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

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925 Works of Artistic Craftsmanship


925 Works of Artistic Craftsmanship


A “work of artistic craftsmanship” may be protected as a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work, depending on whether it contains two- or three-dimensional authorship. This Section provides a definition of this term, and a discussion of issues that commonly arise in connection with such works.


As mentioned in Section 906.10, the copyright law limits the scope of protection for both works of artistic craftsmanship and the design of a useful article. The law protects the “form” of a work of artistic craftsmanship, but it does not protect “the mechanical or utilitarian aspects” of such works. 17 U.S.C. § 101 (definition of “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works”). Likewise, the law protects “the design of a useful article,” but it does not protect “the utilitarian aspects” of a useful article. Id.


Works of artistic craftsmanship and the design of a useful article are considered separate and distinct categories of authorship for purposes of registration. For a detailed discussion of the differences between these types of works, see Section 925.3.


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