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Copyright issues on the protection of architectural works and designs

By Phebe Mann and J Denoncourt


Architects and engineers depend on copyright law to protect their original works. Copyright protection is automatic once a tangible medium of expression in any form of an innovative material, conforming the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, is created. In terms of architectural works, they are protected as literary works (design \ud drawings and plans) and as artistic works (the building or model of the building). The case law on the concept of “originality” however discloses that it may be difficult \ud for certain artistic works of architecture to achieve copyright protection. Although copyright law provides automatic protection to all original architectural plans, the limitation is that it only protects the expression of ideas but not the ideas themselves. The purpose of this research is to explore how effective the UK’s copyright law \ud regime is for protecting the rights and interests of architects in their works. In addition, the United States system of copyright law will be analysed to determine whether it provides more effective protection for architects and engineers with regard to architectural works. The key objective in carrying out this comparison is to compare and contrast the extent to which the two systems protect the rights and interests of architects against copyright infringement. This comparative analysis concludes by considering the possibility of copyright law reform in the UK

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  1. (1997). A New Remedy for Copyright Infringement [1997] 12 EIPR 689 Association of Consulting Engineers
  2. (2008). Architecture and copyright: a quick survey of the law,
  3. (2001). Case Comment - United States: copyright - copyright infringement for architectural works,

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