The right of integrity

According to Art. 11 CopA, “the author has the exclusive right to decide whether, when and how the work may be altered, as well as whether, when and how the work may be used to create a derivative work or may be included in a collected work”. This means the author has the right to forbid or allow any modifications to their work. The wishes of the author must not be ignored, even if these changes are small, useful or even necessary.

On social media, this right can be violated relatively easily because everyone acts as an individual and uses parts or sections of works when publishing content. This makes it very easy to distort or misrepresent a digital work or, for example, to reproduce an image to support content that the author would not approve of (Renold M.-A., internet et le droit d’auteur [Internet and Copyright], SJ 2002 II, p. 100).


Modifications to a work

The issue of changing a work applies both to the original and any copies of that work. This means the question of who owns the original work actually matters very little.

Right of integrity

The right of integrity does not cover minor technical processing such as recording the work in a different format. However, be aware that this type of act is subject to the exclusive right of reproduction and therefore requires permission.

FAQ I have created a work of fan fiction which replicates the world and codes of my favourite artist. Can I publish it on social networks?

Fan fiction is generally classed as a derivative work. Even though derivative works themselves are protected in their own right, the author of the pre-existing work retains their rights and can therefore challenge the publication of a derivative work. It is therefore necessary to get permission regarding the pre-existing work before publishing fan fiction on social networks. I am retouching a photo that I found on Flickr. To what extent can I publish the results?

The author has the exclusive right to allow or forbid the modification of their work, whether or not this change is substantial or appropriate. This means you need the author’s permission, even if you think you have only changed minor details which make the photo look better.

However, a large number of Flickr users have chosen to place their works under the protection of Creative Commons licences. The “ND” (NoDerivs) attribution means that modification of the work is not authorised. If the author has not listed their work under this attribution, the licence allows users to publish retouched versions of the photo.