H.R. 7228: The BIRDIE Act – How Bipartisan Efforts Can Effect Change


By Harvey Silverman, Contributor, Golf Business | Silverback Golf Marketing 

For all of you policy and legal wonks, here’s an example of how bipartisan legislation at the federal level can protect elements of the golf industry. It’s an update to the Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act of 1990. 

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R–Pennsylvania) and Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D–California) introduced the bipartisan bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Panetta’s district includes iconic courses like Pebble Beach and Pasatiempo. I could not find golf courses on their level in Rep. Fitzpatrick’s district, but I’ll assume he plays and enjoys the sport. 

The formal text of the bill can be seen here

Introduced in House (02/05/2024)
[Congressional Bills 118th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 7228 Introduced in House (I.H.)]

2d Session

H.R. 7228

To amend Title 17, United States Code, to expand the copyright protection provided to architectural works to golf courses, and for other purposes.


February 5, 2024

Mr. Fitzpatrick (for himself and Mr. Panetta) introduced the following
bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


To amend Title 17, United States Code, to expand the copyright protection provided to architectural works to golf courses, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the “Bolstering Intellectual Rights against Digital Infringement Enhancement Act” or the “BIRDIE Act.” (Author’s note: Don’t you just love how our government comes up with clever acronyms? I want that job.)


(a) Design of Golf Courses.--Section 101 of title 17, United States Code, is amended in the matter related to the definition of “architectural work”--

(1) by striking “drawings.” and inserting “drawings, and the design of a course on which golf is played (except for any course on which mini golf, or other similar game, is played) as embodied in any tangible medium of expression, including an architectural plan or drawing”; and

(2) by striking “features.” and inserting “features. In the case of a course on which golf is played, the work also includes any of the following that is part of the course:

(1) Landscaping.
    (2) An irrigation system
    (3) A path
    (4) A golf green
    (5) A tee.
    (6) A facility in which golf is practiced
    (7) A bunker
    (8) A lake
    (9) A topographic feature

    (b) Application.--This Act, and the amendments made by this Act, shall apply to--

            (1) a work created on or after December 1, 1990; and
            (2) a work that was unconstructed and embodied in unpublished plans or drawings on December 1, 1990.


Most prominently, the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) leaders fully support H.R. 7228, the Bolstering Intellectual Rights against Digital Infringement Enhancement Act (BIRDIE Act). The bill would update buildings’ copyright protection to extend protections to include golf courses. This change will protect by amending the definition of an “architectural work” to include golf course designs.

From ASGCA’s past president and NGCOA contributor Jan Bel Jan, “The BIRDIE Act isn’t just good for golf course architects, it’s good for golf course owners as well. It acknowledges golf courses for what they are: creative works of art. Golf course architecture isn’t just planned on paper; it’s also created on-site by visionaries making the most of a setting. While physical plans can be copyrighted, decisions made in the field cannot. So, it makes sense that a finished golf course would also be protected.”

From another ASGCA past president, Robert Trent Jones, Jr.: “The BIRDIE act is simple - it adds golf course architecture to existing laws and protects both architects and business owners. By securing the copyrights to their work, golf course architects can pass on that benefit to owners as those courses will establish their unique design and retain their value for the long term. Right now, other countries provide better protection for the work of golf course architects, even though the vast majority of architects doing that work are from the United States. By securing these copyrights, we inspire them to continue creating original designs and playing experiences for the huge numbers of golfers in the United States and around the world. This protection will ensure that if someone wishes to copy their work, then the architect will be involved to make sure it’s represented accurately and properly for the benefit of all.”

It’s not just about green-grass protections; it’s also about virtual golf, as stated by ASGCA past president Jason Straka: “I recently had a friend tell me he ‘played’ one of my courses, only to learn he had never been to the facility but had experienced it using a virtual reality device. Someone had copied the course in detail without permission from the club or me and made it available to be played virtually. The bill being discussed would prevent this from happening without approval.”

So, the bill’s purpose is to add language to existing copyright laws and protect not just golf course architects’ designs and plans but also the finished product – the golf course itself. It strengthens an existing law that protects a building’s architectural plans and the building itself.   

And if I’ve read this right, it also strengthens golf course owners’ rights to be protected when their course is displayed on virtual platforms without their knowledge. Courses already receive royalties or fees from the video game and simulator companies. It’s a standard business practice. However, if new ways are developed to display golf courses that attempt to sidestep existing rights, H.R. 7228 creates protection beyond the courses’ plans and design.                              

By the way, check out Pebble Beach Co. v. Tour 18 I, Ltd., 942 F. Supp. 1513 (S.D. Tex. 1996). You’ll learn why this updated law is important.



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Harvey Silverman is a contributor to Golf Business and the proprietor of his marketing consultancy, Silverback Golf Marketing, and the co-founder of Quick.golf, golf’s only pay-by-hole app. Harvey authored NGCOA’s “Beware of Barter” guide and has spoken at their Golf Business Conferences and Golf Business TechCon.
** The views and opinions featured in Golf Business WEEKLY are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the NGCOA.**