On October 29th, I did a blog on a suit brought by the great engineer/architect Santiago Caltrava over alterations and additions to a bridge (nicknamed the Zubi Zuri) he did in Bilbao over the River Ria. According to a story in Expatica Newsletters (here), the Spanish court has ruled in defendant's favor, albeit with some interesting holdings. Here is an excerpt from the article:
Pending the result of an appeal (which Calatrava's counsel promptly announced after the ruling), there will be no demolition of Isozaki's recently opened pedestrian walkway, which connects with Calatrava's bridge, nor payment of the €3 million indemnity demanded by the architect, who received a total of 500,000 Swiss francs (some € 320,000 at present rates) for the Zubi Zuri. The ruling does, at least, censure the municipality for not having made "the least effort" to employ Calatrava for the walkway extension, or to obtain his authorization, deeming the behavior as "incomprehensible." The judge has also accepted Calatrava's contention that the work has been modified. "There has been an appreciable alteration of the work," he says, "which changes its unmistakable personality," adding that "it has ceased to be a self-contained work." The sentence also notes that the walkway is protected by the Intellectual Property Law, and that the ruling would have been favorable to Calatrava had only private interests been involved. The judge concludes that, given that the walkway is essential for fluid pedestrian movement, the public interest must prevail over the private - a point that was much repeated in the trial by the lawyers for the city council and the two construction firms. "The alteration has occurred; but the right to the integrity of the work is not violated, the author being obliged to bear it in the interest of the public served by the bridge," says the ruling.
It is heartening to see that despite endless rhetoric from Europe about copyright being a natural right, that authors' rights are inviolate, that moral rights are essential to preserve the integrity of works and authors' right to dignity, that copyright may even be a fundamental human right, blah blah blah, European courts can be every bit as pragmatic as their crass U.S. counterparts when the facts are right: yes there is this thing copyright, yes it was violated, but hey there are other factors which can trump it, namely the public interest. Now, if we could only get the concept of the public to include people and not just things they walk across, we would be on a real bridge to progress.