Who Owns What?
A must read Article for ALL CHURCH BOARDS!!!!!
Recently a new problem has shown up that can cost churches hundreds of millions of dollars. Some time ago, Architecture was deemed art in Canada and the USA. Art work also carries a copyright to protect the Architect from others using their blueprints, which is a reasonable level of protection. It is also reasonable for Architects to have protection when they come up with a new design or concept that has a distinctive name. However, recent news events raises an issue we have been warning churches about for over 10 years.
In Canada, a unique church was built in 1966. It was so unique that people from all over the world have visited it. Recently, the church decided to add a parish hall and some much needed offices. The church contacted the original Architect. The Architect refused to change the structure - declaring that - "the church is a work of Art. To add anything to the building would destroy his work."
The church then hired another Architect to design and add a parish hall and offices. Shortly after that, the work began. It was about a month into the construction that the church was slapped with a "Stop Work Order" from the first Architect. The project was held up for some time. Finally, the Judge ruled in the church's favor. The project was completed recently (Summer of 1995). However, this story is far from over. The first Architect has files an appeal and that court battle will be made sometime this year. Rumor has it that if the Architect wins, not only will he receive punitive damages, but he also is demanding that the addition of the church be torn down.
What makes this story interesting is that thousands of churches can be on the hook for building additions without the previous Architects permission. Furthermore, it can also mean that if an Architect wanted to, he could force churches that have fixed their acoustics to take the acoustical treatment off. It can also mean that if a church want to paint or repair a church, they may have to call in the original Architect or their estate if the Architect's estate is still in the Architectural business. This cycle could also mean that lighting systems, wall banners, window changes, elevators and so on could all be removed if the Original Architect claims their church as "a Work Of Art".
Details of church name and persons involved are being with held pending the court decision and will be published in the future. Details to protect yourselves are already in the current issue of our book.
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