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Public architectural art and its spirits of instability*

Aura Bertoni and Maria Lillà Montagnani

Keywords: architectural copyright; public art; moral rights; architectural works

When applied to public architectural art, the instability of copyright law is emphasized by the presence of many conflicting interests as well as by the identitarian dimension that architectural expression conveys. After surveying the struggle to obtain copyright protection for architectural works, this article analyses these conflicting interests and the unpredictable contours that architectural copyright encompasses, which are the result of cultural and economic demands as well as the social and environmental needs expressed by individuals, public bodies or collective entities. Then, the identitarian dimension of the architectural phenomenon is addressed to show that public architectural art can be, at the same time, an expression of individuals, communities and the state – where by ‘expression’ we refer to both the interests involved and the reason why protection is given to a specific interest. This exercise aims at understanding how to cope with copyright instability in public architectural art and face the unpredictable effects that it may cause by giving a more concrete meaning to ‘the public interest’, and, more precisely, by giving more substance to the identities that this concept expresses.

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