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#38428 - 05/23/04 07:09 AM Progress?
rowdyrudy Offline
Member

Registered: 11/02/02
Posts: 171
Loc: Mascoutah, IL USA
Alabama judge who ruled that if the AHJ is not penalized for flawed interpretations of codes and ordinances, then the EC could not be penalized for errors and omissions has been upheld by AL Appellate Court.
(I have condensed the 9 page ruling to the above).
Also, Supreme Court has refused to hear appeal regarding the copyright of the NEC. The 5th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that:
“If a code is adopted as a law by a municipality, it must be available free to those who fall under the law”.
“….once it becomes law, the prevailing public interest is in making it available to people free so they can know what the law is”.
At this time, the ruling is effective in the 5th district only (Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi).
Utilizing this ruling I have a copy of the NEC with amendments in 8-1/2x11 form (812 pages), local zoning ordinances (1229 pages), and local building codes (1140 pages). The County Court Clerk was very obliging and said that I can receive free copies of any local codes, laws, or ordinances. I did have to wait about three weeks after my request to receive the documents.
I don’t know how others feel but I believe that the 5th Circuit made the correct ruling, as an EC or anyone, should not be required to pay $65 or so per copy every three years to find out what the law is. The upcoming 2005 NEC may be the last as we know it and in lieu of full publications every three years only addendums to affected chapters would be published as municipalities all over are having budget problems and they can ill-afford the cost of providing hundreds, or thousands, of free copies.
Rowdy

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#38429 - 05/23/04 08:20 AM Re: Progress?
Ryan_J Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/19/03
Posts: 1355
Loc: West Jordan, Utah, USA
This really is a landmark ruling. Wow.
_________________________
Ryan Jackson,
Salt Lake City

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#38430 - 05/23/04 09:28 AM Re: Progress?
resqcapt19 Offline
Member

Registered: 11/10/00
Posts: 2209
Loc: IL
So you think that the government is required to provide free copies of all statutes to everyone? I don't think so. Have you ever looked at the complete set of laws for a state? Even these laws are copyrighted by publishers and sold to attorneys and others. A full set for a single state costs thousands of dollars. No, copies should not be required to be provide free of charge. They are required to be available for viewing upon request. The court ruling only applies to the 3 states and I would expect that if someone publishes the NEC online, that the NFPA would mount a very vigorous defense of their copyright. If the NFPA loses the copyright protection on the NEC, there will no more NEC. Each governmental unit will be forced to write its own codes. What a mess that will be.
Don
_________________________
Don(resqcapt19)

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#38431 - 05/23/04 09:40 AM Re: Progress?
iwire Offline
Moderator

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 4343
Loc: North Attleboro, MA USA
Don,

 Quote:
A full set for a single state costs thousands of dollars. No, copies should not be required to be provide free of charge. They are required to be available for viewing upon request.


That is true but the state and Federal laws are available on the net for free.

I see the problem for revenue and I do not think any electrician should have a problem buying a code book every 3 years.

That said, unfortunately I think it is in-evadable that the NEC will be available to look at for free on the Internet.

If it is law it must be readily available, and the Internet is now the library of choice for many people.

JMO, Bob
_________________________
Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician
Massachusetts

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#38432 - 05/23/04 10:05 AM Re: Progress?
rowdyrudy Offline
Member

Registered: 11/02/02
Posts: 171
Loc: Mascoutah, IL USA
resqcapt19
The NEC on-line is what precipitated the 5th district involvment. A challenge was made to the NEC being placed on-line in TX and they lost. The NEC only loses it's copyright if it is accepted as law by states or municipalities. That is probably why more and more munis are enacting legislation declaring the NEC "advisory". That clears the muni of providing free copies and protects the copyright.
Rowdy

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#38433 - 05/23/04 11:15 AM Re: Progress?
CTwireman Offline
Member

Registered: 02/07/02
Posts: 839
Loc: Connecticut, USA
Very interesting development. Legal stuff and laws are way over my head, since common sense does not seem to be very common in that area.

One question though...If the NEC is considered "advisory" in certain municipalities and not law, is it enforceable??

Peter
_________________________
Peter

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#38434 - 05/23/04 11:23 AM Re: Progress?
resqcapt19 Offline
Member

Registered: 11/10/00
Posts: 2209
Loc: IL
rowdyrudy,
The Texas case did not involve the NEC. It was The Southern Building Code. Veeck vs. Southern Bldg Code
 Quote:
That is probably why more and more munis are enacting legislation declaring the NEC "advisory".

Then there is no code to enforce. You can itstall it anyway you like.

iwire,
 Quote:
That is true but the state and Federal laws are available on the net for free.

Not all of them are available on the net, at least in Illinois.
 Quote:
That said, unfortunately I think it is in-evadable that the NEC will be available to look at for free on the Internet.

When that happens there will no longer be a NEC, and maybe not even a NFPA. The profits from the sail of the NEC support most of the NFPA's other codes.
Don

[This message has been edited by resqcapt19 (edited 05-23-2004).]
_________________________
Don(resqcapt19)

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#38435 - 05/23/04 01:14 PM Re: Progress?
DougW Offline
Member

Registered: 06/08/03
Posts: 1083
Loc: North Chicago, IL
Don (and all): I found these sites useful doing FF Union biz...:
http://www.legis.state.il.us/legislation/ilcs/ilcs.asp

The entire database of the Illinois Compiled Statutes. While it is subject to certain updating delays after enactment by the Legislature, it is reasonably accurate:
http://livepublish.municode.com/LivePublish/statelist2.asp?state=13

http://www.19thcircuitcourt.state.il.us/links/l_code.htm#Municipal%20Code%20Resources

Listings of ordinances from several Municipalies (including Building, Plumbing, and Electrical Codes in many cases). Not all of the AHJ's in IL, but a fair number. As more of america gets "wired", more municipalities are finding it easier to maintain codes on line, rather than paying the $$$ to continually update print versions.

Although most codifiers (code publishers) simply publish update pages, as was suggested earlier in this thread; Maybe the NEC will follow suit as a matter of course, instead of just for the loose-leaf subscribers.

Having problems posting links...sorry!

[This message has been edited by DougW (edited 05-23-2004).]

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#38436 - 05/24/04 08:15 AM Re: Progress?
AZSam Offline
Member

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 56
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ USA
I have been following this site and the copyright thread is attention-grabbing. I did a bit of rummaging around and found the amici curiae, which for those not legally inclined, is defined as “A party that is not involved in a particular litigation but that is allowed by the court to advise it on a matter of law directly affecting the litigation”. The amici has some fascinating associations. Certain of them are NFPA, BOCA, ICC, ANSI, ASAE, ASHRAE, UL, and believe it or not, the American Medical Association, and others. Each and every one of these associations has a legitimate concern in preserving copyright protection on their publications. The state of affairs that precipitated a setback to the domination by the associations was when governmental entities acknowledged assorted documents and the copyright holders allowed the codes to be integrated into laws which to all intents and purposes stripped the copyright shield. The ruling by the federal court substantiates court determinations from as far back as 1886 that law cannot be copyrighted. This does not mean that you may place the NEC or other copyrighted documents on a web site for free access. It does however mean that you may place the codes, ordinances, and laws of governmental agencies on a free access web site even if they contain a full copy of the NEC or other proprietary manuals.
Sam

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#38437 - 05/24/04 08:50 AM Re: Progress?
iwire Offline
Moderator

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 4343
Loc: North Attleboro, MA USA
Don,

 Quote:
When that happens there will no longer be a NEC, and maybe not even a NFPA. The profits from the sail of the NEC support most of the NFPA's other codes


IMHO (I am not a lawyer after all) this would not be the courts concern.

Courts make many decisions that result in hardships.

This in no way means I wish hardship on the NFPA.

I agree this would be a problem and IMO the NFPA should be looking for solutions to this problem, not spending money on suits that IMO will eventually be lost.

Sam's post seems to be right on point, the act of letting copyrighted matrial be adopted into law basically gave away the copyright.

This is really how I found the ECN site a few years ago, I was trying to find a NEC reference on line.

I had used the web to look up many laws in the past and was surprised that the NEC was not on line.

Lets hope the NFPA can find a solution to this issue.

Bob
_________________________
Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician
Massachusetts

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