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A question about abandonware

Posted: Tue Jul 20, 2004 10:21 am
by Commander Keen
well.. what is it exactly and why is it illegal?

Posted: Tue Jul 20, 2004 10:58 am
by Interon
Abandonware is old software that is no longer for sale. It is still protected by copyright law despite its lack of commercial availibility. Copyright on a game lasts 50 years after the game's author dies (75 years in the USA).

So if all the people at Apogee died today, you would have to wait until 2054 or 2079 before Duke Nukem 3-D/Stargunner/etc. would be freeware/public domain.

However it may be possible for the fair dealing clause to allow you to play old games no longer for sale.

Posted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 4:43 pm
by Roo
In theory - not sure if this has ever been formally tested - you can legally download abandonware if you have purchased the game in some form and still on the original discs and box. Sites providing true abandonware will usually have a disclaimer to this effect.

The smarter companies abandon their older games as freeware because (1) it is uneconomical to support them and (2) they are unlikely to sell in volume to support endless re-releases (with obvious exceptions, e.g Half-Life and The Sims are, last I checked, the 2 best selling PC games of all time, and popularity is unlikely to die down even after the release of the sequels).

Posted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 4:46 pm
by Interon
It would be alright if the companies bundled their old DOS games with their new games. All it takes is a folder on the CD-ROM, and put in some ZIP or SFX files.

Apogee did that at one time, buy Duke Nukem 3D and get the old Duke platform games (full versions) for free.