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Client Question: Copyrighting Pictures of Buildings

Our question comes from Bill Hackett of Cheshire Cat Photos, which supplies digital stock and fine art photography. Bill wonders whether you can take and copyright a photograph of someone’s else building.
Pursuant to 17 U.S.C. 120(a), “The copyright in an architectural work that has been constructed does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place.” It should be noted that the copyright holder of architectural plans is usually the architect, not the building’s owner, unless there was an assignment of rights. Entering upon the property is still a trespass, unless you have the permission of the property owner.
If you have any more questions that are sufficiently general to post here, please email [email protected]

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