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Re: Copyright of calcs

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I'm not saying you have no grounds for going to court.  In fact, there
are some great grounds for going to court.  You can feel free to put a
copyright symbol on any work you want.  If you want it to really stick,
send it to the copyright office as part of an ENTIRE REPORT within 90
days of completion, in which the calculations are part of the report.
This will provide a solid arguement for the original work being the
design of the building, not the execution of the calculations in and of
itself.  Someone lifting the calcs after this point, the arguement will
not be "he copied my calculations," which is a poor legal arguement if
they are code driving calculations and is likely to NOT be allowed to be
registered at the Copyright Office (as it was previously posted by
others).  It will be part of the overall design (the founding original
work) and others copy it, either exactly or even just pretty close, it
will be like lifting a chapter out of a novel, changing the names of the
characters, and passing it off as their own.   Without the overall
context of the design (report), on the other hand, it is merely an
execution of code calculations.

The good thing is you can make the  drawings part of the report, along
with the calculations, and make it all part of one filing.  The bad
thing is that anything filed at the copyright office is public knowledge
and can be "discovered" by anyone.  The good part is the material is
protected by copyright.  The bad part is you have to find out when
someone does this and file in court--your call if its worth it.  The
good part is you don't HAVE to file at the Copyright Office to have
copyright protection--it's conferred upon creation.  The bad thing is it
can be far more difficult to prove without a proper filing.

If you file within 90 days, you are entitled to increased copyright
damages in federal court in addition to the fraud, criminal
misreprentation, etc. in state/local court.  As I've been saying,
code-driven calcualtions such as the standard sturctural calcs submitted
to justify/document typical structural drawings, in and of themselve,
are not typically protected by copyright.

Trademarks and patents are completely separate issues, having only a bit
to with "who made it first" and a LOT more to do more who files first at
the Patent Office and how well the application is written.

Also, as an aside, it would be a lot easier to pass along the benefit of
too many hours we've paid to Intellectual Property lawyers in the
protection of various endeavors (or fighting to protect them from
others), ranging from overseas grassroots projects to new products to
artwork, if the tone of the discussion was less challenging and more

Bart Kemper, P.E.

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