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RE: Removal of the AISC Database

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I agree with everything you said except any suggestion of defiance of the
ideology that each of us holds sacred - the protection of our intellectual
property rights. I hope, through Charlie and Jim, the AISC is reading your
opinions as I, too agree with you wholeheartedly.
Please see my comments under the same thread to Bill Polhemus. What I see as
happening is that the professional organizations have identified a source of
income by making information available at a price over the Internet -
especially information that at one time was sold only to compensate for the
cost of publication and mailing.
Instead of learning to cut waste and work more efficiently using Internet
based tools, these organizations are spending as they always have and
relying upon this new market to cover the additional expense that will be
required from the creation of an international code.
As you indicated, their efforts are counter-productive. However, they are at
the helm of a freight train moving downhill as the apathy in the industry
will fuel them with sufficient money to keep them going. We are a small
percentage of vocalist, while the majority will sit back and say "We need
the materials, what can we do?"

I only hope that they see the wisdom in the words of those like you who
speak up. I left the List once before simply because we were not being
listened to. This was the reason I started the Structuralist.Net albeit I
found it equally difficult outside the organization as within. List such as
this are set up to allow members to blow off steam - then life goes on as
usual. We don't go further than a few paragraphs of dissatisfaction. What we
should be doing is to stop supporting organizations who are not acting in
our best interest.

It is a shame that the only power we have as individuals is through the
check we write to renew our membership in organizations. However, if this is
all we have then we need to use it responsibly. I have not renewed my SEAOC
membership as I stated I would not last July or so, when I originally left
the list. Others have followed. If you disagree with AISC, don't renew your
membership in the organization and seek the information you need through
other sources. Most of us use a steel design program that contains the
database and information that is licensed to us although not necessarily
easy to access. The point is that that whatever AISC or ACI charges for
membership is still important to them for operation. If not, then it only
proves what you and others have indicated that the information should have
been made available for free and they should be promoting the use of the
values for design before income.

I read through Charlie's comments - as an employee of AISC and I understand
his argument, although I don't agree in full - primarily because I don't
think that organizations like the AISC are acting in the best interest of
the small engineering office. Located in a high-rise building in downtown
Chicago, AISC has a view of the tallest buildings in the world and most
likely spend the majority of their time working within the engineering
community who is large enough to work on high-rise projects or larger more
prominent structures. I doubt that they pay attention to the small firms who
design a single bay frame or embedded column a few times a year. What they
may fail to realize is that these small projects are as important to small
office proprietorships as they are to the employee in a large office who is
employed to design the connection in a high-rise structures. We work from
the same codes, but one can amortize the cost of that literature over a
greater amount of steel than the other - making the cost of participation
within AISC a much greater expense to a small office than to a large one.

We have the power of speech (writing) and we can sign checks. These,
unfortunately, become our voting booths.


-----Original Message-----
From: Lynn H [mailto:lhoward(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Saturday, January 06, 2001 8:07 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Removal of the AISC Database


I guess my point is that even if the stuff is under
copyright protection, AISC and other organizations
such as this should not stop the access of
information like this by others due to the nature of
their organization, which is supposed to promote the
use of steel.  Different organizations such as this
have different policies.

All these organizations have a right to produce
literature, software, etc., and charge a fee for
it.  And if someone just copied their product and
included as a part of something they were SELLING,
then they should have the right to claim copyright

Where the line is drawn (in my mind anyway), and
where quite frankly their action gets offensive, is
when they try and stop the FREE access of this
information that will be used in the design of the
very product they are supposed to be promoting.

If I were running an organization like AISC, I would
try and put as much information out as possible for
FREE. That would include publications and software
alike.  ACI has some very nice software they put out
for the design of concrete.  They charge a normal
fee for their product.  If they put this out for
free, it would be used much more widely and better
promote the use of their product.

I know that the member companies would have to put
more money into into their organizations to make up
for the loss of revenue, but I think that they
should since they should benefit from the promotion
activities of these organizations.

Trus Joists actually writes software for use in the
design of their products and distributes it to
design engineers for free.  We use it all the time,
and specify their product all the time.  It is
easier to specify and design with their product than
with any other similar product, so we do just that.

I know that in reality these organizations need some
additional funds, and everything they put out cannot
be free.  But basic design information like this,
should not be the subject of copyright infringement
litigation when it is just being freely distributed
on the NET for general use by all in the design of
THEIR product.


Structuralist wrote:
> Lynn,
> Sometimes you confuse me (said in a very friendly way). Over time, your
> positions have been cautious and conservative. I clicked on your response
> expecting you to disagree with the general consensus thus far. Shows how
> wrong I can be - I've been batting below 100 since the start of the new
> year.
> Generally, I am left to act alone on issues such as this and, to be frank,
> don't have the resources to investigate the legal validity of Jim Todd's
> letter.
> I received an e-mail from another member of the list who very nicely
> informed me of my precarious position. I disagreed with him and asked that
> he or another at AISC provide me with justification that would convince me
> to remove the files. This is when Jim called me. I also learned from
> that there were some tables which appeared to be copied directly from the
> manual (to be honest, while I downloaded the files from the Internet, I
> not look at the files to verify what was on them as I do little if any
> design). Having been informed of that this information exists on the files
> adds credibility to the AISC claim and I am inclined to believe they have
> the right to request it be removed.
> When Jim Todd called this afternoon and we spoke candidly on the issues
> (although at this time I still had not reviewed AISC1 and AISC2.Zip) - I
> believe he was sincere. My decision to remove the files was based upon the
> belief that the Internet is currently unstructured and that, as
> professionals, we must act responsibly. At this point in time, it would be
> counter-productive to a risk infringement of their rights. Indirectly, if
> intend for professional organizations to help in the creation of an
> reference library, we have to be willing to protect this information from
> abuse. We can only do this if we hold the concept of respecting the
> intellectual property rights above all else. This does not stop others
> violating one of the more important rules that we professionals rely
upon -
> the protection of our work. Similarly, we would do more harm to be
> arrogantly defiant than to work through this issue slowing - by first
> removing the objection. In time, if we pursue the issue and find that AISC
> is incorrect, we can consider posting the files. Until then, we would be
> causing harm to the potential need to make information accessible and free
> over the Internet by trying the case in a discussion forum.
> I know this sounds kind of convoluted, but I ask that you do not post the
> files for download until which time that the proper course of legal
> investigation be done. If AISC is wrong, no harm will come of correcting
> decision to remove the files. If we are wrong, then we have acted in good
> faith to protect a concept that we all believe needs protection - our
> intellectual property rights.
> Thanks for the support - from all! I strongly suggest that those who wish
> pursue this do so to eliminate any question as to the legality of the
> issues.
> Respectfully,
> Dennis S. Wish, PE