Re: reasons for online

Subject: Re: reasons for online
From: Chet Ensign <Chet_Ensign%LDS -at- NOTES -dot- WORLDCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 1994 10:31:16 EDT

Virginia L. Krenn asks:

If the documentation is online, would it be customary to allow
multiple copies to be printed?

That depends on the copyright and the nature of the contract with the software
company. One company I know offers site licenses to their software that
includes unlimited rights to copy and distribute any or all of the manuals.
Last year, they put the doc on CD-ROM with the same unlimited right to print.

In general, though, if the doc is online or on paper, the same copyright
concerns apply. In fact, a friend at the AAP gave me a paper they wrote about a
decision against Texaco in which the company was fined lots of money for
copyright violations. That case involved xeroxing, but the AAP holds that the
same principle applies to electronic forms.

Caryn Rizell writes:

I got to thinking the other day about the reasons that we are putting our
documentation online. Are we doing it to give the customer easier access to
help, or are we doing it to save our company money in printing costs?

I've seen companies do it for both reasons. I've also seen situations where the
company thought they were going to save money by replacing paper with
electronic versions, and then had the marketing department kill the idea at the
last minute, so that they were stuck with both.

My feeling is that where companies do it in concert with their customers, it
will be well received and successful. But that calls for a lot of effort on the
part of the company. The company needs to test the waters with their customers.
It needs to know how its customers use existing information, how they would
like to better use it, etc. etc. In other words, a goodly amount of customer
research and testing needs to go into the project right from the start.

That translates into a lot of investment up front. But companies that try to do
it just to save a few bucks are probably already in some trouble anyway, or
they wouldn't be trying to nickel and dime like that. Those companies run a
very big risk of further antagonizing their clients.


Chet Ensign
Director, Electronic Publishing
Logical Design Solutions, Inc.

Phone: 908-771-9221
Email: chet -at- lds -dot- com
Email: censign -at- interserv -dot- com

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