are also performers because they are the dancers in their own project (they are performing their own choreographic work which they jointly co-authored). As such they are also entitled to be indicated as performers (not “merely” co-authors); however, if the indication of their names and surnames as performers required a substantial effort or costs on part of the user, the indication of their group name will be deemed sufficient unless they are soloists.