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The instant you put your pen/pencil/pixel to paper/monitor to create an 
image, you have a copyright on what you drew.  You do not even need to put 
"Copyright" or the symbol for copyright in order for you to have your work 
copyrighted.  You do not need to register your work in order to have it 
copyrighted, although that does help validate that the work is yours.  Go to 
the Library of Congress web site (, click on copyright and read, 
IIRC, Bulletin No. 1.

Apparently something in the detail was so unique to you that it enabled the 
person that saw it to alert you.  That is a positive for you.  It is 
sometimes good to put inconsequential extraneous materail into your details 
(like I just deliberately misspelled, "material") that can be used to prove 
that the original work was yours.  Of course, an exact overlay can also show 
that the work was yours.

After you have verified that a, "cut and paste" actually happened, you should 
consider having your attorney write the culprit a letter, advising him/her of 
copyright infringement, and, among other things, to expunge the detail from 
the drawings, reimburse you for your time and legal fees plus .... (as only 
a lawyer can determine).

Hope this helps.

A. Roger Turk, P.E.(Structural)
Tucson, Arizona

Mark Baker wrote:

>>Today I became aware of a disturbing situation. It seems a contractor (whom 
I do not know personally) copied a portion of a drawing produced by our 
office, reassembled it into a drawing of his own and tried to pull permit.

Tomorrow I meet with the individual who alerted me to this situation and will
have the opportunity to see the drawing in question.

Anyone ever have a similar experience? Anyone know of the legal recourses
available for something like this?<<