Moral rights: Exploring the myths, meanings and misunderstandings in Australian Copyright Law
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This article examines how moral rights are treated in Australian publishing contracts, and whether this approach is consistent with the expectations of authors, journalists and academics. Although, in theory, moral rights cannot be sold or assigned in Australia, the apparent wide scope for exceptions raises questions of whether there is any real protection afforded to creators under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), notably in circumstances that relate to pressure on creators to accept contractual terms in order to get published. Additionally, Australian case law reflects some uncertainty about the traditionally accepted non-economic nature of moral rights. The article examines recent case law in this field, found in Meskenas, Perez and Corby, and considers the literature associated with development of moral rights in Australia. It then presents the findings of a two-part study of moral rights in Australia; first through the results of interviews with 176 Australian authors, journalists and academics, followed by an analysis of 20 publishing contracts. It concludes that — in some, but not all, instances — a combination of the exceptions allowed under the Act and practical exigencies have diluted the unique character of authors’ moral rights and have created an environment of uncertainty.
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