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Abandonware: Good, Or Evil (Or awesome)

posted by Pvt._Public on - last edited - Viewed by 3.4K users
I know this is something that a lot of people are always talking about and i also know that there may be a lot of people who are going to call me filthy pirating scum for this and ALSO that there may be another thread much like this hidden elsewhere in the forum but basically, what do you think? Abandonware good or bad?
Personally, having been born back in 1990 i missed out on all the classic games such as Maniac Mansion and whatnot. Also i was a little too young at the time to think that most of the games around then were any good. Where were the explosions? now days though i find my self spending vast sums of money continuously buying classic games. Some games though are impossible to find (at least in NZ). The point is that i download a lot of abandonware. Indiana Jones and the fate of atlantis being the latest one (please, no links). I am aware that some of the people at telltale game may have worked on some of these classic games but i'm sure they know what i'm talking about. Once again, what do you think? should Lucasarts etc. continue saying that i shouldn't download their games despite there being no other way to get them or not?
51 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • Yes, I'm aware of how pirates define the term in order to make themselves feel better, but it doesn't actually exist from a legal standpoint, right? A game can only be legally downloaded if a) the copyright-holder makes it freeware, b) the holder makes it public domain, or c) the copyright expires. And considering, thanks to recent laws, that said copyrights don't expire for like 95 years after failure to renew, that's not even a possibility yet.

    So really, there's no legal way to download a game that isn't already offered for download by the copyright-holding party. I mean obviously people download games all the time, but the fact that companies don't sell the games anymore doesn't really matter or make it any less illegal.
  • There's no such thing as abandonware, is there?
    You are correct Udvarnoky in essence. Obviously there are many games termed abandonware - but even the people who host abandonware sites acknowledge that what they are doing is technically illegal. They typically have a policy that although it is illegal they will continue to distribute the games until the copyright holder makes some noise, at which point they pull the games off their site. Obviously since many of the copyright holders don't care that their games are being distributed for free since they are out of business, the game is so outdated, or for other reasons abandonware will continue to exist.

    Basically it is like rolling slowly through a stop sign without stopping. Where I live in California, even if a police officer sees you do that they will rarely stop you. Technically I break the law every day doing this - I don't have a problem with it. I also have to understand that if a cop does see me and decides to give me a ticket I have earned it and can't argue.

    The same goes for Abandonware - it is sometimes nice that these games are there, but as soon as someone gets upset about it, we don't really have the right to be mad. It sucks that certain companies can't see the light and release these games for free themselves, or declare them freeware, but the bottom line is that the copyright laws are fundamentally very good and important and we should be happy that they are there.

    Sorry for the long post.
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    ok since this thread is getting legal lets clarify some things before somebody in here gets sued for defamation ;)
    1)Everything is legal unless a law says it is not.
    2) We have two kinds of laws a)local/country laws and b)international laws
    3)International laws can be only applied in a country if the country agrees and signs some kind of legal document.
    4) sometimes there are conflicts between international laws and local/country laws because one law's content may negate or oppose the content the other law has, this is usually very messy when it happens and things simply get "stuck".
    5) laws can have "legal windows"( I translated that term directly from Greek so it might not make any sense- I'll try to explain) these "windows" are parameters/situations/conditions that might occur that the people who made the law have not thought of or the law is badly written or confusing that does not cover those cases or the law enforcers can't understand if it does or does not cover those cases.
    6) for certain issues, like the legal/illegal download of games, there are no laws and in order for the law enforcers/courts to deal with those issues they have merged them with other issues with which they have some common characteristics and for which laws exist, but since these laws are not made for those issues the amount of legal windows is huge
    now to get back to the abandonware issue, there is no specific law for that issue(in Greece at least, and I am sure in many other countries too) so what has happened is what I describe in part 6 above, which i don't want to write again, and this other law under which this issue falls, says in simple words "it is illegal to download a game that is commercially available" nothing else. the legal window here is that downloading games that are no longer commercially available is legal because the law does not make it illegal
    and the really wicked part in this legal mayhem is that if a Greek abandonware site has some non commercial games on it the only way they can be removed is if the copyrights owner wants them removed (international copyright law etc) but this can only happen if the country accepts that international law( Greece does) however the "wicked" part in our case is that the site can put the games up again seconds after they are removed because the Greek law in this case permits it not by legalizing but from not illegalizing it, that is case of law conflict. Funny eh? Anyway since this post is getting huge and i have enough material to write a book I will stop here with a small summary an apology and a hint for those who might have though "what do we care about Greek laws etc". Summary: Abandonware sites and downloading content from them is not software piracy and it is not illegal not because it is legal but because it is not illegal. Apology: sorry for the size but I really had to get it out of my system, Hint: websites(some or all, need to do some more research on this issue) are treated in the same way as commercial airplanes/ships and embassies are treated. :D that is as part of that country in which they belong and the laws and regulations of that country are the only ones that are enforced. Happy downloads kids
  • so legal this thread now is. (damn that sounded like yoda )
    I think people just wanted to have peoples opinion apart from how legal it is or not.
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    Yes, I'm aware of how pirates define the term in order to make themselves feel better
    Oh, very nice.
    the fact that companies don't sell the games anymore doesn't really matter or make it any less illegal.
    Yes, I'm aware of how many demigods like to push the term "illegality" (or derivative) in order to make themselves feel superior...
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    I think people just wanted to have peoples opinion apart from how legal it is or not.
    Unfortunately, this is a topic that is very difficult to keep out of the legal spotlight just because of its very nature. The subject of the thread ("good or evil") lends itself to that type of discussion as well, at least on the surface. Perhaps a better title might have been "Good, Not Worth Playing (or Awesome)" to try to keep it in line with people's opinions of playability and gaming value.

    But I'll try to bring the thread back into that particular topic. It's clear that if Udvarnoky and I do not just agree to disagree, this will become a much hotter thread than it should be. We're obviously going to end up polarizing the thread if the legal discussion continues. I suggest we deviate from that course immediately.

    The value, of course, depends on the game, just like anything else. But for the most part, the over-complexities of today's games often make the simplicity of older games very appealing when the focus was on the game more than the "oohs" and "aahs" that seem to push today's games. There were some games that were utter crap while some still stand the test of time, IMHO.

    Abandonware that I still enjoy from days long past, many from companies that have long since vanished:
    - "Magic Carpet" (PC DOS - Bullfrog)
    - "Defender of the Crown" (C64 - Cinemaware)
    - "Jumpman" (C64 - Epyx)
    - "Space Taxi" (C64 - Muse)
    - "Arctic Fox" (C64 - Electronic Arts)
    - "Stellar 7" / "Nova 9" (PC DOS - Sierra On-Line)
    - "Tank Wars" / "Scorched Earth" (PC DOS - Unknown)
    - "Airborne Ranger" (C64 - Microprose)
    - "LHX" (PC DOS - Electronic Arts)
    - "Su-27 Stormovik" (PC DOS - Electronic Arts)

    Great, great stuff. All of it. So-o-o-o many hours spent playing these games.

    And sometimes -- sometimes! -- I actually get a hankering to fire up the old Atari 2600 emulator and have an adventure going after that blasted duck ... er ... dragon. :D
  • Yes, I'm aware of how many demigods like to push the term "illegality" (or derivative) in order to make themselves feel superior...
    Clearly you have a knack for misinterpretation and overreacting. I'm out.
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    Clearly you have a knack for misinterpretation and overreacting.
    I've dealt with far too many people since before you were born who think that "the law is the law is the law is the law, black and white, no ifs, ands, or buts, and you should be in prison if you do anything that even slightly violates it." Whereas I have no love for software pirates and the enormous financial losses that they cause the software industry, I have no love for "law is abosolute" supporters either. The emphases in your statement and the accusation within it lent your position the latter type of attitude.
    I'm out.
    Then back to the discussion at hand.
  • yeah no need to waste your time on this youngin
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