Is this Ebay auction breaking any copyright?



#77

Please have a look at auction item #330343462507.

Someone is selling the HP15C manual in PDF format with a buy it now price.

I am really not sure where the copyright of these old manuals lies. Presumably HP still own it and have given permission for this museum site to make them available. So where does that leave people selling individual copies on Ebay?

Policing Ebay is not my style but if someone is going to pay money for a PDF manual copy, I'd rather they pay it here than on Ebay!

Mark


#78

This has been discussed before and I remember the consensus being that it is illegal to sell PDF copies of the manual (except for the agreement worked out specifically between Dave and HP for the museum).


#79

I wonder if enough members of this forum (me included) who sent 'questions' to this seller, had an effect? --- JeffK


#80

There may be different rules that apply to copyright.
HP can change it and say that since this is old and obsoleted material that the copyright no longer apply.


#81

Any lawyer on this site who can clarify things?

Namir


#82

What about the manuals which are available for download at HP. Can you include them on a CD when you sell a calculator?

Example: you have an HP50 with an english manual and include a german one on CD, so that the buyer does not need to download it. Is that legal?


#83

Selling electronic manuals (in any media) for recent calculator models IS DEFINITELY ILLEGAL. The copyright and ownership belongs to HP. They can sell it, give it away, or whatever. It's their product and they can do what they see fit. No one else can sell HP manuals without their permission.

Namir


#84

Quote:
Selling electronic manuals (in any media) for recent calculator models IS DEFINITELY ILLEGAL. The copyright and ownership belongs to HP. They can sell it, give it away, or whatever. It's their product and they can do what they see fit. No one else can sell HP manuals without their permission.

If it's clear you are not selling the actual material, but are selling the *service* of putting publicly downloadable information on a CD, then it's not illegal.

That's how the Shareware industry used to work in the days before the Internet, and still works in some niche areas. e.g. many companies sell CD's full of service manuals or datasheets, it's quite common.

There are laws about modifying the document though.

Dave.


#85

Quote:
If it's clear you are not selling the actual material, but are selling the *service* of putting publicly downloadable information on a CD, then it's not illegal.
That's no distinction; if you accept money, you are selling the materials.

Are you a lawyer? Why do I think HP would have a problem with someone taking their products and selling them to other people; in other words, profiting for doing no real work? I think HP lawyers would be all over that, and rightfully so.


#86

Quote:
That's no distinction; if you accept money, you are selling the materials.

Are you a lawyer? Why do I think HP would have a problem with someone taking their products and selling them to other people; in other words, profiting for doing no real work? I think HP lawyers would be all over that, and rightfully so.


There is a big distinction between selling material like a scanned hard copy manual for example, and including a CD of an exact publicly available PDF file that HP have on their website as part of an ebay auction for that product.

No I am not a lawyer, but there are plenty of examples of people having done this *legally* (past and present) e.g. shareware programs, Linux distributions, datasheet archives etc.

Although much less common these days though with the widespread adoption of broadband Internet.

HP couldn't give a rats if you give someone an exact copy of a PDF manual they already have on their website. This is what Partick was asking.

Dave.


Edited: 11 July 2009, 9:59 p.m.


#87

Quote:
There is a big distinction between selling material like a scanned hard copy manual for example, and including a CD of an exact publicly available PDF file that HP have on their website as part of an ebay auction for that product.

That's not my understanding of copyright law, Dave. Can you point to a specific provision of either legislation (e.g. the Copyright Act, in Australia) or case law, that makes this distinction? In both cases, you are breaching the copyright of the original author, publisher or their assignee. HP, as owner of the copyright is free to make material available on their website - or withdraw it, as they see fit. Anyone else is not.

Quote:
No I am not a lawyer, but there are plenty of examples of people having done this *legally* (past and present) e.g. shareware programs, Linux distributions, datasheet archives etc.

Although much less common these days though with the widespread adoption of broadband Internet.

Note that, with the exception of public domain software, the above is subject to copyright - which gives the copyright owner the ability to enforce a licence controlling redistribution (or even requiring redistribution, as in the case of the GPL). You can't just unilaterally make up your own rules or ignore copyright.

Quote:
HP couldn't give a rats if you give someone an exact copy of a PDF manual they already have on their website. This is what Partick was asking.

That's probably true - however one should beware of a requirement in law for a copyright holder to defend their rights or see them lapse. In other words, HP may be effectively forced to pursue their rights in the face of an egregious violation. So it's best to keep one's head down.

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]

#88

I concur with Namir's advice above: anyone considering distributing or selling HPs copyrighted materials should consult an attorney prior to doing that.

By the way, I can find no HP official website that offers downloads of the 15c manual.


#89

Quote:
I concur with Namir's advice above: anyone considering distributing or selling HPs copyrighted materials should consult an attorney prior to doing that.

Not for 1-off ebay auction of a PDF that Hp have already publicly released, that's just insane.

Remember what we are talking about here.

From HP's own 50G PDF manual you can download:

"Reproduction, adaptation, or translation of this manual is prohibited without prior written permission of Hewlett-Packard Company, except as allowed under the copyright laws."

The only thing being violated there is the "reproduction" part, and oops, I just did that when I downloaded the PDF to my computer, I made a copy of it.

Be realistic guys. Including an exact copy of a publicly downloadable PDF to someone on disk on a 1-off basis as a courtesy is so far from copyright infringement it's laughable.

Dave.


#90

Quote:
Be realistic guys. Including an exact copy of a publicly downloadable PDF to someone on disk on a 1-off basis as a courtesy is so far from copyright infringement it's laughable.

Unfortunately, that's not what the law says. While I'm not a copyright lawyer, I've hired them a few times over a long career as a writer, etc. and I do have a copy of the relevant Act on my bookshelf. It's an infringement of HP's rights, pure and simple. In Australia, it's a breach of S.36 of the Copyright Act, 1968. It's probably also a breach of S.132AD, since the copy may well be made with the intention of "obtaining a commercial advantage or profit". Notice that this is a criminal offence.

You might think it laughable, but court proceedings often end in tears.

I wouldn't redistribute HP's manuals without a licence to do so, in writing (which I understand Dave Hicks has for the Museum, for example) and I certainly couldn't advise anyone else to do so.

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]


#91

Les, you're wasting your time with this idiot. He thinks the law doesn't apply to him. The prisons are full of such people.


#92

Oh, Dave's a bright lad, Don - I think he's just been misinformed and when he looks into it, he'll understand. My reason for posting is for the lurkers - I'd hate anyone to get the wrong idea and wind up in trouble.

Incidentally, although I've made reference to Australian law - that's my primary concern, since that's where I live, as does Dave - it's broadly similar around the world, since most countries are signatories to the Berne Convention on copyright. And actually, Australia's law is partially harmonised with that of the US, due to the terms of the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement.

Finally, there's some interesting (Australia-specific, but useful background) reading at http://www.copyright.org.au/g056.pdf. Note specifically the section, "When might you infringe copyright?" as well as "Can I copy material from the internet for my clients?".

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]


#93

IANL

As far as I know, criminal copyright is rarely enforced against individual, small-scale violations in the US. In fact, apart from the RIAA and the peer-to-peer debacles, I'm unaware of any such actions. (Since IANL, I could be badly misinformed on this. But I am a member of the EFF, and they tend to make a big deal out of that kind of thing - and tell their members about it.) Civil actions for copyright violations are a lot more common. But in that context, you have to show a tort. How exactly is HP harmed in this instance? To what monetary extent?

As to the letter of the law, it may be that this use violates statutes. But as a practical matter, to expect actual consequences from that in a single instance of the reproduction of a manual for a machine that HP no longer sells - that is over the top in my non-lawyerly opinion.

Regards,
Howard


#94

As a practical matter, I agree with you, Howard. I wouldn't expect HP to care one way or another. However, nor can I say "Go ahead and copy it", and especially I can't say "Go ahead - it's legal to copy it". It isn't. The "debacles" you allude to are often the result of people not understanding that.

Incidentally, in Australia there have been several criminal convictions over illegal music file-sharing.

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]

#95

Quote:
Les, you're wasting your time with this idiot. He thinks the law doesn't apply to him. The prisons are full of such people.

Wow, it didn't take any time at all for you to resort to name calling, a very sad reflection on your character Don, really.

Take a few deep breaths fella's, and keep in context Patrick's original question.

The law is far from "pure and simple" as Les put it, there are limitless defences and precedences etc. Lawyers could spend countless dollars and years on something as "trivial" as this issue, or some law student could do their thesis on it. Who cares?

There are many innocent things we do in our everyday lives that could be technically "illegal" in some way shape or form if it actually came down to that, getting up tight and worried about them is just silly. If Patrick wants to innocently give someone a CD with a publicly downloadable PDF file on it then he can do that, no one is going to care.

Dave.


#96

Quote:
Take a few deep breaths fella's, and keep in context Patrick's original question.

Patrick's original question is:
Quote:
Is that legal?

The answer is: No, it is not (though the practical consequence of this is another matter).

I don't know why you have stated in this thread - both explicitly ("I would be absolutely amazed if that is illegal in any way") and implicitly - that it is, or that there are ways around it ("not selling the actual material, but are selling the *service* ..."). I'm just worried that someone acting on your advice could end up in trouble.

The law is quite clear on this.

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]


#97

Quote:
The answer is: No, it is not (though the practical consequence of this is another matter).

Given that you are not a lawyer who specialises in copyright law, you have absolutely no basis for claiming it is clear cut illegal.
There are many and varied circumstances in any case like this, not the least of which you actually own the calculator and manual you are selling as used goods, likely across country boundries. That complicates and muddles things, a lot.

Quote:
I don't know why you have stated in this thread - both explicitly ("I would be absolutely amazed if that is illegal in any way") and implicitly - that it is, or that there are ways around it ("not selling the actual material, but are selling the *service* ..."). I'm just worried that someone acting on your advice could end up in trouble.

The law is quite clear on this.


The complications of law are never clear cut, that's why many law suits take years. That's why you can get professional legal advice on something and still find yourself on the wrong side of a ruling etc etc etc

I mentioned the "service" part because a LOT of people do that kind of thing, such as in examples I mentioned, and there are plenty more similar examples.

I'm not encouraging "breaking the law" and making a profit out of it, I'm just helping make Partick feel at ease that it's ok for a 1-off private 2nd hand ebay sale. No one will care. It's not the big deal people are making it out to be, not even close. The technicalities of it being "illegal" will always be moot unless it actually went to court and got ruled on. And really, who cares?

Have fun debating the legal technicalities all you like, if I want to do that I'll join a legal newsgroup, thanks.

Dave.


#98

Quote:
Given that you are not a lawyer who specialises in copyright law, you have absolutely no basis for claiming it is clear cut illegal.

Go and read the Copyright Act or the information sheet I linked to, Dave. Those are the basis.
Quote:
There are many and varied circumstances in any case like this, not the least of which you actually own the calculator and manual you are selling as used goods

You do not have the rights to reproduce a downloaded PDF, which is the case under discussion. Sell an original, by all means - copyright has nothing to do with this. Go and re-read the copyright statement in the manual, then read the Copyright Act or the information sheet I linked to, Dave.
Quote:
The technicalities of it being "illegal" will always be moot unless it actually went to court and got ruled on. And really, who cares?

The people who you told that it was legal (and on what basis?). At least look at the Copyright Act, Dave. At least S.31, on what copyright is.

In any case, I'm sure everyone else reading this has got the point by now. Sheesh . . .

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]


#99

Quote:

The people who you told that it was legal (and on what basis?).


Ok, I should have phrased that less succinctly.

Quote:
At least look at the Copyright Act, Dave. At least S.31, on what copyright is.

In any case, I'm sure everyone else reading this has got the point by now. Sheesh . . .


That anyone should have to go read the copyright act for such a trivial innocent thing gets a "Sheesh" from me also!

Let's keep things simple, life's complicated enough.

Best location of the ENTER key anyone?

Dave.


Quote:
That anyone should have to go read the copyright act for such a trivial innocent thing gets a "Sheesh" from me also!

Well, it's cheaper than asking a lawyer. :) In my own case, we covered it as part of night school at Sydney Tech College. I remember we had to buy the Copyright Act but the Government Printing Office was out of stock, so one of the guys on the course, who was a printer, offered to run off some copies for us. . . .

Next time you're passing Macquarie Uni, give me a buzz (I'm not hard to track down) and I'll buy you a beer at the U Bar - if it's open (we're out of semester time right now).

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]

OK, Dave, it was wrong of me to refer to you in that way, and I apologize. But, in spite of all the comments in this thread to the contrary--from very knowledgeable people, although not lawyers--you still persist in thinking that it is OK to make copies, distribute, and even sell other people's work, and I just think that's wrong. I suspect several people on this forum have obtained copyrights on work they have done, and they expect those copyrights to be honored. I myself obtained a copyright in 1988 for an air traffic control program I developed for the Macintosh computer. This was a copyright for "the textual expression of a computer program," and I interpreted that to mean that no one else could use my code (MS compiled QuickBasic) as the basis for their own ATC simulator. Had that happened and I knew it, I undoubtedly would have taken action to enforce the copyright. So this wasn't about documentation or manuals. I just wanted to protect my work.

I think those individuals, or companies, that produce things of value have a right to ensure that no one else profits from those products. Yes, if HP makes available ON ITS WEBSITE the owner's manual for the 12c, I think they know that people will download it and use it; fair enough. But I don't think they would approve of someone trying to sell it, or even include it on a CD for an EBay auction for a real 12c they own, but they don't have the printed manual anymore.

And I agree with what some others have posted here: assuming that HP will not enforce their copyrights in the future is a risky way to live.


Quote:
OK, Dave, it was wrong of me to refer to you in that way, and I apologize. But, in spite of all the comments in this thread to the contrary--from very knowledgeable people, although not lawyers--you still persist in thinking that it is OK to make copies, distribute, and even sell other people's work, and I just think that's wrong.

Apology accepted, no worries.

I still think you are reading too much into my position on this. I do not think it's ok to sell other peoples work and profit from it. I'm simply being realistic when I talk about the distribution of a publicly available PDF document, this happens how many 10's of millions of times a day with all sorts of products?. If it meant anything at all to HP they would not have made it available for public download in the first place, they would have simply included it on a disk with the product. And in that case I would *not* be ok with re-distributing it as a "courtesy service" if you don't have the original.

Quote:
I suspect several people on this forum have obtained copyrights on work they have done, and they expect those copyrights to be honored. I myself obtained a copyright in 1988 for an air traffic control program I developed for the Macintosh computer. This was a copyright for "the textual expression of a computer program," and I interpreted that to mean that no one else could use my code (MS compiled QuickBasic) as the basis for their own ATC simulator. Had that happened and I knew it, I undoubtedly would have taken action to enforce the copyright. So this wasn't about documentation or manuals. I just wanted to protect my work.

Actually, you don't "obtain" a copyright, you automatically get it (or can assert it) as the creator of a work. At least under Australian law. I believe it's the same in most countries though.

Quote:
I think those individuals, or companies, that produce things of value have a right to ensure that no one else profits from those products.
[quote]

So do I, very enthusiastically, as the creator of many products and content over the years.

[quote]
Yes, if HP makes available ON ITS WEBSITE the owner's manual for the 12c, I think they know that people will download it and use it; fair enough. But I don't think they would approve of someone trying to sell it


Nor do I, selling direct is different from an incidental "courtesy service" as part of a 1-off eBay auction in my view.

Quote:
or even include it on a CD for an EBay auction for a real 12c they own, but they don't have the printed manual anymore.

On that point I think you are wrong. But hey, if everyone agreed on everything, forums would be boring!

In fact I'd like to think HP would actually support it, giving the user the manual so they can better make use of their fine product.
If I worked for HP and wrote that manual, that's certainly what I'd want.

Quote:
And I agree with what some others have posted here: assuming that HP will not enforce their copyrights in the future is a risky way to live.

I see absolutely zero risk in this particular trivial case.

Dave.

Edited: 12 July 2009, 6:47 p.m.

Quote:
That's no distinction; if you accept money, you are selling the materials.

Yes, but whether it is copyright violation doesn't depend on whether money changes hands, though that can affect damage awards.

Auctions like this one are common as dirt on eBay, and have been for years and years, That certainly doesn't prove the practice doesn't violate copyright laws, but it does suggest that HP may not be aggressively pursuing their copyrights in these materials. That makes sense to me when you consider that the intellectual property in the manuals is not HP's primary product. The hardware and software the manuals document are the primary products.

This community's perspective on manuals - collectible treasures as valuable as the calculators themselves - is not the common view. To most a manual is a necessary evil that helps you use a piece of hardware/software. On balance. I think HP is glad to let people learn how the publicly exposed portions of their hardware and software work, however they come by the information.

Regards,
Howard


Quote:
Auctions like this one are common as dirt on eBay, and have been for years and years, That certainly doesn't prove the practice doesn't violate copyright laws, but it does suggest that HP may not be aggressively pursuing their copyrights in these materials.

That is a different case to what Patric was asking.

He is talking about including (as a courtesy service) an exact copy of a PDF file that HP already have on their website for public download. I would be absolutely amazed if that is illegal in any way, let alone HP actually batting an eyelid or even anyone on this forum getting their knickers in knot over it.

The one you point out is scans of printed manuals that HP have not made publicly available, different case entirely. But even then, as you say, that practice has been going on for decades without HP or any other manufactures ever batting an eyelid. They simply don't care.

Dave.


I'm not a lawyer, so you'll have to settle for the opinion of a 3-time editor-in-chief. Every article on cnn.com, msnbc.com, abc.com, etc. is publicly downloadable as soon as you point your browser there. Make a copy, stick it on a CD and include it with something you sell and that's a direct violation of copyright law. Exceptions are made for use of small portions of a copyrighted document for quoting or criticism or other journalistic purposes. Small numbers of copies can be made for educational purposes in academic situations. Whether or not HP has provided the download on their site is not material to whether or not you're in violation. Just because HP hasn't pursued small fish doesn't mean it's legal. I've quoted many parts of HP's HP Journal on my history site (www.hp9825.com) and I keep a document posted by HP Labs that gave express permission to do that.


Quote:
I'm not a lawyer, so you'll have to settle for the opinion of a 3-time editor-in-chief. Every article on cnn.com, msnbc.com, abc.com, etc. is publicly downloadable as soon as you point your browser there. Make a copy, stick it on a CD and include it with something you sell and that's a direct violation of copyright law. Exceptions are made for use of small portions of a copyrighted document for quoting or criticism or other journalistic purposes. Small numbers of copies can be made for educational purposes in academic situations. Whether or not HP has provided the download on their site is not material to whether or not you're in violation.

I do wonder how Google et.al and internet archive sites get away with hoarding and redistributing all that content then, and making an indirect profit from the ads to boot!

That's gotta be worth a blog or two Steve!

Dave.


I'll put some gasoline on the fire here :-)

Read my blog post on copyrights and Battle for Ant Hill

Also, there is a site that is worth taking a look at: questioncopyright.org

And, finally there is a book that I would heartily recommend: Against Intellectual Monopoly

Just my 2 øre (Norwegian currency)

For the most part, Google doesn't host content they don't have permission for. They aggregate other people's content in their news offering, for example. It's true that their search results return snippets of copyrighted content, and these don't fall under any of the traditional "fair use" categories. I believe the law is unsettled around this question. It's possible a new fair use exception for this sort of thing could emerge, or maybe not.

Most people like having their sites returned in Google searches, but the company has run into trouble with their news aggregation. I believe a European press agency sued them over the use of their content in tags on the news page. I vaguely recall they settled - it was more about ad revenue than copyright. Google also ran into a forest of copyright buzz saws when they tried to make every book on earth searchable. Their idea was to return the search results with some context. You could argue that this is could fall under the fair use exception for research. But again, the law is not completely settled on this point.

The balance between copyright protection and free flow of information has been challenged by the rise of digital technologies, particularly the Internet. The initial response in the US was to enact some rather draconian laws to try and hold the lid down on the misappropriation of intellectual property. I think that was a gross overreaction, and I'm not alone in that opinion. I could continue to wander farther off-topic in this direction talking about the specifics of why the DMCA is a terrible law, but I'd be repeating arguments others have made far more eloquently. I'll spare all of us that journey. :)

Regards,
Howard


Quote:
For the most part, Google doesn't host content they don't have permission for. They aggregate other people's content in their news offering, for example. It's true that their search results return snippets of copyrighted content, and these don't fall under any of the traditional "fair use" categories. I believe the law is unsettled around this question. It's possible a new fair use exception for this sort of thing could emerge, or maybe not.

Most people like having their sites returned in Google searches


It wasn't always that way.

When Google were still operating from Stanford University (and for some time after too I think) they were almost forced to shut down by companies not happy with the concept of them "stealing" their data from their website en masse.

Similar thing still happens with the likes of the Internet Archive who archive your complete website on a periodic basis without your knowing, and make it all publicly available.

The content aggregate part is interesting, as you are not only "redistributing" but also "modifying" the work.

Someone actually did this to me recently. I have a freely downloadable PDF eBook released, with the copyright proviso that it only be redistributed in it's original and complete PDF form. and I found someone had extracted the data and turned it into HTML and rehosted it. They have since taken it down after I complained though.

Dave.


Yep, the Wayback machine has been purged of a lot of content due to DMCA complaints from copyright holders. That shows the basic conflict between free flow of information and copyright. Both archive.org and google.com demonstrate the value of freely available information. How that impinges on copyrights, and how the balance should be drawn are very much unsettled questions.

In the US, the DMCA provides the rules for copyrights in digital form. It weighs heavily in favor of copyright holders. For example, if you host some content and a copyright holder claims you are violating their rights, they can give you notice, and the content must immediately be removed. At some level this seems reasonable until you realize that the legal system is completely disconnected at that point. Any old troublemaker can claim a DMCA violation, without any legal process other than a form letter, and a content provider must honor the takedown order. This is one problem of many in the DMCA.

All this is made worse by the fact that the developed world keeps extending the term over which copyrights are enforced. In the US, Congress extends terms every time the copyright for Mickey Mouse is due to expire. (This is only half a joke. Disney is always at the forefront of lobbying efforts in favor of copyright extensions.) The US Constitution says that copyrights should be granted for limited terms, but if those limits keep getting lengthened, are they truly limits at all? The US Supreme Court has declined to second guess Congress in this matter, so it's a purely political issue now. And the big copyright holders like Disney have had a good handle on the politics so far.

It's my view that both freedom of information and copyright are necessary, and that the current balance tilts too far in the direction of copyright holders. However the fact that Google and the Internet Archive can do business at all shows that there have been adjustments made in practice to the letter of the law. These adjustments are made because strictly enforcing copyright everywhere would grind those services, and many, many others to a halt. The economic value of something like Google is abundantly clear, even to Walt Disney, so the service thrives. Because of this, I predict that legal interpretations, and code changes, will continue to evolve toward a more balanced system.

Aaaak! Pardon my Pontification. :)

Regards,
Howard


Howard Owen: I agree - up to the point of copyright being necessary. I believe it is not. It is a monopoly granted by the state to individuals and corporations and thus a thorn in the side of a truly free market. The book by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine covers this well.


I'd be interested to read that book, Geir. Where can I download a free copy?

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]


Against Intellectual Monopoly


Thanks!

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]

Geir, I've downloaded that and quickly read the first chapter and skimmed a few more, as well as obtaining Selgin & Turner's response to their opening argument about Boulton and Watt. I'm unimpressed, I'm afraid, but this is not the place to go into the reasons. Thanks again for the pointer to it, though.

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]

Every law is a restriction on freedom of action in some way.

Here's a
sonnet I wrote on a related topic back in 2003. The last couplet pretty much sums up my attitude on this issue, and many others.

Regards
Howard

Quote:
What about the manuals which are available for download at HP. Can you include them on a CD when you sell a calculator?

Example: you have an HP50 with an english manual and include a german one on CD, so that the buyer does not need to download it. Is that legal?


Yes. Simply put a clause along the lines of "I will provide an exact copy of the downloadable manual on CD as a free service" and also provide the link for those that want to download it.

Nothing wrong with that at all.

Dave.

Hi Patrick,

I think some of these responses are off the mark to your question.

I am not a lawyer but I believe it is perfectly legal for you to include the pdf manual with the calculator.

My reasons: The calculator and the manual are yours. When you sell the calculator/manual combo, the only requirement I can think of is that you must destroy any copy except the one you sell to the new owner.

Think of it as transferring ownership. It was yours. Now it belongs to a new owner. Provided that you no longer retain any copy of the manual, printed or otherwise. Except when you own more than one HP50g. :)

There is no law against selling used HP calcs. Sites like eBay wouldn't be where it is today. :)

Otherwise, I believe it is illegal to sell or distribute copyright materials that you don't own without permission. Period.

That's my 3-cent worth.


Quote:
Hi Patrick,

I think some of these responses are off the mark to your question.

I am not a lawyer but I believe it is perfectly legal for you to include the pdf manual with the calculator.

My reasons: The calculator and the manual are yours. When you sell the calculator/manual combo, the only requirement I can think of is that you must destroy any copy except the one you sell to the new owner.


Even then, there is nothing stopping Patrick or anyone else downloading the manual from HP's site and having a personal copy of that PDF file without owning the calculator.

Dave.


Thanks for all your answers!

It wasn't my intention to trigger a "law war" ;).


We've seen this on the forum before - a discussion on copyrights are a source of strong emotions... for some reason.


Quote:
We've seen this on the forum before - a discussion on copyrights are a source of strong emotions... for some reason.

Yes, that does happen, I noticed a tad of "HP emotion" in it all!

I doubt it would have reached the same level if the subject was about an LM555 PDF datasheet (which is no different :->).

Dave.

Quote:
We've seen this on the forum before - a discussion on copyrights are a source of strong emotions... for some reason.

Perhaps it's because writers, artists, songwriters and others who create copyrightable material inevitably feel some personal attachment to their creations. Even programmers feel this way - as Fred Brooks wrote in "The Mythical Man-Month":

"The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds his castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. Few media of creation are so flexible, so easy to polish and rework, so readily capable of realizing grand conceptual structures."

In this sense, software is a creation of craftsmanship and inevitably reflects the personality of its creator.

This is one reason why programmers are sometimes willing to release their work as FLOSS: pride, satisfaction, etc. Copyright is important to these programmers so that their work is attributed correctly, even if they don't seek payment for it.

In the context of HP manuals, the early calculator manuals are obviously more than the simple bare minimum required to document the calculator functionality - in terms of graphic design, artwork, and even the creation of the curious characters who inhabit some of the example problems, they are clearly artistic creations.

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]


Quote:
.. in terms of graphic design, artwork, and even the creation of the curious characters who inhabit some of the example problems, they are clearly artistic creations.

The marvelous thing about that is the manual's artistry is part and parcel of the art of the machines. They complement each other wonderfully.

Regards,

Howard


Too true, Howard. I remember that when I bought my HP-65, back in the mid-70's, I was living in Toronto and reading "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" while commuting. The theme of the book is the nature of quality, and I remember that my experience with the 45 and 65 contributed enormously to my interpretation of Persig's book.

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]

Quote:
This is one reason why programmers are sometimes willing to release their work as FLOSS: pride, satisfaction, etc. Copyright is important to these programmers so that their work is attributed correctly, even if they don't seek payment for it.

Copyrights and Rights of Attribution (or Credit Rights) are two different rights. The history of copyrights muddies the border - but we could abolish copyright and enforce Credit Rights. One could envision a world without Patents and Copyright but with Credit Rights and Trade Marks to ensure attribution and authenticity of works (ant thus limit forgery).


Quote:
Copyrights and Rights of Attribution (or Credit Rights) are two different rights. The history of copyrights muddies the border - but we could abolish copyright and enforce Credit Rights. One could envision a world without Patents

But the Patent system is an endless source of
amusement!

Dave.


Nice :-)

And it can be argued that the patent system is the single most innovation stifling factor - despite the many hilarious patents awarded .


Quote:
And it can be argued that the patent system is the single most innovation stifling factor - despite the many hilarious patents awarded .

The modern reality is that non-trivial programs can no longer be created without violating a patent, if not many, which makes most acts of software development illegal.

Show me a program with a few hundred lines of code or more, and I'll find a patent that it violates. I'm not completely anti-patent, but yes, it's ridiculous.


I was originally pro patents and pro copyright. I even tried to patent a Role-Playing Game back in 1987.

About 5 years ago, I decided to research patents to the bone to really make up my mind about it as I was confronted by arguments that I found hard to argue against. After two years of study, I came to the conclusion that I am against all patents. The patent system needs to go.

Having done away with patents, I was still confronted by similar arguments that where hard to refute in the area of copyright. Another 2 year stint and I concluded that copyright must be abolished.

I am pro free market, anti patents, anti copyright, pro trade marks and pro credit rights.

I am pro Ant Hill Innovation - Wikipedia being an example of this.


"In today's world, it's hard to sneeze near an abacus without infringing on someone's patent."

From someone's byline on another software forum. I love it (and hate it at the same time)!


I don't get it.

I'm undecided on patents. I believe the public still does derive benefits from the disclosure inherent in the patent process, as opposed to trade secrets. I oppose software patents, but it's very hard to draw the line. Perhaps simply making the term of all computer-related patents shorter, say 5 years rather than 20, would solve a lot of the problems.

I think that copyrights are a good thing, and that they should be renewable indefinitely. However, the cost to renew should increase exponentially with time. Perhaps divide the potential term into four year intervals, start the first interval at just over the cost of administration, perhaps $50, and make every subsequent interval cost four times as much as the previous. Then Disney can keep Mickey Mouse in copyright for as long as they want (and can afford).


I'm with you, Eric. I wrote a paper a couple of years ago taking a strong stand against software patents and arguing that copyright is a far more appropriate form of protection for programmers (primarily on the basis that copyright allows for independent authorship and invention, where patent law does not). I'm not sure about the benefit of disclosure; having tried to read - for example - the patent in the Kodak vs Sun case a few years ago, I found that the writing style used in the patent seemed quite opaque (and there are obvious reasons for that).

However, I'm still of the view that despite the flaws in the patent system (the limited resources available to patent examiners, the activities of patent trolls, the exceptionally low bar of the non-obviousness test) patents are still the best form of protection for the independent or small-business inventor.

Similarly, when I examine the rights of authors and artists from a Kantian perspective (Kant's Categorical Imperative essentially asks "How would you like it if someone did it to you?") then I'm forced to conclude copyright is the best approach. It certainly isn't a "monopoly on ideas", for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that anyone else is free to express the same ideas differently. It's not as if the first artist to paint a landscape prevented all the others who followed.

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]


Quote:
I'm with you, Eric. I wrote a paper a couple of years ago taking a strong stand against software patents and arguing that copyright is a far more appropriate form of protection for programmers (primarily on the basis that copyright allows for independent authorship and invention, where patent law does not). I'm not sure about the benefit of disclosure; having tried to read - for example - the patent in the Kodak vs Sun case a few years ago, I found that the writing style used in the patent seemed quite opaque (and there are obvious reasons for that).

However, I'm still of the view that despite the flaws in the patent system (the limited resources available to patent examiners, the activities of patent trolls, the exceptionally low bar of the non-obviousness test) patents are still the best form of protection for the independent or small-business inventor.


In most cases they aren't actually, but it depends on what you intend to do with the idea and what it is. Small time inventors and business people think that a patent protects them from someone ripping off their idea, it doesn't, as patents are easily beat (trivially so in most cases). All a patent does is effectively give you the leverage to sue someone if they try. But if you don't have at least a million dollars for the law suit, don't bother.

That's why for the small time inventor/business person, unless you think you can sell the patent to someone, it's essentially a waste of money. You are much better off getting your product out the door and staying one step ahead of your competition.

For those that haven't seen it, Don Lancasters classic:

www.tinaja.com/glib/casagpat.pdf

Dave.


I think software patents are a bad idea too, but that doesn't stop me from seeing where the patent system helps people. Beyond the obvious and pervasive use of patents as offensive and defensive weapons in corporate warfare, there are instances where the little guy wins with patents. Two old friends of mine hired me on to a startup they had going in 1999. One of them, the primary technological genius, had patented quite a few novel ideas having to do with virtual private networks and and OS level virtualization. (He was an early pioneer in that sort of thing, having ported 4.2 BSD to the VAX - on top of VMS!) When Nokia bought the company in 1999, those patents made my friends instant millionaires. (The principals all got to cash in at the time of sale. Low level people like me had to sit on our options, and they got wiped out in the crash.)

Those patents are now part of Nokia's strategic patent portfolio, where they serve what I consider to be pernicious purposes. But I applaud patents when they work as intended by the framers of the US Constitution - to promote the arts, including technology. My friend deserved his millions, and patents were how he got them.

Regards,
Howard


Definitely, there are times when the little guys wins with patents just like he/she deserves too, but it's an unmeasurably small percentage of the cases.

Sadly, patent lawyers and those dodgy "invention help" organisations won't tell you the real value of a patent in your specific circumstance, and will happily take your money, and lots of it.

I humored my patent attorney brother-in-law by letting him write me a software patent a few years back, paid my $70 for the one years provisional but then wasn't silly enough to fork out the $5K!

Dave.

Quote:
When Nokia bought the company in 1999, those patents made my friends instant millionaires

I don't disagree with your point, but I think your example may be flawed. 1999 was a "special" time in tech startups. I knew several people who became instant millionaires with nothing but vaporware. I'm willing to bet that your friends would have become financially successful with our without patents, especially given that they actually had useful, novel software.


Nonsense. The pace of acquisitions was frantic in those years, and ideas (including many awful ones) had a premium, but ideas have always been and will always be valuable. Patents are, among other things, a mechanism to secure part of that value to the person or entity that came up with them. The specific value of a particular idea is dependent on the business climate, but the general principle is not.


The "among other things" is a zinger though. As the distance between pure thought and it's embodiment has shortened, in some places to zero, more and more areas of human thought have fallen under the terms of the patent laws, as interpreted by the courts. "Business method" patents are an especially pernicious example of that, but software in general is problematic in that regard. (Fortunately, the patent system seems to be taking a step back from the travesty of business method patents.) It's also possible to freeze innovation in an area the patent owner doesn't want developed. "Submarine" patents can surface in the middle of international standards, forcing changes or the addition of an additional tax on the use of the standard. Frivolous patents get granted by clueless inspectors that end up encumbering idea factories and the court system. And any innovator is faced with legal uncertainty about the patent status of her inventions. Big companies maintain defensive patent portfolios and can afford the legal staff to wield them effectively. But the small guy is at a big disadvantage here. And if that small guy happens to be writing Free Software, there's a basic legal and moral conflict that is unavoidable.

So I think patents should go, on balance. But it won't do to disregard the positive effects the patent system has when it works as originally intended. Any overhaul of the system needs to take this into account, and preserve that benefit somehow.

Regards,
Howard

Quote:
there are instances where the little guy wins with patents. Two old friends of mine hired me on to a startup they had going in 1999. One of them, the primary technological genius, had patented quite a few novel ideas having to do with virtual private networks and and OS level virtualization. (He was an early pioneer in that sort of thing, having ported 4.2 BSD to the VAX - on top of VMS!) When Nokia bought the company in 1999, those patents made my friends instant millionaires

I'm very uncomfortable with the general notion that X is a good idea because X occasionally makes some little guy a millionaire. Not that I begrudge anyone their good fortune, but I'd much rather support policies that benefit people *in general*, rather than those that allow people to win some big jackpot that they haven't actually done anything much to deserve.

I mean, sure, if Y creates some product or service that becomes wildly popular, and makes Y filthy rich, well, more power to Y. This is the main selling point of capitalism. I have no problem with that whatsoever.

What does trouble me, though, is when that Y uses a patent to prevent others from selling the same kind of product or service. If Y's product took lots of time and money to develop, patent protection seems fair; if the only merit of Y's idea is that Y happened to be the first one to think of it, it doesn't seem fair. Not to me, anyway.

Pharmaceutical companies often have to invest astronomical amounts in developing medicines; allowing others to simply copy their products would take the economical incentive out of developing them, and innovation in that area would stop, unless governments or other not-for-profit subsidizers would step up and fincance the process instead. (Note that I'm not trying to imply that one approach is inherently superior to the other; only that this is the kind of choice you'll have to make.)

I have yet to see a software patent that comes anywhere near being justified like pharmaceutical patents. Compared to the millions that pharma has to spend on the development of any single product, software patents tend to cover things that any reasonably competent programmer could have figured out in at most a few months' time, representing an investment of maybe a few tens of thousands of dollars at most.

The way they're used at present, software patents seem to me like the business equivalent of a child yelling "dibs on the front seat" when the family gets ready to get into the car for a holiday trip. People reap huge rewards simply for being first, while what the patent system *should* be doing is rewarding those who make large investments in developing things that are truly new, orignal, and non-obvious.

I totally disagree with Geir's point that patents and copyrights should be abolished. Patents are important because they allow people to recoup the costs of developing innovative products, and copyrights allow people to make a living from being genuinely creative. It seems to me that most of the controversy surrounding patents nowadays stems from patent examiners' lack of reluctance to grant patents on things that are obvious (which in turn is caused by the insane idea that the patent office should be funded by the income from patent applications), and from the way that some record companies are seeking excessive damages from people who infringe copyrights on the Internet... The excesses are bad and should be fixed, but the basic ideas are sound, and, in my humble opinion, important.

- Thomas


Quote:
I'm very uncomfortable with the general notion that X is a good idea because X occasionally makes some little guy a millionaire.

I didn't actually make that argument; see above. I'm opposed to software patents.

Also, I probably should have made more clear the following: I think it's cool my friends became millionaires, but that's not why I think it was a good outcome based on patents. Those guys worked really, really hard for over 20 years to achieve their success. Their first company was wiped out by Microsoft and bought for a pittance by Cisco Systems. Their second try made them, and many of their friends rich. In the meantime, they were driven to create new and valuable technologies , and to employ lots of really bright people. They had a positive economic impact through these actions, and an equally positive impact on the society they are a part of. It's a capitalist success story, alright, but not because of the money. The money was just a driver for the energy these guys put into their professional lives. This is why "promoting the useful arts" is a good thing for governments to do - it has benefits far beyond the enrichment of a few inventors.

Regards,
Howard

Edited: 14 July 2009, 11:38 p.m.


Quote:
Quote:
I'm very uncomfortable with the general notion that X is a good idea because X occasionally makes some little guy a millionaire.

I didn't actually make that argument; see above.


See where above? Quoting from the post that I was responding to (emphasis mine):

Quote:
I think software patents are a bad idea too, but that doesn't stop me from seeing where the patent system helps people. Beyond the obvious and pervasive use of patents as offensive and defensive weapons in corporate warfare, there are instances where the little guy wins with patents. Two old friends of mine hired me on to a startup they had going in 1999. One of them, the primary technological genius, had patented quite a few novel ideas having to do with virtual private networks and and OS level virtualization. (He was an early pioneer in that sort of thing, having ported 4.2 BSD to the VAX - on top of VMS!) When Nokia bought the company in 1999, those patents made my friends instant millionaires.

Sounds to me like you were making exactly the argument I implied you were making.

Quote:
I'm opposed to software patents.

So you said before, but your actual anecdote sounds like the exact opposite.

Quote:
Also, I probably should have made more clear the following: I think it's cool my friends became millionaires, but that's not why I think it was a good outcome based on patents. Those guys worked really, really hard for over 20 years to achieve their success. Their first company was wiped out by Microsoft and bought for a pittance by Cisco Systems. Their second try made them, and many of their friends rich. In the meantime, they were driven to create new and valuable technologies , and to employ lots of really bright people. They had a positive economic impact through these actions, and an equally positive impact on the society they are a part of. It's a capitalist success story, alright, but not because of the money. The money was just a driver for the energy these guys put into their professional lives. This is why "promoting the useful arts" is a good thing for governments to do - it has benefits far beyond the enrichment of a few inventors.

In other words, your friends ended up rich thanks to their hard work, but this had nothing to do with their patent portfolio? I'm at a complete loss as to what kind of point your story is supposed to make!

- Thomas


Quote:
I'm very uncomfortable with the general notion that X is a good idea because X occasionally makes some little guy a millionaire.


I don't think software patents are a good idea, so I didn't make this point. My argument was summarized by:

Quote:

So I think patents should go, on balance. But it won't do to disregard the positive effects the patent system has when it works as originally intended. Any overhaul of the system needs to take this into account, and preserve that benefit somehow.



So that's more like "X is a bad idea, but it sometimes enriches a little guy or two. Let's see if we can preserve that salutary effect of an otherwise flawed system."

I'm sorry if this seems confusing. It's a case of "X" being a complicated phenomenon with multiple effects.

Finally, in response to your post, I added the observation that the benefit isn't merely that people get rich. Many folks do useful things, both in economic and social terms, in response to the incentive the prospect of getting rich provides. That was certainly true in the case of my friends.


Regards,
Howard

Quote:
In most cases they aren't actually, but it depends on what you intend to do with the idea and what it is.

That's why I'd rather keep the option there. Sure, there are cases where keeping an idea as a trade secret might be the way to go, but there are also times when it's not. And I'd also welcome a review of anti-trust law at the same time as a review of the patent process - the two go together.

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]

Quote:
I believe the public still does derive benefits from the disclosure inherent in the patent process, as opposed to trade secrets.

I have come to the conclusion that for patents and copyrights to be abolished, reverse engineering must be allowed.

As a side note; The original sales pitch for patents was "for the greater good". And to keep with that focus: Wikipedia and FOSS have emerged very successful despite patents and copyrights.

More recommended reading; Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig.

Quote:
Perhaps divide the potential term into four year intervals, start the first interval at just over the cost of administration, perhaps $50, and make every subsequent interval cost four times as much as the previous.

And in about 150 years, Disney would be paying all of our taxes for us :-)

- Pauli

About if it's legal or not, well, that depends on the country it happens.


For instance, in Sweden it is not illegal, in fact it's not even copyrighted material, since to be copyrighted it must be a creative work ... and a product manual is not a creative work.


Then you must see how it goes with other laws. In some countries (EU countries for instance) when a product is sold, it must have a manual ... so, how does it fit here? The manual it's actually considered a part of the product, so when you (or someone before you) bought the product, you already paid for having the manual with it so do you really have to pay for it again in case you loose it? Which is something similar to buying a music CD, then losing the original ... are you entitled to ask a copy from a friend, since you already paid for the copyrighted material?

Well, in most of EU at least for now, fortunately you are.
But if in your country you aren't allowed what are you going to do? Buy the CD again?


If everyone keeps following blindly the most stupid rules, then of course the state is going to impose more and more unfair rules upon you.


You may just choose not to follow the law in cases where it is absurd ... it's called "civil disobedience" and helped shape the society for better many times in the past. Many people think it's time for that to happen with copyrighted material now.


"... and a product manual is not a creative work."

What pure, unmitigated claptrap, albeit one person's opinion. Read the posts above this one and see the respect many people have for the effort and care that's gone into the creation of these manuals. I find it galling to deny them the adjective of "creative." Why, because that have no sex scenes?


Save your electrons Steve.

He, she or its knowledge of Sweden clearly starts and ends with the chef from Sesame Street so why expect anything more knowledgeable about manual writing?


This is all about Sverige:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sY_Yf4zz-yo

Quote:
What pure, unmitigated claptrap, albeit one person's opinion

Amen, Steve. I don't know about Sweden, obviously, but the Copyright Act, 1968, here in Australia, specifically mentions manuals as an example of a creative work. Because of the Berne Convention and the resultant harmonization of copyright law internationally, I would expect Sweden to be similar.

While I agree that one shouldn't necessarily blindly follow the law, the first step is at least to know what the law is.

Someone's been swallowing too much Pirate Party bilgewater.

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]


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