You have the right to be be credited for your work, and to defend its integrity. This is a human right and should be protected like any other.
When a creator gives life to a new work – by writing, painting, playing an instrument or taking a picture – they create an original manifestation of their intellect (or ‘soul’ if you will). The work is a piece of them.
This connection between the work and the creator was first enshrined in international law in the Berne Convention, which underpins European and UK IP law. It says that all creators must have:
The right of attribution – a creator’s right be identified as the author or performer, and:
The right of integrity – a creators’ right to prevent their work being used in contexts, or modified in ways, that are ‘derogatory’ to their reputation.
These rights are called a creator’s ‘moral rights’. They are human rights that should inextricably join a creator to the work that they have created. In the words of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
“Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.”1
In a digital-use environment where an individual’s work may be readily shared, republished or simply plagiarised, the legal protection that the moral right of attribution offers to the creator is vital.
Together, the rights to a credit and to defend the integrity of a work are essential to creators maintaining their income. They also provide an essential guarantee to those who read, see or hear the created work – that is, to the public – that the work is what it is represented as. Instant digital copying and easy digital editing make this guarantee to the user more essential than ever.
2: Defending your work: what is needed
1 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 27 (2)