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Re: OUT ON A LIMB: Showing Sample Documents on My Company Website

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Bill Polhemus wrote:

Arvel L. Williams, P.E. wrote:


A thought.

Who owns your reports?

Second. I would not reveal my clients specific information such as mailing
address or point of contact.
Good point, but I retain ownership of all my documents (that's why the little "copyright" thingy in the title blocks of my documents). If it were not so I really couldn't use information from one--such as recommended specifications--in any others.

As it happens the 'reports' I'm showing are all for public entities.

Bill, Arvel jumped on this before I did (he must have seen your site first) and I fully agree with him. I've written you separately and pretty much say in many more words what Arvel is asking of you. In California, the report - whether it is a public project or private - can not be disclosed to anyone without the express written permission of the client unless you are compelled to do so. You may leave yourself open to potential liability if they lose business because the work that you were hired to review is not done to your standards or in my case, the report was a warning to the owner who chose to disregard it and a year or more later, he is in trouble for not taking my advice - he got caught.

Personal Intellectual Copyright only means that nobody can reproduce or profit from the work you do - there is another side of the coin that protects your clients privacy even if they are a public agency. I strongly recommend that you check Texas law regarding Professionals Engineers and Business practices to see if you are potential liable.

It does not discredit your work to remove the name and description that would allow anyone to recognize the project. We, as your peers, are not here to judge the client, but it can be misinterpreted or even used by an attorney against your client or against you. I've had this done when I posted a discussion on the Listservice and in the course of Arbitration where I was an expert witness, my e-mail was presented to me by the other side and I was challenged by the other attorney who tried to disqualify me as an expert. I explained my use of the Internet in research and this was accepted by the judge, but for a moment, it appeared that on one man's decision, I could have lost the entire case against the client that hired me.

Please consider this carefully - your reports are written similar to mine (at least the first few pages of one of the PDF reports that I started to read) and I would say you are pretty clear and well organized. But reading the clients name and specific job information makes me very nervous for you.



*Dennis S. Wish, PE*
*California Professional Engineer
Structural Engineering Consultant

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