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Everything Else » Copyright questions of hardware and software

June 30, 2013
by jmuthe
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I started this thread because it was related to the thread “How would I sell a machine I create”. Basically, I was thinking that one day in the future I might want to build and try to sell a machine and I want to ask a few questions about copyright laws. My first question is regarding the components. I know that a business can't just buy one product and sell it themselves without getting the proper permission from the person selling it to you. For example, you can't just buy a bunch of bottles of Pepsi and then sell them without the Pepsi company's permission. However, does that apply when you use multiple parts to make your own circuit. If I use 10 different components for my circuit then would I have to contact the manufacturer of each component to ask them for permission to use them in the machine that I’m selling?

My next question is in regards to software. I would of course use my own code in the main program of my microprocessor but what do I do if I want to use someone else’s library or header file in my main program. I know that the people who wrote them on the Internet wrote it for us to use freely but does that mean we could use it for something that we plan to sell? Do we have to ask for permission first? If so, then do we have to pay them to use their header files? If yes, then how do we pay them? Do we pay them once and have unlimited access to their code, or do we pay a certain amount for each machine we put it in or do we pay them a certain percentage of our profits? If they say that I can’t use their header files and I need it to complete my code then what should I do?

Lastly, regarding the circuit design. The majority of the circuit design should be my own design but if there was a small section of it that was copied from somewhere else then could I use it and if so would I have to ask permission first? If I was told that I couldn’t use it then what should I do?

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