Justification of copyrighting old games


#1

How long is a game copyrighted for?

I ask because I’m frustrated with trying to find old games. With systems like xbox, and DC running emulators to play old games, I’ve realized that it’s not as bad as it sounds because it’s the only way to actually play these old games.
I looked in stores, game shops, and online, and very very few stores had any decent old games. So i ask: If i can’t even go out and buy a game that i want, how can the developer cry foul if i HAVE to download it to even play it?
As i see it, these ROMs are keeping the genre alive that would give current gamers no other way of playing games that came out 20+ years ago.

Are old games even considered competition with current media anyway? Meaning, is it even justified to keep copyrights on old games? Do they think that an old game like Pitfall (had it still been on the shelves) would deter sales from new games?

I would like to get other gamers perspective on this topic, and not just someone saying “laws are laws” and leaving. Thanks. :thumbsup:


#2

Many game shops sell original NES games, so there’s always that route. Plus, I’m sure you could find whatever you want on E-bay. So, I don’t think you could make a case, yet, for pirating old games.

Basically, if something is unavailable to purchase, it means that you don’t get to have it right now. If you can’t find an old game, then you don’t get to play that old game. You don’t all of a sudden have the right to download an illegal copy of it.

Think of out of print books. If you’re dying to read some book that’s out of print, you either find someone who has a copy and get it from them, or you don’t get to read it. Just because it’s out of print doesn’t give you license to have someone scan in their copy for all to download for free.

This is my current take on it.


#3

I think that right now it just hasn’t been long enough of a timespan. Most of the early games that came out for the atari and the vic20 and the amiga are free download. The developers have realized that they’ve long out grown the ability to make money off the games and release them for free. The problem with making old NES, SNES and console systems free is that the cartridges are still around. You can go to local stores or to ebay and still buy those games you want, you just have to pay a premium for them. I don’t ever see the consoles going for free, or putting them into ‘syndication’ so-to-speak…


#4

From the Entertainment Software Association(ESA):

On out of print games:

“Downloading one of these games from the Internet without the authorization of the copyright holder is illegal.”
-Doug Lowenstein, ESA president

Because this act is illegal, it carries with it the following reprocussions:

…"sites are directly liable for civil and criminal copyright and trademark violations. Copyright violations carry a maximum penalty of $100,000 per infringement, while trademark violations carry a maximum penalty of $1,000,000 per infringement plus attorneys fees, costs and damages. "

There is quite a thorough article here:

http://www.gamespot.com/gamespot/features/all/gamespotting/030903/7.html

While I understand in your original post that you did’nt want a response like this, certainly your question, by it’s very nature, seeks to find some truth about this subject. If you only hear one side that says “it’s ok”, then really your question had no point other than for you to find gratification that you are correct and that it’s ok to break the law.

-3DZ

:smiley:


#5

copyright is copyright, plain and simple. it is the law.

I personally would like the comfort in the future that someone is not stealing ideas or product from me or my hard working team members.

IMO Niel, for someone who appears to want to have a career in the games industry, you really have an odd outlook on copyright.


#6

Quick! Someone get Neil a job in a games company. Then we all can benefit from getting free games!!! Yipeee!:smiley:

My vote: Neil gets a job @ Bungie…:drool:


#7

I am having a hard time understanding why there is so much confusion about digital media - be it music, movies, applications or games or anything else that can be packaged in a single file.

Just think like this - You write a book. OK. It sits on a CD. You wrote it, so it’s your book. Assume you don’t want to distribute it, or assume you want people to pay you money in order to read it. OK. That’s your right, because you wrote it and you own it. You own it now. You still own it 20 years from now. Nobody is allowed to make copies of your book unless you say they can. And if they pay you whatever insane amount of cash that you may ask, because it is your right as the author.

Replace the book above with something else, a movie, an application, a game - and replace ‘you’ above with ‘publishing company X’.

I’m not trying to be nasty or personal here… Just some sort of clarification.


#8

Well my point is that i DO want to pay for the games, as i stated before. That’s why i am still looking to this day, but still to no avail.

The copyright is imposed to make the company money (yes, and to protect the concept of the artist, but is anyone going to ‘steal’ the idea behind ET for atari?). But what is it protecting? NO ONE even makes games that look like pitfall anymore?! The architecture of those games is dead too.

3dz: Yes i agree, i want both sides, that’s why this is a discussion. I only took this side because it’s already been argued in a favor FOR the copyright hundreds of times (but mainly is aspect of music).

I didn’t say i did it, merely that i know of it.

danteort: You bring up books as an example. Could you pick up a book from 1920 and still read it at will? Yes. Has the process of reading or writing changes more than marginally in any recent time? Even if 10 years down the road i find an Atari cartridge in my closet, i couldn’t do anything with it. They dont’ even make the systems to allow me to play it. If they kept making systems or even allowed for specialty ordering through warehouses then it would be a lot easier and make a lot more sense.

Music is kinda the same way. I CAN actually go and buy a Mozart CD and listen it to because they have managed to keep in a format that is up to date and usable.

Gaming moves much faster than books and music. They DATE QUICKER too.

Bent: You just had to say that to annoy me didn’t you? :slight_smile: But in reference to your second point (which is what i wanted to hear) The team that makes games now for Bungie is not going to be the same 20 years from now. (maybe so, but i know for a fact that the teams that made the old games aren’t)
If the company that made the game is dead, then who are you stealing’ from?

signal: haha, but no. You won’t get free games from any company. But i don’t put any value on old projects i made 15 years ago. It’s too dated. I look at it for memories and ideas, but if i’m still sitting on work that is 15 years old and expecting it to carry me through life, then I’m gonna be going nowhere quicker.
I do work on homebrew games. So yes, i do let others benefit from me for free. But i’m different than a real game company, and i understand that.


#9

For some reason the overlying sentiment on this board whether examined, discussed or otherwise is crying THIEF!!!

This is wrong!

Sometimes the laws are just not applicable to some circumstances! Not to say, yeah go get all the atari and nintendo roms you want, its ok…no, thats not true, because they are still publically available! You can still go to stores that deal in old games and get them. Hell you can still get the systems to run them.

Now, what about the old classic computer games we all loved that are no longer available at all…there is no way you could ever purchase them legally if you wanted…but basically because of the way of todays copyright system (thanx to disney :wink: ) you are going to have to wait 95 years before you can legally obtain these games without paying the nameless and faceless entity that owns said copyright!!!

Well, lets see, some of the original games date back to about 1978, soooooo, that means those old old games that were really fiun and could really inspire new game developers will not be available to be played again until 2073!!! Is that right???

I’m sorry, but that is not how progress works!!

There are games that came out in the mid-90’s that were amazing, fun, creative and original that were stashed away by their fallen developers to dwindle into obscurity. I for one don’t think that is right! Why should art be put out of the reach of the public because noone is making a buck off of it anymore???

Read the Scratchware Manifesto

http://www.the-underdogs.org/scratch.php

Written by game developers that want to make good games without the developemental moguls that have taken over the industry.

I’m sorry, believe it or not, the game industry is becoming as much a behemoth as the music industry! People are losing their rights to enjoy the past, not because it is taking money out of someones pocket, but merely because its NOT putting money in the pocket of someone who’s hands arent even out!!

Not all laws that apply truly apply properly in all instances…isnt this something we have learned thru the years??


#10

It is fine to have a personal opinion, and I respect that…
but like countless other debates surrounding digital media copyright, what this conversation comes down to is your personal opinion vs. the law.


#11

Last time I had checked it was lifespan of an artist/owner plus 25 years. Something like this, it used to be 17 years but when we went digital everything changed.


#12

The reason these old games are copyrighted is because the developer MAY wish to make a new edition of a certain game they made X amount of years ago…

You can also find abandon-ware at “www.the-underdogs.org”…which contains lovely games such as “lure of the Temptress”, “SkyNet” etc…


#13

Originally posted by Neil
If the company that made the game is dead, then who are you stealing’ from?

THE DEAD!
And I know from watching movies that if you disturb the dead they will freaking haunt you man! Don’t disturb their eternal rest!

:wink:


#14

Sigh… another software copying debate.:hmm:


#15

Originally posted by Boone
[B]The reason these old games are copyrighted is because the developer MAY wish to make a new edition of a certain game they made X amount of years ago…

You can also find abandon-ware at “www.the-underdogs.org”…which contains lovely games such as “lure of the Temptress”, “SkyNet” etc… [/B]

Yeah, underdogs is a good place to go. If the game is available for purchase then it will tell you, otherwise download it.

Opinion vs. law

common sense vs. law


#16

Legal game buyer vs. Prison bitch :slight_smile:


#17

Originally posted by Signal to Noise
Legal game buyer vs. Prison bitch :slight_smile:

Ok, see this is the closed opinioning i’m talking about!!

This country was built on the notion that the people control the government…not the other way around!

If laws are not right or need to be changed, then that is what needs to happen, change…if all you do is fear…ooooo, i can’t do that even though it is ridiculous and makes no sense for fear of reprimand then you end up becoming a slave to a system as opposed to a free entity!!

We are not supposed to fear our government! The government is supposed to respect us!

Unfortunatly there are SO many subserviants in the world that change is mainly for the worse now…the politicians are making the decisions for us (god that’s scary!) and the people are no longer given a voice.


#18

Originally posted by erilaz
Sigh… another software copying debate.:hmm:

No, it’s not. It’s specifically about old games.
I already stated above that it’s easier to talk about copyrighting literature and music because they are still practical to today’s living style.

Yes laws are laws, but it’s not like a law has never been changed. And i’m not asking for a petition or a change through this thread, merely a good explanation/discussion about why protect obsolete technology.

Boone: Well a copyright can protect distribution and concept/design seperately. It would still be illegal to make a game called Joust where you ran around on chickens, but i don’t think that if someone decided to make another jousting game today that by any means it would look even CLOSE to what it looked like during the 80s.
Even in gaming today there are copyrights on designs, yet you see the same spin offs but just renaming the characters and changing the costumes.

Museums go to great spans to protect old art and literature in the hopes of showing the next generation what life and technology was like, and at this rate there is no means of protecting vintage games. They are disappering and because you can’t play them on todays systems legally, then people are dumping them. Now if only there were catalogs of games, like at EA, open to the public.


#19

It would still be illegal to make a game called Joust…

the question here is WHY would it still be illegal to make a game called Joust…the only reason is that there is a copyright on it - which protects the owner from unfair competition…

Gentle fury said “I’m sorry, but that is not how progress works!!”
well actually, this is exactly how progress works.
copyrights protect the originator/owner of something from others benefiting from their work without compensation…and that includes distribution of that material - which is what downloading the game would be - illegal distribution.
so why do our laws protect people/companies in this way?
well why would I spend 100 million dollars to reasearch, develop, market, distribute etc something that someone else can just scoop up and sell themselves - they have the final product and didn’t have to spend any money to create. Having exclusive rights to something ensures that I will be about to benefit from my work for a set amount of time before I have to compete with anyone - so in this way I can make back my investment.

“losing their rights to enjoy the past”…
OK, there is no right, in any country, writen in any book of law or in any constitution that gives anyone in the world the ‘right’ to ‘enjoy the past’. This is one of my biggest pet peeves - the idea that something you want, or feel should be true is somehow a ‘right’ that no one can take away from you and that allows a leagal recourse. This is a big part of the reason everybody and his dog is sueing people…because they think that one of their ‘rights’ has been abused…
Also, all these old games are NOT art…they are a product, owned by a company/person that DOES have the right to sell, distribute it etc, their may be ‘artistic’ merit to these games - but make no mistake they are ‘product’ first, ‘art’, a very distant second.


#20

Originally posted by Gentle Fury
[B]Ok, see this is the closed opinioning i’m talking about!!

This country was built on the notion that the people control the government…not the other way around!

If laws are not right or need to be changed, then that is what needs to happen, change…if all you do is fear…ooooo, i can’t do that even though it is ridiculous and makes no sense for fear of reprimand then you end up becoming a slave to a system as opposed to a free entity!!

We are not supposed to fear our government! The government is supposed to respect us!

Unfortunatly there are SO many subserviants in the world that change is mainly for the worse now…the politicians are making the decisions for us (god that’s scary!) and the people are no longer given a voice. [/B]

WTF does that have to do with someone’s individual property? it is the people that voted and rallied for laws to protect their individual thought, products and right to make a living!

so many people today think that everything should be handed to them, for free! I mean the major foundation of the economy is based upon the fact your PAY for services and items you need…
you wouldn’t walk into a store and demand last years fashions for free, so why the hell is it different for digital media?

Is it because it is not tangible? Is that why there are so many people out there stealing satellite and cable signals and not feeling guilty…because it is not TANGIBLE? and why do people feel righteous when they do it?

give me a F-ing break. If someone was to come up with an idea, an invention, a patent… could that idea then be taken by someone else? no.

these laws are in place to protect the person with the IP or product from unscrupulous individuals and everyday thieves.

and as for the “subserviant” comment…dude, it is called civil order…

EDIT: oh, and it is funny that your signature includes a quote from Buddha, because your opinions do not reflect a buddhist moniker…