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Architects must exploit protection of copyright


I agree with your editorial that the commitment to shared knowledge saves everyone time and money (AJ 27.2.03), but your perspective that this commitment has an instant event horizon is the space-time distortion of the philanthropist and an immediate encouragement to the counterfeiter. The objective is, and always has been, for architects to do business using their Intellectual Property Rights.

Would Microsoft have become powerful if it did not exploit copyright? Where will architects end up if they do not trade on their particular expertise? The patenting system is specifically designed to put new knowledge into the public domain - but only after proprietary rights are time-elapsed (20 years). Copyright is similarly time-expired, 70 years after the death of the author.

As a member of Product Innovation in Architecture, I am actively trying to discourage giving away architectural expertise rather than trading in it.

Mark van Hoorebeek's article draws attention to a peculiarity of the US patenting system, where ideas can be patented: the European system does not allow such extravagance. It does allow you to stake a claim to Intellectual Property Rights, and even philanthropists such as the inventor of Linux eventually see the error of instantly putting everyone in the public domain before establishing proprietorial rights. By all means feel flattered by imitation, but do not be deceived by governments, powerful institutions or indeed anyone who would like your skills in the public domain as quickly as possible.

Architecture, as the most social of arts, is, after all, a public service, if you are happy to be paid badly for putting your services in the public domain.

Barrie Moore, AI Designs Ltd London SW9

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