A preliminary review on the legal implications of BIM and model ownership
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SUMMARY: Building information modelling (BIM) promises some potentially radical benefits if adopted andcorrectly deployed on construction projects. However, significant literature evidence suggests that certainbenefits of innovations such as BIM only become feasible and realizable when their legal frameworks are clearand implementable. Interestingly, existing legal frameworks for professional service delivery in architectural,engineering, construction and operations (AECO) industries are apparently biased to fragmented conventionsthan contemporary contractual risks in e-business. This, potentially, is a major concern against speedy adoptionof BIM. Arguably, AECO industries have not remained static in the past years regarding the adoption ofintegrated technologies that enable creation and sharing of information across discipline boundaries. Moreover,integrated systems have a long history in construction which is not limited to BIM - there are other softwareapplications that are being deployed to service integrated innovations and multidisciplinary business systems.Whilst the industry still struggles to improve on the speed of adopting and deploying these innovativetechnologies, the herculean task is how to create workable legal frameworks that will service the potentialbenefits being proposed in BIM. Some variables of contractual risks in changing technologies have beenconceptualized in some recent studies; with recommendations on some useful modifications to conventional legalframeworks in e-contracting, which are not yet very definitive at present. This article reviews scholarlyperspectives regarding legal implication of BIM adoption: ownership and control of BIM models, potentialrevolution in standard of care as a reaction to changes in processes and practices that are driven by pasttechnologies. Professional liabilities in electronic and integrated project delivery systems are also discussed. Inthe end, conclusions are drawn on potential benefits of resolving these challenges.
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