Abandonware Legal Status

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Senor Afro
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Abandonware Legal Status

Post by Senor Afro »

Hi there everybody,<P> I was wondering if anyone could explain the whole legal issue of "abandonware". firstly, what is strictly classified as abandoneware? and secondly, is it still a breach of copyright etc. to give copies of such software to other people, if you legally own a copy of the software?
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franpa
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Post by franpa »

abandonware is stuff that is still copyrighted by someone but is no longer supported by them and isnt being sold anywhere.

thats pretty much it.
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Post by The_Sinister_Mastermind »

*Slaps franpa with a large trout*

Abandonware is software that has been discontinued, basically it’s not made anymore, it may still be for sale, however once retailers have sold their copies they won’t be able to get any more.

It’s never legal to distribute copyrighted software, it’s as simple as that. Even if the software has been abandoned by it’s publishers it’s still not legal, copyright laws still apply.

That’s why there’s such a fuss, well with some people there’s a fuss, to get old DOS games released as freeware. Whoever holds the rights to the material is able to at any time release the software from copyright, it then becomes freeware and you can distribute it at will, so long as you don’t do so for a profit.
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Wally
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Post by Wally »

Thats why people make clones of games :)
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Vangar
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Post by Vangar »

The_Sinister_Mastermind wrote:*Slaps franpa with a large trout*

Abandonware is software that has been discontinued, basically it’s not made anymore, it may still be for sale, however once retailers have sold their copies they won’t be able to get any more.

It’s never legal to distribute copyrighted software, it’s as simple as that. Even if the software has been abandoned by it’s publishers it’s still not legal, copyright laws still apply.

That’s why there’s such a fuss, well with some people there’s a fuss, to get old DOS games released as freeware. Whoever holds the rights to the material is able to at any time release the software from copyright, it then becomes freeware and you can distribute it at will, so long as you don’t do so for a profit.
What i don't understand on this forum is that we can link from The Underdogs but not any other site hosting DOS games. It's not like this forum is going to get into any trouble for posting a link to another site, and if that was true you would get into trouble for posting Underdog links. Your not hosting it, so therefore its not going to get you into trouble.

Its like if a friend asked you where to buy pirate games, and you told them a place to get them. Your not going to get into trouble as you didn't sell them to your friend, he simply went over to another place to get it.

Even then, if you did cop any crap from a company you can remove the link, i mean SWS2B (A sonic 2 research site) Had the original Sonic ROM hosted on the site, and Sega simply emailed him to put it down, and he did. All this would be is a link, your not even hosting files? I don't understand why this rule is set...
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Wally
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Post by Wally »

This is true,

The underdogs is advertised on TV in canada or so emmzee says.


However The Underdogs do promise that if a publisher doesnt like a game on their site, they can request to have it removed until further notice.

AFAIK not many abandonware sites do this.

I tried getting nintendo to do something like iTunes music store type thing but they said some crap about copyrights ayond stuff. I bet it was a bot that replied.
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Post by emmzee »

Vangar, I agree in theory. The main reasons why the "no abandonware rule" is in place are:

a) The ESA has previously hassled my site, and not in a friendly manner. What happened was, some fool from the ESA visited the site, saw downloads for DOOM and Quake, assumed they were the full versions (which of course they were not), and emailed my host. Not me personally, they emailed my host without even talking to me. And they basically told my host that I was a 1337 pir8 and that the site be shut down. Luckily my old host was levelheaded enough not to just shut down the site. They forwarded the email to me, and I contacted the ESA (back then it was the IDSA) to explain. After about 2 weeks I finally got a 1-line reply to the effect of "oops nevermind". I don't know what the reaction of my new host would do in such a situation but somehow I doubt they'd think twice about shutting my site down. (Its a big faceless corporation you see :shifty:) Note that I wasn't even hosting any of the downloads on my own site; the fact that the site got a lot of traffic made it a target.

b) "Abandonware" is a somewhat generic term that means different things to different people. Where does the line get drawn between "abandonware" and "warez"? Does the fact that it is no longer sold in stores qualify a game as abandonware? What if it just came out last year but the publisher has stopped selling it for the momet? Does it have to be old? How old? Etc etc ad nauseum.

c) The reason that HotU is the lone exception is twofold, firstly it has obtained quasi-legit status by virtue of being featured repeatedly in mainstream media. (I wouldn't say they were "advertised" but they were featured on the old Screensavers TechTV program back in the 'day, and in little shorts they used to show between programs on TechTV/G4/G4TechTV/whatever-its-called-today) They do not post any games by ESA members and remove downloads for games at the author's request. The other reason is that people will link to HotU whether we ban the links or not :P So the second is more practical.

Ultimately I have to try to protect the site; not only is it my first site about a subject that I care a lot about, it is also part of my business (I do make $ from it) so I have to be very careful about what I do with it.

That said, PMs are not monitored and are private, so you're free to use them as you wish. :angel:
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Wally
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Post by Wally »

You protect this site? :O


The forum isnt THAT protected :P seeing its still a few versions behinds in updates :)
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Post by emmzee »

Shhhhh :P I'll get around to it :sleep:
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Post by Kazer0 »

emmzee wrote:That said, PMs are not monitored and are private, so you're free to use them as you wish. :angel:
Clarification, YOU MAY NOT SPAM, HARASS, OR ANNOY ANOTHER MEMBER THROUGH PMs.
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Vangar
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Post by Vangar »

Oh, i see your point now. Good work on the site too, i've been visiting it for many years and never knew you had a discussion forum. Maybe make the link higher on the menu :P
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