In a rare event, an Australian Court has awarded thousands of dollars of damages to an artist for the breach of their moral rights. The case is a great illustration of what “moral rights” legislation protects, and is interesting reading if you are involved in either authoring works, or dealing in any way with other people’s works.
Aussie DJ Jaime Fernandez came under fire for his distortion of a recording by internationally known rapper and hip-hop artist ‘Pitbull’. Fernandez took a promotional recording submitted by Pitbull, and used audio editing software to mix the recording with a song that had been released by Pitbull earlier. Fernandez then added the mixed song to his website, where it could be streamed by the public, and also played it in public during DJ performances.
This case is interesting in that the claims raised against Fernandez were not just on the basis of copyright infringement, but also moral rights infringement.
In Australia, the Copyright Act protects moral rights by providing these three rights, and they are:
- The right of attribution of authorship;
- The right not to have authorship of work falsely attributed; and
- The right of integrity of authorship. This right aims to protect creators from their work being used in a derogatory way that might negatively affect their reputation.
In this case, Fernandez’s mixing of the recordings was viewed by the courts as “derogatory treatment”, and they awarded $10,000 in damages for the breach of Pitbull’s moral rights, and $2,312 in damages to the owners of the copyright (a reminder that very often the economic rights in copyright are held by someone different to the author, who is the holder of the moral rights).
This is a great illustration of how the moral rights protections work in Australia, and a good reminder to be cautious if you ever deal with other people’s works.
Contact us at [email protected] if you have any moral rights matters that you would like to discuss.
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