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  1. #1
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    Default Protecting CAD blocks?

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    I want to release some CAD blocks I've made over the years that would be extremely useful to a wide variety of people in my industry. I plan on leaving my contact information as well as company logo in each block on a layer that will not plot. My concern is people editing the blocks to remove this.

    I know I can set a block to not be explodable. I also know there are ways around this. Are there any ways to protect a CAD block so that it cannot be edited?

  2. #2
    Luminous Being tzframpton's Avatar
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    You can't protect it, without it involving paid encryption apps that do nothing but causes grievance for others.

    These blocks... were they developed in your own personal time, or during time on the clock at your employer? Releasing content that was developed under a salaried position is technically not "yours" to release, but the "company's". But on the other hand... sharing is caring. If others can benefit from them, just release them and know that you are a contributor to the AutoCAD user base. Not that I go out of my way to do it, but I always shared my stuff, unless I am contractually bound not to.
    Tannar Z. Frampton ™ | Frampton & Associates, Inc.

  3. #3
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    It's kind of an odd situation. I've developed all of these on company time, and used to be fiercely opposed to giving them away. I've been made to give them away a few times to other companies we work with. My argument was always that I took the time and effort to make them, so we shouldn't just be giving them away for free.

    I pulled a 180 on this idea because I realized since I've had to give them away before, might as well do it in such a way that benefits us from a marketing perspective. The blocks themselves are of extremely large heavylift cranes like this one. We own one of the largest fleets of these cranes in North America. Plenty of other companies do lift planning in AutoCAD, so the idea is to get our cranes in front of the right people creating these solutions, and have my contact information for the purpose of helping out with the technical details. I've been given permission to distribute these files for this purpose.

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    Since the blocks were developed on company time you basically have no rights to them under the law. It would be to your company's advantage to offer the blocks for free to anyone who might desire them as the upside is the good will that would come from doing so and the extra added benefit that it could generate business for the company that you work for thus keeping you and your coworkers gainfully employed. Thousands of companies around the world make available for free download both 2D and 3D blocks. Have you ever stopped to consider their reason for doing so?
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  5. #5
    Luminous Being tzframpton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjatho View Post
    It's kind of an odd situation. I've developed all of these on company time, and used to be fiercely opposed to giving them away. I've been made to give them away a few times to other companies we work with. My argument was always that I took the time and effort to make them, so we shouldn't just be giving them away for free.
    You may have been the one who took the time and effort to make them, but you were instructed to do so. And that time and effort of yours was generously compensated by your employer.

    Bottom line is this: unless I've missed something, you do not own the intellectual rights to these blocks. We're just giving you a word of caution is all - not trying to be pessimists. We here all agree it's great to offer your fleet's spatial information in the form of DWG is great, and it sounds like the real decision makers is absolutely okay with this (and, for good reason) so it may be worth your while to just approach management about making this a "thing". You will need to fully understand that while you may in fact be the author of this AutoCAD based content, you're not the owner of them. Most of us here are in the exact same position as you: we're designers who are employed, not the owner of the business, therefore not the rightful owner of the content in and of itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by jjatho View Post
    Plenty of other companies do lift planning in AutoCAD, so the idea is to get our cranes in front of the right people creating these solutions, and have my contact information for the purpose of helping out with the technical details. I've been given permission to distribute these files for this purpose.
    Sounds like you've been given the go-ahead to distribute them, but I'm also assuming nobody has required you to protect them either, and this is purely your own objective. I'd get this squared away with management first (just to be sure). Once they approve, having some company contact information associated within the DWG file would surely be a typical approach. But protecting a DWG file kind of defeats the purpose of distributing them. AutoCAD DWG format is "the" format in which authoring is fully capable. If you don't want people to have the file, but you do want them to have the information, then create documented vector-based PDF files and people can then convert them to DWG if they want to put in the "time and effort" themselves. We all need to understand that all information can be rewritten, recreated and duplicated if someone or some company chooses to do so - regardless of the protection or file type.

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    Tannar Z. Frampton ™ | Frampton & Associates, Inc.

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    Surely as part of the blocks you can have company logos and phones numbers etc Not much good just giving the block away by the time its 3rd hand if there is no contact info visible, 99% of user will probably not bother to edit the block to remove this type of information.

    I know of a situation were a couple of guys developed some software add ons management picked up on it and said fantastic we wil sell it and the guys got nothing so they stopped any further development.
    A man who never made mistakes never made anything

  7. #7
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    As others have said, there is no real way of protecting your blocks. Even if the layer is set to not plot, there are people and companies that, as a policy, will remove the marketing information. Also, I doubt you have come up with such amazing blocks that they fit any CAD standard out there. The people using them will have to edit them to suit their standards. Locking the blocks will only frustrate them. Having the opposite effect. They won't use them.

    Many others before you have had the same concerns about others using there work as their own. Forget about it. If you/your employer value the content that much, don't let it out. Once it is out there, you don't have a leg to stand on. Even though you feel your work is good and there seems to be a lack of it out there, there are plenty of people out there who can easily recreate it. No offense but it's what we do, draw/design things.

    I think what you need to do is find out where the demand is for your blocks and market those sectors so that they source the blocks from you via a website, but you still won't be able to prevent them from being passed around and edited.
    Drafting is a breeze.

  8. #8
    Super Member halam's Avatar
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    One way i see to protect 3D stuff is via navisworks.
    You can view and use .nwc 'like blocks' but they are rock solid / not edititible..
    For 2D stuff you either link DWF or PDF


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