Ask Jean! Copyrighting Sketch Design Solutions
This is regarding architect’s sketched design solutions that are produced after a request from a client, but without prior fee or professional appointment agreement.
How can I protect my copyright of the sketch design solutions that I have labored over? Do I simply show and discuss the scheme to the client, but not release or handover copies of the work? Or, do I go about formally copyrighting all sketches legally and get my fee proposal signed before issuing copies? After the agreement is made for my services, presumably the copyright of the work is still retained by me?
You have answered your own question. You own a copyright in the sketches whether you hand them over to your client or not and whether you have a fee agreement or not. (Make sure your copyright notice is on all pages of the sketches). But if you are concerned about copying, don’t turn anything over until you have a signed agreement and make sure the agreement specifically states that you retain the copyright.
Ask Jean responses consist of general legal information and do not constitute specific legal advice or create an attorney client privilege. Please consult your own attorney about your specific legal issues.