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RE: Duplication of others work.[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
- To: <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
- Subject: RE: Duplication of others work.
- From: "Bill Allen, S.E." <Bill(--nospam--at)AllenDesigns.com>
- Date: Thu, 15 Oct 1998 08:41:24 -0700
My response is purely my opinion, you are welcome to conduct your business however you see fit (the long version of IMHO). Was my example of McDonald's (or other fast food) restaurants a lucky guess? Maybe, maybe not :o). When I used to do McDonald's restaurants (everyone's done these, right?), I treated it like any other project. I would receive backgrounds from the architect and I would then do my own framing and foundation plans, structural details, notes and calculations. I "ate it" with regards to development costs on the first project and made it up on subsequent ones. These are hard to do (business wise) if you only get one. I did get a set of prints of the previous engineers' design. I reviewed it (like any other project) and tried to achieve the same goal as the client was expecting. Mostly, my review was for the purpose of the "design and defend" conversation that always seems to follow plan check approval. Unless the owner (McDonald's in this example) owns the copyrights and gives you permission to use the published work, you are still subject to the whims of the previous engineer. As long as he is "happy", there will be no problems. However, if he becomes "unhappy" and your work is blatently identical to his, you may be subject to violation of copyright laws. With regards to "everybody does it", "structural details have been around before I was born", all that may very well be true (although the number of details used today that were created before I was born are becoming extinct for some reason). I was merely giving you a layman's explaination of the U.S. Copyright laws. The copyright seminars I went to really have handcuffed me :o); can't even "sticky-back" Thomas Guide maps anymore :o(. With regards to your question about being legal, ethical and industry standard practice, unfortunately these are three separate questions. Keep in mind that the primary intent of your client's "encouragement" to use someone else's work is so that you will reduce your fee. IMO, the arguement that "They are very satisfied with it considering it has gone through many revisions and improvements throughout its use. They don't want to mess around with some untested new concepts or ideas." is B.S. If that was the REAL reason, you really have to ask yourself: Why didn't they use the original engineer? Duh! You are cheaper than he is! That's why! And, finally, your question: "If you were ask by McDonalds to do maybe a hundred or a thousand units using their prototype plan, would you turn it down?" is: it depends. If I retain the copyrights to my work and I do the first one from scratch (while still being sensitive to their construction history), possibly. But not today :o). Regards, Bill Allen -----Original Message----- From: ErnieNSE(--nospam--at)aol.com [mailto:ErnieNSE(--nospam--at)aol.com] Sent: Wednesday, October 14, 1998 11:55 PM To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org Subject: Re: Duplication of others work. Bill, Your hypothetical case is quite accurate. I've been doing a lot of fast food restaurants(but not McDonalds). And in answer to your question if I'll be upset if they used my plans and details for an exact duplicate building............my answer is NO! Why? Because I copied the same plans and details from a set plans they(the owner of the restaurant) gave me. I just made sure that I reviewed the plans very well and I'm completely satisfied that it conforms to my standards. And also, I had to do my own set of structural calculations from scratch. And if I found something that needs to be changed, framing size or connection detail, I would have changed it .........but everthing was OK. My first instinct when I bid on my first job for this client is that I will use this set of plans and improve on it, modify it a bit. I didn't want to just copy it. But I was told that this is a prototype building and they have been using the same set of plans for identical buildings for a long time. They are very satisfied with it considering it has gone through many revisions and improvements throughout its use. They don't want to mess around with some untested new concepts or ideas. Now, should I refuse the job because it is against my principle of not copying somebody else's plans? If I turn the job down, I'm almost sure somebody else will jump at the opportunity to do it, copying the prototype plan. Do I feel guilty copying the plans? Well, I did some background checking first on how the current set of plans came about and I found out that the plans have been going around different engineers who have been copying it, maybe improving on it during the early stages, until it came to me. The original engineer who developed the prototype would be the first one to be upset because he spent so much time, money and effort to get it in good shape. But he has been adequately compensated for his initial efforts, plus he has been paid a nice fee for the re-use of these plans for the last few years. He's still doing some new projects for them and he's quite happy with the present business arrangment. He would like to keep everything to himself but ......... Anyway, now I don't feel guilty anymore. It looks like the original engineer is happy, the other engineers who did the jobs for while(including me) are happy, the owner is happy, the next engineer to do the job is gonna be happy.................... I've been involved with two other similar projects with prototype buildings and it seems that some other engineers are doing it this way...... Is it legal? Is it ethical? Is it standard industry practice?...............I don't know. If you were ask by McDonalds to do maybe a hundred or a thousand units using their prototype plan, would you turn it down? Ernie Natividad
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