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RE: Re: Building Codes/US Supreme Court

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This was brought to the lists' attention several months ago.  If I recall
correctly (which is in doubt), the case in question dealt with the issue
of the copyright of the model building code (i.e. the SBC in this case),
but not any referenced standards.  Thus, it was my impression that if the
case "went south" for the code organizations, then those that produce
material standards (i.e. ACI 318, AISC specs, ASCE 7, MSJC, etc) would not
be effected, but rather the model code groups (i.e. IBC, NFPA, BOCA,
SBBCI, and ICBO).  I could be recalling wrong.

I agree with Charlie from the perspective that in the short term it will
benefit the end user...that is you would be able to make copies of the
codes meaning that they would essentially be free.  In the long run, one
of three things would happen.  1) The code development organizations would
stop developing codes since they could not longer financial support the process
and no one would step into the void which would mean no more "up-to-date"
codes (not too likely).  2) The code development organiztions would charge
the states some rather large fee for the development of the codes that the
states would then be permitted to use...otherwise the state who did not
pay the fee would be in violation of the copyright if they used the
code...and the code development organizations would continue doing what
they do but get there money for supporting the development from the fees
paid by the states...and the states (or feds) would have to impose some
sort of taxes or fees to be able to pay the fees to the code development
organizations.  3)  The code development organizations stop producing
codes and someone else (i.e. the states or the feds) are forced to step in
and take over the produce of the building codes, which would mean
taxes/fees to cover the cost of the states or feds producing the codes.
#3 would likely result in the most cost to the public/taxpayer as it would
likely mean that each state would be in a position to have to produce
their own code (i.e. duplicate effort).  #2 would still mean additional
cost to the public/taxpayers.  #1 would just be plain unacceptable (at
least in my mind).

It does present an interesting problem.

Scott
Ypsilanti, MI

On Wed, 26 Feb 2003, Carter, Charlie wrote:

> I imagine that every standard development organization is awaiting the
> outcome of this item with bated breathe. Many stand to lose substantial
> income -- if not their entire income stream -- if the Veeck decision stands.
> My guess is the issue will come before the Supreme Court at some point as
> there is a lot at stake for several very prominent organizations. For
> example, I received an appeal from ASCE/SEI the other week seeking my
> support and action in OPPOSITION to Veeck.
>
> >From a moment-in-time (read: immediate gratification) perspective for the
> consumer of standards, it's a fabulous thing because it would seem to
> promise to put a lot of the standards for which we all pay into the public
> domain (read: make them free). But from a long-term perspective, it may just
> create devastating voids in code development where SDOs do not have other
> means by which to support that necessary activity.
>
> It will be interesting to see how this plays out -- and how the SDOs evolve
> as a result.
>
> Charlie
>
>
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Christopher Wright [mailto:chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com]
> Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2003 3:34 PM
> To: SEAOC Newsletter
> Subject: Fwd: Re: Building Codes/US Supreme Court
>
>
> Anyone seen this? Can you elaborate?
>
> "Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal
>
> Volume: 64 Number: 1577
>
> June 14, 2002
>  Privately Drafted Model Codes Are Not Copyrightable When Enacted Into Law
>
> Privately authored model codes solicited to the government and enacted
> into law are not entitled to copyright protection, the en banc U.S. Court
> of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held June 7 (Veeck v. Southern Building
> Code Congress International Inc., 5th Cir., No. 99-40632, en banc
> decision 6/7/02).
>
> Reversing a panel ruling that affirmed a summary judgment for the
> copyright owner, the 8-6 decision relied on the long-standing principle
> that "the law" may not be subject to exclusive rights that can interfere
> with public access. The court also found that model codes become "facts"
> when enacted, and are therefore not subject to copyright protection under
> the merger doctrine. In dissenting opinions, Judge Jacques L. Wiener Jr.
> complained that the majority's holding enacts a blanket, per se rule that
> fails to take account of the private authorship here, and Judge Patrick
> Higginbotham noted that the record fails to support a claim that public
> access to the laws was hampered."
>
> http://ipcenter.bna.com/pic2/ip.nsf/c9136ec2a0a6115985256a0f0012e350/e06813
> 3c1
>
>
> Christopher Wright P.E.    |"They couldn't hit an elephant at
> chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com        | this distance"   (last words of Gen.
> ___________________________| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)
> http://www.skypoint.com/~chrisw
>
>
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