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Re: [TowerTalk] copyright Re: Force12

To: Jim Lux <>, Bert <>,<>
Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] copyright Re: Force12
From: Donald Chester <>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2007 16:09:39 +0000
List-post: <>
> Bert wrote:
>> Hi Jim and all,
>> You can copy anything you like if it's for personal use, not to be sold. It
>> doesn't matter if there is a patent, industrial design or any other kind of
>> legal issues protecting the widget or antenna.
>> 73 Bert, VE3OBU
> Not generally in the U.S. (with some exceptions, e.g. taping an album
> you own, software backups, excerpts for comment as fair-use, libraries
> for rare works, etc.)
> There is the practical detail of "how would the holder of patent or
> copyright know about the infringement" so you can get away with it if
> you keep your activities hidden.
> Whether it's for sale, transfer, give-away, etc. makes no difference.
> But we are straying way off topic here..

Information on a patented device is not something confidential to be held in 
secrecy.  You can obtain complete details directly from the patent office; it 
is public information.  One of the  reasons for this is to allow other 
inventors to inspect the details of a patented device to make sure no aspect of 
their own creation is already covered by someone else's prior patent. In 
addition, someone may want to build the device to see if it really works as 
claimed.  Sorting this out can become very complicated and may require the 
assistance of a patent attorney.  

You can attempt to build a copy of the device yourself for your own use, but 
you must purchase patent rights in order to exploit it commercially.

My understanding of the topic started in the thread is whether or not it is 
legally and ethically OK for a ham to purchase a commercially built antenna or 
other piece of equipment for his own use, and then share technical information, 
schematics, construction details, etc. with other hams who might wish to build 
a homebrew version for their own use.  This is not the same as reproducing a 
copyrighted users manual and sending it to others at  their request.  And it 
might become a touchy issue to have published in a ham radio magazine, a 
construction article containing how-to-build-it details of your homebrew 

Nevertheless, I maintain that it is perfectly legal to use technical 
information and construction details supplied by the manufacturer, or obtained 
through reverse-engineering, to reproduce in your own workshop for your own 
use, any device available on the market at present or in the past.  

There may be some exceptions to this regarding computer software due to 
provisions in the DMCA, but here we are talking about antennas, towers, 
transmitters, receivers, DSP devices, digital communications mode generators, 
or any other hardware device hams may use with their stations.

As for copying manuals, there are numerous services, e.g. BAMA, that specialise 
in reproducing out-of-print manuals for discontinued vintage ham gear, and I 
have never heard of anyone challenging the legality of this.  In many cases, 
the copyright/patent owner is deceased and maybe unknown.  Perhaps BAMA and 
others are able to get away with this because no-one has raised objections, but 
I suspect that Yaecomwood would take immediate legal action if you advertised 
on the internet, offering copies of the repair manual that goes with their 
latest digital marvel.  I am also aware that ARRL is very protective of old 
League publications such as pre-WW2 QST articles, and rarely give permission to 
publish these in their entirety.


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