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Using Circuits And Copyright Issues
Using Circuits And Copyright Issues
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Old 24th August 2004, 07:26 AM   #1
MrGuitardeath is offline MrGuitardeath  United States
Join Date: Nov 2005
Default Using Circuits And Copyright Issues

COUNTLESS times I have given amp comanies and online electronical buffs ideas and designs and they've been used.

My problem is that my education in audio/musical electronics is that of a novice hobbyist.
So I am at the mercy of the internet and all the ppl good enough to offer their circuits and expertise.

Here's the issue. I have been given the opportunity to design and build an amp. Since I am not an engineer this means using FREELY POSTED CIRCUITS FOUND ONLINE.

Now once these circuits are combined and I've made some mods and alterations, I am clear of breaking copyright laws.

However, I know how I felt when my designs were used and the conditions I made if they were to be used were not fullfilled. (CRATE!!!!!!!)

The difference here is the circuits I'm using were GIVEN to EVERYONE.
The sites I pulled them from clearly said feel free to use them and modify them.

Sooooo, once I do this and if by chance my amp went to market, am I going to have these ppl angry over this???

I mean they say yes I can use it, anyone can, but if I were to profit from it they are going to have issue?
If so why even give this information away???

I'm just trying to get my feet on the ground and possibly get an income.

Bottom line is the major guitar and music related corporations producing gear get a lot of their circuits and product ideas online from DIY sites such as this one.

So what's everyones feelings on this??????
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Old 24th August 2004, 12:25 PM   #2
SY is offline SY  United States
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Using Circuits And Copyright Issues
I'm not a lawyer, so take these comments in that context:

You cannot copyright a circuit. You can copyright a board pattern or a particular drawing (e.g., a schematic).

A circuit may or may not be patentable, but you lose many rights by disclosing it before patenting. Patents are expensive and normally difficult to enforce.
"You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I'll tell you what his 'pinions is."
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Old 24th August 2004, 09:22 PM   #3
MrGuitardeath is offline MrGuitardeath  United States
Join Date: Nov 2005
Default Right on

Thanks, I was also familar with this much information though.

....copyrighting a schematic essentiially is protecting your circuit, that is why I worded it that way.

And yeah, protecting anything is a joke now days. Everyone infringes copyrights more than anything.

China seems to disreguard all global patent laws and anyone in the U.S.A. that breaks them you have to sue for royalties.

I have even read of many cases where the person suing lost their patent rights!!!

My main concern is how the guys donating these circuits feel.
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Old 24th August 2004, 10:20 PM   #4
OliverD is offline OliverD  Germany
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Default Re: Right on

You cannot copyright a circuit by copyrighting the schematic drawing. The copyright protects only the drawing itself, not the circuit it shows. There are indeed a great many schematics floating around on the net with some kind of "licensing agreement". Some prohibit commercial use of the circuit shown, which is legally irrelevant.

You can only protect the design (meaning appearance) of your product, your trademarks, logos, product literature... And of course, you can try to get a patent for your very special circuit topologies...

That said, there is of course the moral issue. You probably know how much effort is needed to even make a simple circuit sound right. I don't like others to simply copy my design and make profit from my hard work. But I can only ask them to desist.

Simply copying a complete design is very different from being inspired by other's ideas. This is how progress is made. If everybody would have to start from scratch, where would we be now?

My main concern is how the guys donating these circuits feel.
If you feel bad about it, ask them.
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Old 26th August 2004, 12:16 PM   #5
Optical is offline Optical  New Zealand
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Just think of the countless hours guitarists all over the world will spend playing music through your great design, and how happy they will be with how great it sounds..

(then share the design with us )
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Old 19th October 2004, 12:06 AM   #6
amz-fx is offline amz-fx  United States
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Here's a page on cloning circuits:

regards, Jack
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Old 19th October 2004, 10:36 AM   #7
Enzo is offline Enzo  United States
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This is a big world, and a lot of things we think up are not so unique as we think, and many are things that any person who has some background can come up with. Taking a Plexi front end and mating it to a BAssman power amp is not unique even if you thought it up on your own. They call this sort of thing "obvious" sort of in the sense that dumping poppy seeds into the ranch dressing would occur to most any chef at some point even if they had never seen it.

I suspect that the design departments at the big factories are not culling circuits here and places like here. They can design anything they want. What they might find by surfing is features and performance things that buyers want. In other words, if you design and offer up some preamp with three separate channels - three sets of controls - and lots of people are asking for such a thing, they wouldn't steal your schematic, they would just write down "three channel, separate controls" and go make it happen. They would have to build your circuit to hear it to decide whether to steal it or not, and they wouldn't bother.

One has to consider how many communications Fender or Peavey or whomever receives. They are not so much looking at a design someone sends them for circuit ideas, they are counting how many times someone asks for what that circuit does. If I come up with a swell bias selector that cleverly switches between cathode and fixed bias sources adn offer it to Fender, I can count on them having already thought of it. But when a lot of folks write in asking for such or suggesting it or even offering the design, THEN they consider putting it in an amp. But they don't need me to tell them how. What was the last time you saw something really innovative in a tube amp? All the amps I see through my shop are essentially the same. Only the details differ. Ther are different phase splitters, and diferent bias systems. One, two, three channels, high gain. low gain, whatever. EL84, 6L6, 50 watt, 100 watt. But under the skin, one is like another.

But if you get a new schematic for a tube amp, other than that it may be drawn in a clumsy fashion, is there ever any real surprises? What in the world does this circuit do? Not often. Last time I had an aha was the noise reduction diodes in a Peavey XXX. Now they have used them in the new JSX, but they added a pot across them to make the effect adjustable. That improvement was obvious once the diode concept was there. But I would be real surprised that the diode idea was really new in the engineering community.

I recently modded an amp for a guy - some little Traynor something - and he wanted a bit of a gain boost. I noticed the input stage was unbypassed, so I added a bypass cap to up the gain a bit. Further, I put a 1 meg resistor in series with the bottom end of the cap and added a footswitch jack to short across the resistor. That way the cap can be essentially switched in and out with a footswitch. The resistor was there to keep the cap charged so there was no pop when the switch was pushed. The guy liked it, it was just enough without destroying the character of the amp.

I didn't steal the circuit, I just did what was obvious from knowledge of circuits. I suspect there are amps with exactly that circuit in it, and to share the idea with another tech, all I would have to do was say "bypass the cathode in V1" He wouldn't have to streal my drawings. ANd if he never talked to me, I bet he could have come up with it. There are numerous ways to affect gain in a stage, but bypass is at the top of most lists. Or at least high up.

And if I am just recombining stages from other places, I can't expect much protection. Turn the cheeseburger upside down and you do not have a new sandwich.

I mean no ill by this, it is hard to watch something you did fly off into the sunset. If I tell a joke to someone, I can count on it being retold - if it is any good - and I will get no credit. And I do write my own - if the ones I steal are used up. But one must look at his work and be really cold about what about this is really unique. Changing component values, adding a cathode follower before the tone stack, switchable rectifiers or bias ir sag resistors, selectabel bypass components, adjustable anything that would normally be fixed, and so on are not really innovations. if I sit down with a blank page, I can draw an amp in short order. I don't have the Bassman committed to menory, but i bet my design would be very close to the Bassman because the circuitry in the Bassman is right out of the manuals. My hour of work, and the time spent massaging the values would result in something that sounded good, but I would have been reinventuing the wheel.

You want unique? COme up with a direct drive push-pull output. Might need a new speaker type and who knows what, but I have never seen it. But there would also need to be a reason to do it. MAybe a true differential input, or the whole damned amp is differential - or would that just be balanced? Nah, mic pres already do that. Maybe some sort of tube servo circuit. I don't know, I am not that creative.

The other side of the coin is that when you are putting together parts of other things, what if anything are you really stealing? No one can come after you for using a 1.5k resistor in the cathode and a 100k plate resistor. Just about any bypas cap you can think of has been used. Want a constant current diode instead? Been done. Pick your favorite tone stack. If it is the same as Fender, point out it is also the same as Marshall with a bit diferent part values. For you to have stolen a circuit wou;d require the offended entity to demonstrat that it was unique to their circuitry in the first place. If you decide to use LDRs for channel switching, Mesa can hardly object. If you use Cliff jacks instead of switchcrafdt, Crate can't *****. In other words, what is in your design that is so unique that the company you got it from can claim it.

I think the only thing you would be concerned about is out and out cloning and selling them as such.
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Old 19th October 2004, 02:15 PM   #8
MrGuitardeath is offline MrGuitardeath  United States
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Default designs stolen......

Actually all the big amp companies do seem to cull these sites looking for new designs.....I'm not saying specific circuits but circuit ideas and overall amp designs.

They are looking for inovative and cutting edge designs that will appeal to the modern guitarists. The tube crowd is growing smaller and smaller and they have already cornered and satisfied that market. Hence the reason we see very few new tube models coming out from the big name manufacturers.

I have actually had several VERY unique designs stolen from me by Crate and now VOX.

Unless your circuit makes up a device that has never existed, you can't easily patent it. You can copyright it but someone needs to make one minor alteration and they are no longer copyright infringing.

DESIGNS however are a totally different story. You can design an amp without even having the skills to engineer it, copyright that design and be protected. If a manufacturer produces something similar to your design, you do in fact have a case.
I made the mistake of not doing so then posting my designs on sites such as this one asking for engineering advice.

I also foolishly submitted some design ideas to Crate who used them against the terms they were offered. I got nothing and they now have a several new models.

In such cases it had nothing to do with circuit design, simply model design.
......Odd that the shell of things is protected and the guts basically are not.
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Old 20th October 2004, 12:20 PM   #9
amz-fx is offline amz-fx  United States
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Actually all the big amp companies do seem to cull these sites looking for new designs...
That is true without a doubt... I sometimes talk with people from big companies who have seen something of mine online. I have even got consulting jobs from amp companies who saw some of my work and then hired me for a project, so they do cruise forums.

Cheeks, check this out:

regards, Jack
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