Make Ebay money fast - sell a xerox copy?


Suppose you buy something that comes with a xerox copy of a very hard to find manual. What are your thoughts on selling the hard to find xerox copy on ebay?

Search for "ultra rare service manual" and you'll see one out there.




I've got mixed feelings about this...

On one side it is illegal to sell such manuals. They are protected by copyright.

On the other side I'm sure many of us would bid on such a HP service manual release should it appear one day on ebay, and this would only improve our knowldge to own such one...

But on a formal point of view I guess this sale is not legal.


This was sold for $30 by a seller in Germany on February 2 with the exact same pictures, item number 1326407015. I had made a note of it last time and so still had the item number. I was ready to bid until it got up to $30! Still, it would be nice to have. If it keeps showing up every month or so, I'll probably buy it. Maybe what people are doing is buying it, making a copy, and selling the "more original" for higher and higher prices.


It's illegal unless the copyright has expired.

Since eBay has a policy of violation of copyright laws, they will remove any such auction if people complain about the law being broken.


> It's illegal unless the copyright has expired.

Come on! If that were true, then the entire hpmuseum site would be a illegal.

Since HP (the copyright owner) has declared that they have no commercial interest in this material, copying them (and charging for the cost of making the copies) is not illegal.

This is a service to the community. If you have a rare document you know that you can only sell the copy once, since the buyer will almost certainly release it to the community (if not out of spite) (why this may reasonable behaviour see The Economist March 23rd, page 73).

Some time ago I purchased a photocopy of the 82938A HP-IL manual for Series 80 computers. The first thing I did was to scan it and send it to Dave (its also good insurance in case I lose my copy).

You are a collector and you abhor copies, but for the people that want to use the equipment a photocopy of a manual is equivalent to the original.



"Come on! If that were true, then the entire hpmuseum site would be a illegal.

Since HP (the copyright owner) has declared that they have no commercial interest in this material, copying them (and charging for the cost of making the copies) is not illegal."

HP has given me specific permissions on specific properties. I have been trying to get permission on other items and one of the reasons cited for not giving it is HP's concern about assumptions like the one above - i.e. that allowing certain IP to be redistributed in certain ways might lead people to believe that it is all unprotected.

I have no idea whether the seller of the manual mentioned has asked for permission, but he shouldn't assume that he doesn't need to simply because HP has been generous in the past.


This debate comes up a lot with regard to pirated software (also illegal).

Before you can make a copy, you need permission (except if the copyright has lapsed, as Mike points out). I don't ever recall hearing that HP has "declared" that they have no interest in the copyrights of the old manuals. On the contrary, Dave needed specific permission before he could distribute copies. Bottom line: making copies for distribution or sale on eBay is illegal.

One more point. I subscribed to the Economist for a year. I didn't renew my subscription because I found the articles, editorials, and opinions far too liberal and anti-American. So it comes as no surprise that they advocate some type of "free IP for the masses", contrary to the US copyright laws, as well as the Berne Convention and "droit morale" (moral rights of the authors) so prevalent in Europe.



ouch! Ouch!! OUCH!!! O U C H ! ! !


HP cannot reasonably claim that they suffer loss of income by such "illegal" activity since anybody who wants access to the material can simply buy it from Dave without paying HP one cent.

But, rather than fighting over whether its legal or ethical, why not encourage those who actually bought the material to scan it and donate it to the hpmuseum. In this way everybody wins.

Especially with copyright the law allows a lot of leeway. Although I strongly oppose software piracy, consider the case of a 20 year old computer whose software came with a non-transferable RTU licence. What do you do?

Also to correct a missunderstanding, the Economist article is not advocating "free IP for the masses", it simply discusses human behavioural patterns. I mentioned it to substantiate the claim that acting out of spite is not irrational. If you do not want to subscribe to "liberal and anti-American" magazines, the article may be found on line.

Ironically, the whole debate started by a Service Manual for the TI 59.


"HP cannot reasonably claim that they suffer loss of income by such "illegal" activity since anybody who wants access to the material can simply buy it from Dave without paying HP one cent."

Loss of income has very little, and probably nothing, to do with it. One of the rights of copyright is the right to make copies, and to prevent others from doing so unless they have permission. Dave has an arrangement with HP whereby he may distribute copies of the old manuals (e.g., he has permission to do this). Others, however, do not have such permission and therefore infringe HP's copyright by making copies. Having free copies available for the world at large sounds like a noble idea (especially in Socialist/Communist countries), but it goes directly against international copyright laws, as well as a specific provision in the United States Constitution (Article I, Section 8, clause 8).

I'll agree with you there are some exceptions, such as Fair Use, etc. However, Fair Use deals with copying small portions of a larger work (e.g., a page or two). It does not allow one to make a copy of an entire copyrighted manual!


> Loss of income has very little, and probably nothing, to do with it.

> One of the rights of copyright is the right to make copies, and to

> prevent others from doing so unless they have permission.

So what's your point? There are many silly things that are prohibited by law, e.g. buying disposable contact lenses without a perscription.

In the case of copyright, the law merely provides for remedies in case the owner is deemed to the suffered some kind of damage or loss of income.

That's why breach of copyright is a civil dispute not a crime.

You certainly won't go to hell if you photocopy a manual :-)



"So what's your point?"

What's YOUR point? You start off by telling us it's "not illegal" and now you've been corrected. Or is there some distinction between illegal and "prohibited by law" that I'm missing? :-)



as many of you may know, we have, here in Brazil, some sort of situation about copyright, illegal practice, and the like. I am completely aware of the fact that we, Brazilian people, would be a lot more concerned about that all if we could see the results of any legal action, as we see what happens in USA and Europe. In fact, you all show (at least to me) a deep, profound respect for those who create and their creation. Many of you have (and had) your chance to create something and offer it as the result of your work, and this must be preserved at any cost.

I myself have taken a lot of photocopies and scanned material exclusively for studying, what is not an excuse, I know. If I have the original in hands, I'd buy it. But I didn't have it at the time I needed it. Now I'm a writer and I feel guilty when I remember that the photocopies I took did not generate financial return to the writer. As many others didn't.

I think of copyright as law-based right, and must be respect. In other hands, I feel confused about specific, public-address documentation, say, the owner’s manual that comes with the equipment. If we stop to think about them, they should not be copyrighted. I do not mention the applications, cause they can be widely used, but an HP41CV Owner's manual. What is it good for to someone that does not own an HP41CV, or does not know how to use it (supposedly own or have owned one)? The only way to obtain one HP41CV Owner’s Manual is buying the calculator. O.K., I know we can order it separately, but no one wold buy it without having a calculator. Would?

If they are copyrighted, let's respect the law. I just do not understand why they have been copyrighted.



I think copyrighting is done routinely, regardless of whether the work has monetary value. It just establishes ownership of the work in case any dispute should arise. Because HP copyrighted all those manuals, they are able to give Dave permission to distribute them electronically.

Consider the disclaimer that must be attached to a program submitted to an HP user's group library. You have to give up your rights to the program so that if HP later puts the program in a copyrighted work, you can't come to HP and ask for money or stop them from publishing the work or a changed version of the work. If you think the work has monetary value, or if you don't want to share it with anyone, or if you don't want anyone changing it, you shouldn't submit it.

When people started copying the ROMs in the IBM PC, a judge said there was nothing visible to the eye on the ROMs to indicate they were copyrighted works, even though there were ASCII strings in the code that were proper copyright statements when decoded. So IBM, and everyone else, started printing the copyright notice on the outside of their ROMs.

I was taught that a major reason a company seeks patents on its innovations is to prevent someone else from getting a patent on the same idea and them coming to the company for license fees.

I was also taught that the reason the U.S. Constitution established patents as they are handled in the U.S. - granting an exclusive right to an inventor for a fixed period of time - is not so much to guarantee the inventor gets paid for his work, as it is to give others an incentive (avoiding the license fees) to find a newer and better way to do what is covered by a patent. (The patent isn't granted for the result, only the means.)

An alternative to a patent, and presumably a copyright, is to treat the idea as a trade secret. Anyone who wants to see the idea has to sign a contract (a non-disclosure agreement) promising not to share the work with anyone else. Since it is a contract between two people, it is almost certain that a court will find in favor of the ownwer if the other party distributes the work. Writers could use this to their advantage if they could get readers to agree that they will only say good things about the work!



Just to express my thankfulness for clearing.


"You certainly won't go to hell if you photocopy a manual :-)"

No, but you may have to pay a large sum of money to the copyright owner for infringing the copyright. Especially if you infringe the copyright wilfully (e.g., you know about the copyright and infringe it anyway). Which sounds exactly like what you are doing.

In addition to actual, statutory, and compensatory damages, you may also be charged with attorney fees, prejudgement interest, etc. As an attorney who specializes in intellectual property, I can assure you that you do not want to pay attorney fees.

"There are many silly things that are prohibited by law"

Maybe I have a different perspective because I'm a lawyer, but regardless of whether YOU think the law is silly or not, it must be followed. If you don't like the law, tell your congressman to change it.


First Todd G. said:

> > Loss of income has very little, and probably nothing, to do with it.

..., and then he said:

> No, but you may have to pay a large sum of money to the copyright owner for infringing the copyright.

At last we are getting somewhere! The only reason you can be forced by a court to pay "large sums of money" is for the copyright owner to prove that they have suffered harm by the copyright infringement.

Jim L said:

> Or is there some distinction between illegal and
"prohibited by law" that I'm missing? :-)

The difference between criminal and civil law. Copyright disputes are handled by civil courts.

I was trying to make this distinction (not very successfully I admit) in my original posting.

In the example with the contact lenses, the police is not going to raid your house because you bought contact lenses without prescription, not will the manufacturers manage to get a court to award them "large sums of money" for the above "illegal" activity. Rather if you use the wrong contacts and go blind, you will not be able to successfully sue the manufacturer because what you did was prohibited by law.

So to go back to the original posting, its not my business, or Todd's business or anybody's business except HP to go around complaining about some guy posting photocopies on eBay. If HP feel that they are wronged they can ask eBay to remove the items, or try to sue that guy. If you go to a court and say Mr. X is selling photocopied HP manuals, the court will first ask you to explain what is your stake in the case. If you cannot explain that then the court will not proceed with the case. Again this is how civil courts work. Criminal courts work in a different manner.



Note from the post you replied to: "actual, statutory, and compensatory damages, ... attorney fees"

You only addressed actual damages in your response. What about statutory damages etc.?

As for saying it's someone else's problem, that's your choice to make. I don't see why you feel the need to complain about someone else being a little more proactive but that's your choice too. I'm glad to see someone pointing out a problem even if he doesn't personally benefit.


You're quite right about who has "standing" to sue. I guess I assumed everyone knew who could bring an action. HP certainly would have standing, since it was the copyright owner. But others may have standing too. For example, distributors who make a profit on the sale of HP products and who are given permission by HP to print and sell the products, including manuals.

Maybe all the calculator collectors could get together and file a class action, citing diminution of value of their manuals based on sales of infringing manuals on eBay. ;-)


The item that started this thread was a TI publication, and TI is well known for defending their patents - I heard that at one point they had more income from license fees than their own manufacturing operations. If any TI employees are reading this, maybe they want to bring the Ebay seller to the attention of their employer?


This can also be a criminal activity. The FEDS are all the time envolved in prosecuting people selling counterfeit MicroSoft products.

Further, there are conspiracy laws that can come into effect.

Further, civil laws are not always insignificant to criminal laws.


If HP had wanted to and if Dave did not have permission, HP could have claimed a multiple of the sales gained by Dave.

Further, they could have gone after punative damages.

Yes, it would certainly been easily possible to ruin ones life, if they tried to infringe upon a copyright, without permission.

Wishing it were so, does not make it so.


> Wishing it were so, does not make it so.

Hear hear!

So, how many people have been sued by HP for selling photocopies of 20 year old manuals on the Web?

Also, how many people have received letters from HP for puting up images of the same 20 year old manuals on their Web site without permission?

The point made by Todd, about Dave suing, though, is correct. This depends on the exact wording of the letter HP sent to Dave. Is this available on the web site? Perhaps Dave could be so kind as to post it so that we can all understand the extent of the permissions given.



It's important to realize that under copyright law in most jurisdictions, a copyright owner who does not defend his/her rights can lose them.

I dare say HP will happily turn a blind eye to the occasional infringement by people photocopying long-outdated manuals, but if one was to be flagrant in doing so, HP may feel it has no choice but to prosecute or lose its rights to intellectual property. One would be very unwise to force their hand.

On the other hand, by making an agreement with Dave to "license" some of its material via this site, HP has not relinquished any rights.


--- Les []


The point is not whether HP will sue. The point is that you said it was not illegal, in your first post.

The fact is, that without their permission, it is illegal, isn't it?

Why are you trying to give people the mistaken belief that it's ok?

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