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Introduction to Intellectual Property

In principle, copyright protection does not require registration; works are protected simply by their creation. However, it is required that the work be fixed in a tangible medium.

Copyright law allows protection of a broad spectrum of works, including those developed within the framework of new technologies. Despite the absence of a registration requirement as a condition of protection, an entry in the intellectual property Register is advisable because it provides qualified proof of the registered rights, facilitating the defence of those rights if problems arise. Copyright is divided into two rights: economic rights on the one hand (transferable) and moral rights (non-transferable).

What types of work are protected?

  • Literary: Books, pamphlets, forms, correspondence, writings, speeches and addresses, lectures, forensic reports, academic treatises and other works of the same nature.
  • Artistic works: Musical compositions with or without words, dramatic and dramatic-musical works, choreography, pantomimes and, in general, plays, cinematographic works and any other audiovisual works, sculptures and works of painting, drawing, etching, lithography and comics, cartoons or comics, as well as essays or sketches and other works of art, whether applied or not.
  • Scientific works: Projects, plans, models and designs of architectural and engineering graphics, maps and drawings relating to topography, geography and general science.
  • Photographic works: Photographic works and works expressed by a process analogous to photography.
  • Derivative works: Translations and adaptations, revisions, updates and annotations, abstracts, summaries and excerpts, musical arrangements, any alterations of a literary, artistic or scientific work.
  • Collections: Objects of intellectual property, collections of works of others (such as anthologies), and other data elements or the selection or arrangement of their contents constitute intellectual creations, without prejudice to the rights of the authors of the original works.
  • Related rights: The rights of artists, performers, producers of phonograms and broadcasting organizations in relation to their performances, phonograms and broadcasts, respectively.
  • Databases.
  • Computer programs.


  • Condition of protection
    As mentioned, there is no registration requirement for copyright protection but it is necessary to set the work in a tangible medium (ideas are not protected). Originality: means to protect an author’s intellectual creation. Protection of the intellectual creation throughout the life of the author and for a period of time after his death that varies by country (seventy years in Spain). The authorship is granted only to an individual, unless there are special arrangements provided for by law. Third parties can nevertheless acquire ownership of the exploitation rights. Spanish law has a specific regime for the salaried author.
  • Scope of protection

    Revised text of the Intellectual Property Law, approved by Royal Legislative Decree 1/1996 of 12 April (BOE of 24 April).

    At the community level there are several directives regulating the protection of certain aspects of copyright.

    Through the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works Act, Paris, July 24, 1971; the Rome Convention on the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations (1961); and OMPI treaties on copyright and performances and phonograms, adopted by more than 100 countries. The TRIPS Agreement (1995).


Rights conferred by copyright

Moral rights:

They are strictly personal and non-transferable.

The right to disclose work under the author’s name, pseudonym or anonymously and the right to be recognized as the author of the work.

The right to the integrity of the work.

The right to modification of the work.

The right to dissemination and non-dissemination of the work, how it is disseminated.

The right to withdraw involves removing the works from circulation due to moral, scientific, ideological or aesthetic changes. However, this is consistent with paying compensation to those who have the rights of exploitation of the work at the time.

Exploitation rights:

Of a proprietary nature and grant sole and exclusive power for the exploitation of the work:


Distribution within a determined territory

Public communication

Transformation of the work

Faculty of obtaining economic benefit (canon for private copying and resale rights).