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Betcha didn’t know a building could be copyrighted… - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Jun. 10th, 2008

10:24 pm - Betcha didn’t know a building could be copyrighted…

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Good thing we have copyright to encourage encourage artists:

Making Your Case for a Permit
If you do decide that a permit is the way to go (in other words, you’re going to use a tripod), one thing they will want to know is, “What will the photos be used for?” They may ask if they’re going to be used for commercial purposes, educational purposes, to be sold as postcards, etc.

For example, on my recent trip to New York, we contacted the observatory at the top of 30 Rockefeller Center to request a permit to shoot the New York Skyline at dusk from their observatory (which would require me setting up a tripod). They had a page on their site for photo permits, and who to contact, etc. and so we followed their instructions. Unfortunately, we were turned down because we were going to use the photos in one of my books, which they felt was a “Commercial Purpose” so our request was denied.

We also contacted the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and they had a request for photography permit section as well, and they were pretty clear and adamant about the fact that both the exterior and interior of the Guggenheim were copyrighted, and tightly controlled. Despite several calls to the department that handles photo requests, we were never able to reach anyone, and they never called us back, so we were out of luck.

Original: craschworks - comments

Comments:

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From:girlvinyl
Date:June 11th, 2008 05:50 am (UTC)
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I think the 30rock thing makes sense. If someone wanted to use my property for commercial purposes, I would tell them no. The Guggenheim thing I am on the fence about.
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From:crasch
Date:June 11th, 2008 06:59 am (UTC)
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I have no problems with prohibiting someone from photographing on one's own property. The Guggenheim as apparently blowing smoke:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_in_architecture

"...In contrast, while construction of a building can be prevented under § 102(a)(8), two other important limitations apply when registering a design as an “architectural work.” First, when a building is ordinarily visible from a public place, its protection as an “architectural work” does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work.[14] Thus, the architect will not be able to prevent people from taking photographs or otherwise producing pictorial representations of the building...."
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From:fishsupreme
Date:June 11th, 2008 06:02 am (UTC)
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Well, property owners have the legal right to prohibit photography on their property. Banning standing in their observation deck and photographing the city seems silly, and I don't agree with the decision, but I do agree they have (and should have) the legal right to do so.

However, property owners do not have the legal right to prohibit people photographing their property from outside it. You can't copyright the ability to take exterior photographs of a building, and I think this is pretty well established in case law.

However, the fact that they don't have a legal leg to stand on doesn't stop them from asserting it -- though it would probably stop them from actually suing over it.
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From:crasch
Date:June 11th, 2008 07:00 am (UTC)
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I agree that property owners have the right to ban photography on their property.

And you're right, the Guggenheim was blowing smoke:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_in_architecture

"...In contrast, while construction of a building can be prevented under § 102(a)(8), two other important limitations apply when registering a design as an “architectural work.” First, when a building is ordinarily visible from a public place, its protection as an “architectural work” does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work.[14] Thus, the architect will not be able to prevent people from taking photographs or otherwise producing pictorial representations of the building...."

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From:hiro_antagonist
Date:June 11th, 2008 09:53 am (UTC)
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Ah yes, the obsession with IP is definitely one of the most annoying examples of crazy I've ever run into. The Bank of America has a building in downtown Dallas that they actively prevent photographers from shooting if you're on their property at all (been accosted twice myself).
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From:infrogmation
Date:June 11th, 2008 01:15 pm (UTC)

When is a public building not a public building?

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Wikimedia Commons deals with various weirdness in making serious effort to comply with various copyright laws of different countries.

Many countries (though not US law) have what is called "freedom of panorama" in their copyright laws-- basically for things like sculpture and architecture, if it is indoors or somewhere you had to pay admission to see it, you have legal grounds to enforse a copyright of derivative works, but not for anything that can be seen from public streets and spaces, where anyone passing by could snap a photo.

IIRC, the legal tradition had been permitting free photographing of the public fascade of buildings, but artworks like murals and sculptures can retain copyright. I'm not sure of the legal grounds for the Guggenheim's prohibition; perhaps they're trying to claim the Museum is an artwork rather than a building. Of course some museums, companies, etc, make statements of photography prohibited even if there is no actual standing in copyright law.
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From:marknau
Date:June 11th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
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I've made a few open-city games set in New York city. With buildings, we always have to play the guessing game of "what's legal?" And the results of the guessing game are different depending upon how conservative the publisher's legal department wants to be. In one instance, we were told to change the profile of the building sitting where the Empire State Building would be, in order to make it less like the actual building
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From:vivian2112
Date:June 11th, 2008 11:55 pm (UTC)
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Joerg and I encountered this in downtown Charlotte - a bank building's security guard politely but very firmly forbade us from photographing the gorgeous art deco building housing said bank.

Hm.
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From:crasch
Date:June 12th, 2008 12:17 am (UTC)
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If you were standing on bank property, they have the right to ask you not to take photos. But if you were standing on public walkways, you have the right to take pictures of whatever building you want (with some exceptions, such as military installations).
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