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Moral Rights Obligations

Property owners wishing to change, relocate, demolish, or destroy a building need to be aware of legislation that may impact upon them relating to the protection of moral rights of authors.

On the 21 December 2000, the Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act was passed.

Amongst other provisions, the Act particularly has serious ramifications for owners who wish to change, relocate, demolish or destroy a building, whether it is a dwelling or a commercial or industrial building.

The Act provides that a change in or relocation, demolition or destruction of a building may result in the infringement of the moral right or integrity of an author (eg a building designer or architect) of a building, or of the plans for all or part of a building. The author has a right to object to derogatory treatment of his or her work, which prejudicially affects his or her honour or reputation.

In order to ensure that you, as the owner of the building, do not contravene this particular legislation, there are certain steps that you may need to take such as reasonable enquiries to identify and locate the original author of the design of the existing building and to give notice of the proposed action to be taken by you in respect to your building and to also provide access, if so requested by the original author.

A member of Design Matters can provide you with a Practice Note to assist you in complying with the provisions of the legislation, which explains:

  • What you should do when the original designer's identity and location are unknown to you?
  • What needs to be done where you know the designer's identity and location?
  • What information and particulars are required in the Notice?
  • A pro forma notice can also be provided to you by a Design Matters Member.

To protect your position, you may wish to seek legal advice or, in the first instance, discuss the matter with your Building Designer in order to obtain further clarification and to discuss appropriate strategies.

We draw your attention to this matter because it is important that you are aware of this legislation and become fully acquainted with the responsibilities that are directly placed upon you, by the Act, as the owner of a building.

[BDAV Members may download the Practice Note in the ' Member Only ' section of this website.]