"Intellectual property rights" are why UK government won't say which housing failed fire safety test


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/07/28/lord-porter.html


I would be calling for people’s heads if i were a UK resident at one of these towers that were clad in flammable materials. How can the Tories sit back and not address this imminent danger to people’s lives? Would it take a second tower to burn for real action to be taken?

Seems this is more politics as usual and these guys are just hiding behind red tape.


I wonder how hard it would be for someone who is handy to remove the cladding. Maybe tower residents should get some tools together and take matters into their own hands.


Not easy because you need scaffolding.

But you could easily use a hole saw to take a sample of the cladding and set it on fire as a test.

Probably get an ASBO for vandalism, but it would be worth it.


“I mayn’t answer thine question, for a witch has put a curse on all who utter those words and we would be set upon by demons.”

Yeah, that happened to me once.


You may need scaff to take it down “properly.” I’m not talking about proper. I’m talking about cut that shit off and drop it to the ground. Sure there’s additional safety concerns there, yes it’s absolutely vandalism, but if I was living in one of those towers in question and the powers that be won’t tell me if it’s at risk of a horrific fire then I think it would be prudent to explore alternative paths to risk mitigation.

Sometimes you gotta stop saying “Mother may I?” and get on with the business of staying alive.


I often roll my eyes at some of Cory’s takes on IP law. But not this time. This time, he has it perfectly correct - this has fuck-all to do with IP law, and lots to do with ass-covering bullshit.


They would need manlifts. And safety training.

I understand why the results are IP, because I write reports about things like this all the time.

On the one hand, I don’t sign a thing until the clients checks have cleared, but I will share draft results (without my signature) for the cost of retainer. Often I work for lawyers, so that my data isn’t even owned by the person who is really paying for it, in case it’s very bad news.

Liability is a tough thing, but so is hiding very large problems for very long. Where I live and work there are legal protections for me if I see something that is a clear public safety hazard and report on it and in so doing get my client in trouble.

In this case I suspect the stuff is everywhere, and they are trying and failing to avoid a panic (and also a situation where they admit they’ve sided buildings with napalm, which would be an enormous cost, as well as a real invitation to pyromaniacs across the kingdom).


I’m sure liability must be part of it, but there are definitely ways to share information (as you mentioned). So them throwing their hands up in the air and saying they can’t do anything because IP is a non-defensible strategy to take. The cost of fixing the problem must be enormous, and considering they’ve de-regulated the safety for buildings it means that the cost is likely on the property owners… so the Tories are trying to appease them by stonewalling requests. Maybe i’m wrong but that’s my impression of the situation.


In this case it’s muddy because as I understand it the Councils own the buildings making this one part of govt watching another and that’s always a mess.

IP is a defensible reason to not release the data to the public, but it can’t be used by the government as I understand it to obscure it from the rest of the gov’t. They may have to do something, but they don’t have to say exactly why - but they know full well already if there is a problem or not. They have the reports, and if they do something it’s because of that currently secret data. If they start stripping the paneling, then you know the findings.


If only someone could do something about that House of Land Lords.


I suspect the people in the blocks haven’t even been told which of them are in more danger, otherwise reporters could figure it out by talking to a few residents of each tower. So, consider how peeved you’d be if you didn’t even know if you were in one of the failing towers.


The results, i.e. the report(s) written are intellectual property of the person(s) who wrote/compiled it. The contracts should include clauses about what the customer can and can’t do with it, especially regarding publishing or reselling it.
But the argument used here isn’t about the report(s) as such, but “intellectual property rights on the installation of cladding systems”, and that’s just bollocks. This is information already in the public domain; and unless anybody uses it to manufacture their own cladding system, there is no violation of IP.

As to tearing down cladding from a 20+ storey tower block - leave that to the professionals. The scaffolding alone for something this high is not as easy as it looks.

Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done PDQ, and if there is any doubt about the fire safety, residents should have been relocated already.
The safety of any building is first of all the responsibility of the owner/operator. If they neglect it, they have to bear the cost.

A couple of days after the Grenfell fire, our local council temporarily condemned a 11 storey block and relocated the residents. They had been aware of a similar problem with cladding for some time, but the building had changed hands a couple of times between several real estate companies lately and the persons responsible were somewhat elusive. After Grenfell they pulled the emergency brake, so to speak, and got things moving, overriding the owners. Lo and behold, after the evacuation was in the media, the current owners contacted the council. By now the cladding is down and the residents moved back in earlier this week.
The council probably has a lengthy legal dispute with the owners ahead of it - but I’d take that any day over having to have a chat with a public prosecutor about why people died in a fire.


I would be very incensed. But hell, i don’t even live in the UK and thinking about the mishandling of the situation over there really upsets me. Especially after how awful what happened to the one tower that burned down. It’s indefensible to stall, delay, obfuscate what is going on and the government has to take decisive action, if i lived at one of those towers and i knew 100% it was being fixed i would be behind it.


Maybe they have secret information about substandard materials? I’m on the wrong side of the atlantic to really know who is liable to who for what, thank you for the clarification on the source of the claim!


And publicize that shit. Call out as many newspapers as possible to witness as you take a sample and set it on fire. Tweet and retweet that too.


The “Late Stage Capitalism” New Yorker cartoon caption would be appropriate here.


*Google searched and the first one i found was from BB. I consider that a win



Nothing better than a society controlled by business interests.