By Nicki Dennis Stephens, Hon. AIA, LEED Green Assoc. | AIA CA, Executive Vice President
Greetings from the AIA California Office,
Architecture is the only profession that is educated, trained, and tested to protect the fragile interface between the natural and built environment. Protecting your valuable work is as fundamental a responsibility of your professional association as, say, being in the room during the development of new building code cycles.
Due to this, AIA California, your advocate in this area, is continually vigilant about protecting your copyright. With the advent of digital technologies and the publication of an architect’s work on internet sites and social media channels, this work has grown more essential.
It’s why AIA California sponsored SB1214 which passed and was subsequently signed into law by Governor Newsom. The law enforces existing federal copyright law, here in California, by limiting the type of information prepared by architects that local planning departments can make available on digital platforms. (Where it can be easily replicated, or even altered, without an architect’s permission.)
While AIA California can take these types of legislative actions, copyright law begins in your own office. While offices are not required to register drawings to have copyright protection, registering with the United States Copyright Office offers additional value should a lawsuit arise because it provides additional documentation of timeframe. Registering is simple, relatively inexpensive, and even can be submitted electronically. Register an architectural work within three (3) months of the first publication of the architectural work by following this link. (Note architectural works fall under visual arts.)
To find out more about eligibility for copyright protection, and authorship of architectural works, view this U.S. Copyright Office circular.