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Re: Copying sealed PE work for personal records

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Excuse me while I wax philosophical on this topic - I've thought about it a great deal over the past few years as I have played cat and mouse with the "copy protection" and "digital rights management" in building a home entertainment system. Since IP is somewhat generic, I feel that the stand I take on such issues should apply equally to my work as to others.

It has only been in recent history that laws codifying intellectual property have existed, and enforcement has been private for most of that time. How is it that those who create intellectual property managed to profit from their work for the millenia before? Performance and added value. To provide value, the author performs the work for a benefactor, the public, or other paying entity - customizing their efforts to the needs and desires of the audience. We have created - through regulation and law - a system where added value is not necessary, and the simple act of creation is sufficient. Actors should act, singers should sing, writers should perform talks, artists should create art, researchers (already) do custom research, and engineers and architects solve problems. Copies of those works are just that - copies, made by others or the author, with no inherent added value. If you don't want to release a speculative work, don't. There is no law that says you must record a song, and there is no law that says if you choose to be a film actor you must be paid a wage you feel is appropriate to your lifestyle.

As engineers, we don't create speculative works for multiple sale (unlike Donald Gardner) - we create specific solutions for specific problems and conditions. The value isn't in the lines on paper, or the organization of those lines into drawings, but in the analysis and creativity by which we take our "stock" components and assemble them into a whole for a particular purpose. By necessity, the value of our works was based on the written page - it was often the primary, if not sole, means of communicating the design to the end user. We still place inherent value on lines on paper. As anyone who has had a lead designer leave before a project is complete, there is an enormous value in the individuals who know far more about a job than can ever be put onto paper. With modern communications, we can be far more connected to the jobs - even half a world away. The paper is becoming less valuable, and the human more.

Do I let my drawings get copied freely? In general, no. I'm certain they do, though, get taken from place to place. My primary reason for limiting distribution is liability, not intellectual property. Every building is different, even if only in subtle ways. Provide valuable service, and you'll get to worry less about the paperwork. All imho.


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