Our copyright law recognizes the author, amongst other moral rights, the right to demand respect for the integrity of the work and to prevent any deformation, modification, alteration or attack against it that would prejudice his legitimate interests or threaten his reputation. However, does this right includes the location of the work itself? Should it prevail before others?.
These questions have been answered by the recent Judgment of 18 January 2013 issued by the Plenary of the judges of the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court, when the renowned sculptor Andrés Nagel sued the city hall of the Spanish city of Amorebieta when the latter decided to move a work of art from its initial placement.
The Supreme Court, on the basis that the moral right extends to the location the author had in mind when it was created, understands that it must be presumed that the relocation "substantially interferes in interpretation of the work. "
But that does not mean that relocation always and in any case undermines the author's moral right to the integrity of his work, but only in cases where the change of location "alters or interferes with the communicative process that every work of art implies by modifying communication codes, distorting the messages transmitted and sensations, emotions, thoughts and reflections aroused in those who perceive it. Thus, not every change in the location of a work automatically produces an infringement of author's moral right to the integrity of his work, but only when the new placement affects the dialogue between the author and the public through the work of art.
Anyhow, our Supreme Court tries to balance the author’s right and those others affected (in this case, the general public interest) and then concludes that even if the latter shall prevail, the author must be compensated for the suffered damages.