Re: Night Lighting

From: Steven Jamar <stevenjamar[_at_]>
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 18:00:01 -0500

Sound and light shows are shows -- and copyrightable as such -- especially in the rest of the world without its benighted fixation requirement. (pun intended)
Projected light is copyrightable -- at least if it goes through film. An original, creative set of lights for Christmas would be copyrightable, it seems, without difficulty. A work just needs to be fixed, not permanent.
The use of floodlights in a very typical way (from the ground up, top down, white light) would seem to be utterly lacking in creativity and so not entitled to a copyright. But if there is some creative placement, color, shadows (caused by something other than the building itself with ordinary lighting), then it seems like it could well be a sculptural work of sorts, or maybe an architectural work. Certainly laser light shows are copyrightable.

But, even if one had a copyright, it would be a very thin copyright and would not, it seems to me, enforceable against the right of a photographer standing in a public place to take a picture of the building as lit.


On Jan 30, 2006, at 12:00 PM, Robert A. Baron wrote:

> I've recently been told that some buildings, namely the Empire
> State Building and the Chrysler Building, and perhaps others that
> are lit up by lights at night are claiming that their lighting
> arrays, and accordingly the buildings so lit, are protected by
> copyright and that no commercial use may be made of nighttime
> pictures of these structures. Is there any "fixation" in the
> resulting patterns cast by these lights? Would photographs of these
> buildings share in the architectural exemption of the copyright code.
> Would there be any application of this claim to so-called "sound
> and light" displays commonly applied to architectural remains of
> historical interest -- like the Acropolis or the Forum in Rome?
> Robert A. Baron
> mailto:robert[_at_]

Prof. Steven D. Jamar                                     vox:   
Howard University School of Law                           fax:   
2900 Van Ness Street NW                             
Washington, DC  20008  

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Received on Tue Jan 31 2006 - 04:00:01 GMT

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