Part 1: Short Questions and Answers about Architectural Copyrights

The most relevant area of intellectual property law for architects is copyright.  Here are 7 short but important questions and answers to help introduce you to this area:
Who owns the rights to the copyrights in architectural plans?  In the absence of an agreement to the contrary, the creator of those plans owns the copyright.  To qualify as a creator, you must play some role in the creation of the work.
What kind of works are protected?  The work must be original, recorded, and the result of a minimum amount of effort.
Should I register my copyrights?  Although you automatically own the copyright as the creator of the work, registering a copyright is still advisable.  In order to receive enhanced remedies in the case of infringement, your copyright must be registered before the infringement takes place.  If your work is published, it must be registered within three months of publication.
What can I do with a copyright?  A copyright helps you stop other people from using your work (copying, publishing, showing, or adapting it).
How long does a copyright last?  Copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years.
Can I make money with a copyright?  Yes, the holder of a copyright can license or assign his rights.  This means you can charge people to use your plans.
How can parties collaborate on projects?  If you are working with the plans of someone else, insist on being indemnified for any copyright infringement.  The written provision should also indemnify you from other intellectual property and unfair competition claims, including the duty to defend related litigation.