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Can you Copyright A Building?



Copyright is a legal concept applied to creative works such as visual art, writing, film, music, and other artistic creations. What about Architecture? Architecture is often considered an art, so is it copyrightable? If so, what parts? The drawings? Models? Construction documents? Or the buildings themselves?

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Video Chapters:
00:00 Introduction
01:00 Copyright Legal Basics
02:04 Copyright in the United States
03:29 Copyright, Patents, & Trademarks
04:09 How does Infringement work?
05:54 Oravec v. Sunny Isles Luxury Ventures
07:23 Copyright in Canada
07:51 Lainco Inc v Commission Scolaire Des Bois-Francs
09:42 Copyright in China
10:28 Can you photograph a building?
11:44 Conclusion

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Images and Music Credits: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16Nvii-wATk_zqyIb0WV5jNJIXoczgezxoaMXkrh4jFQ/edit?usp=sharing

Sources & Further Reading:
[1] Architect Magazine – Too Close For Comfort: A high-profile copyright infringement case shows how courts think about architecture: https://www.architectmagazine.com/practice/too-close-for-comfort_o
[2] USGNN – Architect Says SOM Ripped off His Design for One World Trade Center: https://www.usglassmag.com/2017/06/architect-says-som-ripped-off-his-design-for-one-world-trade-center/
[3] William Fisher – Illustrations for Shine v. Childs: https://cyber.harvard.edu/people/tfisher/cx/Shine_Illustrations.pdf
[4] Case 1:17-cv-04473 Document 1: https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/freedom-tower.pdf
[5] Courthouse News Service – Designers of Freedom Tower Hit With Copyright Action: https://www.courthousenews.com/designers-freedom-tower-hit-copyright-action/
[6] Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works: https://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/
[7] Contracting Parties Berne Convention: https://wipolex.wipo.int/en/treaties/ShowResults?search_what=C&treaty_id=15
[8] US Constitution Article I Section 8 Clause 8: https://constitution.congress.gov/browse/article-1/section-8/clause-8/
[9] Copyright Act 1909 https://www.copyright.gov/history/1909act.pdf
[10] Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act: https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ41.pdf
[11] Florida Bar Journal – The 11th Circuit New Copyright Standard for Architectural Works: https://web.archive.org/web/20201126044002/https://www.floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-journal/the-11th-circuits-new-copyright-standard-for-architectural-works/
[12] Wired – Apple Store Receives Trademark for ‘Distinctive Design and Layout’: https://www.wired.com/2013/01/apple-store-trademark/
[13] AIA – Understanding the scope of architectural copyright protection: https://www.aia.org/articles/26591-understanding-the-scope-of-architectural-cop
[14] National Law Review – Architectural Copyrights: No Need to Pay the Troll Toll https://www.natlawreview.com/article/architectural-copyrights-no-need-to-pay-troll-toll
[15] Yale Daily News – Freedom Tower suit resolved: https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2006/09/26/freedom-tower-suit-resolved/
[16] Park v. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (1:17-cv-04473): https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6075771/park-v-skidmore-owings-merrill-llp/
[17] Oravec v. Sunny Isles, 527 F.3d 1218, 1220 (11th Cir. 2008) https://casetext.com/case/oravec-v-sunny-isles
[18] Canada – Copyright Act https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-42/Index.html
[19] Décisions de la Cour fédérale – Lainco Inc. c. Commission scolaire des Bois-Francs: https://decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/fc-cf/decisions/fr/item/235163/index.do
[20] McMillan – The Kick that Got the Ball Rolling: Copyright in Architectural Works is Gaining Traction in Canada: https://mcmillan.ca/insights/the-kick-that-got-the-ball-rolling-copyright-in-architectural-works-is-gaining-traction-in-canada/
[21] ArchDaily – Zaha Hadid Seeing Double in China: https://www.archdaily.com/313492/zaha-hadid-seeing-double-in-china
[22] BBC – China ‘copycat’ buildings: Government clamps down on foreign imitations: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-52585684
[23] The Courtroom – Do Pictures of Famous Buildings Violate Copyright? https://web.archive.org/web/20211120053343/https://thecourtroom.org/do-pictures-of-famous-buildings-violate-copyright/
[24] Culture Trip – Why It’s Illegal to Take Pictures of the Eiffel Tower at Night: https://theculturetrip.com/europe/france/paris/articles/why-its-illegal-to-take-pictures-of-the-eiffel-tower-at-night/

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