Reading time: 4 minutes

If your business engages a contractor who creates intellectual property, your contractor may have moral rights attached to their work. Moral rights are rights that protect the intellectual property of creators. For example, an artist’s name should always appear next to their artwork in an exhibition. As a business, it is important that you do not infringe upon your contractor’s moral rights. Moral rights clauses in your contractors agreement can serve to protect your business from infringement claims.

In this article, we explore what a moral rights clause is and how you can avoid moral rights infringement claims.

What Are Moral Rights?

Moral rights protect the reputation of creators and the integrity of their work.

For example, an art gallery cannot show an artist’s work in a way that would alter its meaning.

This protection extends even after copyright is sold or transferred. Under the Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act, moral rights are the right to:

  • have their name attributed to their work;
  • not have their work be falsely attributed; and
  • have their work respected and not subjected to derogatory treatment.

Moral rights last as long as copyright in Australia, i.e., the life of the creator plus 70 years.

What Is a Moral Rights Clause?

Moral rights clauses are often part of IP clauses in a contractors agreement. The clause can require the contractor to allow their work to be used in a way that may breach their moral rights.

You can infringe the moral rights of a contractor if you use their work in an inappropriate manner. Moral rights infringement can occur through:

  • false or improper attribution;
  • reproduction of work that lacks proper attribution; and
  • treating the work in a derogatory way. This includes significant distortion, mutilation, or alteration of the work that could damage the author’s honour or reputation.

Examples of Moral Rights Clauses

Consent Clauses

It is common for a moral right clause to require the contractor to consent to the use of their work or materials without proper attribution. This clause can also apply to third parties. It is the contractor’s responsibility to ensure that third parties have consented to the use of their work in this way. As a result, if the business infringes the third party’s moral rights, the contractor may need to pay compensation.

Indemnity Clauses

It is also common for the contractor to provide indemnity for the breaches of third party rights. This means that if the contractor’s work breaches any third party’s moral rights, you cannot be sued for breaching those rights by using the work. By providing you with indemnity, the contractor will be legally responsible instead. Essentially, this indemnity protects you from any infringement of the moral rights of third parties.

Survival Clauses

Moral rights clauses often contain a survival clause.

For example, “This clause x will survive expiry or termination of this Agreement.

This means that even after the agreement comes to an end or is terminated, the specified clause or clauses will continue to bind the relevant parties. As moral rights last the life of the creator plus 70 years, the clauses surviving termination could bind the parties for this entire duration.

Key Takeaways

It is important when using the intellectual property of a contractor that you do not infringe their moral rights. As a business, you can protect yourself from infringing moral rights through the use of a moral rights clause. Moral rights clauses often require the contractor and third parties to allow their work to be used in ways that may breach their moral rights. In addition, contractors may provide an indemnity against breaches of moral rights. This protects you from infringing the moral rights of your contractor. Survival clauses can bind parties even after the agreement ends. If you have any questions about moral rights clauses or about your contractors agreement, contact LegalVision’s contract lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.


Redundancies and Restructuring: Understanding Your Employer Obligations

Thursday 7 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

If you plan on making a role redundant, it is crucial that you understand your employer obligations. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Sponsor Foreign Workers For Your Tech Business

Wednesday 13 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Need web3 talent for your tech business? Consider sponsoring workers from overseas. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Advertising 101: Social Media, Influencers and the Law

Thursday 21 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how to promote your business on social media without breaking the law. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Structuring for Certainty in Uncertain Times

Tuesday 26 July | 12:00 - 12:45pm

Learn how to structure to weather storm and ensure you can take advantage of the “green shoots” opportunities arising on the other side of a recession.
Register Now

Playing for the Prize: How to Run Trade Promotions

Thursday 28 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Running a promotion with a prize? Your business has specific trade promotion obligations. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Web3 Essentials: Understanding SAFT Agreements

Tuesday 2 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how SAFT Agreements can help your Web3 business when raising capital. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

Understanding Your Annual Franchise Update Obligations

Wednesday 3 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Franchisors must meet annual reporting obligations each October. Understand your legal requirements by registering for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Legal Essentials for Product Manufacturers

Thursday 11 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

As a product manufacturer, do you know your legal obligations if there is a product recall? Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards