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RE: Building Codes Online?

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See my comments below:

-----Original Message-----
From: Cratylus Consulting Group [mailto:cratylus(--nospam--at)] 
Sent: Sunday, October 06, 2002 12:59 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Building Codes Online?

I have not heard a thing about this appellate decision, or of the
content of the Veeck web site. However, I can think of several issues to
support such a legal analysis:
1) Why would you bother to protect a copyright or 'intellectual' product
that is obsolete in three years?,

<Dennis> The publisher profits from the publication. In defense, ICBO,
SBCCI and BOCA all provide a service to filter all work done on codes
and to organize them into a final, publishable code that they invest in
up front with hopes of retrieving in sales. Volunteers do not provide
this service or this know how - however, with new technology to
distribut codes electronically (granted not all engineers are capable of
supporting new technology), the cost of publishing a paper product no
longer makes sense unless the intent of these non-profit organizations
is to profit or build a reserve of funds for future publication. In
other words, the business and expense overhead - including employees who
participate in the process.

2) How can anyone profit (financially and to ICBO's/SBCCI's/BOCA's
detriment) by using and liberally publishing code provisions?,

<Dennis> This is a not for profit proceeds that allow a non-profit
company to maintain a certain amount of reserve as long as it is not
intended to grow as profit but to be used to pay for expenses and
overhead. I was on the board of directors of a non-profit group who
purchased property that we held for construction of homes built entirely
by students (high-school). We had a cash reserve in the bank and had to
be very careful how we described the funds so that it did not appear to
the government that this was profit. I think organizations like ICBO and
the others work along similar lines. The question is whether or not it
is needed based on current technology and the growing change in use by
professionals of this media. Personally, owning the electronic copy of a
code is far more convenient than a paper copy as it can accompany me
anywhere I intend to go without no additional weight.

3) To what extent can the broad and liberal dissemination of public and
life safety information harm these publishers? (it could only enhance
the public interest I would think),

<Dennis> None that I can see other than to seriously cut back their
ability to represent building officials whos job it is to review and
vote on the adoption of these codes. If the code is truly for their
benefit to insure properly constructed buildings that perform well, then
the cost should be transferred to either the homeowner or to the
developer - not the designer.

4) Could anyone near the profit these publishers extract from the three
year code cycle! For crying out loud, this 3 year cycle gives them new
work-product to market so quickly - only a fool would attempt to
plagiarize it for commercial purposes!

<Dennis> Seriously, as I stated before, these organizations may build a
reserve for the potential use as overhead and operational fees to apply
to code creation and publication. As a non-profit organization, they are
not allowed to maintain a reserve for the intent of hording profit. 

Steven A.
Los Angeles

One additional comment I'll make is that they could argue that they use
the proceeds to create programs for the education of the profession. I
have yet to participate in a free educational service by any non-profit
organizations. Even SEA uses the funds they earn from sale of
publications or earnings from educational seminars to support the
transportation and hotel costs for those members of their committees
authorized to participate on state or national meetings. Personally, I
feel strongly this is overdone and while the argument for face to face
meetings has been driven into the ground, those who argue in favor of it
refuse to comprmise on the amount of work that can be accomplished prior
of face on meetings and then organized to make these face-to-face
conferences far more productive, must learn how to use the tools that
are available to them to in a productive manner. I think this is the
fault of those who will not allow themselves to use comprimise on this
matter and those involved in committee work consider themselves too busy
to take on any new education for use of internet based tools.

This sets our profession back and wastes the money that members
contribute in dues. It also is an excellent way to block those who have
no other resources but the Internet to participate from becoming active
members on these committees. Bill Polhemus' NCSEA Advocacy Sub-Committee
is one of the only sub-committees of SEA which has been using the
Internet as their main source of communication and as a means to
assemble their work for publication. One primary consideration is the
lack of funds available to this sub-committee to do their work as other
committees would do. Still, I think that the work accomplish via the
Internet is superior to the work done by other committees and in a much
shorter period of time.

The three year cycle, in my opinion as well as yours does nothing more
than to insure the pockets of professionals can be tapped on a regular
basis. The only positive point to make is that ICBO will give back the
equivalency in codes with each year of renewal - which shows what the
publications are actually worth.

Dennis S. Wish, PE

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