Subject to copyright is any work of literature, the arts and science that is the product of a creative process carried out in any manner of expression and in any objective form.

The provisions of article 3(1), subparagraphs 6 & 8 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act (CRRA) envision two separate and independent copyright works when it comes to architectural works, differing from each other in their essence. The rights holder (i.e. the architect/author) holds, firstly, the copyright of the architecture project (subparagraph 8) as a separate type of copyright works and a work of architecture. Said copyright works differ substantially from the second type of copyright works, the finished architectural work (subparagraph 6), i.e. a building or other structure, in which the rights holder holds a separate copyright. This distinction is of paramount importance since, if said rights are to be ceded to another party, this must be done simultaneously and in parallel, in order to secure legal certainty for the acquirer. Of major importance for the transfer of copyright in architectural works are also the provisions of CRRA article 12(1)(2), which make a clear distinction between the ownership of a building and the architect’s copyright in that same building as a work of architecture, and apart from that, his/her copyright in the architecture project as a separate, primary creative work. Article 12(1) explicitly states that the copyright in a work of architecture is held by the person who created it in the first place, even in cases where the work itself is in another party’s ownership. For its part, article 12(2) explicitly states that the copyright in a work of architecture created as a result of the realization of an architecture project (i.e. the finished building) is also held by the creator of said architecture project. In any event, the author/architect has the exclusive right to use the architectural work created by him/herself and to authorize its use by other parties.

In a typical scenario, the ‘use’ of a work of architecture means the realization of an architecture project into the building for which it was intended. An original architecture project created by an original author is also ‘used’ in case where it is being adapted or used for creating a new design and making all sorts of changes and alterations in it. As for the ‘use’ of the copyright of the original author in a finished architectural work (the building completed to his/her design), such use is invoked in cases where the building is being altered through the addition of annexes or stories, or by its reconstruction or change of purpose (the list is exhaustive).

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