Q&A / 

Blueprint Ownership

Glen and Sandra Schweickert built a new home twelve years ago. Let them fill you in.

"We bought a brand new home in 2002 from a regional builder. They went bankrupt in 2007. We would like to build a new home using the same plans and blueprints from the house we now have that was built by the regional builder. This second new home would be in a town about 100 miles away from where we now live.

 Do we own the blueprints on our current home? Are we allowed to use them with the changes to build our new home?"

 Glen and Sandra, I'm not an attorney, and it's illegal for me to dispense legal advice.

But being a professional writer and video talent, I do know quite a bit about copyrights.

I doubt you own the copyright on the plans for your home built in 2002 by the regional builder. Your contract would state that, so look at it.

The situation becomes very murky because of the bankruptcy. The copyright on the plans would have probably been classified as an ASSET and the question becomes, who retain the assets of the bankrupt builder, or were they dissolve and cast about like dust in the wind.

It gets even murkier when you discuss the Fair Use Doctrine. Look that up and be prepared to be confused.

My advice would be to use the plans and if you somehow ever get a letter in the mail about copyright infringement, be prepared to pay a fee similar to what you see at many of the online websites that sell house plans. When you purchase  a plan online, you're basically paying a license fee to use the plan.

To save yourself all sorts of angst over this, have you taken the time to see if there is an online plan that MATCHES or is so close to your plan it would work? If so, it would be so much simpler to just purchase a set of those plans and be done with it. You'll then never have to worry about the dreaded letter!


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