Is abandonware legal?

Discussion in 'Games' started by dcb, Sep 29, 2003.

  1. dcb macrumors member

    Aug 29, 2003
    Just curious...i found this site which is full of classic games. Is it legal to download a copy? Just curious.
  2. Simon Liquid macrumors regular

    Jul 4, 2001
    Not legal, maybe ethical

    Games are covered by the same copyright laws as everything else. Thanks to Disney and its Senators, you'll be lucky if your grandchildren can legally download these out of the public domain.

    That said, it might be a reasonably moral thing to do. Many such games are no longer offered for sale. Some game makers would rather have their games played than sink into oblivion.

    Not everyone is like that though. Some authors of older shareware games have asked download sites to remove unactivated copies of their games because no one is registering any more, just downloading and playing with pirated codes.

    Also, you'd be surprised at some of the games still in print. A lot of the great Infocom games, for example, are still available on CD-ROM.

    So if you're just worried about staying legal, relax. No one probably cares enough about these games to sue you. If you genuinely want to Do The Right Thing, do a little research and determine if you can download it while respecting the wishes of the authors.
  3. FattyMembrane macrumors 6502a


    Apr 14, 2002
    bat country
    there are lots of pieces of software that the developers themselves make free after they are abandoned. macamplite and gliderpro are good examples. lots of developers just don't care, or don't think it matters to say "yeah, it's free now". the site in question easily allows the developers to remove the software. it's kind of like asking if taking something from your neighbor's trash can is stealing - it's a grey area, but it almost never theft.

    the same issue comes up with ROMs for emulators; technically you're not supposed to download roms for games you don't own, but since sega stopped selling Sonic 2 about 7 years ago, i don't think they would mind too much.
  4. Gymnut macrumors 68000


    Apr 18, 2003
    I believe how it works you need to have purchased a copy of the game at one point in your life. I found that site a couple of months ago and a lot of those games bring back memories.
  5. lewdvig macrumors 65816


    Jan 1, 2002
    South Pole
    They can be protective of back catalogs - especially now that old titles can be ported to pdas and phones.
  6. rainman::|:| macrumors 603


    Feb 2, 2002
    yeah, obviously simcity fell pray, as it's ported to the palm, so i'm sure they don't like that. but like, simtower, who's making money on that? i say it's OK if, as was said above, there's no legal method of obtaining the software.

    great, now i hafta go download simtower. happy?

  7. Nermal Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    New Zealand
    SimCity 2000! I've still got the manual, but the CD is long dead. A 2-minute download later, I don't have to worry about the CD anymore :)
  8. BenWakin macrumors member

    May 27, 2003
    San Diego
    Holy bejeeezus, this website is awesome! I love all these old mac games! Woo! Diamond in the rough! Thanks!
  9. dcb thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 29, 2003
    Wow...I posted something and didn't make anyone mad:D

    I'll have to make up it in the future
  10. Nik_Doof macrumors regular

    Sep 15, 2003
    St Helens, UK
    iirc abandonware is only legal if:

    1) the game is over the copyright age (15 years over here in the UK) AND:
    a) the company has disolved (not bought out!)
    b) OR you've bought a copy in the past

    Be wary though, disolved companies usually get there assets and copyrights bought out by another company. Underdogs are usually good with removing any unauthorised software, i don't think you'll get imprisoned for having abandonware but its not strictly kosher...
  11. tpjunkie macrumors 65816


    Nov 24, 2002
    I really doubt Spectrum Holobyte is gonna come after you for downloading Tetris for 68k based macs, or Miles Software is gonna sue for you playing Harrier Strike Mission, or games like it which won't run except under system 6 or earlier.

    speaking of harrier strike mission, I can't seem to find a copy of it anywhere...has anyone got a copy or seen it anywhere
  12. ZildjianKX macrumors 68000


    May 18, 2003
    Wow, thanks for the site.

    I have two quick quetsions, and I'd really appreciate it if someone can help me...

    Is it possible to only have a window that classic opens be in 256 colors? I know in windows XP, there is a compatibility option for old dos games so you can set just the game to be 256 colors instead of the whole desktop. If not, it kind of sucks having to run your desktop at 256 to play the games.

    My second question is, is it possible to set some classic games to be windowed? Like Lemmings runs at a very low resolution and goes full screened with a big black box around it... is it possible to run it windowed?

    Thanks in advance.

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