On the authorship of works created in the university environment

Thursday, 6 of February of 2020

The Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court has just confirmed on 16 January 2020 a ruling by the Burgos Provincial Court, which had declared that a University professor had infringed a student's copyright by including, in two of his publications, some passages of a research work carried out by this student under the direction of that professor.

Although the ratio decidendi of the ruling revolves around the originality of the plagiarized work, which the Supreme Court identifies with the form in which the contents are expressed despite recognizing they could be known among the specialists in the field, in our opinion, the most outstanding aspect of the resolution is the delimitation that is made with regard to the faculties that the director of a research work could have on the results obtained by the students who are under his tutelage. In this respect, the Court certainly concludes in a clarifying manner that "this leadership does not in itself justify a presumption that the director of the research work is wholly or partly author of the work, unless those parts of the work have already been published by the director."