Editor's Notes

The Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act (AWCPA), enacted by Congress in 1990, created important protections for the intellectual property of architects. It protects their design documents and the appearance of the buildings that are the physical embodiment of those drawings. But the AWCPA also considered the legitimate concerns of property owners. An owner may alter or destroy a structure without violating the copyright protections of the design architect.


A federal appeals court recently addressed a situation in which the original developer of a building went bankrupt. The new owner wanted to complete the building, and the design architect, who had not been paid in full by the original developer, sought to block completion without the architect’s consent. Is the property owner’s right to complete a building encompassed by the statutory right to alter or destroy a building?


The other case in this issue involved a public project owner’s reservation of the statutory right to reject any and all bids. Is this right absolute? Or would that approach condone graft and bid rigging?




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