Who owns the copyright of architectural works and designs?
Mann, P. (2010) Who owns the copyright of architectural works and designs? In: RICS COBRA Legal Research Symposium, 2nd - 3rd September 2010, Paris, France.
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Copyright protects the rights and interests of authors on their original works of authorship such as literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works including architectural works and designs. It is automatic once a tangible medium of expression in any form of an innovative material, which conforms the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988), is created. This includes the building, the architectural plans and drawings. There is no official copyright registry, no requirements on any fees need to be paid and they can be published or unpublished materials. Copyrights owners have the rights to control the reproduction, display, publication, and even derivation of the design. However, there are limitations on the rights of the copyright owners concerning copyrights infringements. Infringement of copyright is an unauthorised violation of the exclusive rights of the copyright author. Architects and engineers depend on copyright law to protect their works and design. Copyrights are protected on the arrangements of spaces and elements as well as the overall form of the architectural design. However, it does not cover the design of functional elements and standard features. Although copyright law provides automatic protection to all original architectural plans, the limitation is that copyright only protects the expression of ideas but not the ideas themselves. It can be argued that architectural drawings and design, including models are recognised categories of artistic works which are protected under the copyright law. This research investigates to what extent copyrights protect the rights and interests of the designers on architectural works and design.