Thursday, September 15, 2005

Plagiarism Roundup

Architects copying architects seems to be a big issue lately, sparked by a lawsuit against SOM and David Childs over the design of Freedom Tower.

Here's some articles/web pages that address the topic:
:: When Architects Plagiarize, It's not always bad by Witold Rybczynski
:: Brother from Another Mother by Clay Risen
:: Hi, Gorgeous. Haven't I Seen You Somewhere? by Fred A. Bernstein (this article is now in the New York Times' pay-per-view archive, though I'll update the link if and when Mr. Bernstein puts it on his own site)
:: Gutterland Police Blotter
And some blog posts that deal mainly with Shine v. SOM and Bernstein's article above:
:: The Anxiety of Influence at Veritas et Venustas
:: Twisting in the Wind at The Party Copyright Blog
:: The Collective Wellspring of Activity at OnTheCommons.org
:: Discussion at Archinect
:: Imitation of Art at Babble/On Project (with images from Bernstein article)
:: The Endless Saga of 9/11 at Proceed at your own risk
So why all the discussion? What's the big deal? It seems to break down into these points:
:: The value of (striving for) originality and novelty in contemporary architecture,
:: The lack of a dominant aesthetic in the same,
:: The (mostly unacknowledged) importance of precedents and previous built works to architects, and
:: The difficulty in applying copyright law to architectural design.
For a good background on copyright law, particularly the 1990 Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act, check out the Patry Copyright page linked above. William Patry (who worked on a report that lead to the Act) explains the logic behind the decision to move ahead with Shine v. SOM, illuminating some rather flimsy tactics by SOM to squash the lawsuit.