Copyright. These kinds of intellectual property rights confer exclusive rights to authors or creators of an original work. Copyright is automatically protected when the work is created, and Spain, like most countries party to the Berne Convention (170+ states), do not require copyright registration or other formalities in order to enjoy protection, which means that their works can be distributed without fear of unauthorized copying or piracy acts. However, copyright registration does offer many key benefits, such as proof of authorship and ownership. Copyrights or author’s rights protect all sorts of creative, artistic and scientific works applying to literary texts, musical compositions, media broadcasts, software, websites, drawings and photography and sui generis rights for databases against unauthorised copying and of certain other uses.
Copyright is every day present in our lives; when you read a book or the newspaper, watch a film or the news on TV, listen to music, take a photo, create a website, etc. Copyright law encourages the creation of art and culture by rewarding authors with established exclusive rights.
Works Covered by Copyright. To enjoy copyright protection in Spain, a work must be original and be expressed or represented in some form. A wide range of works can be copyrighted, including, but not limited to: literary and artistic works, such as books, pamphlets and other writings; novels, poems, plays, lectures, speeches, sermons, reference works, newspapers, films, musical compositions with or without words, choreography and entertainments in dumb show;dramatic works, paintings, drawings, sculpture, advertisements, technical drawings, works of applied art; illustrations, maps, plans, sketches and three-dimensional works relative to geography, topography, architecture or science, audiovisual works, cinematographic works, projects, drawings, engraving and lithography, graphics, photographic works, computer programs (software) and databases. Spanish Copyright Law also grants related rights to performers, phonogram producers, producers of audiovisual recordings and broadcasting programs. Likewise, translations, adaptations, arrangements of music and other alterations of a literary or artistic work, which are to be protected as original works, and collections of literary or artistic works namely encyclopedias and anthologies which, by reason of the selection and arrangement of their contents, are intellectual creations, without prejudice to the copyright in the original work or to the copyright in each of the works forming part of such collections.
Works Not Covered by Copyright. Ideas, information, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts may be excluded: Not copyrighted. Furthermore, copyright may not be available for names, titles, slogans, or logos, depending on whether they contain or not sufficient authorship.
Copyright Regulation in Spain. In Spain, copyright is governed by the Legislative Royal Decree 1/1996 of April 12, 1996. Spain is also party to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. – Spanish Copyright Office (RTPI). Copyright registration can be applied for at any Office within the Spanish autonomous communities, upon payment of the registration fees which may vary for each needed document to be furnished. The Spanish Copyright Office (RTPI) will act as an office of record, only checking the formal requirements of the work, such as the authorship, or owner(s), where different, depending on their working or commercial relationship, the valid notarized or legalized agreements stating this,that the work is duly represented, the type of work is classified in its category as well as the object the application. If any objection or deficiency is found providing the applicant a deadline for remedying the same. The duration of the procedure may last approximately three up to six months until the approval decision is issued. The work will be registered when the requirements of the copyright law are met and the Office will issue a registration or approval certificate. The work will be recorded and kept inaccessible to others, which would only be accessible upon request of a judge in case of any enforcement action brought to the Court.
Validity. Copyright under Spanish law usually grantsprotection to creators for their works for the whole life of the author and a term of 70 years from the death of the author to their heirs and successors.
Types of Rights. Copyright is divided in two types of rights:
- Moral rights. These confer the creator the right to claim authorship of a work (right of paternity) andto control the integrity of said creation, by enabling him to authorize or oppose any distortions or modifications to the work that could harm his reputation. Moral rights are always owned by the author and cannot be waived nor transferred to others.
- Economic Rights. The economic, monetary or exploitation rights refer to the right conferred to authors to obtain financial reward from the use of their works, which can be traded; assigned or licensed to third parties in return for payment or royalties. Authorship and Ownership. The rights must always be owned by the author of the work in Spain. However, if the work has been created by an author who is employed for the purpose of creating that work, then only the employer or company must be the owner of the economic rights and not the author, who will just own the moral rights for said creation.
Rights Provided by Copyright. Original creators hold the exclusive right to use or authorize others to use the work on agreed terms, sell the economic rights in return for compensation in the form of payments or royalties. Copyright owners can permit or forbid others to use their works in:
- the reproduction in various forms, such as printed publications or sound recordings;
- the public performance, such as in a play or musical work;
- the recording, for example, in the form of compact discs or DVDs;
- the broadcasting, by radio, cable or satellite;
- the translation into other languages;
- the adaptation, such as a novel into a film screenplay.
Related Rights. These involve rights that are similar or identical to those of copyright, although they are sometimes more limited and of shorter duration. The beneficiaries are:
- Performers: actors and musicians in their performances.
- Producers of phonograms; compact discs in their sound recordings.
- Broadcasting organizations; in their radio and television programs.
Enforcement of Copyright. Copyright holders can enforcetheir right against others who used their works without their consent through different actions, such as civil action suits where rights owner are to be compensated for economic injury suffered due to the infringement, administrative remedies and criminal prosecution against those who willfully commit actsof piracy on a commercial scale, where punishment is served by significant fines, and by prison sentences depending on the degree of severity, which penalties are applied to deter crimes of certain gravity or for recurrent infringements. Among the measures, remedies and sanctions against abuses that may be imposed encompass injunctions, orders requiring destruction of infringing items and orders for inspection of premises or measures to be taken at customs points.
Courts for Copyright Infringement. Legal actions involving copyright infringement or unfair competition in Spain are to be taken before the competent Commercial Court located in the city of the Higher Court of Justice within the autonomous community where the defendant is domiciled, or alternatively where the infringement has taken place or had effect.
How Abecsa Can Help You. We can define your copyright protection strategy in Spain and within any territory or state of the Berne Convention, with the aim to achieve the widest protection as possible by providing you with the requirements to be met by the Spanish provincial Copyright Office and also avoiding common filing mistakes that could suppose a threat to the registration procedure or to the validity of your rights.
Filing. We would file the copyright application on your behalf, foreseeing the relevant aspects, requirements and the correct manner it should be applied for, by checking who the authors are and who the owners of the monetary or exploitation rights should be, and the needed legalized documents with assessment of taxes by the Spanish Taxing Authority to be furnished at the Copyright Office, etc. so the registration process likely runs smooth and straightforward to the expected approval and validity of the registration of the work.
Prosecution and Reply to Office Actions. We will monitor your Spanish copyright application until it is finally registered, by duly informing you of every official communication or objection we receive from the Copyright Office (RTPI), along with our preliminary advice on the step to take, if needed, so we likely ensure success and obtain the desired registration of your intellectual creation and hence a solid enforceable copyright protection. We may require you to provide us with any relevant details or proof in support of our comments, facts or evidences to be alleged in the reply to an Office action or amendment request. – Litigation. In enforcement, we can represent and assist either the claimant or the defendant in copyright infringement proceedings with the Spanish Courts.
Other Actions. We can handle any associated matter on any type of intellectual creations and author’s rights such us the recordal of licenses, change of names and ownership transfers.
Information and Requirements to Copyright Your Work in Spain.
- The full name and address of the applicant(s)-holder(s).
- The full name and nationality of the author(s).
- The nationality or country of establishment of the applicant(s)-holder(s).
- Type of working or commercial relation between the author(s) and the holder(s).
- VAT Number (NIF/NIE), only if the applicant is Spanish or established in a EU country.
- Full details of the literary, artistic work or sui generis right to be copyrighted.
- Date and place anywhere in the world of first disclosure of the work.
- Your instructions on how we should proceed and approval of the likely costs.
- Your immediate payment by bank transfer from application and invoice date.
- A POA signed by the applicant, conferring us power (notarized) to act on your behalf, is required by this Office.
Please do contact us via our contact form if you need advice on any copyright issues such as:
- Copyrighting your works in Spain.
- Revising the requirements and/or amending the application of your work before copyright registration is applied for.
- Taking legal action against another person or company who is trading or exploiting your work in Spain without your consent.
- Defending you to a copyright infringement action or lawsuit with the Spanish Court.
- Licensing the use of your work or selling your copyright ensuring the correct assignment to other person or company.
- Protecting your know-how and trade secrets.
Confidentiality. The characteristics of your work should not be disclosed until you copyright it, unless you have made a relevant disclosure or have an evident proof of authorship of your creation. However, you can safely discuss it with us, since as registered IP attorneys and lawyers, any information you disclose to us is legally privileged and confidential, using it strictly for the purpose or needed service we are instructed to handle in your name.