Author-architects and the moral right of integrity in copyright law

05 Oct 2012

The agenda for current discussion in copyright law has largely been set by digital technology. But whereas issues like illegal file-sharing and fair dealing rightly occupy centre-stage, the issue of moral or author’s rights has become increasingly important, particularly amongst architects of commissioned works. Buildings, plans and sketches regularly attract copyright protection if they comply with the minimum requirements of originality or individual creative contribution. Often, author-architects find themselves required to take legal action against owners of their creations: authors object to modifications of their works, arguing that these breach their integrity right, while owners point to their property rights and the change of purpose or function which necessitates lawful changes to buildings. This paper considers recent decisions in civilian jurisdictions in an analysis of the breadth of the integrity right and available remedies.