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RE: Duplication of others work.

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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