Quote Originally Posted by BACnet View Post
In my (non-legal) opinion, if I own a piece of equipment and that equipment had a manual at one point, I should have access to a replacement manual if needed.
Disclaimer, I am NOT a lawyer. As is the case with many folks, I have on occasion taken various courses in law for assorted reasons. i.e. A few courses in general business law; specific real estate law; and at one time several courses in criminal law since at the time I had thought I might want to be a police officer and was for 3 years before deciding that the profession was not for me.

So my opinions are only that ... opinions.

I would agree that the legal owner of a piece of equipment SHOULD have access to at least the owner/operator/install manual. But can't think of any actual legal grounds for some claim of a RIGHT to have access to such.

Unless, of course, access to such was part of the agreement (contract) under which the equipment was obtained.

Quote Originally Posted by BACnet View Post
Picture my universal remote control- I lost the manual for it before I bought my last tv and I found myself needing to look up new codes for it. I can accept that the manufacturer might sell me one if I was to ask for them to print and ship me a new copy. But I can also generally find the manual on the web for free, which allows me to reprogram the hardware (in this case remote control) so that I can still use it. Isn't it the same thing with HVAC controls manuals?
Correct, it CAN be the same thing. However it is not necessarily the same thing.

As I mentioned to Matrix, if a manufacturer makes their literature freely available on the Internet, no restrictions upon whom can download or read them, then it IS pretty much the same thing as what you're talking about.

[QUOTE=BACnet;10988992]Someone on the other thread suggested that there are HVAC controls manufacturers/dealers who will issue cease and desist letters if someone is in possession of a manual for their own equipment. Is that even possible? [/QUOTE}

Hmmm. The copyright holder to some works (literature, music, computer program, whatever) owns the COPY right to that work, regardless of what it is. And may set certain terms and conditions restricting the copying or reproduction of said item. That's perfectly legit.

Now, I personally would not do business with (buy from) a manufacturer who would not provide an owner/operator/installer manual to me as the new owner of a piece of their equipment.

But it is almost certain they have the RIGHT to refuse to let me have such a document.

This is not at all what I was discussing with Matrix.

I was pointing out that IF a manufacturer was making freely available to anyone copies of their manuals ... with no restrictions expressed ... then I don't see how someone else can come along and try to tell you that you can not copy or read said manuals. Or post a link to said material.

Now, if a manufacturer expresses the idea, in whatever way, that they prohibit possession, copying/reproduction, etc except under certain circumstances (i.e. to authorized service people, or whatever) then they can certainly legally do that.

Quote Originally Posted by BACnet View Post
So perhaps from the legality side, a case could be made for obtaining a manual if you are in [legal] possession of the device itself.
Hmmm. Maybe.

If you KNOW the manufacturer prohibits anyone except certain authorized personnel (by their definition) from possessing said document, and you obtain a copy from someone besides them, you MIGHT be in violation of copyright.

Courts certainly recognize innocent acts where a person might commit a technical violation of copyright, such as a legal owner of a piece of equipment who pursues the obtaining of a copy of the type of tech manual we're speaking about. The "customary and normal" owner's manual. And the way the laws are written such a technical violation for the purpose of simply being able to USE your equipment is such that I can't see a judge ever finding that to be a criminal action. As long as you did not KNOW, or should have reasonably known, that you were violating some restriction.

Copyright was never meant to address this specific sort of problem. And does not address it well.

But generally speaking, if you obtain a manual from the manufacturer, freely given, or one of the manufacturer's dealers/resellers, who do not make specific prohibitions against use, etc ... it is HIGHLY unlikely there is an actionable violation occurring.

Granted, that you're not reselling copies for profit, depriving original copyright holder of profit from sale of item, removing any copyright notices or author identification, claiming it is your own works, etc.

Again, I was only specifically addressing the situation where Matrix seemed under the impression that one might be violating some intent of the law by linking to a manual that was already freely available for download or reading.

In my own situation, with the manufacturer's we are dealers for, their ordinary owner/operator/installers manuals are freely available. Either directly accessible by anyone, or just call em and tell them you have a piece of their equipment, give make and model, and they'll send you a copy of the manual for it.

OTOH, their proprietary programming/engineering software is NOT freely available, nor are certain training materials. Both of which they typically charge fees for.