Old video game manuals are often a lot of fun as you get to see artist’s renderings of 8-bit characters. Some of them even provide useful information, maybe providing maps or point values for certain enemies. A lot of people, including myself, just throw out the manual and pop in the game as soon as they get it. Hence, replacementdocs seems like a really wonderful and helpful service.
However, this site is far from being legal, as it’s allowing access to copyrighted material. What replacementdocs does is no different from any average Joe scanning a novel in its entirety and then placing it on the internet for people to download. The person who has copyright on that material loses out on possible revenue they could gain from selling that book.
The majority of manuals on replacementdocs are out-of-print and even if you have an old game, I highly doubt you can call Nintendo (or Atari) and ask for a replacement manual, which makes replacementdocs helpful. However, copyright law as I know it (hell, I don’t know much about law) covers the author of the work up to seventy years past their death, which means that all video games and all products made with the video game (i.e. manuals) are still covered for a long time. Therefore, all of the manuals on replacementdocs are going against copyright law.
Sure, this is illegal, but I doubt many companies will do anything about it. Just because replacementdocs is performing an illegal act does not mean that the publishers of the video game will sue. Actually, this illegal act may be beneficial for the company as it will put there name out there to the public more easily. This, in turn, could lead to people being interested in the game (or other games in the series) just by seeing the manual. Video game publishers are always looking to put their names out there so that they can gain more revenue. Upon seeing a site like replacementdocs, these companies probably did a cost-benefit analysis and thought that this service is beneficial, especially since it didn’t cost them any money to host the site or upload the manuals.
This same logic could probably be applied to sites that host illegal ROMs to download. Older games are not being produced anymore, so putting them out free to download might actually help the company keep interest among new consumers. This being said, Table Salt does not condone downloading questionable content. If you have interest in a game (or manual), rent it or buy it. Developers and publishers need the money in order to make more great games, so every bit helps. Also, while you can go to replacementdocs, download the manuals at your own risk.