RE: Do you give permission to use your materials?

Subject: RE: Do you give permission to use your materials?
From: Brent L Jones <brent -dot- jones -at- jadesolutions -dot- com>
To: "'Megan Golding'" <megan -dot- golding -at- dvtsensors -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 16:41:28 -0700

Megan Golding [mailto:megan -dot- golding -at- dvtsensors -dot- com]
wrote on 24 January 2000 13:04:

> I work for a small company writing manuals . A customer of
> ours wants to
> customize existing training manuals that I wrote. I wonder
> how frequently
> writers give permission to use sections of their manuals. I told our
> customer I'd waiver the copyright for them and provide them
> source documents
> to take sections they need for their materials.


> Do any techwhirlers give permission to others to use what
> they've written?
> Does anyone see any really big pitfalls to this "open"
> approach where I make
> my document source available to others to mold for their own uses?

I've always found this to be a risky thing to do, even if it's sometimes
unavoidable. You are giving up control of the document, so there's no way
you can enforce its quality/accuracy/etc. from that point on. There are,
therefore, some significant liability issues. If innacurate/incomplete
information in the "customized" docs results in injury, financial loss,
product damage, etc. to someone down the line, who is liable? Along w/
waiving the copyright, make sure the customer signs an agreement freeing you
from liability for *anything* that results from the use of the customized
documents. I'd definitely consult your company's legal dept. if you have

And, as you seem to realize, you're also putting your reputation for quality
at risk--if the customized docs are garbage, and your company's name is on
them, people are going to associate them w/ your company.

Another point to consider, if you haven't, is maintenance. When the
documented product changes, how does that change cascade down to all of your
docs, including the customized ones? Since you no longer control them, you
can't ensure that they're current. Again, this can give your company and
product a black eye with who discover they have outdated documents.

Also, there are some financial considerations--make sure the necessary
people in your company know that you are essentially licensing or giving
away intellectual property owned by the company.


Brent Jones, Documentation Manager
bjones -at- JadeSolutions -dot- com
JADE Solutions
Office: 303 448 1019 x 40
FAX: 303 449 1548

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