Copyright Protection for Architectural Works

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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Are Architectural Works Protected by Copyright Law?

Before AWCPA was passed, architectural works only received copyright protection as "graphic" or "pictorial" works. So while a person could not copy the blueprints of an architectural work, copying the building in which an architectural work was embodied was permissible.

What Architectural Works Does AWPCA Protect?

Under AWCPA, however, the author of an architectural work has two copyrights in his work. The first copyright protects the architectural work in its graphic or pictorial form. The second copyright protects the intangible architectural work, regardless of whether it is embodied in a graphic work, such as a blueprint, or a non-graphic work, like the building itself.

AWPCA protections only apply to what the law terms "building." "Buildings" include structures that are habitable, like houses and office buildings, and structures that are used by humans, such as churches, pavilions, and gazebos. AWPCA specifically does not apply to architectural works like bridges, dams and highways.

Do I Need a Copyright Attorney?

If you have a problem regarding copyright protection for architectural works, speak with an intellectual property attorney with experience in copyright law. Copyright laws for architectural works are complex and getting expert help with your case is the best way to solve your copyright problem.

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Last Modified: 12-16-2011 04:21 PM PST

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