Condo ass. claims copyright on Chicago's Marina City Towers

Rob sez, "Local Chicago architecture critic and condo board member at the Marina city towers (most of you coasters will recognize the buildings from the cover of Wilco's YHF) covers from the inside the board's desire to copyright all aspects of the building - including the name. He points out that they only own the top 2/3rds of the building, did not design or construct the building, are claiming assertion under state law - it goes on from there. Needless to say even smart people can be dumb sometimes and that part of the fallout of this whole RIAA mess is that people are now of the mind that they can use copyright as some form of supplemental income for something they didn't even make and is wholly within the public sphere."
Serving on a condo board can be a thankless, high-pressure job. That's the only excuse I can think of for the declaration, equal parts loony and arrogant, of the board of the Marina Towers Condo Association:

"Because of the architectural significance of our building, the Condominium Association holds a common law copyright on the use of the Association name and building image. This means that under Federal and Illinois law, advertisers, movie makers and others cannot use the Association name or image without first obtaining express written permission from the Association . ."

Link (Thanks, Rob!)


  1. They should have shock troops that guard the buildings, if someone takes a glace without paying, or is a “glance pirate” so to speak, out comes the taser.

    Everyone with a taser wins!

  2. Serious Headline Tip: Use assn. to abbreviate association.

    Frivolous headline tip: If an association is doing something stupid, abbreviate it with “ass.”

  3. That’s absolutely hilarious. In one of the links, they extensively cover copyright involving buildings, and it specifically does not cover photographs of buildings from public places.

    You’d think that they would have at least tried to familiarize themselves with the law before trying to make broad declarations about it.

  4. That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Fortunatly I have a very good friend who owns one of the Condos there. In fact we stayed in it last summer. Very nice.
    SO I will ask him what he thinks

  5. Sounds like it is about time for a Chicago Photographer’s Field Trip!!!

    If I still lived in Chi-town, I’d be there in a heartbeat.

  6. Whatever happened to flash mobs? I live in Chicago and am perfectly willing to find as many people as I can to head down there and snap some photos.

  7. You can’t copyright a name…not even a fictional one.

    I don’t think they even read the memo on copyright.

  8. Yikes! I almost posted a photo I took of one of the towers on my web site. Good thing I didn’t, I don’t have the resources to deal with any kind of legal action, warranted or not.

  9. isn’t Chicago where that giant chrome Bean is too? The one that the cops will stop you from taking a picture of because people sell postcards of it?

  10. These people need a hard and vigorous slapping. Seriously.

    According to the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 301.

    “Preemption with respect to other laws

    (a) On and after January 1, 1978, all legal or equitable rights that are equivalent to any of the exclusive rights within the general scope of copyright as specified by section 106 in works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression and come within the subject matter of copyright as specified by sections 102 and 103, whether created before or after that date and whether published or unpublished, are governed exclusively by this title. Thereafter, no person is entitled to any such right or equivalent right in any such work under the common law or statutes of any State.”

    While there’s an exception for state landmarks and historical sites protected under Sec. 102, I seriously doubt that the condo association has any right in the building.

    On a side note, that building is awesome. I love passing by it everytime I go to Chicago.

  11. Forgot to add… Sec. 301 means that there is no longer a common law, or state copyright. Meh. Need more coffee.

  12. *sigh* They mean trademark, not copyright. If I had a nickel for every time people confused the two, I’d have…. exactly thirty five dollars and twenty cents.

  13. Yep, ‘the bean’ (officially known as Cloud Gate) is there, but the last time I was there (May 2007) the guards were not shooing people away.

    Instead they were buffing it up after people pressed their noses to it.

    Kept it nice and shiny for the photographers. It seemed very civilised to me.


  14. I think this is the first time I’ve ever heard a condo association referred to in a good light.

    I always thought they were thought of as being harpish nightmares that were made up of people with nothing better to do than make other’s lives miserable, which (coincidentally) seems to be the end run of what they’re trying to do here.

  15. most of you coasters will recognize the buildings from the cover of Wilco’s YHF)

    Really? Not from “The Bob Newhart Show”?

    Damn, I feel OLD.

  16. They look cool from a distance, but up close they are butt-ugly. Bare rough concrete and no street presence. And they are an obstacle to walking around the city. When you hit these buildings the sidewalk dead ends.

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