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Autodesk poops on you!

Rusty!

"Federal appeals court ruled today that the first sale doctrine is "unavailable to those who are only licensed to use their copies of copyrighted works." This reverses a 2008 decision from the Autodesk case, in which a man was selling used copies of AutoCAD that were not currently installed on any computers. Autodesk objected to the sales because their license agreement did not permit the transfer of ownership. Today's ruling (PDF) upholds Autodesk's claims: "We hold today that a software user is a licensee rather than an owner of a copy where the copyright owner (1) specifies that the user is granted a license; (2) significantly restricts the user’s ability to transfer the software; and (3) imposes notable use restrictions. Applying our holding to Autodesk’s [software license agreement], we conclude that CTA was a licensee rather than an owner of copies of Release 14 and thus was not entitled to invoke the first sale doctrine or the essential step defense."

Does anyone else think Autodesk is the most evil software company ever to participate in construction industry?

I'm switching over to MS Paint for my drafting needs!

Link to Wired article.

 
Sep 11, 10 4:41 am
Rusty!

Does anyone have any working experience with open source CAD programs? FreeCAD comes to mind. Are there any other alternatives out there?

Sep 11, 10 4:53 am  · 
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not free but very cheap - ProgeCAD.
i have been using it for a few months and haven't found any problems. looks exactly the same as autocad, all same menus etc

Sep 11, 10 6:47 am  · 
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Nate Lewis

James; We use autocad but I purchased a copy of progecad, put it on my machine and have been working on it for about three years. Only have a few problems being able to use some of our very old lisp commands and apparently they do not have the command that changes a rectangle into a nice neat revision cloud. Are there any consultants that we could pay to come in and fix these minor problems. Would allow us to move completely into progecad.

Jan 2, 18 5:06 pm  · 
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Rusty!

progeCAD seem cool, although it is not a free app. for professional use. It's also a far cry from open source.

Perhaps architectural needs are too niche for an open source solution...

Sep 11, 10 6:56 am  · 
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yes, but €291 vs €4350 for autocad is nearly 'free'
what do you mean its not for professional use?

Sep 11, 10 7:07 am  · 
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olaf design ninja

we poop on AutoDesk...someday
voice activated CAD

Sep 11, 10 10:06 am  · 
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Wow voice activated cad would be awesome! Or even brain-wave activated - I sometimes think the computer should "hear" my single word thought commands!

Sep 11, 10 10:27 am  · 
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Also just to offer a possibly sympathetic view to Autodesk: we architects don't give over our designs to the client to own. Architectural design is generally considered a one-time license to build the design. Owners can sell the building, but the idea of the design doesn't transfer - only the license to inhabit the design. An Owner can't go out and build 20 copies of the idea without compensation to the Designer.

So Autodesk is defining the purchase of their intellectual property similarly to how we define ours, right? Or am I missing some huge glaring difference?



That said, IMO AutoCad is WAY overpriced. Maybe the new Mac version will be affordable for a small office like mine?

Sep 11, 10 10:33 am  · 
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snook_dude

I would like to toss in something here: If AutoCad no longer offers support for a program which they orginated, why should they be able to control the resale of said item?

Sep 11, 10 11:08 am  · 
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snook_dude

Oh BTW andy one try out Sketchup Pro version 8?

Sep 11, 10 11:08 am  · 
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Distant Unicorn

SketchUp!

Although, I'm mildly frightened of thinking about an architectural world built by sketchup... a world of vaguely angular, segmented off-color cheapness.

Sep 11, 10 1:52 pm  · 
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jmanganelli

for low cost, true production software, has anyone tried archicad start edition 2010?

http://www.graphisoft.com/products/acse2010/

i only know two people who've used archicad but both say it is the most intuitive BIM solution and that it is great software

the start edition is relatively cheap, too

very curious to know if anyone has tried it and if so, what your impression is?

Sep 11, 10 2:31 pm  · 
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MixmasterFestus

AutoCAD is, like, $5k a seat, right? If I were Autodesk, I'd be at least a little worried.

It seems that if a number of firms each gave up one or two seats of AutoCAD, they could pool their resources and hire a few programmers part-time (or full-time, whatev') to bring an existing open-source CAD or modeling package (BRL-CAD, Blender...there are a few) up to a relatively good standard of accuracy (no funky issues with rounding) and file interchangeability (PDF, .svg, gbxml, or perhaps some other markup-language-based thing). To a certain degree, they'd have this Autodesk monkey off their back (unless they wanted to use Autodesk software, for some reason).

Perhaps it's a project the AIA could facilitate...I hear that they already have a fun CAD package used for the registration exams ;-)

Sep 11, 10 3:15 pm  · 
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Rusty!

Donna, it seems that the appeals court agrees with your view. Which is a shame. Autodesk really wants you to think of its product as intellectual property. I think of autoCAD as nothing more than a design tool, no different than a drafting table, parallel square and fountain pens it replaced.

First sale doctrine allows you to resell your car, your clothes, your chickens, etc... It's YOUR property. This does not sit well with large companies. Monsanto, for instance, want to sell you seeds every single season. And you have no choice over the matter. Autodesk wants to sell you a subscription for the life of your career. It's a slippery slope. Would you be happy if you were not allowed to re-sell your books? One could make the same argument for books.

As far as architectural services go, you do hold on to the copyright of the drawings you produced, but not the built work. Anyone is welcome to copy your designs as they see fit. After all, noone is asking Autodesk to reveal their source code either.

Sep 11, 10 5:06 pm  · 
1  · 
Jimw338

> Would you be happy if you were not allowed to re-sell your books? One could make the same argument for books.

Feb 24, 21 2:10 pm  · 
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b3tadine[sutures]

^imagine thinking that something you wrote nearly eleven years ago was something that would be responded to in 2021?

Feb 24, 21 3:21 pm  · 
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the first software i used out of school was called JW-CAD. its free, possibly open source. but is japanese. its only 2d and doesn't do anything fancy but for most offices these days that seems more than enough. it even has a number of nice features built in (like commands built into a mouse gesture routine, not unlike the one you can use with firefox). i often thought it would be a great software for architects in the usa, but i guess the language issue is too much...and perhaps no one has ever heard of it?

we don't use it in our office but many small firms and contractors here do.

if anyone here is interested, you can find it here. it is very rough looking website but the software is great.

Sep 11, 10 9:38 pm  · 
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jmanganelli

that reminds me, as for free in the US, doublecad is supposed to be very good

i've downloaded it and played with it --- seems very solid

http://www.doublecad.com/

Sep 11, 10 9:41 pm  · 
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Rusty!

doubleCAD is $700 for a version that actually works (like being able to clip x-refs and so on). Otherwise, this is a great dwg viewer, if nothing else!

I'm too scared to click on jw-cad download. Those Japanese characters look awfully mean.

@mixmaster: you would think that the profession would be interested in open-source solution. $6K for Revit seat seams outrageous, especially with cross version compatibility removed. Your engineer has an older version? Forget about working on the same model. I think there will be a point 8-10 years from now where all the current work being compiled in Revit will be inaccessible. You can't legally buy an old license that actually opens your model the way it's supposed to, yet Autodesk is only interested in selling you the most recent version. You get locked out of your own IP. Great.

I think formZ was developed at a US university, where feedback my arch students was part of the development. Sadly it's another closed-format commercial product now.

I would really love to see an architecture school (or five) collaborate with other faculties (CS, Eng) and come up with an open-source groundwork for CAD and BIM. Good forbid arch schools do anything useful though...

Sep 11, 10 10:02 pm  · 
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Rusty!

For those wondering what the big deal is about this topic, it's not an issue of money. It's an issue of control.

Autodesk is a predatory company that has used its size to bully other players around, and has taken a much too big of a slice from each arch. studio that is enslaved to them.

Sep 11, 10 10:07 pm  · 
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rethinkit

They are located not far from Lucas films in Marin in the shadow of Frank Lloyd Wright's Marin Civic Center - been watching Star Wars too much and creating AutoDeath Star 2012.

Sep 11, 10 10:26 pm  · 
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jmanganelli

i don't know if autodesk would grace a client with a direct poop

i think rather they may fart in our general direction

Sep 11, 10 10:55 pm  · 
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jmanganelli

free (from major companies)

http://www.3dvia.com/products/3dvia-shape/
(like a free version of sketchup from dassault systemes)

http://www.plm.automation.siemens.com/en_us/products/velocity/solidedge/free2d/index.shtml
(siemens 2d drawing program that compliments solid edge)

http://www.doublecad.com/Products/DoubleCADXTv2/tabid/1100/Default.aspx
(by IMSI design)

http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/pc/index?siteID=123112&id=14943677
(like limited version of sketchup)

http://labs.autodesk.com/technologies/butterfly/

http://labs.autodesk.com/technologies/fusion/
(bad ass sketchup-like utility with great interface, currently free)

http://labs.autodesk.com/technologies/newport/

http://sketchup.google.com/intl/en/product/gsu.html

http://www.sidefx.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=589&Itemid=221

http://www.derivative.ca/
(spin-off of houdini above --- seemingly all of the functionality but at a much lower price and with a much different interface)



free (open source or small development efforts)

http://www.autosolids.com/orderform.htm
http://avocado-cad.sourceforge.net/
http://www.graytechsoftware.com/products/cadx11/cadx11free.asp
http://justcad.com/
http://www.pythoncad.org/download.html
http://www.amabilis.com/products.htm#item1
http://peterhoward42.blogspot.com/2008/07/tigercad.html



free/cheap
http://www.cadlogic.com/products/draftitarchitectural/Default.aspx
http://www.a9tech.com/
http://ribbonsoft.com/
http://www.progesoft.us/index.pl?iid=4206&isa=Category
http://www.caligari.com/
http://www.tflex.com/student/
http://www.intellicad.org/
http://www.freecad.com/CAD_Programs_-_Windows/index.asp?page=1
http://store.autodesk.com/store?SiteID=adsk&Locale=en_US&Action=DisplayProductDetailsPage&productID=188114300&pgm=12938000&ThemeID=1293100&Currency=USD&resid=43kTawoBAlYAAB9JQXQAAAAH&rests=1284263465712

Sep 12, 10 12:00 am  · 
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Distant Unicorn

Woah, what's stopping autodesk from implementing sketchup interfacing with 3dsmax/maya/revit?

KAHHHHNNNNNNNNNNNN!

Sep 12, 10 12:12 am  · 
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jmanganelli

forgot a freebie by a major company --- dassault systemes:

http://www.3ds.com/products/draftsight/#vid1

2d AutoCAD LT -esque application

with dassault systemes and siemens giving away 2d cad for free, as well as imsi, and archicad starter edition and vectorworks coming in between 1100 and 2000, it makes you wonder why people will pay around 1500 now just for autodesk autocad lt and almost 4000 for autocad

Sep 12, 10 1:04 am  · 
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Rusty!

Thanks for a great list jmanganelll. Even if one is to remove all autodesk programs, it's still a good list!

Sep 12, 10 6:18 am  · 
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jmanganelli

my pleasure --- like i said, it makes you wonder --- siemens and dassault and sidefx and imsi are very impressive companies with very impressive products --- and they give away some damn good tools for free (as does autodesk)

in particular, i'm really impressed with siemens' and dassault's free 2-d cad drafting app's

but you know, honestly, architects do not do the homework and blindly accepting trends --- that is how autodesk gets away with it

but even beyond blind acceptance of autodesk products as required, there are other examples as well --- if you've ever used rhino+grasshopper for algorithmic design and think this is a methodological break-through (which it is for us), you have only to look at sidefx's houdini that has been doing it this way for about 15-20 years to realize we are late to the party and that any procedural capacity max or maya or grasshopper offer pales in comparison to what houdini will do and has been doing for a long time --- then if you look around some more and realize that this same capacity is what makes softimage so useful and cinema 4d and virtools as well, you realize that we may be the only designers for whom this approach is new and novel

autodesk makes good software, but it is more expensive than any other in each respective class and is arguably never the performance leader in the class and comes with the worse customer service (imo) (revit vs archicad, inventor vs solidworks, etc) --- and even when it buys the performance leader in the class, as when it bought maya or softimage, within a few years the software trends toward being less well-regarded, with diminishing performance and being more bloated, even if its distribution does increase, as is the sadly the case with maya and now softimage

an interesting reference: http://www.cgenie.com/articles/1158-cgenies-big-cg-survey-is-now-open-have-your-say.html

Sep 12, 10 10:25 am  · 
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Rusty!
"blind acceptance of autodesk products"

There's more to it. Autodesk holds a monopoly on seamless integration on projects that utilize multiple design/engineering firms and consultants. Everyone is sending each other dwg drawings, and here you are freecading your way into incompatibility. Autodesk knows this and prices their products accordingly.

In the world of word processors microsoft's .doc file format has been the industry standard for years. Recently a new format has been developed called Open Document Format (.odf) promising cross compatibility. Dozens of software suits can now open those files and render them accurately. It's an open-source file format, so governments across Europe have been slowly incorporating it as a standard means of communication.

Imagine if there was an equivalent format in CAD BIM world? Applications would have to fight each other on price and ease of use instead of trying to lock you into using a specific platform. I know it will never happen though...

Sep 12, 10 6:23 pm  · 
1  · 
Rusty!
if you've ever used rhino+grasshopper for algorithmic design and think this is a methodological break-through (which it is for us)

I still have no idea what those things do. I feel old. It can make smooth modeling curves, which is fun I guess. Any use for it past schematic design?

Sep 12, 10 6:31 pm  · 
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MixmasterFestus

Re: Steelstuds; there is the Green Building XML, which looks like sort of an attempt to create an open database format for buildings. However, it sort of seems to be in the early stages (no v1 yet, they're still on like .4 or something). Interestingly, Autodesk is one of the forces behind this. Behold: http://www.gbxml.org/

Supposedly, programs such as DoE 2 and Ecotect maybe (although now it's an Autodesk product) can use it.

However, this doesn't help too much with the fact that the stuff leading up to the creation of such an XML database of your building is still pretty proprietary, in general. .dwg is the one that probably makes me the most angry, although most formats are pretty closed for the most part. IIRC, you can actually convert Rhino files into human-readable (and manipulable!) information, not that this helps with fast industry file exchange.

The use of algorithmic design (or analysis) is as useful as you'd like to make it! I remember reading somewhere that a good rule of thumb (in programming or server administration) is that if you have to do some complicated (and repetitive, or at least reducible to simple algorithms) task more than three times, it is usually more effective to write a script instead. At the very least, things like this are made easier.

Sep 12, 10 7:08 pm  · 
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Distant Unicorn

All BIM is an SQL-like ( database referenced to component ID.

SketchUp does that.

However, revit preforms relationships detering the user from writing their own custom queries. I do not remember very much SQL... but all revit does is this:

Select COMPONENT
FROM NAME = LIGHT
AND where WATTAGE >60
HEAT OUTPUT <90

Except you don't really see those queries and they are far more complicated than that.

If that's BIM main goal is to count nuts, bolts, frames, detect collisions and let you run rudimentary usage statistics... well, you only need a notepad and a calculator for that. Given that amount of snark, I would gladly use the easy way out because I hate manual work.

Sep 12, 10 7:16 pm  · 
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jmanganelli

with respect to the rhino+grasshopper stuff, though it is often referenced in relation to fancy blob architecture, it can be quite useful for pedestrian/technical purposes --- algorithms that relate to height and setback requirements, percent glazing requirements, etc, so that as you design, you are getting a quick, rough sense of what the implications of these factors are on your form

even technical detailing --- recently, i used grasshopper to design a measuring device for lab testing --- it is a big arch on a pivot with mounting points at set intervals to precisely control sensor placement

i used grasshopper to "sketch out" the structure and model the relationships between its features. then i met with the engineer who wanted to look at two or three other options for the arch radius as well as a few different options for number and spacing of mounting points and how they would be positioned in relation to a model of what was to be measured. since the meta-model was already constructed, looking at his proposed alternatives was as simple as going in and changing just 2 or 3 parameters, just while we were sitting there reviewing the concept. we picked one, baked it, prepped it and sent it to the CNC equipment for fab.

having said that, from watching the revit kid's revit tutorials, it seems the parametric functionality in revit is very robust, way more than just the relationships between self-healing walls, and door and window constraints. so to minimize the number of app's learned, that is probably a very fair place to start --- but the point is, others in the design community have been doing this for a long time --- The idea is that using procedurals and scripting is really about data management, manipulation and operationalization ---- which is best exemplified by derivative's ToughDesigner, a spin-off of Houdini. It is all about manipulating data and signals to produced designed effects.

Sep 12, 10 7:41 pm  · 
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Rusty!

@mixmaster: Open Green Building XLM looks very promising. Although inclusion of term 'green' building' makes me cringe a bit. It's kind of like calling a computer 'multimedia'. I hope that the standard being developed isn't as shortsighted as its name. List of participating products is impressive (but could be better). Also, the only reference to open format is in the name. hmm I wonder if I can register my life as a non-profit too. I've not shown a profit in a long time :(

@Unicorn: You make a very valid point about all BIM being SQL like. That would make the BIM drawings nothing more than proprietary .php inquiries. I say we are couple of years away from google making a DIM web app. The only drawback is all your work will then belong to the web cloud, which will become self-aware by that point.

@jmanganelli: thanks for the quick blurb on rhino+gh abilities. I remember spending days drawing polylines in autoCAD to extract that kind of information. There is nothing more frustrating than begging the computer to give you information it already knows. I'm all for automation, Luddites be damned. Is exporting info from Rhino into an application capable of producing CD's hard to do?

Sep 12, 10 8:52 pm  · 
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Rusty!

Anyways, thanks all for providing all kinds of useful info to this thread. I feel a bit more informed about the topic. Autodesk shenanigans already forgotten. Yay!

Sep 12, 10 8:54 pm  · 
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jmanganelli

no, it is easy to get rhino geometry into other applications, as rhino writes most other applications very cleanly

i've converted files to .dwg, .dxf, .obj, .lwo, .ai, .3ds, .stp without incident and opened (or given to others to open) in autocad, revit, inventor, 3dsmax, illustrator, solidworks, modo, sketchup, and an ESKO art program, MultiCut

rhino plays very well with others

Sep 12, 10 9:58 pm  · 
1  · 
Anyone is welcome to copy your designs as they see fit.

steelstuds, this is completely not true. People sue for design theft all the time, not only in architecture but in all the design realms. Copyright law is quite clear on this: once you "publish" the design in any media, the idea is legally yours. "Publish" can be show to a client, post on Archinect, submit to a competition, whatever.

In my opinion, Autocad copies should be considered property and be re-salable if the original licensee is using something else. I was excited when that 2008 case was resolved in favor of the reseller - I remember it, though I don't recall the guy's name. I'm just offering up an argument from the point of view of Autodesk, and any designer of anything, that may resonate with us as architects.

BTW, Autodesk may be jerky, but if you're labeling anyone "most evil" Monsanto is the hands down winner.

Sep 12, 10 10:47 pm  · 
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Rusty!

Yeah Donna. Monsanto is a genital wart in an already terminally ill world.

As far as architectural copyright is concerned, copying is the only tangible tool an architect has. Could you sue me if my building looked exactly like yours? What if I changed the color of facade to hot pink? What if your 'original' is mostly a derivative work? What is a building but a collection of materials and systems? Can you copyright a wall assembly? Window pattern? Means of egress?

I ask because a lot of these would have been considered 'patentable discoveries' in the tech world. Companies like Kodak are living off of royalties without having provided any innovation in decades. Imagine if your latest design involved paying out 40% of your fee towards royalties. Mies foundation gets a grand from you for 'inventing' architectural nothingness. Wright foundation gets a grand for your use of very low ceilings, etc....

It would be a complete disaster. Although, half of Vegas casinos wouldn't exist, so that's a positive. Also Gehry would own all rights to blobs, so that would be the end of that movement.

Bush Sr. passed the "The Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act of 1990". It extended copyright protection from just the drawings and specs to the realm of built work. This is in line with what you are saying, in theory at least. In practice, the document is practically worthless due to its vagueness. Architects do sue each other occasionally for copyright infringements, with embarrassing results to everyone involved. As it should be.

I always though of architecture as one of finest examples of open-source invention.

Sep 12, 10 11:46 pm  · 
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Philarch

This is a win (at least for now) for the corporations that are in the business of profitting from the constantly changing paradigm of "ownership" of digital wares, not just AutoDesk. These large corporations are so influential that they write their own rules and create their own trends (yes, cloud computing is the next big thing we have to prepare ourselves for). Super-Consumer-Protection-Man, where are you?!

Autodesk has been shifting their business model to selling subscriptions (think netflix), NOT software (think DVDs), a long time ago. The seemingly innocent 30-day trials are not simply to whet your appetites, they are evidence of what is really happening. At the point you install the 30-day trial, you HAVE the software. After the trial runs out, you still have the software, you just don't have the license and/or subscriptions, or put another way, the RIGHT to use their software for commercial use.

Of course they are trying to make a profit. They are corporations, that is what they do. So at the end of the day, I don't think their motives are really relevant. What is important, for one, is to consistantly stay critical of their actions, even if we are consuming/using their products. At the end of the day, organized or not, consumers speak with their wallets. The turning point for Autodesk will be when consumers, en-masse start looking for alternatives, not when they feel that they are morally or ethically in the wrong. And that turning point will be when architecture firms (or whatever) feel the benefit of owning Autodesk products is financially unfeasible. If that hasn't been happening yet, that may say something, even as much as we complain.

Sep 13, 10 12:36 am  · 
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Philarch

And on the note of profitability of architecture firms in relation to software:

This isn't the first time I've said this (actually I say this a lot in various forms on Archinect), but architects should not think that better software as increasing profit because we can do the projects FASTER, we have to see it as being more valuable because we can provide BETTER services in the same amount of time.

Sep 13, 10 12:47 am  · 
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snook_dude

The Head of Autodesk (woman) was on of George Bushes Business Advisors. I can't think of her name but she was big in the "Think Tank>"

Sep 13, 10 8:59 am  · 
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steelstuds, the questions you ask - building looks the same, but hot pink; uses the same wall system I invented, etc. - are the questions that judges and juries consider when a copyright infringement case comes up. The protection of the courts is in part there to dissuade someone from outright copying, as they have to ask if the risk of a lawsuit is worth it. That's why some vagueness in the law is good: if I use a typical corbel cut on a rafter tail, it's considered public domain, but if I copy exactly the custom one Charles Moore designed for his Texas house, it's infringement.

From the point of view of a client, copyright protection tends to be positive: does my client want to pay me a hefty design fee only to have their next door neighbor copy their custom design and build it without paying anything beyond construction cost? The parallel with Autodesk is this: if I'm paying my interns, paying my taxes, AND using all legitimate software, is it fair for me to have to compete with a firm that is skirting all those laws?

This is a question I posed to my ProPractice students last week. In my state, an architect can lose their license if they are found to be incompetent and/or if they are found guilty of certain crimes including larceny. None of my students had a problem with the idea of reporting an architect whose work was incompetent, meaning it would endanger the physical safety of the public, but they all grimaced uncomfortably when I asked "What about turning in someone for using illegally obtained software?" It's so endemic in our profession - and contributes, IMO, to how crappily our profession tends to perform as businesses.

To be clear: I agree that Autodesk and other vendors of software need to figure out how to be profitable in a way that doesn't involve having a monopoly. But I also believe that outright copying without innovation, of any designed thing, is stealing.

Sep 13, 10 9:51 am  · 
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Oh and snook your point was right on: forcing consumers to upgrade by refusing to support older versions is just despicable. But maybe that's similar to how the underground market of home-builder car mechanic communities has sprung up - I'll keep fixing and driving my '92 Miata until I die!

Sep 13, 10 9:54 am  · 
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outed

steelstuds - can't agree with what you're saying, simply because there's a world of difference and nuance in those examples.

first, copyrights and patents are crazy different in terms of their legal implications. patents, which (yes) many companies use to generate money from, are much harder to obtain and only apply to actual 'stuff' - physical things. you can't patent an idea, only the actual, physical embodiment of it.

copyrights are much easier to obtain. by inference, any 'original' work is protected upon actually being created. people apply for formal copyrights, though, all the time to help establish a clear chain of when/how the work is applied. lawsuits happen more over who came up with an idea first than competing ideas being too similar. copyrights also get applied to commerce more often, in terms of having products be too close to each other in the same market space. trademarks also help in this regard (which is what mcdonald's sues everyone to protect, not their copyright or to collect royalties).

to get back to the topic at hand - i've made my thoughts on autodesk pretty clear in another revit thread, but to comment on this particular case: the problem with the outcome is that for most people purchasing something of that size and having no control over it seems (and this is perception mostly) like highway robbery. i'm not interested in 'investing' in autodesk - i'm interested in having a capital good that does (as slart notes) make me more productive. however, to have that be a single user license that i can't turn around and resell if it no longer fits into what we need to do.

so, yes, as slart notes, all this points to a subscription model. so, i wouldn't feel too cheated if autodesk were only charging me the subscription fee and giving me the product upfront (what we do with speclink). if we drop the subscription, fine, shut the program off. but to charge what they do and then claim the ability to shut off access at any time (whether they do or not is another matter), just reeks of a business model doomed to fail.

i have no problem for them having them make a profit - we're all trying to do so. you can do it the evil way, though, and that's where i am with them in particular.

Sep 13, 10 10:09 am  · 
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Rusty!

@slart: "consumers speak with their wallets". I agree with your overall post, except for that part. It's a libertarian idea that's mindlessly repeated while ignoring the context and complexity of the circumstances. In this case, and architectural office has invested great amounts of time and money in order to enable its staff with proper design tools. Changing a vendor would be a daunting task. Just in staff re-training expenses alone. Autodesk knows this and uses its dominant market position to extort its customers to the point where a status quo can still be maintained.

@outed: I am well versed in differences between patents and copyrights. Even trademarks. I am also aware that all three IP concepts have been hijacked by corporations to the point of absurdity. The original, turn of the century IP laws reasonably allowed inventors and creators to profit from their work, for a limited amount of time. There is a reason why copyright is called 'Mickey Mouse Law' these days. I'm shocked to see couple of fellow architects be so passionate about copyright in architecture.

I can't even think of a truly applicable case of architectural plagiarism, that was taken to court. SOM got sued a few times recently, one for WTC building. Both silly cases at best.

Libeskind recently complained that Eisenman's Berlin project looked too much like his. Almost as if to imply that somehow he invented the unoccupiable sharp building corner. Blah. He should keep it.

@Donna: "if I'm paying my interns, paying my taxes, AND using all legitimate software, is it fair for me to have to compete with a firm that is skirting all those laws? Copyright is a civil law issue. Theft and tax fraud are criminal offenses. But if you ask major copyright holders in US, they would love to see copyright infringement become a criminal offense.

An army of lawyers is already hard at work.

Sep 13, 10 8:36 pm  · 
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So steelstuds how exactly do you make a living - do you design anything?

I'm not disagreeing with you completely, but you seem to speak from a kind of naivete about how hard it is to legitimately make money for doing something new. Remind me never to show you anything I do ;-)

I've never sued anyone, but I've been on the bad end of a contractor ripping off an idea I designed for a client and using it in a "design"-build spec home he sold. It sucks. But it came down to lawyers costing more than I could afford, when I could damage his reputation by talking about it in our circle of clients for free.

Sep 13, 10 10:14 pm  · 
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Rusty!

Donna, I haven't 'designed' anything in over a decade. I have fine tuned over a 100 projects though, while working with some very talented architects (either as a consultant or a full timer). Some of the projects I worked on were published, or are otherwise well known in the general population. I can't say I helped with the 'design' part, but I'll take a (partial) credit for the fact that none of those project are leaking, and that they'll (hopefully) look just as great 40 years from now as they did at the time of substantial completion. A lot of the projects I worked on were kind of ugly, if still somehow playful and practical, IMO. If you need specifications for your project, I can do them with both eyes closed, hands tied behind the back, etc. Yay!

So, perhaps I'm biased.

My world is filled with building materials, wall and roof assemblies, interior finishes and setting methods, specialty products, etc... The industry is not only highly competitive, it's also extremely innovative. Good ideas being copied are part of the profession. Architecture (to me) is means of assembling a product that responds to project's UNIQUE requirements, while drawing from a pool of ideas that date back decades, if not centuries. The line between assembly v. true innovation is fuzzy at best. I have cherished projects I worked on that pushed the envelope though. Being presented with a technical challenge that stumps everyone involved is always endearing.

Donna, you work in the residential part of the field. Not only am I poorly versed with that upside-down world, I would not wish that career to my worst enemy :) It just seems beyond cutthroat (although great designs do stand out as works of art).

Sep 13, 10 11:11 pm  · 
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jmanganelli

comments here are very good

one thing i'll add, in time you'll learn your boss's tendencies, strengths, weaknesses and motivations as well as what is feasible, cost-effective and what the client wants. With this knowledge you'll know when you should push an issue and when you should let it go. As things stand, it doesn't sound like you're in this position yet. So best to file this away for future reference, maybe work out the change on your own time for your own education, but accept the situation right now.

And consider yourself lucky b/c it sounds like your boss respects your opinion, is polite and professional, and handled the situation very diplomatically.

Sep 13, 10 11:30 pm  · 
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Rusty!

The only thing that offends me in architecture are poorly executed copies of superior work. Still not in breach of copyright IMO.

Otherwise, this high court decision about Autodesk licensing rights has a far more reaching effect than the world of architecture. Many (non-architecture) people are (rightfully) upset. It's interesting to see a niche application stir up so much debate in technical forums. I was just curious about the opinion of my fellow architects...

Sep 13, 10 11:31 pm  · 
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jmanganelli

never mind --- wrong thread --- carry on, nothing to see here --- move along, move along ---

Sep 13, 10 11:31 pm  · 
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Rusty!

jmanganelli, you have too many tabs open. In words of Saana (or Maki), minimize!

Sep 13, 10 11:33 pm  · 
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jmanganelli

you nailed it, way too many tabs

Sep 13, 10 11:37 pm  · 
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...none of those project are leaking, and that they'll (hopefully) look just as great 40 years from now as they did at the time of substantial completion. A lot of the projects I worked on were kind of ugly, if still somehow playful and practical, IMO.

I may be pilloried for it, but my attitude tends to be "Nothing wrong with that!" A good design isn't only "cutting edge", sometimes it's simpler than that.

You say there's innovation in the field of materials assembly - absolutely! But aren't you talking about not outright copying, but improving on the original, aka innovating? Taking someone else's science and refining/tweaking/building upon it? That's worlds of different from copying a software disc so 20 of your friends don't have to pay for it. Open source software that builds on developers' base isn't a bad idea and is impossible to fight, anyway.

So perhaps my argument that there is a similarity between architectural design and software design was mistaken. I definitely prefer to traffic in the world of materials.

Aside: I have a little familiarity with the world of pharmaceuticals --- not in THAT way, I mean I know a lot of people who work for Eli Lilly! Now I'm no big fan of the hard-push advertising policies of drug companies, but I feel the amount of time given to them to research, develop, then test a new drug before their copyright goes away is criminally small. It pushes the profit above all else because they simply can't let the profit window close. And we're talking millions upon millions of dollars in risk for a compound that may save lives or may end up in the toilet.

I guess I'm also a sucker for "doing the right thing" - I've never downloaded free music, and I feel guilty when I occasionally buy a storebrand knock-off of a cosmetic. I accidentally got two boxes of cookies at Trader Joes last week when my son carried one out of the store - and trust me, I'm going to make them ring the box up twice next week!

Sep 14, 10 12:24 am  · 
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jmanganelli

Seems y'all are talking about two issues, and rightfully so. The first is where intellectual property rights may be headed. The second is where they are. Autodesk may have won based upon current legal precedence. However, it seems very likely this will all change, though no one is very clear on how just yet. But if the music & entertainment industries are any guide, trying to stem the tide of how people make and consume content is not a winning strategy. Business must adapt.

With respect to increasing rates of innovation, the degree of collaboration and the growing necessity for legitimate, thorough validation for any and all new/innovated technologies, intellectual properties rights are due for a massive redefinition.

An interesting indicator of where this may go may be the systemic adjustments resulting from the National Science Foundation's decision to require plans for how to share data as part of grant proposals. This is a new requirement this year. It addresses the fact that many researchers like to work in silos to protect their professional turf, often to the detriment of the research.

If sharing data, technique, results is essential, if collaboration is essential, if incremental massively inter-disciplinary and thoroughly validated work is becoming essential --- that is, if these strategies are in the best interest of society given the speed with which we change society --- it will eventually have an effect on architect's intellectual property rights...and much sooner than that on software developers' rights. Perhaps what we do and not what we own will be our source of wealth b/c the value of what we own is not stable enough to serve as a basis for security. In such a model, Autodesk may be compensated for the act of creating a software and perhaps even given a first right to profit from distribution, but the value of actually owning it may be too unstable to be worthwhile.

Sep 14, 10 12:57 am  · 
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