8 - Moral rights in films  pp. 284-337

Moral rights in films

By Pascal Kamina

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Audiovisual works are at the very heart of the debate on moral rights. The general public was informed of these questions on the occasion of widely publicised controversies on film cuts and colourisation, and moral rights have been used as a line of defence by some droit d'auteur countries during the discussions on the audiovisual aspects of the GATT. Thus, an important part of the legal literature on moral rights in copyright countries is concerned with their application to audiovisual works. However, due to their foreign origin, moral rights remain one of the areas of copyright law which is less familiar to the common law practitioner.

Understanding the moral right doctrine

The so-called ‘moral rights’ (from the French droit moral) have their origin in the continental doctrine of authors' rights. The concept of droit moral was developed in continental Europe from the middle of the nineteenth century, by case law and legal commentators. This form of protection is now enshrined in all droit d'auteur countries' copyright Acts. It acknowledges and protects the special relationship between the author and the product of his work, seen not only as a mere commodity, but also as an expression of his personality (a ‘spiritual offspring of the author’).