Importance of Copyright Protection

For more than a century, voluntary codes and standards created by nonprofit organizations such as the International Code Council have protected public health, safety and security, constituted a backbone of commerce, provided the building blocks for innovation, and served as the basis for quality and interoperability.

The International Codes, model building codes used in the U.S. and throughout the world, are developed by the Code Council in conjunction with government and private entities. This system of code development provides the highest level of safety in the world.

Copyright protection is critical to the continuation of this private sector led system. The Code Council and other standards developing organizations support their codes and standards development activities through revenues derived from the publication, sale and licensing of standards – primarily to the regulated industries that use them – made possible by the protection of the copyright laws.

Without copyright protection for codes and standards, resource-limited government agencies would have to undertake the difficult and expensive task of replicating the current system. This system operates with openness, transparency and balance, and has been highly effective in protecting public health and safety.

International Code Council v. UpCodes

The International Code Council has asked a federal court to stop UpCodes, a for-profit company, from violating the Code Council’s copyright by illegally selling access to the building codes ICC has developed.

The lawsuit was filed to prevent UpCodes from attempting to make a profit for its owners and investors by taking – without paying for – building codes that the Code Council created and updates at great expense. These codes are essential to promoting safety and consistency across the U.S. and the international jurisdictions that adopt them, thereby saving lives, time and money.

Public safety remains at the core of our nonprofit mission. The Code Council is the official source for our codes. As the developer of the model codes, viewers are assured that they have access to the latest, most accurate version of the codes through our free online building codes site. For those that need premium access, we have an enhanced online version designed for industry participants.

The Code Council is proud to work with a number of innovative third parties that provide access to our codes and standards. Unfortunately, UpCodes has never sought such a license, deciding instead to take our codes to develop a for-profit business and putting our whole system of building safety in jeopardy.

In Episode 27 of our ICC Pulse Podcast, Executive Vice President and Director of New Products Mark Johnson talks to Glenn Matthewson for his member perspective on copyright issues and the International Codes.

In Episode 23 of the Code Council's Pulse Podcast, Executive Vice President and Director of Business Development Mark Johnson interviews Code Council General Counsel Mel Oncu about the International Codes and copyright issues.

ICC Evaluation Service, LLC v. International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, Inc. et al.

On January 13, 2016, ICC Evaluation Service, LLC (ICC-ES), a subsidiary of the International Code Council, filed a lawsuit against International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for copyright infringement of the Code Council’s proprietary evaluation reports and acceptance criteria.

ICC-ES filed this lawsuit to protect its copyrighted materials and to ensure the integrity of rigorous processes central to its evaluation reports and acceptance criteria, which thousands of designers, manufacturers, and building safety and fire prevention professionals rely on to promote the highest standards of construction safety across the United States.

To learn more about the IAPMO lawsuit, visit the links below.

Additional Information:

International Code Council Media Contact:

Donna Campbell, Director of Communications
Cell: (734) 660-6518