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Professional Practice - Who has the rights to the CAD files?

Oct 5 '12 8 Last Comment
jcr
Oct 5, 12 9:50 pm

An architect is hired by the builder, does 6 houses, permit & construction drawings, architect is fired by the builder. Who owns the legal right to the raw CAD files that created these houses?  Architect or Builder. Architect offered only pdf's at the termination of the relationship. Thanks in advance for your comments.

 

Janosh
Oct 6, 12 12:46 am

What does the contract say?

file
Oct 6, 12 8:42 am

Did you get paid in full for the services you provided?

i r giv up
Oct 6, 12 9:23 am

If you used standard AIA contracts, you have the right to all drawings produced. Drawings are an instrument of service not an actual product. Architects don't sell drawings/cad files, they sell design services. CAD files fall under the category of drawings. Under a standardized agreement, the architect has the right to claim back all drawings, keeps all copyright, and can file a claim if they are used in the future.

The architect is being courteous. He doesn't need to offer anything after termination, and he can go ahead and claim back his drawings, even the ones in the hands of the owner and builder.

Standard contracts are pretty awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

oh look, the computer nerd read his contracts. teh horrrrrrooorrrrr!

Donna SinkDonna Sink
Oct 6, 12 12:41 pm

Yep, whatever the contract says.  Most likely the architect retains copyright on the design and the builder only has a "one time license" to use the design for this specific project.  So having the cad files without any legal ability to build the design again is pretty worthless.  

Of course, the CAD files can benefit the builder during construction, probably, so they can change everything you've drawn.  You really shouldn't sign a contract requiring you to hand over cad files unless the use of them is very clear.

I was in somewhat similar situation once and had to politely tell the Owner they had no legal right to CAD files. Lots of angry noises came through the other end of the phone during *that* conversation!

Like lr giv up said above: standard contracts are a nice thing.  And very affordable, even if you're not AIA.

calculator
Oct 6, 12 2:09 pm

hire a lawyer.

ksari6000
Oct 19, 14 8:05 pm
Carrera
Oct 19, 14 11:10 pm

Have some experience with this. According to US Copyright Law the work belongs to you exclusively. Architects don’t even need to file for a copyright on their work, it automatic. It helps to apply a copyright notice on the drawings but isn’t mandatory. Had a case where I did a condo-villa (principally a single family house) and the builder didn’t pay. He built the house then proceeded to replicate and build many more with the same plans. I sued him in Federal Court Pro Se and won. Copyright infringement is serious business in this country. Architects are at the top of the list with this sort of thing. As said, I didn’t even use a lawyer, just went down to the federal court and explained what I needed to do and they went out of their way to help me.

Not paying for the initial house was probably something for small claims, but when he replicated, that escalated the situation. Nobody, I mean nobody has the right to use your work without paying for it. Federal Copyright Law is very specific and clear about this, thank God for that. Again, this is serious business; I even contacted the FBI who is in charge of enforcement of Federal Copyright Law.

Even if it’s a bunch of floor plans and wall sections, under the law its art & invention and this county wouldn’t be where it is without protection of those things. I know this post is old but for anybody who is listening, don’t let anybody get away with this sort of thing…forget contract, its Federal Law.  

ushangar112
Oct 20, 14 2:31 am

Records retention for design and construction documents is a complex issue. You may need to retain project documents for legal reasons, for the possibility of future alterations and additions to the project, or for historical documentation of the office’s work.

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