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Japan, ZHA Argue Stadium Copyrights

Friday, January 15, 2016

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Zaha Hadid Architects and the Japanese government are at odds over payment and copyright issues for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Stadium.

The world-renown architectural firm acknowledged Wednesday (Jan. 13) in a statement to The Telegraph that it was refusing the Japanese Sports Council’s demands that ZHA turn over the copyrights for design plans that were scrapped in July 2015.

JSC also said it wanted a gag order in the agreement to prevent the firm from discussing the plans with the public. In exchange for its cooperation, the newspaper reported, the JSC would pay ZHA for an overdue bill the firm sent in October.

Photos: © Zaha Hadid Architects

ZHA has said it refuses to turn over copyrights and sign a gag order in exchange for unpaid design work the firm completed for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Stadium.

On Thursday (Jan. 14), the Architects’ Journal reported that an unidentified ZHA spokeswoman said that the firm had sent a report to the JSC outlining a number of similarities between the firm’s design and the current stadium plans.

“This document will form the basis for the discussions we hope to resume shortly with the JSC to resolve the important issue of the use of valuable design work that is currently the copyright of ZHA and the original design team,” the firm told the AJ.

Project History

As reported in September, ZHA gave up its quest to design the stadium after it asked the Japanese government to reconsider a controversial, 252 billion yen ($1.9 billion) design for the proposed National Stadium. Officials in Japan—who had been unhappy with the plans from the beginning—had scrapped the plans two months earlier.

Several architects also had become unhappy with a revised version that ZHA proposed after the government asked for a more cost-effective design.

Now, the firm said, the JSC is trying to use the intellectual property it created.

The world-renown architect gave up its bid to design the stadium in September after the Japanese government scrapped her original plans in July for being too costly.

“The fact that the government now needs the copyright of the original design shows that it could have been built on time and within budget and confirms that the latest design draws heavily on the original,” an unnamed source told The Telegraph.

“Trying to grab the copyright and withholding payment is tantamount to extortion.”

New Demands

But the Japanese government disagrees. In documents sent to ZHA regarding payments for work completed before the design was scrapped, the JSC inserted two new clauses in its agreement.

The JSC said in the revised agreement that the winner of a new competition for the design—Kengo Kuma—is “allowed to use any product of work…regardless of its copyright.”

The Telegraph also said that the new agreement would permit the JSC to “use Project Work freely, without additional payment or restriction (includes alteration and any other use) and mutually agrees that [Zaha Hadid Ltd.] will consent without objection.”

The JSC has said that regardless of copyright, a new firm chosen in December can use ZHA's work product. Much of the new design appears to be identical to ZHA's plan.

A second clause requested the gag order. The JSC said ZHA “will not do or permit others (includes Dame Zaha Hadid) to obstruct the project…or other related projects…and will not do anything which is derogatory or detrimental to the goodwill and reputation of [the JSC] and/or the Project.”

Revised Design?

The newspaper also noted that while ZHA had been working on the project for two years, the new winner—which was chosen in December—only had 14 weeks to submit a design for the stadium.

However, the shape of the stadium; spectators’ entrance; internal design; structural layout; landscaping; access strategies; service entrance;  and other aspects are “considered to be virtually identical to the to the original design.”

If necessary, ZHA has said it will seek legal action to protect its copyright if the JSC does not revise its plans and statements.

Now, the architecture firm says, the new “Compliance Rules” are being used to try to keep the company quiet and reverse what it considers to be public humiliation after the JSC blamed it for the stadium project costing too much.

“It may be convenient for those who have benefitted from our humiliation to want us to be quiet, but until the matter is publicly addressed, we cannot support a process and project which damaged us so wrongfully,” a letter sent to The Telegram said.

ZHA said it will seek legal action if the JSC does not reverse its decision. Meanwhile, the JSC did not respond to requests for comment.

   

Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Business matters; Commercial / Architectural; Ethics; Government; Stadiums/Sports Facilities; Zaha Hadid

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