About Authors’ Rights.

General principles

Intellectual Property supports original works, whether they are literaly, artistic or scientific, expressed in any medium or format, tangible or intangible, currently known or that will be invented in the future.
The intellectual property of a literaly, artistic or scientific work belongs to its author from the very first moment of its creation. Hence that moment, the author receives protection from the Intellectual Property Law without needing registration of the work.
The Author Right is the right that every author holds upon his/her works, allowing the author of a work (painting, sculpture, photograph, illustration,…) to decide the way in which his work can be spread out and used, establishing an economic compensation for the exploitation of his/her works.

The author right is one of the main rights within Intellectual Property. It is recognized as one of the fundamental human rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, specifically in its Article 27.

The Intellectual Property Law doesn’t protect ideas but the way these are manifested.

What is the difference between copyright and authors’ rights?

The term “copyright”, so internationally used, comes from the common law. The term “authors’ rights” comes from continental (or civil) law, and more specifically from French law.

The continental legislation refers to authors’ rights, whereas the common law uses the term copyright. The main difference between the both is that authors’ rights embraces both moral and economic rights, whereas copyright refers almost exclusively to the economic ones.

As opposed to authors’ rights, which recognizes the creator of the work, copyright appears once the work has been published. Copyright is only limited to the work itself and doesn’t embrace the creator, something which authors’ rights do. To sum up, authors’ rights recognizes the natural right of the author towards his/her works whereas copyright recognizes the negotiation between the author and society for the usage of the work.

Who is the author?

Every natural person that creates a literaly, artistic or scientific work.

The author right benefits the author and his/her works, as well as his/her heirs and the legacy that passes on to them.

What does the protection consists of?

Every author of a work is entitled to personal rights (a.k.a. moral) and economic rights (a.k.a. exploitation).

The moral rights: protects the authors’ identity and reputation. It is an unwavering right, being unable the author neither to transmit nor commercialize with them.

The economic or patrimonial rights: allow the author to take control and authorize the exploitation of his/her works and obtain in return an economic compensation.

The moral rights are more associated with the author as person, whereas the patrimonial rights are referred to his/her economic interests.

Which are the economic or patrimonial rights?

The authors’ economic or patrimonial rights are referred to the economic exploitation of his/her works and creations.

You, as an author, can dispose at your will the economic exploitation from any of your works. Therefore, without your authorization it is not legally possible to exploit economically you work.

The economic exploitation rights comprehend “the rights to reproduction, distribution, public communication and transformation”.

How should I transmit my authors’ rights?

The Intellectual Property Law understands as transmission of rights the assignment that the author does to a third party of the economic exploitation rights. Precisely because of that, only the economic rights are subjected to such assignment or transmission. On the contrary, the moral rights are unwavering and inalienable.

Patrimonial rights are transmitted only by written form, document by which the author or rightholder transmits one or several patrimonial rights to another person (natural or legal) subjected to certain conditions, for a determined period of time and place. Furthermore, every transmission has to be done with remuneration in return, that can be proportional or a lump sum.

There are as many rights as ways of exploitation can be. In the very moment of the contract holding regarding transmission of authors’ rights, it is fundamental that the author or rightholder identifies precisely and specifically which rights does wish to assign.

The indication that the assignment is given with or without exclusivity is an aspect with vital consequences in the assignment contract, as depending on the agreement made by the parties its effects can be very different.

Is it compulsory to register the works in the intellectual property registry?

No. Authors’ rights are born from the very first moment of the creation of the work. The Registry therefore only serves as a medium towards protection and proof of the rights.

What is public domain?

The exploitation rights of a work persist for 70 years after its authors’ death and begin from January 1st of the following year to his death or deceased declaration. However, this term prolongs to 80 years for authors that have passed before December 7th 1987. Once that term has been expired, the works becomes of public domain.

Public domain implies that the works can be exploited by any person, as long as they always respect the authors’ moral rights (mainly paternity and integrity of the work) Thus, what is actually expiring are only the patrimonial rights.

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