Reply by Rob McCune

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Posted on Intellectual Property? Woodworking Plans and Selling

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Rob McCune

123 posts in 4122 days

#1 posted 03-17-2007 05:40 AM

Okay to address what I can;

Chip, You are getting into a grey area that only you can define. You have to go with your comfort level. Do you feel in your heart of hearts that the design has changed enough that you can reasonably claim it as your own? What kind of agreement did you acknowledge when you purchased the design. And most importantly do you feel you can reasonably defend your choice in court. BassBully has a point in that a shaker design or a mission design would more than likely be seen as a common enough design that it would not be seen as intellectual property. There is a limited lifespan on copyrights. After 50 years (I think) a copyright has to be renewed or it passes into the common knowledge realm. On the flip side of that, if a designer could prove you actually used his drawings, even once, to build a mass produced article, he stands a good chance of winning a lawsuit.

BassBully, the copyrights that protect a drawing are not ones that cover designs, like in architecture, but the physical written (or drawn) page. The same way an artist owns the copyright to his paintings, a designer owns the copyrights to his drawings. If you go to and click on the EXAMPLES link, you will see the second to last example is “Technical drawings, architectural drawings or plans, blueprints, diagrams, mechanical drawings.” In order to win a lawsuit concerning the infringement of a visual art copyright, you have to prove there is some part or parcel of the interlopers produced part, house, machine, furniture, whatever, that would not exist if you hadn’t produced the copyrighted material.

Am I making sense? Now like I said, no designer in the world would fault you for making matching end tables for yourself, or even making some as presents for your whole family. Designers are more conscerned when you make money from their work.

-- Rob McCune

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