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RE: Codes Online (Non-structural)

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While I agree in principle on the free access to law documentation, I think we have to distinguish between convenience and access.

For convenience, I have copies of the building codes I use and need. However, a visit to the public counter at the building and safety department will provide the free access to review building codes. 

Ideally, we should all be able to access building codes conveniently online. However, that convenience has to be paid for somewhere along the line. The cost of providing such access I believe could be nominal, and could be paid for through licensing agreements with the code publishing organizations. City/County websites could provide the access, using user registration to control or limit access and to obtain access agreement from the user which would include agreement not to further disseminate the copywritten documents. That most likely would be sufficient to minimize any piracy concerns. I don't think rampant piracy would be an issue with (yawn) design specifications and building codes, but I digress.

There are several fees that get tacked on when obtaining a building permit. A small surcharge within those fees (the same one that surely exists to compensate the jurisdiction for costs in even simply reviewing and 'adopting' the model codes) could provide the funding for the online access license.

I'd like to know to what extent the above or similar has already been done in other jurisdictions. 

Here, municipal codes seem to be readily available online in most jurisdictions I deal with. The model codes and material standards must be purchased. Manufactured items have already paid for jurisdictional approval, and the approved spec sheets are free for the asking.

Thomas Honles, SE, PE
Los Angeles, CA

-----Original Message-----
From: L. Pack [mailto:Lloyd(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Monday, November 22, 2004 11:08 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Codes Online (Non-structural)

On 22 Nov 2004, at 1:27, Scott Maxwell wrote:

> What you won't get is the codes for free.  Contrary to popular belief, it
> costs money to produce those codes.  Even if government entities took over
> the effort, it would still not be free.  It might seem free, but we would
> still pay for them in the form of fees (i.e. PE license fees, building
> permit fees, etc) or taxes.  This stuff does not magically appear out of
> thin air.
> Regards,
> Scott
> Adrian, MI

And from the point of view of a citizen, I would like all laws to which
I am subject to be free for my enlightenment. I should be able to
freely access all laws for which I may be held accountable.   If we
charge people to access the law, then we are essentially 
discriminating against those who can not afford the cost to obtain 
the law.  

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