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Copyright Resources: Copyright: Architecture

A guide to the tricky world of copyright: what is covered, what is not, and how to tell the difference.

Architectural Works

What is an Architectural Work?

"An original design of a building created in any tangible medium of expression, including a constructed building or architectural plans, models, or drawings[.]"
 

What can be copyrighted?
"The overall form as well as the arrangement and composition of spaces and elements in the design but does not include individual standard features or design elements that are functionally required."
 

How long does copyright of an architectural work last?

"Protection for an architectural work created as a work made for hire [i.e., an architect working for a firm] on or after December 1, 1990, lasts for 95 years from the date of publication of the work or for 120 years from the date of creation of the work, whichever term is less.
 
"Protection for an architectural work created on or after December 1, 1990, by an individual (not as a work made for hire) lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years."
 

 
This Image is in the Public Domain!
"Typical floor plan of the Hendrik Hudson Apartments," 1910.
NYPL Digital Gallery
 
If you're interested in learning more about protecting your work, see the U.S. Copyright Office's instructions on registration.

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Disclaimer

The information presented here is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.