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RE: Building Codes Online?

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There is no need to charge the professional community for a code that is
created by volunteer members of that same community. The nature of the
Volunteer implies that the code belongs to the professional community
and it's copywrite laws are questionable as the Vreek lawsuit is
persuing. In this case, the issue stems from modifications made by local
jurisdications to the code that can not be copywrited (or at least until
the supreme court of Texas overturns the Appeals ruling).
I would agree that an engineer has an obligation to purchase his tools,
but a building code is not a "tool" per se - it becomes a law and as a
law it should become the property of the public so that they are not
ignorant of it. A lawyer does not have to own the law - he or she only
needs to reference it in a library or pay for a fee to use an online
service created by a private industry.

AISC has a right to obtain funds necessary to cover their expenses and
overhead in the assembly of the code (as most of the code sections are
drafted by volunteers as Rick Drake noted in his e-mail). However, there
are other sources that may be tapped that will not require penalizing an
engineer who learns his skill and then is expected to pay for a copy of
the law he is expected to enforce. Do you think a police officer pays
for the laws that he is taught to protect.

Our tools are used to design for the welfare of the public. The law is
not a tool - it is a guideline that changes over time which we must
follow. Our investment is in the education we absorb to learn how to
apply the changes for the benefit of the public. To charge us for the
work that our peers have done voluntarily for the benefit of our
profession is, in my opinion, unethical.

Sorry to be so direct Charlie - I respect you and AISC a great deal
after twenty years of practice, but my comments are meant to be
constructive criticism based on an engineer who had been used to
receiving our codes (laws) freely in the past or combined with the one
code we needed to purchase at the time (UBC). I too don't agree that
AISC has a right to empeach upon the professional community a protection
of the physical attributes necessary to design steel. I do know that
more than one software vendor has refused to pay a royalty to AISC and
the issues have not been taken to court.

If an engineer writes a piece of software that encorporates the design
of a moment connection as described within the AISC ASD manual, will you
make him remove the software from the market because he violated your

I hope you see my point. Combined within software, a methodology can not
be copyrighted, but AISC concludes that section properties manufactured
by virtually all steel companies are exclusive properties of AISC. It
doesn't make much sense.

Respectfully (and I do mean that seriously)

-----Original Message-----
From: Carter, Charlie [mailto:carter(--nospam--at)] 
Sent: Monday, October 07, 2002 3:57 PM
To: 'seaint(--nospam--at)'
Subject: RE: Building Codes Online?


Responding to two posts in one....

Thank you for your complimentary postings about AISC. I appreciate that
very much.

While I think you are correct below that there are costs that could be
economized, I do not think it is as grand a savings potential as you
seem to think. I do agree that some products seem to be well overpriced
in the marketplace. I won't name names. Cough! D1.1.

Fairly priced or not, though, I think there is no reason for a
businessperson (engineers included) to think that someone else should
buy them or give them the tools they need to earn a living. Buy them,
use them, and charge what you should for the services you provide. Isn't
that the way to elevate this profession?


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