How to protect your work in Spain

The work in Spain

The National register for the protection of the works

In Spain, there is a national register for the protection of intellectual property (Registro de la Propiedad Intelectual) which is part of the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports. Registration in this register constitutes proof of a creator’s paternity on his work. That is to say, when a work is created in Spain, it can be submitted to the register to ensure its protection. However, this registration is not mandatory since the work is protected by the mere fact of its creation, provided that it is original.

A work created by a salaried creator

It should also be noted that in Spain, under article 51 of the Spanish Copyright Law:

1- The transfer to the producer of the exploitation rights in a work created by virtue of employment relations shall be governed by the terms agreed upon in the contract, which shall be made in writing

2-  In the absence of an agreement in writing, it shall be presumed that the exploitation rights have been granted exclusively and with the scope necessary for the exercise of the customary activity of the producer at the time of the delivery of the work made by virtue of the said employment relations

As a result, even though the creator keeps his personal rights to his work, he will not be able to claim his right to exploit it since his creation was made under an employment contract. Nevertheless, the employer is only authorized to exploit this work within the framework of the company’s activities and will not be able to sell or transfer it to a third person.

The international agreements

The Berne Convention

The Berne Convention of 1886, ratified by all the member states of the European Union (and more than 100 countries around the world) established the international protection of literary and artistic works. According to this convention, a foreign creator is automatically protected by the applicable law of the country where his work is represented. In this way, a foreign creator will benefit from the same protection of his works as given to Spanish artists, without having to comply with any formality.

Companies for the collective management of musical intellectual-property right

Copyright collecting companies aim to protect and distribute the royalties between their members for the use of their works. They have concluded reciprocity agreements between them to protect the works of their members abroad. In Spain, the SGAE (Sociedad General de Autores y Editores) guaranties the protection of Spanish works in 208 countries around the world as well as protecting and representing the interests of foreigner creators on Spanish territory. It especially ensures the respect of reproduction, distribution and transformation rights as well as remuneration for providing works to public and private entities. The SGAE also handles licensing grants to use works. Thus, a creator affiliated with a copyright collective company in his country will not have to be vigilant about the uses of his work in Spain as the SGAE will be directly, and without any request from him, in charge of ensuring the protection of his interests in the country.

Lucie Robin & Nicolás Melchior

This article is not considered as legal advice

Nicolás Melchior

A Law graduate from the Universidad Carlo III de Madrid, Nicolás Melchior specialises in corporate Law, commercial contracts and electronic commerce. Working languages: Spanish, German, English and French. For any further enquiries please Contact us