Thank you for your reply of 24 February.
Professor D made arrangements in 1966 with museum X, to display the aircraft there.
He did this without being given the permission of A, B, and C. He entered into a written
agreement with museum X about it. Unfortunately museum X cannot supply a copy of the
agreement, as it is lost. However, in 1983 they told professor D that they no longer wanted
to display the aircraft. Professor D wrote them a letter, a copy of which survives. In that
letter he refers to the agreement made in 1966, and he says;
“ I was custodian of the aircraft before I arranged with museum X for them to take
over its custody. However it was clearly part of those arrangements that should museum X
dispose of the aircraft in any way whatsoever, the ownership of the aircraft should revert to me. “
Professor D was never appointed custodian of the aircraft, by A, B, and C. In my view,
the statement about ownership, in his 1983 letter, amounts to a “ smoking gun “. Is he not guilty of the theft of the aircraft, by claiming custody, and then ownership ? Both claims are false.
A, B, and C did create the design drawings for the aircraft, and these survive. As you say, at no point did they part with ownership or title to the aircraft which they built. Museum X, the Science Museum, and museum Y have all made arrangements with respect to the loan and display of the aircraft, without reference to A, B, and C. A letter written by the director of museum Y in 1984 says;
“ The Science Museum had taken responsibility for the aircraft, and I felt that its real home should be in museum Y. I managed to get the aircraft on extended loan from the Science Museum “.
This is evidence that the loan occurred, without either party being entitled to make the arrangement.
The metal frame which professor D produced was a grossly inaccurate copy of the genuine frame. He inserted it into the aircraft without A’s permission, and it has been on display in that condition since 1984, at museum Y. Museum Y charges visitors for admission, so this amounts to commercial use of the aircraft. Professor D and Museum Y are knowingly responsible for;
1. Derogatory treatment of a copyright work.
2. False attribution of professor D’s design, to the actual designers.
3. Dealing commercially in an infringing copy of the metal frame.
I look forward to receiving your views, in the light of the above information.