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RE: Using details created by others - Devils Advocate

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Isn't there an argument regarding if the design work was performed for a
public agency (i.e. work that is paid for by public tax dollars) that
all documents are public domain?

But then again if a firm has a "copyright" on the drawings, are they
still necessarily protected???

Ed Chin, PE
Seattle, WA

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Dennis S. Wish PE [SMTP:wish(--nospam--at)]
> Sent:	Thursday, October 15, 1998 9:48 AM
> To:	seaint(--nospam--at)
> Subject:	Using details created by others - Devils Advocate
> I just wanted to serve this up for discussion:
> Preface: I have aquired details over the years from friends, past
> employees and other places. Mostly these details represent generic or
> Typical conditions such as those that comply with or describe code
> requirements. These are not unique and just about everyone uses the
> same type of details. I also created - from scratch -, a detail
> library for use with URM retrofits - and sold these for a fair price
> about 5 to 8 years ago. In this case, these details were also
> "Typical" in nature and represented the convention for URM
> construction at the time. 
> One side: I would not want my details that I was marketing to be used
> (either in electronic format or "cut and paste") by anyone who did not
> purchase the library from me. 
> Other side: I have no objection to anyone who wants to redraw these
> details (from scratch) since they represent a method of construction
> which I feel that I can not claim ownership for.
> This brings up a couple of questions:
> 1. If the detail is unique to a project, but can easiliy be modified
> to work elsewhere, is the detail protected when modified by someone
> other than the original creator?
> 2. Assume that, as in the URM details, the work becomes an industry
> standard representing the best solution for a construction method.
> Does the Intellectual property rights of the creator prevent others
> from representing this method in all subsequent details without paying
> a licensing fee to the original designer?
> 3. Is the physical drawing or the method described by the drawing
> copyright protected?
> 4. Let's assume a developer is building a type of structure that he
> intends to duplicate (ie, commercial strip mall) and uses the same
> contractor who has preferences to the type of construction methods
> which are least labor intensive. The Developer wants to use another
> engineer for various reasons - competition, engineer may no longer
> practice, performance concerns etc. Is the Developer justified in
> asking the new engineer to keep his details in conformance with the
> original engineers design - and provide the new engineer with a copy
> of his past plans? 
> Unlike an architectural design of a building, there are a limited
> number of ways to assemble a structure that offer the client optimum
> cost and performance. Over the years I have collected drawings from
> others - either by clients who want me to redesign or  to evalutate. I
> do look through the details of others for idea's and to learn other
> means to accomplish a problem. In no case do I simply copy and paste a
> detail to any design I produce.  I don't believe in allowing the
> contractor the latitude to build by his experience and expect him to
> do it the way I detail (unless his suggestion is valid and I can
> document it). Very few details are specific enough to my projects and
> need to be modified to fit the condition.
> I am curious as to what point the work created by an engineer becomes
> part of the public domain - if ever. 
> Dennis Wish PE