The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Scholz Design Inc. v. Sard Custom Homes LLC, recently affirmed that architectural drawings are protectable by copyrights.
Prior to 1990, under the Copyright Act, architectural drawings were protected from copying as “pictorial” or “graphic” works like paintings or photographs. Protection was available for architectural drawings, but not for completed buildings resulting from the architectural drawings. In 1990, Congress passed the Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act of1990 (AWCPA), which amended the Copyright Act to provide protection for “architectural works,” i.e., completed buildings.
In the present case, Sard Custom Homes made exact copies of copyrighted drawings depicting homes. The drawings were created prior to the implementation of the AWCPA. Scholz sued claiming copyright infringement. Sard Custom Homes responded by arguing that the drawings were not entitled to copyright protection because they predated the AWCPA, and that the AWCPA provided protection only for completed buildings.
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