Legislation giving moral rights to the principal director, producer and screenwriter of Australian features, television programmes, documentaries and commercials has now passed through both houses of parliament. The new legislation also gives the creators of works reproduced or recorded in these productions, such as music, moral rights over that aspect of the production.
Legal action can now be taken if one of the holders of moral rights considers that they have not been fairly credited for their work or if that work has been unacceptably distorted or modified. If successful in their claim, the court may grant damages or an injunction, or may order a public apology.
Moral rights cannot be assigned to someone else by the creator and, in most cases, will last for the creator's life plus 50 years. The new legislation allows filmmakers to give their consent to certain agreed acts but this cannot occur "under duress".
Industry lobby groups are relieved that what has been a very contentious issue has finally been resolved. Not so the issue of directors' copyright, the subject of ongoing talks between the producers and directors' associations.