Homeowner's House Burns Down, He Tries To Rebuild... But Facing Copyright Threats From Original Builder

from the copyright-law-strikes-again dept

It seems that this spring really is the time for obscure copyright disputes with odd connections to the US's weak-kneed compliance with the Berne Convention on copyright. We've already written a few times about the moral rights claim by the guy who created the giant "Wall St. Bull" statue, as well as a lawsuit against a Wall St. church for moving a 9/11 memorial -- both of which reference VARA, the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990. VARA was passed as part of the US's slapdash attempt to pretend it complied with the Berne Convention, a document that was created in 1886, and which the US took over 100 years to even pretend to comply with. VARA wasn't the only such move in 1990. That very same year, Congress also passed the Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act of 1990, or AWCPA.

Now, hold that thought as we get into the meat of what this story is about. It's a posting on Reddit's /r/legaladvice/ subreddit, which is kind of famous for absolutely awful questions and even worse answers -- so take it with a grain of salt. But the posting claims that it's from a homeowner, who had customized things done to a model home which then burned down. In trying to have the home rebuilt as it was before, the original developer refused to rebuild it, and also refused to hand over the blueprints. Instead, the homeowner more or less recreated the plans from memory (and photographs and a neighbor's house that was similar) and had another builder start to rebuild -- only to receive a cease & desist letter from the original builder, threatening a copyright claim:

Here's what's going on:

  • My house burnt down early this year. Total loss. No one was injured, but all my personal belongings are just gone.
  • The source of the fire was electrical related (not my fault). The fire department said it was likely a charging lithium battery (my homeowners insurance is dealing with that situation)
  • The house is only 3 years old.
  • I purchased the house brand new, had some semi-custom things done to it, and actually had a great time with the home builder

Two months ago, once the dust settled, I reached out to the home builder (who is well known) to see how we could acquire the blueprints for my home...or at a minimum, the blueprints for my model. I also inquired about how I could engage them to rebuild my home as I am not planning on moving out of this neighborhood (I really like it here).

They took my info and said that they would get back to me. A few days later I heard from them regarding me/my insurance hiring them to rebuild. They said they are not set up for that and would like to help, but could not...bummer, but no big deal. I once again inquired about the blueprints. They said they would have to get back to me.

Eventually they got back to me after several days and said that they would not release the blueprints to me as they are their intellectual property. Serious bummer, but whatever...

My insurance company found a local reputable home builder and they started the rebuild 5 weeks ago.

Last week I got a cease and desist letter (with a threat to sue) form the original home builder saying that I/we were infringing on their intellectual property, they specifically called out the design of the house. Basically they know (due to the home being in an HOA) that the house will be designed back to the exact way it was before the home burned down.

So... yeah. Whether or not this is true, if I were a copyright professor, I'd be using this as an exam question. Because, damn.

Prior to AWCPA, it was generally recognized that blueprints could be covered by copyright, but the buildings constructed based on those blueprints were not covered by copyright. AWCPA changed that, and made "architectural works" a category of protected works under copyright (see: 17 USC 102(a)(8)). There have been some lawsuits on the question of whether or not residential houses are protected under AWCPA, with a key one being Richmond Homes v. Raintree, which found that, thanks to AWCPA, residential homes absolutely could be covered by copyright. But that case was about developers copying a style of other developers in different developments.

Flipping that around and arguing that the same would apply to someone rebuilding a house that burned down... certainly makes for an interesting question. From a purely objective standpoint it sounds insane that someone wouldn't be able to rebuild their own house because the original developer (who refuses to rebuild it) claims copyright on the design. But, thanks to our dumb laws, that copyright claim may be legit. Which is yet another reason why we should ditch the Berne Convention and not accept dumb ideas like allowing for a copyright in building architecture. There may, of course, be other issues here -- such as other contracts, or something with the Homeowner's Association that may negate the copyright issue. Or, perhaps the homeowner can argue that the "custom" designs were authored by him or herself, rather than the original developer.

There are, to put it mildly, lots of questions here, but I have to keep returning to the big one: why do we make copyright law so ridiculous that it could ever be considered to do something like block someone from rebuilding their own house? For what it's worth, nearly all of the commentary on Reddit seems completely wrong or clueless, with many people tossing out theories that have no basis in reality, including a clearly false claim that there aren't copyrights in architectural works.

I would be very surprised if this actually ended up in court. It would look really bad for the original developer, and the situation is so bizarre that a judge might be hard pressed to actually agree with the copyright claim. But, still, here we are with another example of copyright expansion causing all sorts of trouble.


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 10:57am

    "Oh, well I'll just buy the plans aga- wait, no, I'll just pay someone else, nevermind."

    Lessen learned. Do not, ever, have a building designed/built by someone who's not willing to offer replacement plans should something happen to it.

    Probably not the message the builder wanted the other person to receive, but like it or not that seems to be the one they're going to get.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 11:03am

      Re: "Oh, well I'll just buy the plans aga- wait, no, I'll just pay someone else, nevermind."

      Lessen learned. Do not, ever, have a building designed/built by someone who's not willing to offer replacement plans should something happen to it.

      And do not ever charge a lithium battery unattended, except in a fireproof container. Unless someone else was charging that battery "not my fault" isn't entirely true.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 11:08am

        Re: Re: "Oh, well I'll just buy the plans aga- wait, no, I'll just pay someone else, nevermind."

        To be fair not expecting a battery to go from 'charging' to 'on fire' is probably a fairly safe assumption most of the time, so I'd be willing to give that one to them as it sounds like dumb luck rather than something they did directly.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 12:05pm

          Re: Re: Re: "Oh, well I'll just buy the plans aga- wait, no, I'll just pay someone else, nevermind."

          To be fair not expecting a battery to go from 'charging' to 'on fire' is probably a fairly safe assumption most of the time

          I'm not blaming them for it, I just think they shouldn't necessarily be absolved entirely. There's lots of news about things going very wrong with lithium-ion batteries, mostly unlike other types (lead-acid, NiCd, NiMH). They're not dangerous enough to need a full fume hood and blast shield, but it's worth taking some minimal precautions (like charging in a cookie tin rather than on a carpet).

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      • icon
        DB (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 2:05pm

        Re: Re: "Oh, well I'll just buy the plans aga- wait, no, I'll just pay someone else, nevermind."

        I have never seen a regular consumer charge a lithium battery in a fireproof container.

        I have seen "charging pouches" for sale that claim to be fireproof, but the typical person doesn't know about these. They certainly don't use them. And I very much doubt that they are actually *fireproof*.

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  • icon
    Steve R. (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 11:00am

    You Don't Own Your Property

    Once again, we have (in this case the owner of the blueprints) the copyright owner asserting that they have "control" over your property. By extension, would the copyright owner be able to stop you from painting the house in a color that they would not approve of? What about installing new windows? Copyright privilege has become an absurd travesty.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 11:18am

      Re: You Don't Own Your Property

      He's in an HOA, it's more a lease than ownership. The same with taxes; It's more of a low price lease from the Government for the privilege of living there. You don't "own" property anymore in this country. Don't believe me? Try not playing your property taxes or HOA dues.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 11:22am

        Re: Re: You Don't Own Your Property

        Having real property bound by deed restrictions, including the rules of the HOA, is not "more like a lease than ownership."

        Your comments make it sound like you don't understand the basics of real property ownership and law.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 11:51am

          Re: Re: Re: You Don't Own Your Property

          Maybe so, but I bet the HOA is still collecting its 'dues' while rebuilding, even though there is no benefit received due to a lack of residence during rebuilding.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 11:51am

          Re: Re: Re: You Don't Own Your Property

          "Your comments make it sound like you don't understand the basics of real property ownership and law."

          We have tenant rights. True ownership would be Allodial Title. Aside from Nevada and Texas I believe, where you can in some situations pay a large sum of money to "buy out" your tax obligation, it's not possible to have Allodial Title in the U.S. You may meet the legal definition of "property ownership", but only as it's been redefined to fit our current legal and tax systems.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 11:01am

    Just how many practical designs of house are their, and what happens when all those designs are locked up?

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    • icon
      Steve R. (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 11:22am

      Re:

      No indoor plumbing, unless "licensed".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 12:13pm

      Re:

      Just how many practical designs of house are their

      That's basically infinite. Don't be fooled by those suburban areas with hundreds of identical houses. In older areas, there are lots of different designs--some duplicates but you'll rarely notice unless you're looking for it. You can change all kinds of minor/major details while remaining practical.

      "Practical" is the key word though. Copyright doesn't cover functional/practical things in general, and shouldn't cover buildings.

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      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 9:55am

        Re: Re:

        Seeing as the courts currently accept as little as a few notes as being copyright infringement in audio, I imagine they'll accept a similar amount on houses.

        "Your door looks a tiny bit like the one on my copyrighted house - PAY ME!"

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 11:07am

    Good old /r/legaladvice, where you too can be a lawyer thanks to Google University Law School. With your new degree, you can tell a crime victim to "call the police," encourage a potential adverse party to "go pound sand," and if you might be a potential defendant, "lawyer up." Potential clients can be confident in knowing that they're probably not speaking to a real attorney, because no real attorney would provide legal advice on an online bulletin board.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 11:10am

    Bad business sense

    Basically they know (due to the home being in an HOA) that the house will be designed back to the exact way it was before the home burned down.

    So...

    • The HOA requires all homes to look the same.
    • Insurance is paying for the home to be rebuilt.
    • The original builder doesn't want to do it.

    That's ridiculous on the part of the builder. They've got a captive market with a semi-cost-insensitive buyer. That's easy money. Home prices have changed since it was built and nobody's going to notice if they overcharge by $10k or so.

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    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 11:47am

      Re: Bad business sense

      It won't be just the HOA. When buying insurance on a century-old house, the insurer told be that if it burned down they would insist on rebuilding it exactly as it was, hardwoods and all. The only changes allowed would be what's necessary to bring it up to modern code.

      Which is why the insured value of the house had to be much more than the purchase value.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 11:57am

        Re: Re: Bad business sense

        Just bought a house and had 2 options. Replacement vrs Rebuilding. I could pay to have it replaced with whatever is on the market now, or pay quite a bit more to have it rebuilt exactly as it was. That is if it was physically possible to do.

        I even bought supplemental insurance to build up the property another 4 feet to code if I got a flood. If I were to get flooded without it, I would have to pay to build up the property before I would pass my geo to start construction.

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  • icon
    OldMugwump (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 11:12am

    Clean-room reverse engineering?

    Why no mention of the name of the developer, "who is well known"? The most direct way to solving this guy's problem is probably to shame the developer in public.

    That aside, I wonder if there's a legal analogy to clean-room reverse engineering of computer hardware and firmware. That's clearly legal, so perhaps this guy's reverse-engineering of the design from the house (without ever seeing the blueprints) is OK.

    IANAL.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 12:19pm

      Re: Clean-room reverse engineering?

      I wonder if there's a legal analogy to clean-room reverse engineering of computer hardware and firmware. That's clearly legal, so perhaps this guy's reverse-engineering of the design from the house (without ever seeing the blueprints) is OK.

      The blueprint contains the most detailed, technical information--i.e. the utilitarian parts that shouldn't be considered copyrightable to begin with. If that's what the builder was claiming copyright on, this would be a way to work around it.

      More likely they'll claim it on the "artistic" elements. You can't reverse-engineer that any more than you could reverse-engineer a novel.

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    • identicon
      rsteinmetz, 1 May 2017 @ 3:10pm

      Re: Clean-room reverse engineering?

      Not really. The Owner lived in the house and had access. No clean room.

      Under Architectural Copyright the Owner does have the right to modify and even destroy the building. that implies an ability to repair. I wonder if rebuilding after a fire can simply be called a repair? Usually something remains after a fire, even if only the foundations.

      I wonder if the license to use the plans to restore the building survives the damage to the original building?

      The entire building is not covered by copyright common elements cannot be copyrighted, things like doors windows etc. However the form (massing, decoration and floor plan) can be, assuming it is original. One could build an exact copy of the White House, because the copyright has long expired.

      The Insurance Company has a duty to defend, since the loss is covered and they found the contractor, I imagine they are on the hook for the Lawyers and possibly for the infringement if it can be proven.

      Finally I doubt there is very much case law on this point most cases I've heard of involve someone building a copy of a building in another location, something much more clearly intended by the statute.

      IANAL I am an Architect.

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      • identicon
        Paul, 1 May 2017 @ 7:39pm

        Re: Re: Clean-room reverse engineering?

        Keep in mind aircraft are rebuilt from a single metal plaque, cars are rebuilt from frames. I am shocked the right to repair does not extend to the foundation.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 8:53pm

          Re: Re: Re: Clean-room reverse engineering?

          I am shocked the right to repair does not extend to the foundation.

          There is no "right to repair." That's a law that people want, not something that actually exists.

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    • icon
      bwburke94 (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 4:22am

      Re: Clean-room reverse engineering?

      Why no mention of the name of the developer, "who is well known"?

      The source for this is /r/legaladvice. Its users tend to avoid naming involved companies unless they have to, and the subreddit specifically bans posting of personally identifiable information.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        OldMugwump (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 6:05pm

        Re: Re: Clean-room reverse engineering?

        Well, then /r/legaladvice is the wrong venue for solving this guy's problem.

        From a practical viewpoint, a little public shaming of how badly the developer is treating this owner is the quickest way to get this guy's problem solved.

        (I know - it's the principle of the thing that's interesting to Techdirt. But if the guy just wants his house rebuilt with minimum hassle, that's the way to make it happen. I hope he's reading this...probably not.)

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  • identicon
    bob, 1 May 2017 @ 11:22am

    just my silly mind.

    So when I read "Wall St. Bull" I immediately thought wall saint bull. Took me a few seconds to realize it was Wall Street bull.

    Lol

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  • icon
    PlagueSD (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 11:23am

    So the blueprints are under copyright? Just do what all the cell phone companies do. Make a rectangle with "rounded" edges. Move a wall, add a door, add a window. Make any small change so you're not following the original blueprints exactly. Problem solved.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 11:31am

      Re:

      That is exactly right. As a Structural Designer, I see plans every day that are like that. Company A designs a hot selling plan. Company B see's that plan going up all over the place and happens by the Permit box for a snatch and grab. Takes the plan and changes just enough to keep from getting sued.... Profit!!??

      Great for me, I get paid by two different builders to Engineer the same house. They change some door entrances, rough openings for windows, some exterior treatments like paint or brick and poof!!

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    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 3:00pm

      Re:

      Great idea. Except that's what the homeowner did, before the cease & desist notice arrived.

      Recreating something from a human's flawed memory is not a copy, it's a new creation of a tangible expression of an idea. Copyright protects tangible expressions, not ideas.

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  • identicon
    SpaceLifeForm, 1 May 2017 @ 11:24am

    Did the foundation burn up too?

    That is your starting point. You know where the utilties are still. Hire an architect, redesign, hire another builder.

    When done, send pics (copyrighted of course) to original builder, and tell them the new design is called 'get bent'.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 11:27am

    I would think that the HOA would allow them to bring in a design/build firm that will build a house of similar design, but unique enough to get them passed this. Especially if the guy included into the design, and got the approval of, their HOA Architectural committee. They shouldn't have too, sure, but if that company doesn't want the easy money, plenty of other companies out there will. They can't copyright a slab footprint.

    Have a GC pull a tape on the slab or stem-walls, send it over to a Draftsman, draw up exactly the floor plan you want, the draftsman can slap on an elevation, and your done. Again, he shouldn't have to do that.. but if that builder wants to be a dick, does the homeowner really want that guy building his new home?

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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 11:40am

    You wouldn't download a house!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 12:21pm

      Re:

      Not with that attitude!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 3:01pm

      Re:

      Depends. Could I download the 3-D printer specs to print a house? That'd be pretty cool, actually.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 3:20pm

        Re: Re:

        Wouldn't that mean you'd be living in a plastic house? What would the fire insurance look like on such an abode?

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        • icon
          That Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 5:26pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          IIRC there was a test of 3-D printing housing in China, using concrete and such.

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        • icon
          JoeCool (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 10:04am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I did the tour of a styrofoam house in Florida. They started with a half sphere of styrofoam, carved out the interior, then coated the whole thing with polystyrene. It stayed remarkably cool in the summer, and warm in the winter. Being dome-shaped meant that high winds did nothing. The coating was more to prevent damage by debris than actually being needed for anything. So I could see living in a plastic house. It would certain last longer than wood.

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 11:49am

    "here we are with another example of copyright expansion causing all sorts of trouble"

    Here we are with another example of someone that is freakishly obsessed with copyright needing to seek mental health treatment.

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  • icon
    ECA (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 12:01pm

    WEIRD

    #1..
    CP on the Plans...but did they REGISTER THE BUILDING under CP.. It would be very strange that 1 PLAN could bring a CP on Thousands of buildings..
    #2..
    OWNER made changes..no CP notice..Those changes Augment the building and the CP is default.
    #3 how far does the CP go/cover...Does it include PAINTING THE HOUSE?? it can ONLY be 1 color and is THAT color under CP to the builder?

    God this could be debated for YEARS..

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    • icon
      ECA (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 12:07pm

      Re: WEIRD

      ps..
      move the closet...
      change the roof type..
      AND YOU HAVE A new design..

      iM WAITING FOR THE LOCAL OUT HOUSE TO HAVE A CP..

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      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 10:06am

        Re: Re: WEIRD

        They'll argue you have a DERIVATIVE design, and the preparation of derivatives is part of copyright protection. So even changing a few things is not enough to shield you from cases like this.

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  • icon
    D.C. Pathogen (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 12:30pm

    Please...

    They will go to arbitration and the company will accept a licensing fee, the lawsuit is leverage.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 12:39pm

    "They will go to arbitration and the company will accept a licensing fee, the lawsuit is leverage."

    If that's the case, why didn't they just offer to sell him the rights to the plan in the first place? If I were the homeowner, I would ask the Insurance company to bid it out as a Design-Build. Pull the slab or stem wall dim's for the bid docs, and have the local custom builders bid on it first. No way I would let these guys build my house again.

    As long as he gets the plan approved from his HOA's Arch committee, he should be fine.

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  • icon
    Zinc Whiskers (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 1:16pm

    Sources?

    Any other source for this story other than a Reddit account that is only a day old?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 2:10pm

    i love parody.

    i've always loved parody. but, between this kind of crap and the most donald among us, the death and dearth of parody is on us. you cannot possibly say something so nutty anymore that it wouldn't be taken straight up by just about anybody.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Carlie Coats, 1 May 2017 @ 2:29pm

    Work for hire?

    If, as the owner said, the house was customized to his specifications, then it is a work for hire paid for by the owner, who therefore owns the copyright, not the builder. And if the _builder_ makes derivative works, then the house-owner ought to _sue_the_builder_ for copyright infringement.

    FWIW.

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  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 2:56pm

    It seems simple to me

    A copyright protects the expression of an idea in tangible form. It does not give anyone ownership of the idea itself.

    A house built to a specific set of blueprints is the idea of a house in tangible form.

    The homeowner here seems to have had an idea of a house, and created his own tangible expression of it. There are only so many ways you can build a house, between the fact it needs to be a functional shelter and meet or exceed building codes.

    Even if the result of the homeowner's memory looks similar, it would be no different from two movies of the same genre looking similar -- after all, there are only so many ways you can have a gun fight during a car chase.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 3:36pm

    The more and more things get locked away, the more inevitable it becomes for copyright to be eliminated entirely. Let's get on with it.

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  • icon
    mattshow (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 3:38pm

    I'm skeptical of a newly created reddit account, but I've also spent enough time dealing with architects, eningeers, construction companies and the like and their views on the intellectual property in their drawings to totally believe. The professional societies that regulate or advocate on behalf of these professions repeatedly, through published guidelines, tells their members that they absolutely must maintain and protect zealously the copyright in their drawings. Try including a clause in a contract with an architect that says that copyright in any drawings they prepare is transferred to you (the client paying the bills) and watch their head explode.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 5:37pm

    Former Homeowner: Hello, I would like to exchange money for your goods and/or services.

    Company: I'm sorry but we will not accept your form of payment.

    Former Homeowner: Then may I buy the design of the original item with the money I have in cash/check/credit?

    Company: No, we legally hold the rights to this design to ensure no one is allowed to offer a similar service with visually similar goods.

    Former Homeowner: In that case I will draft a new design so my house doesn't stand out like a turd in a sausage factory.

    Company: By attempting to render onto yourself a service we are unwilling to render onto you you are preventing use from gaining money that we were not willing to accept from you in the first place. A BLOO BLOO BLOO

    And then the company cried a river then sued the Nile for theft of intellectual property. the end.

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  • icon
    AnaChronic (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 7:03pm

    Aside from the copyright issue...

    My brain is still stuck on the "homebuilder refuses to rebuild home" aspect of this story. Something tells me there has to be more going on here?

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    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 1 May 2017 @ 8:01pm

      Re: Aside from the copyright issue...

      They only build 20 at a time minimum. They aren't set up for one. Have you ever tried reducing family sized recipes for a single person? The woes of a modern contractor...

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2017 @ 7:56pm

    What with the first section of the Constitution declaring that no State shall make any law imparing the obligation of contract (i.e. an HOA agreement), and with that same document stating that Congress shall make law with respect to copyright that promotes the public good (paraphrased), I'd see it as the HOA requiring an exact reproduction as taking the cake. (To be accurate, the HOA can only govern the external appearance. Whether or not some of those customizations were outside is worthy of consideration.)

    IANAL, but I at one point I was a paralegal, and I've seen it go both ways. In this case, it's feasible that a judge might tell the HOA to make an exception, but a good lawyer would make the court aware of the ramifications of such a verdict. To wit, any homeowner within an HOA could then point to this case as res judicata that his/her HOA must bend to his/her will. Not a good idea, IMO.

    I am not anonymous - my wife tells me exactly what I am every day! ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AnonCow, 2 May 2017 @ 4:06am

    I would out the builder for the horrible treatment. Builders live on their reputation. If the local press got wind of this, I'll wager that the builder would change their tune very quickly.

    Streisand Effect in effect.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Avatar28 (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 9:29am

    what are the options

    Okay, so, seriously, this guy's house burnt down, the HOA requires it to be (more or less) identical in appearance to the rest of the neighnorhood. The original builder won't rebuild it and won't let him build one that matches. What are this guy's options? Will the insurance have to buy him a completely different home somewhere else?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2017 @ 7:05pm

      Re: what are the options

      What are this guy's options? Will the insurance have to buy him a completely different home somewhere else?

      No, the insurance company offered to cover his residence at that exact location. Absent a government order with good reason to move (such as the site has become toxic, or a mudslide rearranged the geographical features, etc.), the insurance company is not obligated to move the fella on a permanent basis.

      What they will do is send in their lawyers. They insured the HO knowing that there were HOA restrictions in place, and they were/are prepared to deal with them. This means that effectively, the insurance company will act on behalf of the HOA as well as the HO, and make the original builder back down and cough up. That person/company has received some very bad advice from his/her/their lawyer(s).

      Word of advice - as a rule, insurance companies don't hire lawyers who graduated at the bottom of their class. Plus, I'd bet that this particular architect/homebuilder didn't hire a lawyer who specializes in IP law.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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