Nathan Marcucci wrote:
What if they are plans like the cri cri where the designer won't support a certain country? Using the cri cri as an example, I hear there is good reason for colomban to not sell plans in the U.S. but there seems to be a fair amount of interest in them. How does copyright apply in this situation?
It doesn't. A copyright is basically protects the author's right to control copying, distributing, or profiting from the work. A copyright holder has few rights outside that fairly narrow regime. Buying a copy of the New York times doesn't give you the rights to reprint the articles, but neither does it give them the rights to tell you what you can do with the copy you own. They can't sue you if you use it in the parakeet's cage.
Mr. Colomban refuses to sell Cri-Cri plans in the US in order to avoid liability issues. I don't know law worth a dern, but suspect his refusal to sell plans to the US or US citizens grants him considerable leverage if he *does* get sued.
But if I obtain a legitimate copy of the plans, I don't think there's anything he can do to stop me from building. Even if (unbeknownst to me) the copy I buy is an illegal copy, that only stops me from *selling* them again. Nothing legally prevents me from building a plane according to the plans...though it would be poor ethics.
Copyright is different from a patent. The patent allows the inventor/designer exclusive rights to PRODUCE the item. It's just as illegal for a guy in his home shop to build someone else's patented aircraft for his own use as it is for a company to manufacture them for profit.
I suspect Colomban hasn't patented the design, for a couple of reasons. First, it costs some pretty good money to patent something (Copyright is free, and doesn't even have to involve the government). Second, patents expire. If he'd patented the design back when it first came out, the patent would have expired almost twenty years ago and the Patent Office would provide detailed drawings to anyone who would pay for the copying expenses. Copyrights last a lot longer.