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RE: Using details created by others - Devils Advocate

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My response would be is that the public agency paid for the SERVICE and the
documents created are instruments of that service. If there exists copyright
privledges (and they automatically do exist unless the contractual language
explicitly transfers the copyrights to the public agency) they are still
necessarily protected.

Bill Allen

-----Original Message-----
From: Edward Chin [mailto:echin(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Thursday, October 15, 1998 10:11 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: Using details created by others - Devils Advocate

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