Donald Chester wrote:
>> It is unreasonable to expect a company to make public the complete
>> details of their designs. I am amazed that some hams have the gall
>> to ask other hams to copy the info on their antennas and send it to
>> them. 'snip' Just my opinion.
>> 73, Dan, N5AR
> I would always encourage hams to share technical information on
> their equipment, whether home built or commercial.
> When you buy a product you are not obligated in any way to keep its
> design confidential.
This is plainly not always true. One might buy something under a
license agreement or with some contractual arrangement that prevents it.
Software is, of course, the most notorious case of this.
As someone who used to derive most of my income from software
development, I'm somewhat sensitive to the whole "oh, it's for a good
cause, so I can copy it" kind of thing. It just aint so.
I'm always glad to copy the schematic or manual
> or any other design information on a product I have purchased and
> pass it along to another ham who might be interest in homebrewing
> something similar.
Except that if the schematic or manual is copyrighted (and ALL stuff is
copyrighted from creation, even if it's not marked as such.. Excepting
something which has been specifically released to the public domain, or
created before 1927). If it's copyrighted, it's illegal, and immoral,
to violate the copyright without the holder's permission. There's
nothing about "non-profit" in there. There IS a fair-use exception, but
a whole copy isn't fair use. You could, under fair use, copy a part of
a schematic, if you were, for instance, writing an article or analysis
of the design and wanted to show an example.
That's what ham radio is all about. Who knows,
> that person might come up with a worthwhile improvement on the
> original design.
Indeed, and that's why folks should be willing to let others copy
things, but that doesn't change the fact that they have to give you
explicit permission to do so. I have only refused to give permission to
copy something of mine once, out of hundreds of requests, and that was a
sort of bizarre case. On the other hand, I have gone after people who
were rude enough to not ask several times (a PhD candidate copying parts
of my website in their thesis, someone publishing my photographs without
my permission, etc.). Never had to litigate it though. Most people,
when they understand what's involved, want to do the *right* thing.
> I wouldn't condone copying the design and putting it on the market to
> sell. That what patent protection is for.
Whether or not there is a profit motive is immaterial. It just goes to
what the damages might be. It's just as wrong to violate a patent and
give the copies away as to sell them. (otherwise, infringers could go
through all sorts of gyrations.. we'll give you the widget, but charge
you for mandatory customer support, etc.)
But copying the design
> for your own use falls under the category of fair usage.
This is specifically NOT a case of fair use. Stanford University has a
great website that describes fair-use. Under your assertion of fair
use, what's to keep me from copying, say, Autocad, and using it for
myself? Or, copying a friend's CD for my own use? Or, checking out a
book from the library and photocopying it?
For copyright, it makes NO difference whether your doing it for profit
or not. A wholesale copy is an infringement. The profit would only come
in when setting damages.
For patents, there ARE some exceptions.. I'm not real clear on the
details, but there is an exception if you are duplicating a patented
thing for the purposes of understanding it or making improvements, and
I'm pretty sure that there are a whole raft of rules around exactly what
you can do.
> If the ham wants to share the his own antenna design that he created,
> that's strictly up to him. If someone else is interested, it
> doesn't hurt to ask. The worst that can happen would be to say no.
Precisely. And, if they tell you no, you need to respect that.
And, of course, the design (dimensions, etc.) itself can't be
copyrighted. You're perfectly free to read the manual, take notes, and
write up your own description of it and do what you want with it.
As far as copying a widget sitting in front of you (as opposed to a
schematic or manual), you're free to do so (except where it's patented,
of course, or where you've agreed not to.)
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