This paper questions the applicability of current legal standards of copyright to
architectural works. Copyright law, as currently written, does not address the unique needs and
design practices common to the field of architecture. For example, in architecture, the
appropriation of existing design strategies in new built works is common, and should not be seen
as a copyright infringement. Secondly, architectural works integrate aesthetics and utility in
ways that are often difficult to separate, therein complicating the legal distinction between
patents (intended for utilitarian objects) and copyrights (intended for artistic productions).
Furthermore, architectural works are not usually meant to be mass-produced and are difficult to
copy, thus bringing into question the need to regulate their reproduction. The desire to create
connections with the surrounding context of a built work is a fourth argument against the
copyrighting of architectural works. This paper problematizes architecture’s position as a
copyright protected field, synthesizing information from intellectual property law, cultural
theory, economics, and architecture, using the works of prolific architect Rem Koolhaas as key
examples. Copyleft thought and antirivalry policies are defined and proposed as alternative
solutions to copyright law in the domain of architecture.