Moral Rights and Royalties
By Nikita Abreu
moral right and royalties

Moral rights and royalties serve the creator of an artistic work. The creator is able to control how others use their intellectual property. Moral rights and royalties allow the creator to be more secure and profit from their work. These brief explanations will give you an idea of what moral rights and royalties are and how they can benefit you as a creator.

Moral Rights

Moral rights concern credit and treatment of the creator’s intellectual property.

What differentiates moral rights from copyright?

Moral rights are what tie the creator and their work to each other. These rights are based on the creator’s preferences for how their work is treated. It can be as simple as always being credited when their work is used or mentioned. It can also include not wanting work to be modified without permission and requiring that work not be shown in a negative light that would affect the creator’s reputation.

Moral rights can be seen whenever artworks are used. The artist’s name is always either mentioned or displayed. Another common example is in films and television. The actors who have performed and everyone else involved in the making of the film have their name listed in the end credits. This is all part of moral rights.

When using a self-publishing service like Preflight Books, the only rights the publishing service retains is the moral rights to the artistic works created, like the editing and design of the book.

Moral rights allow for artists to require they always be credited

Is the time span of moral rights different than copyright?

Moral rights apply for the same amount of time as copyright laws. This ranges between 50 and 70 years after publication or the creator’s death.


Royalties are involved when someone is given permission to use intellectual property and the creator receives payment in return. This is seen as licensing.

What are the benefits of royalties?

Instead of selling the rights to your work, you give someone the permission to use it and in return they give you a payment or percentage of the profits they make. This way you still maintain full ownership and the buyer will still have to abide by whatever freedom of use or restrictions you have included.

The traditional publishing industry operates using royalties. A publisher will pay the author for the right to publish their book. The author then earns a percentage in royalties for every book sold. The publishing industry is not the only industry that uses royalties. They apply to many industries. The music industry also uses royalties. When a musician produces a song and someone else wants to use it on the radio, in film or television, or on a streaming service, they have to pay royalties. This grants them permission to use it.

When self-publishing, no royalties are involved. The self-published author retains all rights to their book and receives 100% of the profits.

Royalties are paid to the author by the publishing company per book sold.

Why are moral rights and royalties important?

Creators can now further protect their intellectual property beyond copyright laws. It allows them to maintain ownership and benefit from what they created. It is important to know that it is within your rights to ask for credit where credit is due. Users and consumers should know how to interact with other people’s intellectual property.

Need a quote for your book? Contact us.

Illustrations by Junior Gcabashe.

You might also like:

Ghostwriting 101: Why you should use a ghostwriter

Ghostwriting 101: Why you should use a ghostwriter

A ghostwriter is simply a writer for hire who is paid to create content but receives none of the credit for the work produced. One of the main benefits of a ghostwriter is that you get quality content when you do not have the time or expertise to do it yourself. It is...

Where to Sell Your E-book

Where to Sell Your E-book

The six online e-book retailers where South Africans can sell their books, plus three aggregate platforms that distribute for you.

What is a Full Manuscript Assessment?

What is a Full Manuscript Assessment?

Are you an author with a manuscript just itching to be published? Are you unsure whether your manuscript is good enough to publish? The first step towards a publish-ready book is for your manuscript to undergo a full manuscript assessment. A full manuscript assessment...