Copyright - 3D Architectural Modelling

Does anyone know what the copyright rules are for using architectural 3D models? I created the model using my client’s official AutoCAD drawings. As the creator of the model - can I use them as samples of my work for promotional/advertisement use, and if yes should I be adding a disclaimer that I own the copyright? I live in Ontario Canada so obviously laws my different between countries, states, provinces. Just want to know if this is something that I need to look into more seriously. Thank you in advance for your advice - much appreciated. Barb

It’a completely different on each use case, where you live and what agreement you have with the client.

Just from my own working (UK, US and Sweden), i’ve never had a client who said I could not put my visualisation on my website or use it for marketing purposes. A few times I have had to wait until the subject was built/released/refurbished until I could use it, so always within 6 months in my cases.

However a lot of the time you are providing a ‘service’ to a client to take some plans and make them into a model or visualisation, you don’t normally own those once they are complete as they (in most cases) belong to the client.

Sometimes I only do jobs that require images so I never give the client the model, I can use that again for other jobs in the future, but those are usually generic things, in this case where the client had given you blueprints of a building, they probably own the IP of the model you make.

Thank you for your advice - it is very much appreciated. I usually ask verbally after I am finished with the job and haven’t had any objections. Perhaps I should formalize and have them sign permitting me to use the images for promotional purposes just so I have something in writing. Cheers, Barb

If in doubt probably best.

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Hello @bfabian,

Although I am a licensed architect and NOT an attorney, I have some practical experience where this issue is concerned.

I make it a point to include a clause in my agreements that the work product emanating from contracts for professional services is the intellectual property of the ARCHITECT, and that the ARCHITECT owns the copyright to such intellectual property. This clause typically ascribes to the OWNER or CLIENT the right to display images of the work product in literature or electronically as may be desired, but requires a separate agreement between OWNER and ARCHITECT if the 3d model is to be used by the Owner in commercial promotions such as advertisements, magazine articles or for other marketing purposes.

This policy is discussed with the client before the initial agreement for services is executed as well as any resulting fee modifications, if necessary.

thank you so much for your valuable insight… have a wonderful day. B

Actually most western countries have been moving towards a standard where everyone can operate under the same (or similar) regulations. I would think Canada is a signatory, as the U.S. I know is.

The implementation of the Berne Convention under U.S. law negates the old requirement that authors explicitly mark works as being copyrighted. Instead a work is now copyrighted implicitly at the moment of it’s creation, and does not need a copyright caption.
(This is the inverse of what used to be standard practice, and now persons wishing not to copyright works must explicitly release their work to the public domain by adding a caption to this effect such as “no copyright intended”.)
The only problem is not a lot of people realize this, so publishers still prefer to add the copyright caption even though it is not absolutely necessary. But doing so also allows the public statement of who or what entity holds the copyright. So it never hurts.

The Berne Convention is an international treaty, that still requires that local or national laws be changed or amended to comply with it. (So consult the law wherever you will be publishing.)

In the U.S. there is a constitutional clause prohibiting “ex post facto” laws, so some of the aspects of older copyright acts (such as when a certain work’s copyright expires,) must still be honored because the new acts cannot override those that were in effect at the time older works were created.

As you are creating new works these confusing “grandfather” issues (from multiple copyright acts throughout the last century) will not concern you much. You’ll be concerned only with what is the current law.

Your homework …



Canada Gov: A guide to copyright

Canada Gov: Copyright Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-42)



Thanks Dan - much appreciated. Bed time reading for sure - maybe even for a few nights lol. Have a wonderful day. Barb


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