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

Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Chapter 100
Chapter 200
Chapter 300
Chapter 400
Chapter 500
Chapter 600
Chapter 700
Chapter 800
Chapter 900
Chapter 1000
Chapter 1100
Chapter 1200
Chapter 1300
Chapter 1400
Chapter 1500
Chapter 1600
Chapter 1700
Chapter 1800
Chapter 1900
Chapter 2000
Chapter 2100
Chapter 2200
Chapter 2300
Chapter 2400

926.1 Architectural Works Distinguished from Technical Drawings


926.1 Architectural Works Distinguished from Technical Drawings


An architectural work and a technical drawing of an architectural work are separate works. H.R. REP. NO. 101-735, at 19 (“An individual creating an architectural work by depicting that work in plans or drawing[s] will have two separate copyrights, one in the architectural work . . . the other in the plans or drawings.”).


If the applicant intends to assert a claim in a technical drawing and the architectural work depicted therein, the applicant should file an application to register the architectural work and a separate application to register the technical drawing as a pictorial work, even though the deposit copy(ies) for both applications may be the same. 37 C.F.R. § 202.11 (C) (4) (“Where dual copyright claims exist in technical drawings and the architectural work depicted in the drawings, any claims with respect to the technical drawings and the architectural work must be registered separately.”).


A registration for a technical drawing covers the drawing itself, but it does not cover the architectural work depicted therein. Although a technical drawing may be protected by copyright, the copyright owner cannot prevent a third party from using that drawing to construct an actual building. This is due to the fact that the copyright in a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work that portrays a useful article – ” such as a building – ” does not give the owner of that work the right to control “the making, distribution, or display of the useful article.” 17 U.S.C. § 113 (B). By contrast, when an architectural drawing or blueprint is registered as an architectural work, the registration covers the architectural work depicted in those drawings, and the registration may be used in an infringement action involving the unauthorized reproduction of that work in any material object (including the construction of an actual building).




• Tina Thorn submits a set of drawings and asserts a claim in “drawings for a building.” The registration specialist will communicate with the applicant, because it is unclear whether Tina intends to register the drawings or the architectural work depicted therein.


For guidance in completing an application to register an architectural work or an architectural drawing, see Section 926.3.


[convertkit form=2550354]