In the recent case of Henley Arch Pty Ltd v Lucky Homes Pty Ltd  FCA 1217, the Federal Court of Australia ordered Lucky Homes to pay compensatory damages to Henley Arch for copyright infringement of house plans that had been provided to a client.
The clients, Mr and Mrs Mistry, engaged Henley Arch to draw up plans for the development of a project home. The Mistrys then engaged Lucky Home to build the homes at a lower price. Lucky Homes made 15-20 alterations to the plans, advising the clients that this would prevent any risk of copyright infringement.
The Mistrys raised the defence of innocent infringement, arguing that they lacked subjective awareness that their acts constituted an infringement of the copyright and that they had no reasonable grounds for suspecting that the acts constituted an infringement. Lucky Homes denied copyright infringement altogether. Both these arguments failed.
Lucky Homes was ordered to pay compensatory damages of $34,400 to Henley Arch, and an additional order of $25,000 was made against its managing director and sole shareholder, for copyright infringement of house plans that had been provided to a client. Mr Mistry was ordered to pay $10,000 to Henley Arch, and Lucky Homes was ordered to compensate half this amount to Mr Mistry for misleading and deceptive conduct. This case serves as a forceful reminder to builders and landowners to ensure compliance with copyright laws.