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  • Note: The copyright information contained on this site is general and for information only.

    For legal advice, please consult a solicitor.


Moral Rights

Australian copyright law recognises three types of moral rights:

  • The right of attribution (to be acknowledged as the creator/s of a work).
  • The right against false attribution (people are not to be identified as the author/s of a work that they did not create)
  • The right of integrity (work cannot be treated in a derogatory fashion, that would damage the author/s honour or reputation) 

Moral rights are non-economic rights and cannot be sold or assigned. Even when rights comprised in the copyright, such as the right to reproduce the work, have been transferred to another owner, the moral rights relating to the work remain with the original author/s or creator/s.

Moral rights are personal rights. Corporations or organisations, such as Monash University do not have moral rights.

How do moral rights affect Monash staff and students?

Always ensure that material you use (ie material taken from other sources or third party material) is correctly acknowledged. This not only ensures compliance with the author's right of attribution, it is good academic practice and prevents inadvertent plagiarism.

Acknowledgement of author/s or creator/s is required for material including quotations, photos, images, tables, diagrams, musical works, scripts, sculptures, TV programs, commercials, films and music videos.

The authors or creators of audio visual material are the director, scriptwriter and producer, unless the producer is a company, not an individual. A production company cannot have moral rights. 

If you do not have citations for the material you are using, you should consider whether you can substitute other works from known sources.

If you want to alter a work in a way that would prejudice the original author/s honour or reputation, this could be a breach of the moral right of integrity. If you have any questions about amending or changing an existing work please contact the Copyright Adviser.

Performers also have moral rights in their performances.

Monash students and staff also have moral rights in the work they have created.

More information on moral rights is available from the solicitor’s office copyright pages.

Exceptions to Moral Rights

There are two exceptions to moral rights:

  • Consent
  • Reasonableness


Consent means the author/s gives their consent to the work being treated in a derogatory fashion or that they are not attributed as the creator/s of a work. Consent must be in writing


Reasonableness means that in the circumstances of the particular case it is reasonable not to cite the author/s or reasonable to treat the work in a derogatory fashion. There is no defence of reasonableness for false attribution.

Factors that a court would consider as to whether conduct was reasonable would include:

  • The nature of the work
  • The purpose, manner and context in which it was used
  • Industry practice relevant to the use of the work
  • Any voluntary code of practice in the industry
  • Whether the work was created by an employee or under a contract of service and
  • The opinions of multiple authors about the actions

Moral Rights and Plagiarism

Plagiarism means taking another person’s ideas and concepts, or their expression, without giving credit to that person. This is not the same as infringement of copyright. Plagiarism would only constitute infringement if the amount taken was regarded at law as being 'substantial'.

Plagiarism is unethical rather than unlawful; it constitutes a breach of university policy and is bad academic practice.

There is overlap with moral rights where the plagiarist takes the form in which the idea is expressed and copies that without citing the original author/s. This could be a breach of the moral right of attribution, as well as plagiarism.

For a student consequences of plagiarism could include disciplinary action or exclusion.

For more information on plagiarism see Monash’s Student Academic Integrity Policy and Student Academic Integrity: Managing plagiarism and collusion procedures.

Information on what is plagiarism , on how to avoid plagiarism, on proper citation techniques and acknowledging your sources can be found at Monash Language and Learning Online and the Monash Library Tutorials page.

Government funded research

It is increasingly common for government funding contracts to require that a researcher consent to dealings with the outcomes of research (such as a report) which might otherwise amount to an abuse of the author/s' moral rights. If you find such a clause in a funding agreement, you should discuss the issue with the university solicitor who is handling the agreement.

Send an email inquiry to the University's Copyright Adviser.