Softcopy: second thoughts

Subject: Softcopy: second thoughts
From: geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 1997 09:01:33 -0500

Having read some of the followups to Tammy's question, it's
obvious I missed one important possibility: that Tammy's
company is producing components that other companies (VARs
or OEMs) will incorporate wholus bolus in their own
products. That leads to some very interesting ethical and
legal complications.

The problem is the tradeoff between two sets of rights: the
VARs have a right to modify the docs in such a manner that
the docs adequately represent how the product will appear
within their larger product, but the product's users have
the right to benefit from your quality control and
safeguards. Since you know the product far better than the
VAR does, the users deserve your best efforts, not someone
else's. As soon as you release the docs into someone else's
hands, you lose control of the final result, and that puts
you on shaky legal ground: is the VAR responsible or are

Personally, I'd be most comfortable with providing the
documentation solely as source material and requiring the
VAR to sign a legally binding agreement to create their own
documentation based on yours... and to assume full
responsibility for the documentation they create, absolving
you of responsibility for any errors that didn't exist in
your source documentation. That might not be such good
customer service, though. On the other hand, there's a good
profit opportunity there too (customizing your docs to
conform with each VAR's individual product)... provided you
can figure out how to manage this process.

Is it worth providing us with more details so we can delve
deeper into this, or have we given you enough food for

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Disclaimer: Speaking for myself, not FERIC.

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