By the end of this exercise you should have gained an awareness of moral rights and how they may impact on your copyright clearance practices.
Of the four moral rights recognised in the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (‘the Act’) (see Copyright Legal), the integrity right (along with paternity right) seems to be most likely to cause some concern to would-be exploiters of copyright works. Indeed, actions for infringement of the integrity right are the most common type of moral rights litigation. It is for this reason that this scenario focuses on the integrity right.
The integrity right provides an author with the right to object to ‘derogatory treatment’ of the work. Whilst ‘derogatory treatment’ is not defined in the Act, treatment is ‘any addition to, deletion from or alteration to or adaptation of the work, other than a translation of a literary or dramatic work or an arrangement of a musical work’; and treatment will be derogatory if amounts to distortion or mutilation of the work or is otherwise prejudicial to the honour or reputation of the author, or, in the case of a film, the director.
The reputation of the author is in terms of ‘professional’ reputation and not as contained in the law of defamation – which is a wholly separate arm of the legal system. For any case to be successful the plaintiff (the person bringing the case of infringement) would need to demonstrate to the court that his/her reputation has been damaged or is very likely to be as a result of the work being subjected to derogatory treatment.