Model building question

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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stushall
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Model building question

Post by stushall »

Hello, I have a question regarding the making of miniature model buildings.
From reading some of the other excellent posts here I think I understand how the law applies in terms of copying an architectural work, that it is ok to make a graphic copy or photograph of a building on public land, but it is not specifically permitted to make a model of it unless the architect has been dead for 70+ years.
My question relates to a building that has been demolished - would this change anything? I would be using old photographs to try and recreate the building as it once looked [but not making a direct copy of any individual photo], and I would only be making the street-facing exterior and not the whole building or interior. The ultimate intention would be to exhibit/sell the finished model as an artwork.
In this specific case, the building was made in the 1940's and demolished in 1972 - the architect died in 1961 so not 70 years ago yet.
Any thoughts would be welcome,
best wishes
Stuart
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AndyJ
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Re: Model building question

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Stuart,

The fact that the work itself (ie the building) no longer exists does not mean that the copyright in its appearance has ceased. This may seem odd but the mere fact that its appearance lives on in the photographs you mention means that the copyright continues to run.

That said, architectual copyright is something of a special case, in that the architect's rights* are substantially fewer than those of authors of other kinds of work, especially within UK copyright law which has never emphasized the moral rights of authors in the same way as elsewhere in continental Europe. I doubt if the architect's heirs would be interested in enforcing their copyright, and indeed would probably be supportive of your intention to pay homage to the building. If you are able track down the heirs it would be advisible to ask for permission, but if this proves too difficult, you could apply for an orphan works licence which would indemnify you against being sued, should the heirs come forward at a later stage. I am not aware of an orphan works licence ever having been issued for this purpose, but there has to be a first time. More details on how to do this can be found here.


* The normal rights which a copyright owner enjoys are: the reproduction right, the distribution right, the publication right and the right to authorise adaptations of the original work (eg translations of books or plays). For architecture, only the first of these rights applies, and even then it is restricted to physical (3D) reproductions as photographs etc of the building are permitted to made without permission.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
stushall
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Re: Model building question

Post by stushall »

Hi Andy, and thanks for the reply! You are quite right in that the spirit of the project is to pay homage to an otherwise overlooked piece of local history, but I will investigate further and see if I can find out anything. Cheers Stuart
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