Many of you know my contempt for so-called moral rights. And as a disclaimer, aesthetically, I love Calatrava’s works. He really gets away with a lot. But I cannot help but report this from the William Patry Copyright blog with a bit, just a bit… okay, a LOT, of Schadenfreude. The facts are that the city of Bilbao needed to make some repairs and improvements to a bridge built by Calatrava, whose structures have the habit of falling into some disrepair. Calatrava objected on various moral rights grounds — the right of integrity probably amongst others. Yadda yadda. Here we go:

According to a story in Expatica Newsletters (here), the Spanish court has ruled in defendant’s favor, albeit with some interesting holdings. […]

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.