We get this question at least once a week. A homeowner or builder walks into their local copy shop and asks for either full or partial copies of their home plan. The reputable reprographic shop owner tells the customer that he can’t copy the plans because they are copyrighted. Of course the homeowner is frustrated, after all he just needs one more set or he needs to send one page out to a project bidder, etc and so he calls the designer seeking an explanation or a copyright release so he can copy the plans. In most cases, he is able to obtain additional legal copies directly from the designer, but there is still a frustration factor and unless the designer is given the opportunity to explain the reasons why, the customer leaves with a bad taste in their mouth.
There is a plethora of legal jargon on the internet to answer this question (included our own website) but the real question should be: How does photocopying home plans endanger your interests as the homeowner or home builder? Let’s try to explain this for you.
Imagine that you decide to build a custom home in a new development. You don’t want your home to look exactly like every other home on your street and your neighbors may share your sentiments, that’s why you spent additional money to have a unique home designed just for you. The designer has provided you with 2 copies of your plans to be submitted to your local building official and additional sets designated for “Construction Only”. Most likely you give one or two of these sets to the builder and a few other contractors who will be working on your project. These steps are perfectly legal, because these are original plans produced by the designer. However, what happens if you or the builder or one of his contractors takes one of your plans and illegally photocopies them?
Here is what happened to a customer when a dishonest contractor on his project did just that. He made illegal copies of the plan and then used them to build a second home in the same neighborhood as the original homeowners. Imagine their frustration! Now, one might reason that there was nothing the original homeowner could have done to prevent the illegal copies. This is true. The unfortunate reality is that if someone wants to circumvent the legal system to build homes from illegally copied plans, they will. But designers, such as our firm, have built in security measures to help identify legally produced plans from illegally copied plans. In this case, because the homeowner and the builder had both respected the copyright laws and did not photocopy the home plans, it became easier to identify the illegal copies, their origin, who violated the copyright law and ultimately prosecute the offenders.
So, we have come full circle to the real answer to the question, how does photocopying home plans endanger your interests? Simply put, the more illegal copies of your plans are circulated the greater the chance that a dishonest individual can use them illegally and the more difficult it becomes to identify the source of the infringement and who should be prosecuted. So, copyright laws regarding home plans are truly in place for your benefit. As designers we recognize the convenience associated with copying plans in your office or at your local print shop, but it is not worth the potential risks and legal repercussions involved. So protect yourself by respecting copyright laws when you’re building your new home.
If you would like to learn more about how Home Designing Service, Ltd is offering new and improved legal and convenient solutions to our customers, please visit our website.