Keyword: “hull splashing”

I have heard that any copyright created prior to 1924 is expired. Therefore, my question: If this is true, can I simply copy and sell any boat designed prior to 1924, i.e. the 12 foot dinghy?

In particular, I am not interested in the complete boat design, but only the hull, as this is the most difficult part to design right for a boat, and without extensive tests/CFD modeling, it can be quite tricky to get right.

Many thanks for your input.

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    Hull designs could not be copyrighted before 1998 copyright.gov/vessels – George White Apr 14 at 20:51
  • @GeorgeWhite Thanks a lot for your input. This is what it says here: boatdesign.net/threads/designers-copyright.38245 "Boat plans which are original may be covered by copyright and can’t be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner" ... so, I thought that boat designs would fall under general copyright. – henry Apr 14 at 21:04
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    That is the plans which are on paper and would be copyrighted just like a poem or any other written or drawn material. Not copying the plans and not making a boat are two different things. You could measure a boat and make your own plans. – George White Apr 14 at 21:11
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    @GeorgeWhite Interesting. So you are saying that I can copy any boat hull that was designed prior to 1998? i.e. the famous Laser 2: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…. Do you have a source that specifically excludes boat hulls from normal copyright laws? – henry Apr 15 at 11:42
  • See copyright.gov/vessels – George White Apr 15 at 15:40


My grandmother was born in 1914 and died in 1999 and never left .

Assuming she was a precocious child and designed a boat before her 10th birthday (or wrote a book or painted a picture etc.) such that it was created before 1924. Copyright in it will last until 31 December 2069, 70 years after her death, as it will for all the copyrighted works she created, and her heirs will be able to exercise them.

If she had travelled to then copyright on the works she created while there would last until 2099, 100 years after her death.

Of course, the United States is more complicated. If the boat design had been created there and published and registered before 1978, copyright would have expired. However, if it wasn’t published until after 1978, then it is copyright until 2047. Of course, my grandmother’s boat design was only published in before 1992 and since the US doesn’t use the rule of the shorter term it enjoys copyright until 2069.

Please make your royalty cheque payable to the undersigned.

  • 1
    Doesn't answer this relate, at least in the US, to the copyright of plans? Making a copy of a boat was not a copyright issue at all in the U.S. until 1998. copyright.gov/vessels – George White Apr 14 at 22:52
  • Thanks for your answer. You write "If the boat design had been created there and published and registered before 1978, copyright would have expired". Where do you get this from (can you cite a source please) and also does this mean that I can freely copy and sell boats that have been designed in the States before 1978? – henry Apr 15 at 6:56

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