Moral rights are the exclusive rights granted by the law to the author in order to protect his personality, that is the right to decide whether and when to have his works published, to claim authorship of their works and to object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification that would be prejudicial to the work, as long as his honour or reputation has been affected by such acts.
Such rights are inalienable, indefeasible and can never be given up, and they are independent from the economic rights resulting from the creation of the work, even after the transfer of such rights to third parties.
Such rights shall not be time-limited; after the author’s death they can be claimed by his spouse or legal heirs. If any public purposes so require, the relevant action shall also be exercisable by the President of the Italian Board of Ministers.
The author shall have the right to claim to be publicly identified as the creator of his works, and such right of authorship may be exercised at any time (art. 20 of Italian Copyright Law).
Such right also includes the right of the author to circulate his work on an anonymous basis or under a pseudonym, retaining the right to be identified, at any time, as the author of the work by the competent courts (art. 21 of Italian Copyright Law).
The author may exercise such right either by claiming to be identified as the creator of his work or requiring to put his name on each copy of the work or to specify it in each event of public use and communication such as the performance, cinema projection, radio and television broadcast, recital and so forth.
The author shall have the exclusive right to decide whether and when to publish his works, keeping them unpublished or objecting to first publication, upon termination of the publishing contracts.
The right on unpublished works shall be exhausted with the publication of the work.
If the author expressly prohibited the publication of one of his works, not even the heirs, after the author’s death, may exercise such right (art. 24 of Italian Copyright Law), which may only be expropriated for the benefit of the State (art. 112 of the Italian Copyright Law).
It is the right to withdraw the work from the market for serious moral reasons (art. 142-143 of Italian Copyright Law), which include ethical, intellectual, political and religious reasons, and also such cases where the work is in contrast with the changed personality of the author.
This right shall also apply in relation to particular versions of the work and in the case of derivative works, that is works derived from the original.
The creator of the work shall still have the obligation to reimburse the costs incurred by those who have purchased the rights of reproduction, communication or performance of the work.
The author shall have the right to object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of his work that would be prejudicial to his reputation: the creator of a work has the right to be evaluated by the public for the work as it was at the moment of creation and to preserve the reputation arising from the proper knowledge of the work.
This right not only protects modifications to the work, but also any form of communication that may alter the perception and the opinion of the public, such as the use of the work for promotion or advertising purposes in relation to certain products.
The legislation expressly indicates the cases in which the author may not object to the modifications of the work (art. 2, paragraph 2 of Italian Copyright Law), for example in relation to architectural works, where modifications are required during the execution of the work or once the work has been completed.
The author may not prevent any modifications to his work or request that such modifications are removed, if the author gained knowledge of and accepted such modifications (art. 22, paragraph 2 of Italian Copyright Law).