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Drawings Copyright Question

Posted: Sat Dec 26, 2020 4:51 pm
by Matt2
Any tips on articles or other resources related to copyright of architectural drawings?

Here's the situation: I'm publishing a book on a mid-century architect and am having new floor plans drawn for clarity sake. These are not exact reproductions of his original drawings, but line-art versions. I know that architectural works weren't protected by copyright until 1990, but that drawings were. But is what I'm doing fall into the category of copying the drawing, or simply creating a new drawing of the non-protected design?

Storrer ran into this issue with the Wright Foundation for all the new drawings he created for The Companion.

Re: Drawings Copyright Question

Posted: Sat Dec 26, 2020 5:10 pm
by SDR
"Storrer ran into this issue with the Wright Foundation for all the new drawings he created for The Companion." In fact, Storrer acknowledges in the 1993 "Companion" that he had the assistance of Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, and a number of others, at Taliesin West. Some of his plans are direct reproductions of known Taliesin drawings, with new typography. So, I don't know what "trouble" he might have had . . .

Who is there to take offense, in the case of your architect ? The heavens don't emit thunderbolts; someone holding copyright has to complain. Who might retain ownership of his work ?

S

Re: Drawings Copyright Question

Posted: Sat Dec 26, 2020 6:11 pm
by peterm
Maybe some sort of disclaimer would alleviate the concerns?

Are there any attorneys out there who could chime in?

Re: Drawings Copyright Question

Posted: Sat Dec 26, 2020 6:35 pm
by Matt2
The architects papers are kept at a university archive. I'm getting permission for the drawings I'm reproducing but trying to determine if I need permission for newly drawn floorplans. I wonder how newspapers and magazines back in the day handled this when they ran simplified plans with an article on a building.

Re: Drawings Copyright Question

Posted: Sat Dec 26, 2020 6:39 pm
by SDR
Yes, that is a good question. You say you're getting; where are you in the process ? Why not preemptively get permission for both kinds of use, so you're covered ?

S

Re: Drawings Copyright Question

Posted: Sat Dec 26, 2020 6:56 pm
by Matt2
Money for one. I'm already asking for permission to use 100+ drawings and photos. I want to educate myself on the issue and see if this is a case where "asking forgiveness" is possible.

Re: Drawings Copyright Question

Posted: Sat Dec 26, 2020 8:08 pm
by SDR
May I ask how much you're being charged ?

S

Re: Drawings Copyright Question

Posted: Sat Dec 26, 2020 8:26 pm
by Matt2
The issue of charges is its own mystery. It runs about $30/image when the archive is creating a high-res scan. I'm fine with that. What puzzles me are the fees related to images that have already been scanned. And there is a separate permissions process, but even that is puzzling as it seems to be different from a conventional license obtained from a copyright owner. In many cases I'm paying a photographer or an estate for use of a photograph. But the archive I'm dealing with is granting permission via a form that stats they don't guarantee copyright clearance and in fact indemnifies them from any copyright claims. I'm trying to educate myself on what the norm is as I'm self publishing this book. Many other archives I've dealt with not only don't charge a dime, but don't even have any forms to fill out. They just send me a high-res jpg file.

Re: Drawings Copyright Question

Posted: Sat Dec 26, 2020 9:14 pm
by SDR
Geez---I'm sorry. Well, let us know how it goes; who knows who else might have to run this gantlet [sic],
sooner or later . . .!

S

Re: Drawings Copyright Question

Posted: Wed Dec 30, 2020 10:35 am
by Matt2
A bit of an update: I spoke with an attorney who felt that the use of newly drawn floorplans should be a fairly safe thing to do. The holder of copyright in the original drawings would have to contend that they owned not only the copyright in the original drawing but the copyright in the architectural design, which would be a tough hill to climb.

Architects of this era perhaps never considered their drawings as something that needed to be copyrighted. I can't think of any pre-1960s publication that included Wright drawings along with a copyright mark, something required at the time.

Didn't Olgivanna at one point chide Wright for allowing publication of so many drawings...that he was giving away the secrets of his work for free? Compare that to the work of Neutra...you might see a plan in a book on Nuetra, but never an elevation drawing (perhaps that's changed in the last 15-20 years).

Re: Drawings Copyright Question

Posted: Wed Dec 30, 2020 12:36 pm
by SDR
Heh---interesting. Thanks, Matt. I chuckle because, in the matter of popular publications, just the opposite is true---or has been, until recent years: views of a house aplenty, but no floor plan. Even now a real estate offering with floor plans is far from the universal practice.

S

Re: Drawings Copyright Question

Posted: Wed Dec 30, 2020 12:49 pm
by Matt2
That is the case in recent years...and I wonder if that is an issue of a new understanding of copyright. Looking into newspaper and magazines from the post-war era, I've found a lot of plans. The Seattle Times, for example, ran a home-of-the-week feature for decades that included a plan drawing.

Re: Drawings Copyright Question

Posted: Wed Dec 30, 2020 1:03 pm
by SDR
It's a trade-off, I'm sure, in any case: privacy vs publicity vs ownership, modified by availability. If the architect's or engineer's drawings are not available, someone has to measure the building (assuming it exists) and create a drawing. Though I think I've never seen this idea verbalized, the lack of floor plans in publications like Architectural Digest is assumed to assuage concerns about the personal safety of owners and occupants . . .

One unfortunate development, as I see it, is the "3D map," individual room photographs collaged into a bastard "model" of the house. These monstrosities are seen on realtor sites. Perhaps this infant technology will be refined into something more useful and attractive.

S