For all their exposure to the plans, drawings, and related design documents needed at all stages of a construction project, owners and contractors, as well as many highly experienced practitioners involved in development and construction disputes, are only vaguely familiar at best with the law that governs ownership and use of architectural works. Architectural drawings are protected under the federal Copyright Act and may also be protected by the Visual Artists Rights Act, which was enacted by Congress in 1990 specifically to protect visual artwork. Beyond breach of contract, a violator of the Copyright Act can be liable for statutory damages as high as $150,000 for willful infringement. In a column for the Daily Journal of Commerce, I offer some suggestions for owners and contractors to stay on the right side of the law regarding copyrighted architectural works. Read the full column here.

Originally published by the Daily Journal of Commerce on April 18, 2024.