Control Control Control

In an earlier article, I tried to answer a reader’s question regarding the ownership and copyright of drawing files. I would like to make an observation on a related issue – the issue of control of a drawing file.

On this issue, after reading the comments from various people on blogs I get the feeling that many subscribe to the Open Design Alliance philosophy. The philosophy of the ODA in their own words is this: “It is users who own their design data, and it is users who should control that data.”

I have no problem with the first part. The users own their design data. To the best of my knowledge no CAD software vendor has claimed ownership of a user’s drawing file. But I wonder what does the ODA mean by “users should control the data”. They already have control over their data. Control to me means determining which people have the right to view, modify, markup, etc. their drawing files. So are they talking about controling the file format itself? Or controlling which applications can read/write their data and which cannot? Or some other soft of control?

In my opinion, the ODA has not done a good job explaining what kind of control they feel the users should have. If you know what kind of control they are talking about please enlighten me.