[LINK] Open Source PC Design

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Mon Jun 2 11:12:20 AEST 2008

Craig Sanders wrote:
> On Sun, Jun 01, 2008 at 04:21:10PM +1000, Richard Chirgwin wrote:
>> Craig, what I'm saying is that for houses, the maths, the specifications 
>> (eg "how much load will a 100mm x 100mm hardwood beam support if it's 
>> supported by bearers at 450 mm spacing?) - the source code, if you will 
>> - are public documents. The engineering of buildings (especially for 
>> larger projects) is "open source" to that extent. Eg: [....]
> yes, of course.  that's all part of it.  you're saying that as if i'm in
> some way disputing that these things are open source.  i'm not.
No, I'm not. I'm asking (original Stephen L) "what is there about the 
"source code" of a house that isn't open source?", because if the base 
information is common, then there's no benefit from adding the magic 
words "open source" to housing... Now, to the specific case:
> house floor-plans, are a case in point.  One company in Australia
> (Barrett Property Group Pty Ltd, trading as Porter Davis Homes), for
> example, has recently been granted a copyright monopoly on the *idea* of
> arranging rooms in a house around a covered outdoor "alfresco" are. they
> are now the only company in australia legally allowed to design homes
> using that idea. and they have won at least two court cases defending
> their "property".
According to one of the trial records, the copyright protection covers a 
specific expression:
> The "substantial part" of the Copyright Works identified by the 
> applicants was the so-called "alfresco quadrant". This part comprised 
> the combination of the rumpus, family, kitchen and meals areas around 
> the alfresco, all under a single roof-line, but also having regard to 
> the location and relative dimensions of rooms in this part of the 
> house design.

> The applicants in this case point to the particular combination in the 
> alfresco quadrant as central to their claims. 


ie, the protection is not extended to "all houses in which living areas 
surround a central courtyard", it's a specific configuration in project 
homes. Moreover, copyright has always subsisted in architectural 
drawings and engineering drawings.

It's also important to remember that copyright is one of the frameworks 
in which open source software exists, and which helps protect open 
source software. Copyright law creates the right of attribution, used in 
open source software.

So I ask again - the question which I asked earlier in the weekend, and 
which is still unanswered in the echo-chamber - "what part of building 
engineering is proprietary information now, which therefore requires an 
open source housing movement to set it free?"

Richard Chirgwin
> now do you see where the motivation behind encouraging and developing
> an open source movement for the design of physical objects is coming
> from?  it's because if we don't then in the not too distant future it
> will be impossible to build or write or do *anything* without the
> permission of (and royalties paid to) some corporation that "owns"
> the monopoly on whatever it is that you want to do.
> it's because people are waking up to the fact that this kind of theft
> from the commons has been quietly going on for years now and we're 
> starting to get really worried about the consequences.
>> I'm not asking "in what ways is housing like software design". I'm 
>> asking (for I suppose about the third time):
>> - in what way would "open source" as borrowed from software change housing?
>> - in what way would "open source" as borrowed from software *benefit* 
>> housing?
> designs that can freely use and re-use (and build on and modify and
> improve) parts of other designs with selection guided by utility and
> fitness for purpose rather than limited by who "owns" what idea.
> there are many great ideas that can't be implemented because they are
> "owned" by some company.  in some cases, they're not even implementing
> those ideas themselves, they just own them in order to prevent anyone
> else from implementing them.  or to cash in with infringement claims
> if someone ever does implement them.
>> Moreover, most of what is sold in housing is not a proprietary black 
>> box, but a set of services in which specialised experts put the open 
>> information to use.
> actually, most of it IS sold as a proprietary black box and it's
> becoming even more so all the time. project home companies in particular
> are not satisified with having the copyright on one particular specific
> design, they are trying to lock up even the ideas expressed in those
> designs as their own private property.
Let's start with the Barrett Property case.


> craig

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