|Poll| Is Abandonware Illegal? |Poll|

General discussion for all topics related to DOS, Windows, Linux, consoles, etc. Anything to do with games.

Is Abandonware Illegal?

Yes!
16
50%
No!
13
41%
I'm not sure...
3
9%
 
Total votes: 32

User avatar
GameMaster.EXE
Way too much free time
Way too much free time
Posts: 694
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2005 2:36 pm
Location: North Texas, USA

Post by GameMaster.EXE »

Shareware is illegal? I don't think so........
Eugene Esterly III
Experienced Member
Experienced Member
Posts: 63
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2005 5:18 am
Location: Breinigsville, Pennsylvania, USA

Post by Eugene Esterly III »

GameMaster.EXE wrote:Shareware is illegal? I don't think so........
Shareware isn't illegal. What alban lusitanae was trying to explain is that some shareware authors put up their full shareware game & hope that people will be honest & pay for the game, if a person downloads this type of shareware & doesn't pay the registration fee after their trial is done, then it is illegal.
Eugene Esterly III
Experienced Member
Experienced Member
Posts: 63
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2005 5:18 am
Location: Breinigsville, Pennsylvania, USA

Post by Eugene Esterly III »

alban lusitanae wrote:Well, IMHO, abandonware is a grey area and that's why I said no.
I explain.
Legally, yes, it is illegal, but so is shareware. If I release a full game as shareware and tell you to donate me something because you are playing it, and you don't, you are officially a thief, playing shareware.
So you see, it's a grey area.
The companies couldn't care less about old games. The problem is, when they sniff an opportunity due to a retroscene rise for their games, here comes all of them denying distribution and making CDs... that never sell. But do they learn? No. They keep people going for illegal situations because they don't understand that everything as a time period and a right time to play. Anything else (like the great idea, a few weeks ago from a ZX Spectrum company to release their games in CD after denying them to the retrogamers!!!!!) is absurd. Who would pay to play legend of kyrandia today? pay the normal price, that is: 49,95?

Yes abandonware may be an illegal concept, but I personally believe it's not hurting people that much. Even because there are free games all around us anyway...
I gotta agree with you. Trying to sell old games is absurd but there are some companies who do release their old games for free. For example, the old game company called Cinemaware who made games such as Defender of The Crown, Rocket Ranger, et al offers their games for free download on their site at http://www.cinemaware.com/ , you have to register to be able to download their old games.

In fact, there is a thread over at the Neowin forums at http://www.neowin.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=65246 which lists commerical/shareware games which have been re-released for free download by the authors. I am a big poster over at the forum link above, I have found many games which have been re-released for free download.

The problem is that many of the game companies don't want to release their old games. They can't sell the games because who wants to pay $50 for an old games.

In the case of the Sinclair Spectrum company selling their old games on CD, I believe that some companies are trying to make money on the retroscene.

My favorite site is Back To The Roots which has lots of downloads of legal Commodore Amiga software.
User avatar
Gamer_V
Gaming God
Gaming God
Posts: 1145
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2005 11:46 am
Location: The Netherlands

Post by Gamer_V »

They could offer old titles for a few bucks at their site, but no...
<TABLE width="100%" cellpadding="1" border="0"><TR><TD width="50%">
robhofen wrote:no warcraft is a rip off of age of empires and so are a lot of other games
</TD><TD width="50%">
Larry Laffer wrote:Your people are n00bs :laugh:
</TD></TABLE><CENTER>Image</CENTER> .
User avatar
alban lusitanae
Member
Member
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Aug 13, 2005 5:54 am
Location: Portugal

Post by alban lusitanae »

Define a few bucks...

If you make a market survey (which I had to do indirectly since I work as a translator in a TV Network), you will see the prices go from $50 to $4.99 in the space of 6 months. That is absurd enough. If you take this idea, the idea that a product can drop $45 in 6 months, then products of 10 years ago would have no selling value, does should be released.

Cinemaware are intelligent. They see the retroscene as people who enjoyed stuff very much and want to keep playing. And then the company acts the bright way: they give the download to people who register, thus counting the download hits, thus knowing what king of gamers are out there, and making a few free market surveys based on their happy-because-they-can-play-vintage-games-for-free registered users, they release games they are sure to be a hit, because they have a large retroscene community playing precisely those kind of games.

That's the bright and clever and right thing to do, IMHO. :)
Too bad they will never release anything again... I wonder if they would let their games be distributed if they were still in business...

Eugene Esterly III quote:
In the case of the Sinclair Spectrum company selling their old games on CD, I believe that some companies are trying to make money on the retroscene

You want to ROTFL? The games are released on a CD... Remember the ZX Spectrum? They used TAPES!! Which means the games they sell are in the format of the emulator they said was illegal in the first place!!! :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

Can't they see how ridiculous they sound?! B)
"I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but I know World War IV shall be fought with sticks and rocks..."
ClassicDOSGames
Member
Member
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Sep 03, 2005 7:44 am

Post by ClassicDOSGames »

Software authors are under no obligation to release their software as freeware or release it to the public domain. A clever software company rewards its fans and gets free PR and loyalty by releasing games as freeware when they are no longer profitable, which never occurs with the most popular games. Namco has released Pac-man, among others, in classics collections on almost every console ever released.

Obviously it would be unethical to profit from someone else's work, but what about distributing it for free?

As far as the law is concerned, it's usually necessary to demonstrate damages before you can file a civil suit. In the case of a game for, say, the NES, the copyright holder of any game no longer sells or profits from it, and the hardware that plays the game is no longer sold. You couldn't buy a new copy of the game if you wanted to, so the copyright holder suffers no monetary loss if you elect to download the game from the internet. "No harm, no foul", right? However, Nintendo is planning to sell every console game they've ever released for the upcoming Nintendo Revolution, so they will be able to demonstrate that they are hurt by the distribution of NES ROMs. Any other copyright holder could easily claim that they intend to sell the game again in the future, whether they plan to or not. How much damage they could actually prove in court is mere speculation, but most people couldn't afford the legal expense of fighting them.

Note that programs for the PC, including DOS, are not in the same situation as console games because every PC ever made is backwards compatible with the original IBM XT by virtue of using the 80x86 instruction set. Modern operating systems may render older programs unusable, but your system is still entirely capable of running operating systems that could run the software. Utilities clearly exist to overcome problems of clock speed and incompatibility. "No harm, no foul" could be claimed on the grounds that a program is no longer sold but, unlike the situation with obsolete consoles, the copyright holder could begin selling the program again and most people would be able to locate software that would make it playable, or the copyright holder could provide it.

A civil suit is probably unlikely because the damages would be minimal for an old game that is no longer sold. That may be part of the reason why the criminal justice system allows such harsh penalties for piracy: you can still be punished with large fines and jail time even if a copyright holder has suffered no damages. In theory, even though Microsoft would suffer no damages if you distributed DOS 1.0 because it is not a competitor of any current operating system and is no longer sold, you could still be held criminally responsible for distributing copyrighted material and face jail time.

The question of whether or not software should become legally distributable is an easier question in my opinion. Obviously it's disappointing, even unfair, when a copyright holder refuses to sell or give away a game one of its games. No one wins in that scenario.

Even so, the patent and copyright systems were invented as a contract between owners, government, and the public. When you patent an idea or produce an original work, the government promises to protect your rights to that invention, in exchange for it eventually being given back to the world. No one owns the works of Shakespeare, nor should they. They belong to everyone now. Within Shakespeare's lifetime, he had every right to the protection of his work, had copyright law existed at the time.

I believe this system is important to the rights of authors, and also to the creation of new games. Modern games can be extremely expensive to produce, but any company's cost-benefit analysis will include the possibility of a small amount of revenue for years after a game is no longer sold in stores, such as a re-release in a classics collection. Many games, and movies, and other media, take a loss during their initial run. Even so, they have a lifetime to make the money back through sales and rentals on existing media, and again years or even decades later when new media replace them. (Is everybody ready to switch to blue laser, high definition DVD?) If my game takes a loss on the PS2, maybe we'll get some of it back when we sell it again on the PS3. PC game took a loss? Well, at least we can sell it again in 10 years as a Collector's Edition. Games that are re-released as a special boxed set sometimes sell for more than they did when they were new. If a copyright holder was obliged to continue selling a game in order to maintain their rights to it, this would influence their decisions in how much they spent on development, or even whether or not they create a new game. A software developer has to decide if they will be able to make enough money in the initial run of a game to make back the money they invested in it. If the company can't afford to take a loss, or is unsure of how a game will be received, they make elect not to make that game or sequel that someone would have surely enjoyed. What if an innovative game is ahead of its time and won't really start to sell for years?

I believe that every company has the right to retain their rights to a game that they are no longer selling. I just think that they're foolish to stop distributing it at that point. If you can't convince anyone to pay even a few dollars to download it off your site, at least earn some PR and fan loyalty by making it freeware. I'm not happy with companies that act that way, but I defend their right to be jerks if they choose to. Any release of freeware, or of a copyrighted material to the public domain, must be voluntary. If I had written a popular game, I would want to be protected by the law for as long as I felt like it.

My advice is to continue to encourage fans to contact software companies and ask them to make their games available. Businesses know that people are lazy. For every one person who is ticked off enough to write an email, only 1/10th as many people will care enough to phone, and only 1/100th will care enough to write a letter. (Not exact data, but it went something like that in my business courses in college). That means that a written letter carries more weight than an email. If you want to get an abandoned game released as freeware, why don't you try writing a polite and professional letter and see if they respond. They probably will at least give you the time of day, even if they don't or can't give you what you want.

In the meantime, I have a small number of petitions going at www.classicdosgames.com/petitions.html. I selected shareware games because shareware authors tend to be the most grateful to their fans and often give back to the community be releasing their games as freeware. The exception is Zork, and you can read about the reasons for that petition in this other thread: http://www.dosgames.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6128.

I hope that answers the question!
Last edited by ClassicDOSGames on Mon Oct 10, 2005 1:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Today entirely the maniac there is no excuse with the article." Get free DOS games at www.classicdosgames.com

Help build the user-editable DOS Games Compatibility Wiki.
User avatar
Quatroking
Member
Member
Posts: 22
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2005 2:31 am

Post by Quatroking »

I DON'T CARE! i download at leas 10 Abandoned games at a month! (first shareware version, then full)
IM FUCKING EXTREEEEEEEME!!!!
User avatar
dosraider
Admin
Admin
Posts: 9243
Joined: Tue Mar 15, 2005 2:06 pm
Location: ROTFLMAO in Belgium.

Post by dosraider »

Quatroking wrote: ...at leas 10 Abandoned games at a month! ...
And what you do with those ? Pile them up ?

You see, it's that kind of behaviour that's giving abandonware a bad name. Have you ever even finished a game? Or do you cheat your way to the end, and see: another one to chalk up on my scorebord!! Yeeehaaaw .

And also you probably don't realise there is a difference between abandonware and warez.
User avatar
Tombstone
Experienced Member
Experienced Member
Posts: 51
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2003 2:30 pm

Post by Tombstone »

Abandonware. The very name implies that it's being thrown away or 'abandoned'.

I see it as the digital equivalent of dumpster-diving. As they say; "One man's trash..."
User avatar
The_Sinister_Mastermind
<font color=red><b>Overlord</b></font>
Posts: 2744
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2005 11:20 am
Location: NSW, Australia, Down Under Verse

Post by The_Sinister_Mastermind »

Tombstone wrote:Abandonware. The very name implies that it's being thrown away or 'abandoned'.

I see it as the digital equivalent of dumpster-diving. As they say; "One man's trash..."
I second that.
<center>I am the master, fear none but me. I am the master of all that will be... Image

Are you looking for Z? - DOSBox & D-Fend Guide! - I’m looking for 4 games!
Best Of Windows Entertainment Package

DOSgames IRC is back! now with DOS Trivia!
Server: irc.p2p-network.net
Channel: #DOSgames
For mIRC users: irc://irc.p2p-network.net/DOSgames

Please don’t PM me every time you can’t find a game, I really don’t have time to logon to the site that often let alone be your personal assistant.
Just use the “Finding Old Games” subforum like everyone else.</center>
User avatar
Ro@m
<i>Hamachi Guardian</i>
Posts: 1556
Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 1:34 pm
Location: Croatia

Post by Ro@m »

One man's trash?I wouldn't say that.
Kazer0 wrote:WHO ARE ALL YOU PEOPLE?
User avatar
The_Sinister_Mastermind
<font color=red><b>Overlord</b></font>
Posts: 2744
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2005 11:20 am
Location: NSW, Australia, Down Under Verse

Post by The_Sinister_Mastermind »

Well yeah I guess not, but I’m not sure why so many people think abandon ware is illegal. It’s as good as throwing something away. I mean it’s no longer protected by copyright laws so how can anyone consider acquiring abandon ware to be illegal?
<center>I am the master, fear none but me. I am the master of all that will be... Image

Are you looking for Z? - DOSBox & D-Fend Guide! - I’m looking for 4 games!
Best Of Windows Entertainment Package

DOSgames IRC is back! now with DOS Trivia!
Server: irc.p2p-network.net
Channel: #DOSgames
For mIRC users: irc://irc.p2p-network.net/DOSgames

Please don’t PM me every time you can’t find a game, I really don’t have time to logon to the site that often let alone be your personal assistant.
Just use the “Finding Old Games” subforum like everyone else.</center>
User avatar
Wally
King of the Carrot Flowers
Posts: 4708
Joined: Thu May 01, 2003 8:30 pm

Post by Wally »

Copywrite laws last 75 years :)
User avatar
The_Sinister_Mastermind
<font color=red><b>Overlord</b></font>
Posts: 2744
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2005 11:20 am
Location: NSW, Australia, Down Under Verse

Post by The_Sinister_Mastermind »

:wow:

Still the parent companies don't seem to care so why should anyone else?
<center>I am the master, fear none but me. I am the master of all that will be... Image

Are you looking for Z? - DOSBox & D-Fend Guide! - I’m looking for 4 games!
Best Of Windows Entertainment Package

DOSgames IRC is back! now with DOS Trivia!
Server: irc.p2p-network.net
Channel: #DOSgames
For mIRC users: irc://irc.p2p-network.net/DOSgames

Please don’t PM me every time you can’t find a game, I really don’t have time to logon to the site that often let alone be your personal assistant.
Just use the “Finding Old Games” subforum like everyone else.</center>
WebDemon1
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Dec 10, 2005 9:19 am

Post by WebDemon1 »

I agree with that last post :laugh:

Good point, Red Sun :thumbsup:
Who knows what I'm gonna do next?
You do?
Could you please tell me?
spazticbutter
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2008 9:26 pm

abandonware

Post by spazticbutter »

I've always had a personal view of abandonware. At first, I thought that it was legal and I had found some miraculous door to my early 90's childhood games, but then I realized that it had some legality issues. Since that realization, I've only used abandonware to play old games which I OWN (box, floppy, and all) and cannot install on my current computer due to a lack of a large floppy drive, compatibility, etc. and for games whose companies have long since been bankrupt and have not merged with any other companies (I always do a research on the background of old game companies in order to decide whether I should download it or not)
That's how I deal with abandonware...I really don't see a problem with downloading games that will NEVER come out again due to the death of companies or that I will never be able to play unless I have an old floppy drive.
As far as I see it, we are the ones who are actually keeping history alive by trying to perpetuate enjoyment from such games :)
User avatar
abyss
Moloral Compass
Moloral Compass
Posts: 754
Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2006 6:13 pm

Post by abyss »

It's illegal because if the company is still around or if another company owns the assets of the company that made the game than it is illegal because they have the choice if they want to put the game in a compliation pack or not do anything with it. It's their choice. If an old game by a company that's no longer around and doesn't have it assets owned by any other company or isn't in any ownership ( including the rights to the game) then technically those assets are up for grabs and the game can be freely downloaded legally until some company uses those assets.
<i>Formerly known as Hulk Hogan.</i>
User avatar
wardrich
"Some Troll"
Posts: 3940
Joined: Sat Sep 14, 2002 9:08 pm
Location: Ontario Canada

Post by wardrich »

Seriously, work on your run-on sentences... they make no sense.
User avatar
CPT Worm
<font color=gold>American Hero</font>
<font color=gold>American Hero</font>
Posts: 1383
Joined: Tue May 25, 2004 12:04 pm
Location: Shiloh, IL
Contact:

Post by CPT Worm »

Locked. Please don't revive old topics.
Sustinendum Victoriam!
Locked