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I am working on a commercial card game based on the middle east. We would like to have famous buildings and monuments in the game, such as the Burj Al-Arab in Dubai.

Are there laws that would prevent us from using pictures or drawings of famous buildings in commercial games?

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I'm guessing that will be country and region specific. Here's a brief article in regards to the United States: asmp.org/tutorials/photos-public-buildings.html#.UPq3Ix3WISE –  user24851 Jan 19 '13 at 15:11
    
Does this question actually have anything to do with games? This is purely a legal question, right? –  Trevor Powell Jan 23 '13 at 8:33
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'm not expert at copyright law, but according to this article relating to U.S. copyright laws, it seems to be permissible to commercially use depictions of famous buildings. One copyright law mentioned in this article states:

The copyright in an architectural work that has been constructed does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place.

However, that article only specifically mentions famous buildings in the U.S. as examples. I can only assume that famous buildings from other countries are also acceptable for U.S. citizens to create depictions of.

Unfortunately, after doing a bit of Google searching on the topic of Middle East copyright laws for buildings, the only relevant articles I found were discussing how copyright buildings couldn't be copied in actual construction.

To add to the complexity, the age of famous buildings also affects how much copyright protection they have. One of the articles I found stated this in regards to Middle East building copyrights:

Building copyright is not indefinite, but is only of limited duration. For instances, the pyramids, the Taj Mahal and even the Eiffel Tower are now out of copyright. This means that these iconic buildings can be freely reproduced in new developments and amusement parks such as Dubailand, and other projects which feature replicas or scaled models of these ancient monuments. Buildings such as the Burj Al Arab, Emirates Towers or Burj Dubai are all buildings that have been built recently and therefore remain within the laws of copyright, and will continue to enjoy copyright protection for a number of years.

Thus, to answer your question, there may or may not be non-U.S. laws protecting some famous buildings from being depicted in drawings and pictures without permission. However, even if these laws exist, they might not be applicable if you don't live in the countries with these laws.

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