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RE: AISC II (the facts)

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JPRiley:  Are the equations in the AISC Specifications protected?
Charlie Carter:  Yes.  See the copyright page in the front of the specification.
JPRiley:  My UBC97 states, " . . . the design, fabrication and erection of structural steel shall be in accordance with the Specification of Structural Steel Buildings Allowable Stress Design and Plastic Design, . . . ."  When jurisdictions adopt the UBC97, it becomes the law of the land, as far as I'm concerned.  And therefore, those formulas are public domain.  Not only CAN I use them, but I'm REQUIRED to do so.  Is there a problem with this logic?
Charlie Carter:  Say I buy design drawings and specifications for a building from you.  After I have my building, is it OK with you if I re-draw the drawings and re-type the specifications you sold to me so I have them in electronic form?  Say a friend of mine likes my building so much that he wants one too. Can I give him copies of the re-drawn drawings and re-typed specifications for his use?  Say we find out that a LOT of people like our buildings.  Can we set up a business of our own to sell the re-drawn drawings and re-typed specifications so that everyone can have one of these nifty buildings? Would you hold me liable?
     My guess is you'd answer: Yes. No. No. Yes.
JPRiley:  Your guess is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.  I don't care one bit if you copy my designs.  I'm not capable of producing designs that any other competent structural engineer wouldn't be able to easily accomplish, too.  We do the equivalent of what you propose all the time.  I am not the original designer of many of my standard details; some are probably 50-70 years old.  Same with standard notes and specifications.
     You may be legally correct in this entire matter.  I don't know for sure, I'm not an attorney . . . in fact, I'll bet the attorneys won't know until it is sorted out in a court.  I certainly wouldn't want to be involved in the test case; and now you've got me tense about something I hadn't given thought to in the past thirty years.  Consequently, the very next discussion I have with an architect concerning framing systems, I'll bring up my new concerns about copyright infringement.  From this office, there will be a huge surge toward more wood and masonry bearing walls and TJI roof and floor systems.  TrusJoist MacMillan provides us with the software we need to size their products, and I appreciate it.  I have guided many architects away from masonry bearing walls in favor of steel framing; but no more.  I don't want to be seen as unreasonably contentious; merely practical.
John P. Riley, PE, SE
Riley Engineering
20 Oakwood Drive, Blue Grass, Iowa 52726
Tel & Fax:  319-381-3949