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Architectural Copyright

The Times reports today that the district court has denied a motion to dismiss in the suit against David Childs and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill claiming that the original Freedom Tower design infringed the copyright in a student work. You can judge the similarities for yourself (image and links below), but the key to the case may be access. According to a Yale Daily News report published when the case was filed:

The suit contends that Childs first saw Shine’s Olympic Tower studio model — which Shine designed as a Manhattan skyscraper for New York’s 2012 Olympic bid — in December 1999 when Childs served on a panel of jurists invited by the School of Architecture to evaluate students’ architectural plans. At the panel, Childs commented favorably on Shine’s design, according to the 1999-2000 issue of Retrospecta, the school’s annual magazine.

“It is a very beautiful shape,” Childs said, according to the magazine. “You took the skin and developed it around the form — great!”

The plaintiff’s firm, Darby & Darby, has an online portfolio of images comparing the two works. Here’s an example — the Freedom Tower design is on the left; the plaintiff’s work is on the right.

Childs and Shine