question.jpgIn Copyrights

What qualifies as a pictorial, graphic or sculptural work?

The Copyright Act broadly defines pictorial, graphic and sculptural works as including all two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of art (fine art, graphic art and applied art), photographs, prints, reproductions, maps, globes, charts, diagrams, models and technical drawings (including architectural plans). This encompasses everything from sculptures and paintings to less conventional items like mannequins and decorative belt buckles. As with other works of art, the required level of creativity is minimal, so this also includes everything from realistic photographs to drawings and renditions of a product.

However, there is an important limitation to this category. The Copyright Act notes that the utilitarian aspects of such works cannot be protected - thus, the design of a useful object cannot be protected, even if there is artistic creativity, unless the design incorporates some pictorial, graphic or sculptural work and then only if that work is separable and capable of independently existing from the useful object. This separability can be conceptual, but is often physical (such as a belt buckle, which can be physically separated from a utilitarian belt). Of course, an aesthetic useful object, even if not protectable by copyright, may be entitled to protection from a design patent or as trade dress.