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Do I need a permission to show pictures of a printed circuit board of a device (consumer electronics) on my personal blog? I would like to show how certain modifications to the product can be made. I took some pictures during the process. Does sharing these pictures infringe any IP rights?

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Yes, you may

The layout of the board and its appearance are not protected by copyright, because they are not expressions or any other type of copyrightable content. Even if they were (say if some protested art was displayed on the board) you are displaying this for instructional purposes, and not harming any market for the board, so fair use is likely to apply (in the U.S.).

The device could be protected by patent, but you are not copying or imitating the board, nor showing anyone how to do so, so that would not apply.

You are not selling or advertising the board, nor knock-offs of it, so trademark protection would not apply, even if a protected trademark is visible on th board. Just in case, be sure to make clear that your video is not authorized or endorsed by the maker of the board.

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    I'd be very surprised if the pattern of copper traces on the PCB is not covered by copyright. However I agree that your fair-use argument would probably be sufficient. Dec 31, 2020 at 9:35
  • The copper traces are done by routing software automatically, so I wonder if this would allow claiming any copyright? The traces are located in serveral multi-layers, so a photo would only show the top layer which would not give away much. However, I wonder if "to show how certain modifications to the product can be made" might violate some law and/or disclaimer?
    – UweD
    Dec 31, 2020 at 14:08
  • @UweD: it may violate DMCA. Dec 31, 2020 at 15:43
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    @Fizz If the instruction is of a means of circumventing a technical measure to restrict usage lawful under the DMCA, it might, yes. The question doesn't say that, however. Dec 31, 2020 at 15:48
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Circuit board layouts are not copyrightable

It appears that in the United States, circuit board layouts are not protected by copyright at all (except to the degree that they contain artistic, non-functional elements), and so creating a copy of a circuit board layout is not copyright infringement.

17 USC §101 states that

[T]he design of a useful article, as defined in this section, shall be considered a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.

Usually, circuit board layouts don't include any non-utilitarian features at all, and so they are not "pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works" and thus are not copyrightable. Copying such a circuit board in any way—even to make another circuit board and sell it as a competitor to the first one—would not be copyright infringement, if I'm reading this correctly.

On the other hand, if the circuit board layout were to incorporate, say, an artistic drawing of a cat, then that part of the circuit board would be copyrightable (to the extent that the drawing doesn't serve a utilitarian purpose). That doesn't necessarily mean that posting a photo of the circuit board that includes the drawing would be infringement; it could be fair use.

If you want to avoid any risk of infringement, it would probably suffice to take a photo of the board, and then censor any part of your photo which consists of artwork that "can be identified separately from [...] the utilitarian aspects of the [circuit board]."

Note that all this applies to the actual physical layout of the actual physical circuit board; a diagram or schematic of a circuit board is a different matter.

As a side note, I'd like to reply to this comment:

The copper traces are done by routing software automatically, so I wonder if this would allow claiming any copyright? The traces are located in serveral multi-layers, so a photo would only show the top layer which would not give away much. [...] – UweD Dec 31, 2020

Both of those statements are true in some but not all cases. I've designed a few simple circuit boards myself, and I always laid out the traces manually. Circuit boards can have varying numbers of layers. For, say, a 6-layer board, photos would only show two of the layers and would thus leave out a lot of information. For a 2-layer board, two photos would be enough to show the entire board (except for parts which are hidden underneath components or markings). Quite a lot of boards have only one layer, and for those, a single photo would suffice to show everything.

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Circuit boards are not subject to copyright but circuit board designs are

This case from Taiwan neatly explains the difference.

However, since you are not reproducing the design, you can publish your photos.

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