Study on the Moral Rights of Attribution and Integrity

The United States Copyright Office is undertaking a public study on moral rights for authors, specifically the rights of attribution and integrity.

The term “moral rights” is taken from the French phrase droit moral and generally refers to certain noneconomic rights that are considered personal to an author. Chief among these rights are 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). These rights have a long history in international copyright law.

Moral rights were also part of the recent congressional review of the nation’s copyright law; during a July 2014 hearing of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet of the House Judiciary Committee, the ranking member of that subcommittee and the chairman of the full committee both indicated their interest in knowing more about how current laws are working with respect to moral rights. Further study of moral rights under U.S. copyright law was among the recommendations made by the Register of Copyrights in her testimony in April 2015 and was requested by the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee at that hearing. As part of the preparation for this study, the Office cohosted a daylong symposium on moral rights in April 2016 in order to hear views about current issues in this area. This program brought together authors, scholars, and other stakeholders for a broad discussion of copyright issues related to moral rights. Transcripts and video of the program are available here.

The Office is commencing its study to review how existing U.S. law, including provisions found in Title 17 of the U.S. Code and other federal and state laws, protects the moral rights of attribution and integrity and whether any additional protection is advisable in this area. To support this effort and provide thorough assistance to Congress, the Office is seeking public input on a number of questions. A notice of inquiry was issued on January 23, 2017. The comment period deadline was extended so that public comments must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on March 30, 2017, and reply comments must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on May 15, 2017. The Office may announce one or more public meetings, to take place after written comments are received, by separate notice in the future.