Copyright Office Releases Moral Rights Report
Issue No. 763 - April 23, 2019
The U.S. Copyright Office today released its report, Authors, Attribution, and Integrity: Examining Moral Rights in the United States. The report details the findings of the Office's extensive review of the U.S. framework for moral rights. Moral rights refer to certain noneconomic rights that are considered personal to an author―chief among these being the right of an author to be credited as the author of his or her work (the right of attribution) and the right to prevent prejudicial distortions of the work (the right of integrity).
The Copyright Office concludes that the U.S. moral rights framework (which includes a variety of federal and state laws) continues to provide important protections, despite there being some room for improvement. The Office does suggest some areas where preferred interpretations of judicial decisions and even legislative considerations could improve the landscape of protection for authors. Possible legislative changes for consideration include amendments of the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), the Lanham Act, and a possible new provision in Title 17 expanding recourse for removal or alteration of copyright management information. In addition, the Office has identified issues for Congress to consider should it contemplate developing a federal right of publicity.
Karyn A. Temple, Register of Copyrights, stated, “The United States has long provided moral rights through a patchwork that includes copyright and other federal laws, state laws such as unfair competition, and robust private ordering. Our exhaustive study of the current landscape of moral rights in the United States finds that this approach continues to provide important protections for authors in the digital age, but that there are areas that Congress may wish to enhance under the U.S. moral rights framework. This report provides a roadmap for doing so.”
The full report, along with public comments and information on a symposium held on this subject, is available on the Copyright Office’s website at https://www.copyright.gov/policy/moralrights/.