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What are "moral rights"?

“Moral rights” are the rights individual creators have in relation to copyright works or films they have created. Moral rights are separate from the “economic rights” of the copyright owner. The creator of a work, who holds moral rights, is not necessarily the owner of copyright in the work. This is sometimes expressed as ‘all rights reserved’.

Creators have three moral rights. These are the right:

  • to be attributed (or credited) for their work;
  • not to have their work falsely attributed; and
  • not to have their work treated in a derogatory way.

What types of material do moral rights apply to?

Moral rights apply to:

  • literary material such as novels, screenplays, poems, song lyrics and journal articles; 
  • artistic works such as paintings, drawings, architecture, sculpture, craft work, photographs, maps and plans;
  • musical works;
  • dramatic works such as ballets, plays, screenplays and mime;
  • computer programs; and
  • cinematograph films such as feature films, documentaries, music videos, television programs and television commercials.

Protecting your copyright - Intellectual Property

The University of Notre Dame Australia 'Intellectual Property Policy' prescribes who owns the copyright in works created by Notre Dame staff and students. Generally Notre Dame students own the copyright in their work (including most theses), while the University owns the copyright in course materials and computer works created by staff and in some other cases (e.g. University-commissioned works).  Generally the University does not claim ownership of other copyright works created by staff but instead claims a royalty-free non-exclusive licence to use them.

Please see the Intellectual Property Policy for more information.

Assigning your copyright to a Publisher

  • Copyright owners can choose to assign or licence their rights in copyright material.
  • Assignments and exclusive licences of copyright must be in writing and signed by the copyright owner before they are legally effective. It is also a good idea to put the grant of a non-exclusive licence in writing.
  • Copyright owners are free to choose whether or not to licence their rights. There is nothing in the Copyright Act that compels a copyright owner to licence their rights.

A useful guide to the current default policies of publishers regarding copyright, use of pre- and post-prints etc is available at SHERPA.


Reference: Australian Copyright Council. Information Sheet: Assigning & Licensing Rights (G024v11). Retrieved from

Please see the following links for more information:

More Information

The Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000 amends the Copyright Act by providing two new "moral rights" for individual creators:

  • the right of attribution of authorship; and
  • the right of integrity of authorship.


For more information please see the following Australian Copyright Council Information sheet: