The Civil Chamber rejects the appeal of the teacher and ratifies the compensation for “moral damages”
TheSupreme CourtHe has confirmed the conviction of a tenured professor of History of Law of the University of Burgos to pay 3,000 euros of compensation for moral damage to a student of his doctorate, considering it accredited that he copied literally in two publications his epigraphs of the research work he carried out the student under his direction.
The Civil Chamber dismisses the appeal of the professor and confirms the judgment of the Audience of Burgos that declared that the professor had violated the copyright of the student. In addition to condemning him to pay compensation, he ordered the publication of the ruling in the Legal Review of Castilla y Len at the expense of the defendant. The Hearing corrected the initial decision of a Commercial Court that had acquitted the professor.
The proven facts include that in 2009 Juan Cruz Monje did a research project entitled “Las Layes de Burgos, a precedent of international law and the recognition of human rights”, under the direction of Rafael Snchez Domingo. It was published in the institutional repository of the University library and three years later part of that work – episodes 2 and 3- appeared practically literally in two publications of the professor. Specifically, in the book “The Laws of Burgos of 1512 and centenary” and in the article “The Laws of Burgos of 1512 and the legal doctrine of the conquest”. Before carrying out their work, according to the proven facts, the student gave a lecture on the subject in a course organized by the teacher.
The Supreme rejects the allegation of the condemned that the copied part lacked originality because the ideas presented were not an intellectual creation of the student, but that he had given them before to give a lecture in 2009. And because they were not a novelty in the field of legal science, neither for its content, nor for its way of expressing it.
The Chamber explains that it is true that a written text does not enjoy originality by itself, since a minimum of intellectual creativity is required. But he affirms that “this demand for creativity does not justify that, in a field such as that of the present resource (studies of the History of Law), it is associated with the judgment that the connoisseurs of the subject might make on the originality of the exposed ideas, but with the way they are exposed. So, regardless of what was revealed in those episodes 2 and 3 of Mr. Monje’s work could already be known in that specialty of the History of Law, the really relevant thing is that, without prejudice to the pertinent citations of the sources from which this knowledge was taken, the manner in which it was exposed differs from what already exists and does not constitute a common place. “
In a case like this in which the reproduction is practically literal, “it cannot be hidden that the ideas transmitted constitute a common knowledge to deny originality to the partially reproduced work. Plagiarism is verified with the literal reproduction of the text.”
The Chamber notes that it is logical that whoever directs a doctorate has been able to contribute in some way to the student’s work, for the ideas, orientations and suggestions he has made in the direction of the work. “But this management work does not justify by itself a presumption that the total or partial author of the work corresponds to the director of the research work, unless those parts of the work are already published before by the director,” the court emphasizes. So 3,000 euros.
According to the criteria of