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Major Labels Oppose "Moral Rights" That Guarantee Artists Recording Credits (A Right They Have In Most Other Countries)


image from www.bananaip.comEver since the 1928 Berne Convention, almost every developed country on earth guarantees that when an artist records a song, is in a photo or video or writes a blog post, they are guaranteed recognition in the form of a credit. It’s called a “moral right,” but in the United States, that right does not exist. 

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image from www.killingtime.com
As part of a US Copyright Office review of copyright rules and regulations, stakeholders have been asked for comments on the issue of “moral rights.” More commonly thought of as the right to receive credit for your artistic work, the U.S. is one of few developed countries not to guarantee that level of recognition. 

It would seem reasonable that Artists deserve credit for their work – their “moral rights.”  Not so, says the RIAA.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is “the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies.” But those efforts do not extend to the artists that create the content that drives that “financial vitality.”

The RIAA argues that it’s major label members already do everything reasonable to ensure that those involved in a recording or video get proper credit. But to be required to do so would be a burden, claims the trade group.

“A new statutory attribution right, in addition to being unnecessary, would likely have significant unintended consequences,” the RIAA writes in comments to the Copyright Office. (pdf).

But the Copyright Office does seem to see it that way. “The term “moral rights” is taken from the French phrase droit moral and generally refers to certain non-economic rights that are considered personal to an author,” said the U.S. Copyright Office in a statement. “Chief among these rights are the right of an author to be credited as the author of his or her work (the right of attribution) and the right to prevent prejudicial distortions of the work (the right of integrity). These rights have a long history in international copyright law.”