To: "'seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org'" <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
Subject: RE: Copyright Infringement
From: Scott Maxwell <smaxwell(--nospam--at)engin.umich.edu>
Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2001 21:58:56 -0500 (EST)
Now, not to cause trouble (even though I am good at that), but I have a
I have in my possession a "Structural Shapes" booklet from Bethlehem Steel
that contain section properties for steel shapes. This booklet is
copyrighted by Bethlehem (as is the AISC manual, but copyrighted by AISC).
It just so happens that the Bethlehem section properties are EXACTLY the
same as the values in the AISC manual (I was using 9th edition ASD...I
would assume that the LRFD values are the same). [I will admit that I only
did a spot check of a W27x94] Therefore, would it be possible to assume
that either AISC or Bethlehem violated someone else's copyright (or
purchased the rights)?
What happens is multiple sources produce identical "intellectual"
property? Is it still copyright-able? Who owns the copyright?
I am no lawyer, but I would think that the actual values of the section
properties are not copyright-able. Let's examine a similar thread...there
have been discussions of the use of "standard" details. Is a "standard"
detail copyright-able? For example, is the "intellectual property" of a
double angle connection copyright-able? I believe the intent is that I
cannot photo-copy and then "sticky-back" someone's drawn double angle
connection detail, but that using my own drawing skills, I can reproduce
the intent of the detail. I would think that it would be similar for the
section property values in the AISC manual. If I just make a copy of the
electronic version of AISC's database, then I am stealing from them.
However, if I take the time to enter in each value of each section
property into an electronic file from the AISC manual, is not that not the
same as recreating the intent using my own "resources".
I am not saying that I am correct...I certainly could be wrong, but...Any
Also not a lawyer, but someone with an inquisitive mind.
On Fri, 5 Jan 2001, Charlie Carter wrote:
> Well, I never ever thought the AISC Database would be worthy to share the
> same email as Napster! (humor intended)
> But seriously, I'm afraid this whole thread is headed toward much larger
> proportions than it deserves. I privately emailed Dennis Wish to let him
> know that the steel property files he posted for free download were at some
> point in time generated by a program that comes with the copyrighted AISC
> Database to translate the AISC Database ASCII file into an otherwise
> identical file (two, actually) that can be imported into Excel, Lotus, or
> some other spreadheet file. However unintentionally, Dennis violated AISC's
> intellectual property rights (copyright) in doing so.
> "Intellectual Property" is a term that I'm just learning loads about myself.
> But the fact is, just about everything you and I create in our daily work is
> intellectual property. If someone steals your drawings, project
> specification, general notes, or other work products and uses them, that's a
> violation of the copyright on those work products to which you are entitled
> -- and your kids may go hungry as a result. Actually, didn't we all get up
> in arms recently when somebody found their design-drawing CAD files were
> used by a subcontractor without permission to create shop drawings?
> Here at AISC, we collect, qualify and disseminate technical information on
> the design and construction of structural steel buildings. And we strive to
> make that information just as useful as it can be for you in the course of
> producing those drawings, specifications, general notes and other products
> that make money for your firm and feed your kids. It's what you pay us for
> the technical information we provide that keeps the doors at AISC open (we
> don't make money, we're a not-for-profit organzation) and feeds my kids.
> Well, OK, that's a lie on two accounts.
> First, the the doors of AISC are in large part kept open (and the cost of
> everything we sell you is reduced) by a rather significant subsidy from the
> dues that AISC's member fabricators pay per ton of steel they fabricate. I
> should also recognize the in-kind subsidy that every one of our volunteers
> (engineers, fabricators, erectors, detailers, code officials, architects,
> academics, construction managers, general contractors, mill representatives,
> etc.) provides in the form of their time and expertise. You wouldn't believe
> what it really costs to write a specification or a manual -- or how critical
> it is to your ability to do your job on a daily basis that you have the
> benefit of the work those volunteers do for AISC. The second part of my lie
> is that I don't actually have any kids to feed, but I do have my wife and
> cat to keep happy. I'm not sure about the cat, but I know I'm not having
> much success with my wife. But that has nothing to do with intellectual
> property rights.
> Manuals didn't really ever used to be free, unless you knew someone at AISC
> really well. More likely, one of the steel companies or a local fabricator
> paid for them and gave them to you, probably after they stamped their
> company logo into the cover so you'd remember them later. Trouble was, so
> few people actually did remember them later that they stopped doing it.
> Guess it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that decision out.
> Some of you seem downright unhappy that AISC charges anything for the
> products we provide for you. But I'll put our line of products up against
> anybody else's on any day of the week in a cost/benefit ratio contest.
> P.S. There's no charge for this or any other message I've posted
> to this list server (and some, I'm sure, will say they're worth
> every penny!) (-: