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Act changes allow architects to block alterations

AUSTRALIA’S capacity for fast-tracking the world’s worst practice legislation has received another boost.

The Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000 amends the Copyright Act 1968.

This piece of regulatory drivel now means building owners will need to get the permission of architects before altering the building they own.

The Copyright Act previously protected economic rights of architects in “artistic work”, fair enough. But now the amendments extends that protection to include moral rights, and entitles architects to take legal action if their work is treated in a derogatory way.

Derogatory treatment could include making a change to, relocating, demolishing or destroying an architect-designed building.

In order to avoid infringing an architect’s moral copyright, the owner of the building now should:

l Give the architect a written notice stating the owner’s intention to carry out the change, relocation, demolition or destruction of the building; and

l Ensure that the notice allows three weeks for the architect to seek access to the building to make a record of it or consult the owner about the work to be undertaken and a further three weeks to make the record or negotiate.

It is not an infringement of copyright if the building owner is unable to discover the identity and location of the architect after “reasonable” inquiries (reasonable is not defined).

An architect’s remedy for infringement of moral rights include:

l Obtaining an injunction.

l Damages for loss resulting for the infringement.

l An order requiring a public apology, or an order requiring the removal or reversal of the derogatory treatment

Copies of the amending Act and related materials can be obtained from the Australian Parliament’s website at www.aph.gov.au.

n Joe Lenzo is the Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia (WA Division).

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