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to receive credit for his or her creations, or
to disclaim authorship of
works that he or she did not, in fact, create.
The right of integrity
permits an author to prevent changes in his or her work that are "injurious to his or her honor or reputation;" for example, changes that materially
alter the author's vision, or inaccurately represent the author's views as
expressed in a work.
The theory of moral rights is that they result in a climate of
artistic worth and honor that encourages the author in the arduous act of
S. 1198 would assemble in the federal copyright law rights that
already exist in some measure, but are dispersed among the common law,
disparate state laws, and federal unfair competition laws.
The bill would
also offer authors the opportunity to safeguard from destruction their works of art that have been incorporated in a building in the event the
owner wishes to remove the work of art or demolish the building.
of the two core rights of attribution and integrity, the right of
integrity is the more controversial.
The integrity right generally means
that an author, even if he or she has conveyed or licensed all economis
rights to the work, retains the power to prevent, or at least object to,
the distortion of the work by the transferee or licensee.
right against any material alteration could unnecessarily interfere with the ordinary marketing and distribution of works. visual artists may have a special need for a right of integrity--that of preservation. If a unique
work is distorted, mutilated, or altered, it may, for all practical
purposes, have been destroyed.
The general view of commentators is that
out-right destruction of a work is not a moral rights violation.
Moral . 4
rights are personal to the author and are intended to protect the personal.
ity and integrity of the author, not necessarily the work itself. Although
for most works, destruction rights and moral rights are distinct
protecting the work (preservation) and the other protecting the author, for
works such as single copy works of art, the two rights are not inconsistent.
Moral rights protect the author's interest in being known to the public
through the work as originally conceived.
These rights may also serve the
especially with regard to works of art.
Finally, consideration of visual artists' rights is well under way
in several states.
Congress should weigh the benefits of creating a
federal visual arts moral rights system in view of the growing number of
State visual artists' rights laws have more than doubled during
the last five years. States enacting moral rights for visual artists may be
categorized as following one of three models: the preservation model, the moral rights model, or the public works model.
States following the preservation model seek to protect artistic
works from destruction in addition to providing for attribution and
In other states, only the moral rights of paternity and integrity
are provided. Destruction is not, strictly speaking, a violation of a moral
right in those states, since where the work is destroyed, the moral right
can be considered extinguished.
Nothing is left to which the right can
The public works category is least related to copyright and more
related to state police power. It seeks to protect works from vandalism. These laws safeguard state treasures, antiques, and other works of histori.
cal or other value as a normal exercise of keeping the peace. As a subset of moral rights laws, at least one state has restricted (perhaps experimentally) moral rights and preservation rights to works that are displayed in
In 1979, California became the first state to enact moral rights
legislation. The California Art Preservation Act seeks to preserve works of
fine art and protect the personality of the artist. The Act prohibits the
intentional "defacement, mutilation, alteration, or destruction of a work of
Where the alleged mutilation was associated with an effort to
work of fine art, evidence of gross negligence is required.
Additionally, the artist has a right of attribution, and "for just and valid
reason," the right to "disclaim authorship of his or her work of fine art."
The rights of attribution and integrity may be waived by written contract. Owners of buildings who wish to
a work of fine art capable of
removal without mutilation are subject to liability under the Act, unless they attempt to notify the artist of their intention and provide the artist with an opportunity to remove the work. Where the work is not capable of removal without mutilation or destruction, unless the artist has reserved
moral rights in writing, they are deemed waived.
Cal. Civ. Code 5987 (West's Anno. Cal. Codes Supp. 1989).
The 1988 Connecticut law, also a preservation and moral rights
statute, contains a detailed definition of works of fine art, including
calligraphy, craft works, and photographs, provided they have a minimum
market value of $2500. Works made for hire are excluded from the definition
of works of fine art.
Under this Act, the artist may waive his or her
rights in writing. As amended in 1988, the connecticut Act provides a life
of-the-author plus fifty year duration for moral rights. The provisions on
removing art from buildings are similar to those in the California Act,
except that in Connecticut, the artist's reservation of rights must be
Passed in 1984, the Massachusetts statute prohibits "the inten
tional commission of any physical de facement, mutilation, alteration, or
destruction of a work of fine art,"
The artist retains a right of attribu
tion and the right to disclaim authorship " for just and valid reason."
work of fine art cannot be removed from a building without substantial
alteration, the prohibitions of the Act are suspended unless a written obligation signed by the owner of the building has been recorded. If the work is capable of being removed without mutilation, then the prohibitions of the Act apply unless the owner notifies the artist and provides the
artist with an opportunity for removal.
1988 Connecticut Acts, Section 284.
Mass. Gen. Law Chap. 231, Section 865 (West Supp. 1988).
destruction and establishes moral rights for protected works. Much like the
California law, the Pennsylvania Act applies to works of recognized quality. In addition to special rules on removal of works of art from buildings, the Pennsylvania law excuses from liability for alteration or destruction those
owners who remove works of art in "emergency situations."
activities that are not grossly negligent are also not actionable.
Passed in 1986, Louisiana's Artists' Authorship Rights Act
protects visual or graphic works of recognized quality in any medium
reproduced in not more
than 300 copies.
Motion pictures, however, are
excluded, as are works prepared under contract for advertising and trade,
unless such contract provides otherwise.
Rights of attribution and
integrity are granted, but destruction is not covered, with the exception of
art on buildings. Rights in such works are subject to a special reservation, which is required also by several other state statutes. Alterations that occur as a result of conservation efforts are not actionable unless the
alteration is the result of gross negligence.
Louisiana's rights attach
when the work is publicly displayed.
73 P.S. Ch. 31, Sec. 2101 ff.
Louisiana Statutes Ann. Ch. 34, Sec. 2151 et seq. (West 1986).