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Architecture and ownership

Image Courtesy of Res Graphic Design

Over the past ten years, companies and professionals have become very strict, not allowing others to use images of objects and buildings held. The concept of intellectual property or copyright is rather old, but the rush to acquire rights and ownership of nearly everything is very contemporary. Even architects are trying to exclude other architects and design professionals from using inventive ideas or discoveries.

Although it is understandable for an architect to protect his or her rights to a building design, so others cannot copy or re-use contract documents for another application, guarding new assemblies or methods of installation can be harmful to innovation and development in the field of architecture. Progress occurs through the development and testing of ideas. Often, progress occurs because of one-upmanship, where an individual can improve upon or better an existing idea. However, when an idea is protected by law, the concept cannot be challenged or improved upon by others; so progress wanes.

Though architects such as William McDonough should be praised for their innovation, design professionals should be careful about being too protective of their ideas.  Sheltering concepts from critique and improvement denies innovation and ultimately worsens the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

For more information about intellectual property, please visit:

Culture of Ownership


Electronic Frontier Foundation