It is commonly accepted in civil law states and, to a lesser extent, in some common law jurisdictions, that authors of copyrighted works have moral rights. The rights to attribution, the ability to publish under an alias or pseudonym, and the integrity of the work are all examples of moral rights. The author is able to protest any alteration, distortion, or mutilation of the work that is "prejudicial to the author's honour or reputation" thanks to the preservation of the work's integrity. These moral rights may be invoked for any other reason that could diminish the artist's connection to the work, even after it has left the artist's custody or ownership. Moral rights are different from any copyright-related commercial rights. Even if a creator has given away the copyright rights to a piece of work to a third party, they still have the moral rights to it.
The surrender of moral rights is permitted in some states. : 44–45 The Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA) in the US protects moral rights, however it only applies to a certain group of visual arts works. "Visual art" is defined as "works of visual art, existing in a single copy or a limited edition of 200 signed and numbered copies or less, for the purposes of VARA." For a photograph to fall under this subcategory, it must have been taken only for display. Independent art is not the focus of this waiver because VARA only protects works of art that are regarded as having "known stature." Some of the objects that are removed from VARA's protection include posters, maps, globes, motion movies, electronic publications, and other similar items.
Artists are given two distinct rights under the VARA: the right of attribution and the right to integrity. The right of attribution gives authors the power to ensure that their works are properly credited, stop their works from being mistakenly credited to someone else, and maintain anonymous or pseudo-anonymous ownership of their creations. The right of integrity tries its best to prevent misrepresentation or modification of their work, assuaging an artist's concerns about adverse defamation directly applied to their work harming their own reputation as a person, a creator, or a professional.
Moral rights are exclusive to the author of the work and cannot be transferred. However, authors may give their written consent to renounce their moral rights. Some legal systems, like Austria, distinguish between limited and broad moral rights. The former concerns the integrity of the work, whereas the latter restricts usages and could compromise the author's integrity. To avoid a breach of such broader moral rights, several copyright timestamp services permit an author to publish approved and prohibited usage intentions.