Intellectual property: basic notions

The information provided is for guidance only and cannot be considered as a legal opinion. The Library declines any responsibility for the use made of this information.

What does intellectual property mean?
Intellectual property is manifested in two types of rights: moral rights and explotation rights, and belongs to the author by the mere fact of the creation of the literary, scientific or artistic work, which gives him personal and economic rights. This implies that the work may not be used without the prior authorization of the author. Copyright lasts, according to current legislation, for the author's lifetime and up to 70 years after his death, at which time the work becomes public property.

Limits on copyright
The use of a work is permitted in certain cases for the benefit of a social or cultural interest, giving the possibility of reproducing the work or part of it without the express need of the author in certain cases:
  • for private use
  • in quotations and reviews, for teaching or research purposes, indicating the source of information and the name of the author
  • for non-profit use in certain cultural and scientific institutions

Legal framework
The main applicable law on intellectual property is:
  • Royal Legislative Decree 1/1996, of April 12, 1996, approving the revised text of the Law on Intellectual Property approved by Law 22/1987, of November 11, 1987, which regularizes and clarifies the legal provisions in force on the subject.
  • Royal Decree 281/2003, of March 7, 2003, approving the Regulations of the General Registry of Intellectual Property

What creations are not protected by intellectual property?
Ideas, facts, information as such, mathematical theories and algorithms, as well as legal or regulatory provisions, acts, agreements, deliberations and opinions of public bodies are not protected by intellectual property.

What is the citation exception?
It is the limit established by law that allows the inclusion in a work of one's own of fragments of other works, provided that they are already published and that the inclusion is by way of a citation or to make an analysis, comment or critical judgment. This use can only be made for teaching or research purposes, justifying the incorporation, and indicating the source of information and the name of the author of the work used.

Can I use Internet material?
Yes, provided that it is used in one of the cases provided for as a copyright limit, or if the material is subject to some type of license that allows its use. Depending on the terms of this license, one use or another may be made.

If a work has no copyright symbol, is copying and reproduction permitted?
If a work has no note indicating its legal status, it should be understood that no use is permitted without prior authorization, i.e. all rights are reserved, except as provided by law.

What is an Open Access journal?
It is a free access publication that does not use intellectual property to restrict access and use of published materials, but uses rights to ensure access and allow their use, giving authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly recognized and cited.

What are Creative Commons licenses?
They are free public licenses that allow for the regulation of copyright and the possibility of developing new ways of collaboration. For more information on general aspects and licensing, please visit the Creative Commons Catalunya website or the Creative Commons España website.