Ownership of drawings, specifications and other documents used in the construction of a project is frequently confused with ownership of copyright. The ownership of drawings and related documents refers to the ownership of the drawings themselves and is governed by the contract between the Engineer or Architect and the Client. The ownership of copyright, on the other hand, refers to the ownership of the idea embodied in the drawings and the right to reproduce that idea. 1. LEGAL ASPECTS The following are summary statements which have been derived from an article in "The Canadian Law of Architecture and Engineering" by Beverley M. McLachlin and Wilfred J. Wallace, 1987:
a) The Engineer or Architect who creates the idea or copyrighted work retains it unless it is expressly assigned to another or is allowed to enter the public domain (ie. by publication in magazines or journals) without reservation of copyright.
b) the drawings, specifications and other documents produced by an Engineer or Architect are the property of the Client once they have been paid for unless the Client/Consultant agreement contains provisions to the contrary.c) Documents produced by an Engineer or Architect while acting as a certifier or as an independent administrator of a contract between his Client and a Contractor or Supplier are the property of the Engineer or Architect. d) Documents, such as design notes, calculations and communication records, which are produced by an Engineer, or Architect for the sole purpose of assisting him in carrying out an assignment for a Client are the property of the Engineer or Architect.
2. PRACTICE CONSIDERATIONS
Engineers or Architects employed by either Clients or Consultants should give consideration to the above legal aspects in the drafting of the Client/Consultant agreement for a particular project. Following are summary statements of the primary considerations:
a) To prevent re-use of drawings, specifications and other documents prepared by an Engineer or Architect acting as an agent for a Client, an appropriate clause should be inserted in the Client/Consultant agreement stating that the documents are the property of the Engineer or Architect and are not to be used on any other project without prior written consent.