(OT) firmware, manual, schematics, etc re copyright comments

From: Paul Berger <sanepsycho_at_globaldialog.com>
Date: Sun Jan 19 17:41:01 2003

First thing a discussion copyright probably does belong on this list
since people are discussing making copies of manuals, scematics, eproms,
paper tapes, etc to preserve and keep old systems running and all these
fall under copyright and reproducing them is a infringe of copyright
without the author's consent even if it is done for non-commercial
purposes under current US law.

... now my rant ...

Companies generally are not interested in maintaining their old
copyrights and preserving them, in the vast majority of cases old works
are is only maintained by dedicated people like hobbyists, scholars or
librarians. This is why "hard copyrights" like we have with the DMCA
with encryption and digital restrictions entering firmware and severe
criminal or civil penalties for *any* violation, without the character
of the infringement even being considered.

This is very wrong.

Before 1973 the owners of a copyright had to actively acquire it by
first claiming copyright on the work and second by registering their
copyright to keep it active after the initial 28 years. Before the "No
Electronic Theft Act" in 1996(7?) it was not considered infringement to
reproduce works as long as the work was not being actively maintained
i.e. publicly available and the reproduction was not done for profit.
So if I had a copy of a manual or schematic for an old piece of
equipment I was free to make a copy and give it to you as long as I did
not profit directly from the act.

There is no logical reason that many technically infringing uses of
abandoned copyrights should be perfectly legal as long as it is not for
profit. If your argument to refute this is that the author has a right
control of the work, I would say that this right is not absolute since
it is legal for me to make a dub of a CD for my car, to sing happy
birthday (still copyrighted) at a birthday party in my home, and to
record TV off the air without having to pay royalties to anyone. I see
it as once an author makes a works publicly available, additional
non-commercial uses should fall into fair use if the author does not
continue making the work available to the public to prevent useful works
from disappearing.

My point is that anybody trying to maintain/restore an old piece of
equipment is almost certainly violating copyrights if they have had to
rely on information reproduced by anybody other than the copyright
holder. Thus under US law, as it stands, you are as guilty as anybody
who has use NAPSTER, KAZA, etc to download music, and if you want to
continue your hobby you should write your representative to get the laws
changed to put some reasonable exclusions to infringement.

OK, I have that off my chest for now.

Received on Sun Jan 19 2003 - 17:41:01 GMT

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