Un/fair Use is an exhibition of research and proposals related to copying and copyright in architecture.
Appropriation is as much a part of architecture as the expectation of novelty, and so it is at the very core of the discipline. Architecture advances via comment, criticism, parody, and innovation, forms of appropriation that fall under the umbrella of fair use. But what about when appropriation is deemed unfair? Where and how are the lines drawn around permissible use? Un/fair Use probes that legal boundary.
In Un/fair Use, models of common, and therefore uncopyrightable, tropes and formal themes are juxtaposed with those protected under the Architecture Works Copyright Protection Act of 1990.
Ideas are precious, precious things. A good one can upend a movement or make a career and they are, of course, worth a great deal. Architects live in a competitive globalized world, and in the race to succeed, defining who owns ideas is becoming increasingly important in an architect's professional life. ArchDaily has previously explained the essential points of architectural copyright and explored the complexities of legal judgments, but what if you want to work internationally? It's a much more complex issue than "China will let people copy what they want" or "Belgians will sue you" and if you want to work outside your home country then it's essential you understand the variables.
Fortunately, we've got you covered: we've pulled together a rundown of the essentials of copyright law and practice in some of the most popular countries to find work - read on for more.
When an eminent jurist asks, “What does a copyright of an architectural work truly protect?” you may be certain the question is not rhetorical. The U.S. Copyright Act does provide protection from infringement for architectural works, but it does so in terms so ambiguous that a judge might wonder, as did federal district court judge James Lawrence King in a case he decided earlier this year, whether broadly applicable standards for determining infringement even exist. Finding “the usual analysis … too vague and the language misleading,” King blazed a trail of his own in Sieger Suarez Architectural Partnership v. Arquitectonica International Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19140, proposing detailed guideposts for future courts to follow.
Sieger Suarez involved two Miami architectural firms and a 43-story condominium tower nearing completion in suburban Sunny Isles. The Sieger Suarez firm was engaged in 2000 by the project’s first owner. When the project, now known as Regalia, changed hands, the new owners dropped Sieger Suarez and engaged Arquitectonica in 2006. This is a scenario made familiar in scores of disputes involving allegations of infringement of architectural works.
Befitting a beachfront property with floor-through units starting at $7 million, both designs present dramatic, undulating exteriors. “When facing any of the buildings' four sides,” King wrote in his opinion, “the façades create the impression of a wave rippling horizontally across the sides of the buildings.” Further, in cross-section, both buildings reveal what King described as a “flower shape,” “a stylized rectangle, with gently rounded corners and an outward bulge more-or-less in the center of each of the four sides.” Should this flower shape, combined with the wavelike exteriors, have been enough to sustain Sieger Suarez’s claim of infringement against its competitor and the property’s owners?
The results of this Court Case, and what they could mean for architectural copyright in general, after the break...
When we see another Eiffel Tower, idyllic English village, or, most recently, a Zaha Hadid shopping mall, copied in China, our first reaction is to scoff. Heartily. To suggest that it is - once again - evidence of China’s knock-off culture, its disregard for uniqueness, its staggering lack of innovation.
Even I, reporting on the Chinese copy of the Austrian town of Halstatt, fell into the rhetorical trap: “The Chinese are well-known for their penchant for knock-offs, be it brand-name handbags or high-tech gadgets, but this time, they’ve taken it to a whole other level.” Moreover, as Guy Horton has noted, we are keen to describe designers in the West as “emulating,” “imitating,” and “borrowing”; those in the East are almost always “pirating.”
However, when we allow ourselves, even unconsciously, to settle into the role of superior scoffer, we do not just the Chinese, but ourselves, a disservice: first, we fail to recognize the fascinating complexity that lies behind China’s built experimentation with Western ideals; and, what’s more, we fail to look in the mirror at ourselves, and trouble our own unquestioned values and supposed superiority.
With all the recent controversy over Zaha Hadid's "copycats" in China, we decided it would be wise to get a better understanding of the often murky world of architectural copyright. In that effort, we've decided to re-print an article by Attorney Jeffrey M. Reichard, who practices construction and intellectual property law with Nexsen Pruet in Greensboro, NC, and knows a thing or two (or ten!) about the subject. The article was originally published as a Construction Law Alert for clients of his firm.
Some people say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. However, under architectural copyright law, imitation could be a very costly endeavor. Here are ten tips to help contractors, owners and architects protect themselves from architectural copyright disputes.
See the 10 Things You Need to Know About Architectural Copyright, after the break...