Compendium of U.S. Copyright Practices, 3rd Edition

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903.1 Pictorial, Graphic, and Sculptural Works


903.1 Pictorial, Graphic, and Sculptural Works


The most common types of visual art works are pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works. The Copyright Act protects a variety of works in these categories and specifically identifies the following:


• Fine art (e.g., painting and sculpture).


• Graphic art.


• Photographs.


• Prints.


• Art reproductions.


• Maps and globes.


• Charts and diagrams.


• Technical drawings, including architectural plans.


• Models.


• Applied art (i.e., the separable features of useful articles).


• Works of artistic craftsmanship.


17 U.S.C. § 101 (definition of “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works”).


“[A]n artistic feature of the design of a useful article” “is eligible for copyright protection only if the feature (1) can be perceived as a two-dimensional or three-dimensional work of art separate from the useful article and (2) would qualify as a protectable pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work – ” either on its own or fixed in some other tangible medium of expression – ” if it were imagined separately from the useful article into which it is incorporated.” Star Athletica, LLC, v. Varsity Brands, Inc., 137 S. Ct. 1002, 1014 (2017).


For information concerning the design aspects of a useful article, see Section 924. For information concerning other types of pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, see Sections 908 through 923, and Section 925.


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