Architecture Plans Copyright

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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rada5
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Architecture Plans Copyright

Post by rada5 » Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:27 am

If approached by a client who has some plans that don't work, in terms of planning permission and unsafe structural elements that need to be modified, and the original plans have been paid for (70k), copyright wise would I be free to adapt these designs to improve their functionality and get them through planning permission?

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Mon Jan 23, 2012 11:21 am

Hi Rada,
Architecual plans are subject to copyright just like other artistic work:
4 Artistic works.

(1)In this Part “artistic work” means—

(a)a graphic work, photograph, sculpture or collage, irrespective of artistic quality,

(b)a work of architecture being a building or a model for a building, or

(c)a work of artistic craftsmanship.

(2)In this Part—

“building” includes any fixed structure, and a part of a building or fixed structure;
“graphic work” includes—

(a)any painting, drawing, diagram, map, chart or plan, and

(b)any engraving, etching, lithograph, woodcut or similar work;

“photograph” means a recording of light or other radiation on any medium on which an image is produced or from which an image may by any means be produced, and which is not part of a film;

“sculpture” includes a cast or model made for purposes of sculpture.
so copyright would be infringed if a substantial part of the drawings was used in a derivative work. While the plans may have been paid for, that is no different to buying a book. You may read the book or you may sell the book to someone else or give it away without in any way affecting the ownership of the copyright which remains with the author.
If your client had any kind of written agreement with the first architects, it might be worth checking if this document says anything about this situation, because it is not uncommon. If not, I suggest you or your client contacts the original architects and see if they will give permission for what you propose, especially if there is any suggestion that they failed in their professional duty to take account of building regs or other stipulations when drawing up the plans.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

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