Is it legal to publish a document under an authors name without the author seeing the manuscript?

What if the author's manuscript is radically altered to the extent of say the opposite of the original and is published without authors seeing the manuscript - would that be legal?

The question of course is not if it is unethical but rather not legal.

What does "moral rights" cover?

  • 1
    For legal questions, you will probably get better answers from law.SE.
    – nengel
    Nov 20, 2017 at 2:16
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    There's certainly an element of fraud, with also the possibility of defamation (depending on what's said or written), so there's definitely grounds for a lawsuit. Law.SE would probably be a better home for this. Would you like us to see if we can migrate this question for you?
    – aeismail
    Nov 20, 2017 at 3:36
  • It's not legal to publish anything by an author without some kind of contract. (This is copyright violation.) So presumably how much you can change it depends on what the contract says. Nov 20, 2017 at 3:45
  • @PeterShor I think the premise of the question is that it's not actually by that author. So there's no copyright infringement issue. Nov 20, 2017 at 6:55
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    @DavidSchwartz, the situation as described is altering the author's manuscript, which for copyright purposes means creating a derived work. Creating a derived work is a protected right. Nov 20, 2017 at 16:02

1 Answer 1


A publisher will typically require authors to sign a contract. That contract dictates what the publisher can do.

Contracts typically stipulate that the publisher can make editorial, formatting, stylistic, ... changes. Thus, a publisher can alter or invent writing. Whether the publisher can do so without consulting the author depends on the contract.

A contract might permit the publisher to derive promotional materials bearing the author's name, without further consultation with the author (i.e., contracts might grant such rights), hence, it might be legal to publish a document under an author's name without consultation.

Since the publisher is typically granted permission to make changes, it is possible that those changes lead to publication of a manuscript that is radically altered to the extent of say the opposite of the original.

Although I have reasoned that it is possible, it really depends upon the contract that was signed.

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    Still, there is a difference between editorial changes and rewriting the whole thing. The question of where exactly the line runs is one for lawyers to sort out though, so @J.B. I would suggest to try asking one (e.g. from your universities legal department).
    – Dirk
    Nov 20, 2017 at 9:41
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    Legal departments might be unwilling to look. If the OP believes they have been harmed by a publisher (which is unclear from the question), then perhaps the OP can ask a new question. That question might-well be better answered by their legal department too.
    – user2768
    Nov 20, 2017 at 9:54

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