The Problem with Free

Blog Post created by ashleysmith Employee on Apr 13, 2016

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d1be0c87970c-320wi.jpgWhy copyright protection is so important for standards developers

Standards development organizations like NFPA are in the midst of a fight that impacts the very core of our mission, NFPA President Jim Pauley wrote in his latest column.

Some opponents say the standards system should be free, while others say they would dismantle the private sector standards system altogether in favor of a government system for codes and standards.


However, this is not realistic. The federal Office of Management and Budget [OMB] has maintained a strong preference for voluntary consensus standards, rather than government-created standards. Many other government entities have said they couldn’t replace what the private sector standards system produces.


Without NFPA codes, our world would be a very different – and more dangerous – place. Without the National Electrical Code®, electrical installations would be less safe, more expensive, and vastly different from one area of the country to the next. Without the enforcement of NFPA 1, Fire Code, fires would occur more often, resulting in more injuries and deaths.


Developing these codes and standards that improve safety around the world requires time, money, infrastructure and production, and this work is sustained by what we charge for our output. It couldn’t happen otherwise.


It's crucial that people who value and rely on the results of our private sector standards respect the copyright laws. Before you copy a copyrighted standard to give to someone for free, or before you hit send on an email that attaches an electronic version of a copyrighted standard, keep in mind that you're playing into the hands of those who casually say, "everything should be free."


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