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Bill,

Since I have been heavily involved from the beginning  with ACI's efforts to "go electronic", I find this all very interesting. I see things from one point of view, but others without my access level see if from a different point of view. I will forward your comments on to ACI for their consideration.

For others who are not familiar with the ACI electronic document process, when you order an electronic document form ACI it warns you the PDF files are not printable, then sends you to Scribd for the download. It doesn't warn you about the lack of cut-and-paste. Without the ability to print or cut-and-paste, I understand Bill's complaint. I also understand ACI's concern that their documents were being downloaded and placed on free and warez sites. I don't know what the solution is.

BTW, you do not have to be a member to access the online MCP, you just have to pay a lot more. In fact, it is cheaper to become a member and get the member discount than it is to access it as a non-member. For those that are interested, ACI has a Member's Benefit page here: http://www.concrete.org/MEMBERS/MEM_BENEFITS.HTM

Between free downloads of select ACI documents (not including 301 and 318), free CEU presentations online, and member discounts, I think it is well worth the money (especially if your company is paying for it).

Anyway, as I said, I will pass this on to ACI.

Jay Shilstone

At 10:26 AM 12/16/2011, you wrote:

On December 15, 2011 at 4:41 PM Jay Shilstone <j2008.s(--nospam--at)shilstone.com> wrote:
Bill, I'm not sure what the problem is. I was able to cut and paste from the online MCP without problem. I am accessing it directly from the ACI website. I can also save a copy of the full document to my local hard drive. One difference might be that I am an ACI  committee chair and might have access to a different level of protection of the files than you, but I don't think that is the case. One thing I have noticed is that recent updates to Adobe Reader don't have the text copy icon readily available. You have to access it through the Menu Bar. Could it be that is the problem? FYI, I understand comments from others that documents relating to the Building Code ought to be free. As I understand it, in countries where codes are created by bureaucrats, that is the case. However, ACI and ASTM are not government organizations. I know ACI doesn't receive government funding, but don't know about ASTM. Our codes are created as consensus documents by independent organizations. Even if those organizations are non-profit, it doesn't mean they don't need to bring in money to survive. I think it is a case of, "Do we want free documents created by government committees or do we want documents based on field experience that we have to pay for?" There is no "right" answer, but the reality is that this is the system that we use in the U.S. After I typed the above, I went back and looked at your original messages, then checked out Scribd.com. Apparently they offer a free "preview" of the document (which I am AMAZED ACI lets them do) but to get the whole document you have to pay for it. I don't know if you can get a subscription to the whole thing or not. I was able to copy and paste text directly from the free copy, which also amazes me. If you want full PDF access directly from ACI, a 1 year subscription to the online MCP costs $409 for members and $681.50 for non-members. 

 

1. I completely understand the desire of ACI to get paid for the work their members do (for free?) in developing these standards. In fact, I did pay the $93.50 fee for non-members to access ACI 301-10, and glad to do so.

 

2. The problem is that it wasn't so clear to me just how "hobbled" my use of the spec would then be.

 

3. I am not a member and do not have access to the online MCP. I could do that - might do that - but in the meantime I have paid the fee as described in (1.) above, and have no privileges whatsoever other than to read the spec online at Scribd.com. Cannot print, cannot copy-and-paste, cannot download, etc.

 

4. FWIW, my understanding is that the Scribd.com document is not actually a PDF - though I assume the source document they used is the PDF - but is in their proprietary format. Here is the explanation given on Wikipedia:

 

Scribd uses iPaper which is a rich document format similar to PDF built for the web, which allows users to embed documents into a web page. iPaper was built with Adobe Flash , allowing it to be viewed the same across different operating systems (Windows, Mac OS, and Linux) without conversion, as long as the reader has Flash installed (although Scribd has announced non-Flash support for the iPhone). [ 28 ] All major document types can be formatted into iPaper including Word docs, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs , OpenDocument documents, OpenOffice.org XML documents, and PostScript files.

 

The way you actually read the document is by means of an .SWF script (which I believe is or used to be called "Shockwave"; you can actually see some of the details of this if you "view source" the Scribd.com page for the document). This is a good thing for those wanting total control of the use of their document, but frankly it sucks for the user.

 

N.B. Surprised Scribd.com hasn't yet been sued by Apple for infringing on their "i-whatever" copyright with the term "iPaper". That is said only half in jest. The IP wars have gotten out of control.

 

5. The "free preview" of the ACI 301-10 iPaper document on Scribd.com is actually only the first six pages - essentially the cover page through the table of contents. So I doubt ACI is out anything with that.

 

6. I will probably go the ACI membership route ( again! ; I seem to go in and out of their ken. I find that some years it makes no sense to "re-up" - such as when I'm out of a job - and others it makes a great deal of sense. $222 for regular membership plus $409 seems to make sense. Expensive as h*ll, but not as expensive as getting called into the owner's office to show cause, etc.) Wish I could get a refund of the $93.50, though.... :-/

 

EPILOGUE : Again, thanks for listening to the gripe. I am not complaining that "everything isn't free." Despite the celebration of the whole "Occupy Whatever" movement I think expecting to go through life subsidized by "Other People's Money" is ridiculous.

 

I simply think that there ought to be a bit more liberal (!) interpretation of Fair Use. I liked what I used to be able to do with ACI electronic documents and don't think iPaper is anything approaching a Great Leap Forward.

 

And ultimately, while I understand the distinction between the "industry association" that is AISC, and the standalone effort of ACI, I can't help wishing the concrete-producing industry - including PCA, NRMCA, CRSI, WRI, TMI, NCMA, PCI, PTI, the various state-level "aggregates" associations, American Concrete Pavement Association, and whatever concrete and concrete products suppliers and other niche umbrella organizations out there, would find it in their better interests to kick in a larger fiduciary stake.

 

I also wish the Houston Texans would win the Super Bowl, so there.
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