Law School Case Brief
Shine v. Childs - 382 F. Supp. 2d 602 (S.D.N.Y. 2005)
The Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act defines an architectural work as the design of a building as embodied in any tangible medium of expression, including a building, architectural plans, or drawings. The work includes the overall form as well as the arrangement and composition of spaces and elements in the design, but does not include individual standard features.
Plaintiff Shine filed a suit against Defendants Child and his architectural firm for copyright infringement under the Copyright Act. Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant designer’s proposal for a tower to be built at the World Trade Center site infringed his copyrighted designs. The court applied summary judgment standards. It found that both of his copyrighted designs qualified as protected architectural works under the Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act.
Is the arrangement of spaces and elements in the design of an architectural work subject of a valid copyright?
The Court held that the Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act nowhere states or implies that only designs capable of construction are worthy of protection. The law protects the design of a building as embodied in any tangible medium of expression including the overall form as well as the arrangement and composition of spaces and elements in the design. Individual arguably "standard" elements of a design might not be worthy of protection, but the arrangement and composition of the various elements in a model do at least arguably constitute the "design of a building" as specified in the law.
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