Authors’ Moral Rights after Death

The Monistic Model of German Law, Austrian Law and the Revised Berne Convention

  • Joachim Pierer University of Vienna, Faculty of Law
Keywords: Austrian copyright law, American copyright law, German copyright law, moral rights, personality rights, term of protection, postmortem, death, author


This article examines the disputed question of what happens to the moral rights of an author after his or her death. The focus is on the monistic model of copyright in German and Austrian law as well as that of the Berne Convention. The explanations are supplemented by comparative views on French and American law. Drawing on three perspectives, namely private law, personality rights, and copyright, the article concludes that a good argument can be made that the author’s legal successors are bound by the interests and intentions of the deceased author. Thus, exercise or dispositions of moral rights by the author’s legal successors can only take place within the limits set by the deceased or by the Copyright Act itself. With regard to the term of protection, it is shown that there is no difference between copyright and moral rights.