12/02/2006

USA Legalizes Abandonware

According to PCS Intel, the U.S. Copyright Office has issued new rules, effective November 26, enabling public access to commercially unavailable software.
New rules officially permit the use and distribution of so-called Abandonware, or software that is no longer generally available to the public (in the form it was originally released). Meaning, you can now legally use MAME to emulate classic arcade games on your phone (assuming it's powerful enough... and the game is no longer available).
The above article speaks specifically about phone software, and the good news from the original text of Rulemaking on Exemptions from Prohibition on Circumvention of Technological Measures that Control Access to Copyrighted Works is:
Computer programs and video games distributed in formats that have become obsolete and that require the original media or hardware as a condition of access, when circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of preservation or archival reproduction of published digital works by a library or archive. A format shall be considered obsolete if the machine or system necessary to render perceptible a work stored in that format is no longer manufactured or is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace.
Meaning, your use of classic science fiction games for DOS, such as Dune and Elite, from sites such as Abandonia is officially decriminalized!

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

You do realize that's not actually what the ruling means, right?

The revision allows one to archive workarounds for copy protection on software which is considered obsolete. The revision legalizes these workarounds for archival reproduction -- it does not legalize all reproduction.

Sorry to burst your bubble.

Anonymous said...

"...when circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of preservation or archival reproduction of published digital works by a library or archive."

I believe the key word, for a game leech's purpose, is preservation.

You see, we have to play these games or else they'll die.

The section appears at a glance to be saying that, if their is no commercial offering of the game, and the proprietary hardware required is no longer "reasonably" available then the software is allowed to be distributed, and the emulataor is legal.

That is de facto legalization.

Anonymous said...

Archival reproduction? There isn't any REproduction involved. There isn't and PRODUCTION involved.

Downloading obsolete games and unavailable software is now completely legal because they are considered public material.

m3mn0n said...

You should do a little more research into legal matters before publicizing exactly what the ruling suggests.

Downloading commercial games for free is and most likely always will be against the law.

Filip Stojanovski said...

Thanks for the advice and explanations. I appreciate input from legal experts, please comment in more details.

Anonymous said...

Dude,

The text to watch is:

when circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of preservation or archival reproduction of published digital works by a library or archive.


If you're not a library or an "archive", you're not exempt. You might argue that your personal collection of 150 Atari 2600 games is an "archive", but you'll probably be arguing it in court and unless you provide public access to it, you'll probably lose. Take especial note of the beginning phrase there - playing the game is neither preservation nor archival reproduction of it.

This is protection for future generations of scholars studying the proto-Internet Era, not protection for gamers who still want to play Asteroids.

Filip Stojanovski said...

Thanks anonymous legal adviser. Your explanation implies that Abandonia has nothing to fear, then. Because it's public and doesn't charge scholars to examine the antiquities it stores.

PS I love that site!

Anonymous said...

Please read the actual website. PCSIntel is wrong, and you are wrong for perpetuating the incorrect information.

Frank said...

No, no, and no. This provision has NOTHING TO DO WITH COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT. "Abandonware" is still protected by copyright, just as it always was. What these rules allow is CIRCUMVENTING COPY PROTECTION (a separate matter entirely). You still need an authorized copy of the original work -- this just let's you transfer it from a 5.25" to a CD-ROM without worrying about 17 U.S.C. 1201 (copy protection / access control). You still have to worry about 17 U.S.C. 106 (exclusive rights of copyright).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is a RIAA shill.

"Pay no attention."

Hyram H. said...

Your original assumptions are incorrect, and "Abandonia" is NOT decriminalised.

The ruling is explicitly for archival purposes only, and only applies to United States federal, state, county and educational libraries and equivalent statutory bodies. The ruling does not apply to private nor commercial library and archive services.

This ruling's purpose is to allow these authorised bodies to change the copyrighted works' format-space for archival purposes without infringement.

Any other distribution or changing of format-space by other parties without express permission of the copyright holders is still illegal under international copyright law.

Anonymous said...

Could anybody clear this up for me please ?

Electronic Arts abandoned a massive multiplayer onlinegame called Earth & Beyond 2 years ago.
Many people still got the original client, but the server that provides needed informations for the client to work has been taken offline.
So would it be ok to recreate such a server and use the legal bought client to play again, as long EA is not bringing the game back ?

Thanks in advance.

Watch TV Online said...

Get it straight!
This makes it legal ONLY to download and use software with copyrights that have expired and are not picked up by another still existing company. Also the company that created them has to have been dead for more then 5+ years as a result of bankruptcy or termination of the company itself (the company can not have been picked up again).

Generic rule of thumb is that if its available at Best Buy, Wal Mart or any other shop (they still sell old games), you CAN NOT LEGALLY use it.

This bill is meant to help ensure that software that is long dead gets used again to ensure that it is kept alive for its cultural value. It's the one thing you can thank the Republican regime for, although its large in part to the abandonware lobbyists! Hooray!

Oldgamer said...

The biggest abandonware site ever is this one:
http://free-game-downloads.mosw.com/
They have over 5500 titles for download.

Filip Stojanovski said...

Oldgamer, too bad the site you advertise requires payment from its users. While Abandonia is free!

WK said...

IANAL.

Nobody mentioned the DMCA. Odd. This law only "repeals" part of the DMCA, and only for limited, archival purposes. In other words, fair use rights have been somewhat restored after the wake of DMCA. Piracy was illegal before the DMCA, and is still illegal.

Anonymous asked if it is legal to write a server for Earth and Beyond 2. I am still not a lawyer, but I say that yes, that is legal. It has nothing to do with this thread, though. The same is true of World of Warcraft. You will be facing lawsuits, but I'm pretty sure that there are no specific laws against creating inter-operable servers. It's basically the same spirit as Intel vs. AMD 198x. Also, keep in mind, you will be less likely to be sued if you are a non profit.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

Dude,

The text to watch is:

when circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of preservation or archival reproduction of published digital works by a library or archive.

If you're not a library or an "archive", you're not exempt. You might argue that your personal collection of 150 Atari 2600 games is an "archive", but you'll probably be arguing it in court and unless you provide public access to it, you'll probably lose. Take especial note of the beginning phrase there - playing the game is neither preservation nor archival reproduction of it.

This is protection for future generations of scholars studying the proto-Internet Era, not protection for gamers who still want to play Asteroids."

Your really reading word that are not there It does not say it has the be a "public" library or "public" archive So there for it may also be a "private" library or archive and as ROMs for MAME are in a format that is concidered an "archive" which for this example is Zip as long as it is in this format it may be viewed or in this case played in MAME because the it is an "archival reproduction of it" refering to the "Orginal" arcade machine which are no longer available for purchase.

Anonymous said...

the way I see this ruling they are going to let stuff slide that are no longer in production nor supported by their companies/creators/copyright holders.

but here's another example of what I know is not considered abandonware:

The classic Doom games, Wolfenstein 3D, Duke Nukem 3D, the Quake series are all still supported by their creators/authors, they have not authorized redistribution in anyway without their approval. So this "USA Legalizes Abandonware" rule doesn't cover old software that is supported by their creators/authors/companies.

They are considered "Old WAREZ", and not "Abandonware".

Maria Mota said...

There are many websites with abandonware besides abandonia.
Some examples:

www.mroldgames.com
www.xtcabandonare.com

Sara said...

games abandonware in http://abandoware.ccsistemas.es

+ 100 games for download

latest pc games said...

hi ,The classic Doom games, Wolfenstein 3D, Duke Nukem 3D, the Quake series are all still supported by their creators/authors, they have not authorized redistribution in anyway without their approval.