question about copyrights and "open" standards.

Subject: question about copyrights and "open" standards.
From: Matthew Kaster <matthewkaster -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 17 Aug 2006 10:54:51 -0700 (PDT)

Hey all

This is my first post here. I?m relatively new to the
technical writing, and I'm looking for some quick
advice just to CMA.

I've recently been asked to write the technical manual
for a new CPU board designed by a small local company.
The board is based on a form factor that (I've been
told) is an "Open" standard. Several other
manufactures are already selling boards based on this
spec. The design guides and technical specification
papers are all freely available on the web, but they
are also clearly copyrighted. In this case the
copyright holder is the biggest manufacturer in that

This is all new to me, so I said ?play it safe? and
get permission to use the information. But the
Project Manager who hired me does not want me to
contact the company that owns the copyright (since the
new board will soon be in direct competition with
their product).

My question: If a specification paper is freely
available but copyrighted, are the numbers considered
copyright material as well? Can I include stuff like
mechanical dimensions, maximum ratings, etc, and
mention what they are based on and where I got them?
Or do I need specific permission to put any number
from that spec into the new manual?

For example: it would be much better to say ?our board
is X by Y inches in size, per the Specification (see
link)? instead of ?I can?t list the exact dimensions
for our product because it's a knock-off; please refer
to our competitors web-site.? OK I?m exaggerating a
bit, but you can clearly see how silly it could get.
I?m willing to write my own manual, but without those
numbers it?s going to be a pretty useless document.

This is all new territory for me, so I figured it
would be good to ask around first. I've kinda
stumbled backwards into this industry and don't quite
understand all the rules yet. It would be good to
listen to anyone who has advice related to this topic.

Any help appreciated.

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