Book Review: Moral Rights and Their Application in Australia

Published date01 June 2004
Date01 June 2004
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Maree Sainsbury, Federation Press, (2003) $Aus 66.
Matthew Rimmer
In Moral Rights and Their Application in Australia, Maree Sainsbury offers a summary of
the new moral rights regime established in Australia in 2000. It is a decent guide and
handbook to moral rights for legal practitioners, the authors of copyright work, and
the users of copyright material. As the author notes:
The Australian moral rights legislation impacts on the rights and obligations of many
people in diverse circumstances, from the creator of a highly unique work of art to the
designer of a web site incorporating factual information or graphics which someone else
has created. Any person creating or dealing with copyright material should be aware of
the moral rights implications. This book provides a detailed analysis of the moral rights
legislation, while stressing the fundamental provisions. It also provides some useful
practical guidance for those who are affected, both in general terms and with respect to
the more specific situations outlined above.1
It is a shame, though, that the publisher has pitched this text as a guidebook for
legal practitioners. The narrative flow of the text is constantly interrupted by basic
overviews of the chapters, and checklists of risk management considerations. The
publisher should have shown greater bravery and confidence, and released the book as
an academic monograph. The material is intrinsically interesting, and would have
surely found a wider audience if it was written in a more discursive fashion.
Maree Sainsbury provides an enjoyable account of the history and nature of moral
rights. She charts the romantic, Continental origins of moral rights, and explains their
translation to countries such as Australia and the United States. There has been much
suspicion and distrust of moral rights in common law countries. As David Vaver notes,
the term 'moral rights' is somewhat inexact and misleading:
Matthew Rimmer, BA (Hons), LLB (Hons) (ANU), PhD (UNSW), is a Lecturer at the
Australian Centre for Intellectual Property in Agriculture ('ACIPA'), the Faculty of Law, the
Australian National University.
1 Maree Sainsbury, Moral Rights and Their Application in Australia (2003) xxii.

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