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Postby FesterBlatz » Fri Sep 22, 2006 5:21 pm

I thought there might be a place for this in our forums as I've noticed a lot of discussion on the topic of downloading our old games.

I certainly don't want to promote getting these game illegally...if in fact it is illegal.

Anyway I would like to hear your thoughts on these issues.
Last edited by FesterBlatz on Mon Sep 25, 2006 9:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Spike » Sat Sep 23, 2006 6:34 am

Hey man,

Not sure what you mean by 'a majority of this discussion', though I haven't visited for a month now.

As for downloading the games, it is illegal (although I personally don't agree with copyright/trademark laws relating to old, in or out of print games).

You'd probably get contacted from the ESA or Vivendi themselves if you hosted them (though I know you're not suggesting yhat). There's already a number of ways of downloading the oldies, anyway.

As for allowing your members to post links- I don't think that's illegal. Usually Sierra webmasters decide not to allow it on forums, for a myriad of reasons-
a. It's (pirating the games) illegal, their moral view says it's wrong to tell people where to pirate
b. It means lots of people register to talk about abandonware and simply download games without talking about the website (Vintage Sierra in this case).
c. They're worried about lawsuits or Vivendi wrath. This reason is one that I disagree with, since Vivendi can't sue you for linking to an illegal website/file (or if they can, that's ridiculous). They certainly can't have a complaint if you say "use BitTorrent" for example.



I personally am in 2 minds about it (I run 2 Sierra forums). My opinion is, allow people to do it but ignore posts from and delete accounts of, people who register purely to pirate the oldies. (As in, register and post something like "Hi i'm new here where can I download Space Quest 6, thanks".)

Regards, and good to see you again,
- Spike

P.S. Take a Break Pinball isn't on your site, is it? I now have 3 different boxes of the game. :D
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Postby Vroomfondel » Sun Sep 24, 2006 6:46 pm

Well, I think it's a good idea to have an area for discussion on this topic. I personally don't see anything wrong with downloading the games, regardless of the fact that it is considered illegal. I would say that Sierra isn't making any money off the games, but that no longer appears to be true with the re-release of the collections. :?




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Postby 4th guy » Mon Sep 25, 2006 12:50 am

Not all of the games were released though ;)
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Postby Vroomfondel » Mon Sep 25, 2006 4:36 pm

True, so I suppose that does provide a convenient loop-hole. And it doesn't really bother me that I've been giving people linking people to abandonware sites for some time now. ;)



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Postby Xenon Explosion » Thu Sep 28, 2006 7:56 am

Actually, downloading is NOT illegal. Copying, distributing, transcoding, reducing to machine readable form, etc. etc. is illegal.

There is nothing in the US copyright law that says you cannot ACCEPT copies of copyrighted material. That's why they don't arrest people for downloading movies, they arrest those who re-share them on file networks or peer-to-peers. You can technically download all you want as long as you have sharing/upload turned off, because then you're re-distributing the work. (Of course, there's the moral issue of depriving Fox of the extra $7 they could have made on Star Wars) There was a court case where the copyright holder argued "recieving of stolen property" but lost, since nothing was physically "stolen" by definition.

In fact, you're allowed to make as many copies as you feel necessary to protect your original investment (master disks) as long as you don't give, sell, or loan them out. I do that with DVDs where I don't want to mess up the originals (especially $100+ box sets) and play the copies, but Hollywood and its moguls are making it increasingly more difficult for me to exercise my Fair Use Rights.

Also, there's a grey area where if you own the original work, you're free to download a copy of that work for your own use. Example: If you have Twisted Sister on vinyl, you can download the MP3s of that album, since you own the original copy. Thus, if you own the 5.25" disks of a Sierra game but you don't have a floppy drive, you can legally download and use a copy of that game.

But take no advice from me, I'm not a lawyer :)

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Postby Vroomfondel » Thu Sep 28, 2006 2:41 pm

Interesting. I'll have to take take a closer look at some of the copyright laws here in the US.




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Postby Spike » Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:45 pm

I don't actually think that's correct, Tom- under the very conservative and strict DMCA laws Congress passed not so long ago, I believe any distribution of copyrighted material is prosecutable.

So, if you download a movie, it's still illegal. But I don't know. You raise good points.

The flipside is unfortunately that no matter how legal and reasonable your operation is, if you're sued by Vivendi youdon't have too many options. That's the reality- the law protects who's biggest and richest, not who's right- see Blizzard v bnetd for a good example of that.



As for Vintage Sierra forums- it's very simple. If you have a zillion people who only register for downloads, delete their accounts! There's over 3 moderators who visit regularly here. Or disable Guest posts if most Guest post about download links.

It doesn't add anything to the forum. If people who do post about Sierra stuff once-off ask, that's didferent, but from the sound of it people are only visiting to get abandonware, which although people's legal views matter, it still doesn't contribute to the forum.

Regards,
- Spike
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Postby Xenon Explosion » Sat Sep 30, 2006 7:54 am

I don't actually think that's correct, Tom- under the very conservative and strict DMCA laws Congress passed not so long ago, I believe any distribution of copyrighted material is prosecutable.

So, if you download a movie, it's still illegal. But I don't know. You raise good points.


Spike, you're absolutely right... sort of. Any distribution of copyrighted material is prosecutable. Downloading is not distributing, it's recieving. The catch that they get you with is the peer-to-peer or torrent programs that automatically "seed" the parts of the file that you have. In that case, you're distributing.

I guess a rough way of putting it is if someone dropped 1,000 floppies from a helecopter. People who pick up the copied floppies aren't commiting a crime... until they start giving them away themselves. I dunno... that might be a bad example. :)

Now there's also the issue of telling people where to get stuff. If they really wanted to (and like you said about more money=better lawyers) they could get people for "conspiracy to commit a crime" if you tell someone about an abandonware site, etc.

The main thing is to use common sense. I'm sure Vivendi, the SPA, or whoever else is interested monitors and reads forums such as this to see what's up. If someone posts the link to an abandonware site on a public forum, don't wonder why that site is gone the next month...

Like I said, I'm not a lawyer and only took a few law classes in college, so I'm just going based on memory and seeing what happened to others from experience. What's really interesting is when you get to the "Fair Use Act" of the copyright law that states you are free to make copies for your own personal use if you use them for educational purposes, critique, review, archives, for litigation purposes, etc. but those have some very specific guidelines for them. (Example: A teacher can copy a National Geographic video and use excepts to aid in teaching, but if he/she wants to show the whole video to the class, they still have to clear the rights.)

Of course, if something is in the Public Domain, you're free to copy, paste, sell, distribute, remaster, recode, and do whatever else you want to it. Examples are the movies "Plan 9 from Outer Space" and "Reefer Madness" -- there's hundreds of "versions" of these out there, remastered, originals, colorized, digitized, etc. because technically anyone can take the master and tweek it and re-release it because of its Public Domain status.

That said, quoting from the Sierra 10th Anniversary Catalog: "...In 1988, Sierra gave Mystery House over into the public domain..."

So somebody get crackin' and re-do Mystery House!! :)

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Postby 4th guy » Sat Sep 30, 2006 11:39 am

Xenon Explosion wrote:The main thing is to use common sense. I'm sure Vivendi, the SPA, or whoever else is interested monitors and reads forums such as this to see what's up. If someone posts the link to an abandonware site on a public forum, don't wonder why that site is gone the next month...
Right, as if they'd care to spend money to monitor websites that distribute 10-year old content. The way these guys work is acually a report system. I come to the site, take what I want, then I report you. AKA, the selfish act.
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Postby Spike » Sat Sep 30, 2006 8:40 pm

Good point 4th Guy!

Tom- I don't know that some of what you've said is correct.

Spike, you're absolutely right... sort of. Any distribution of copyrighted material is prosecutable. Downloading is not distributing, it's recieving. The catch that they get you with is the peer-to-peer or torrent programs that automatically "seed" the parts of the file that you have. In that case, you're distributing.

Distribution is one thing, but then surely piracy (i.e. downloading MP3's of music or movies) is equally illegal. I'm not saying I agree with such laws, I hate American IP laws, but from a realistic point of view downloading content you don't have legal title to (i.e. a copy, purchased) must be illegal.

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Postby Xenon Explosion » Sun Oct 01, 2006 10:38 am

from a realistic point of view downloading content you don't have legal title to (i.e. a copy, purchased) must be illegal.


Absolutley. I haven't looked at the DMCA in detail, but I'm sure you're right. :) I guess that's why the term "abandonware" came about, to make it sound like the games are free to download legally.

But I really don't recall anyone getting arrested for just downloading... they're always re-distributing the content. Then again, it's all about the small fish, big fish... they're looking for people with thousands of albums on a public FTP, not people trading files on a message board ;)

4th Guy -- Don't make it sound like they outsource 300 people somewhere to sit and read websites all day. They have nice little programs that go out and search for keywords, just like everyone else. :P
If they're releasing the collections at $20 a pop, they'll care...

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Postby 4th guy » Mon Oct 02, 2006 6:30 am

If I recall correctly, the Space Quest downloads on SQN were shut down using the report system, but Spikey might be able to tell us more about that if he remembers,as unfortunetly I don't remember perfectly but Frans did mention that someone reported the website or something similar.
Of course now they monitor, because they $pent money to make the collection$. However, there are lots of warez sites and they've never been fully shut down. One site shuts down, another will replace it eventually.
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Postby Spike » Mon Oct 02, 2006 7:05 am

Absolutley. I haven't looked at the DMCA in detail, but I'm sure you're right. I guess that's why the term "abandonware" came about, to make it sound like the games are free to download legally.

But I really don't recall anyone getting arrested for just downloading... they're always re-distributing the content. Then again, it's all about the small fish, big fish... they're looking for people with thousands of albums on a public FTP, not people trading files on a message board

Yes, and is also why it's a fake, misleading kind of term, a misnomer.

The US DMCA definitely makes it clear that downloading someone's IP, like software, is illegal. Just because you yourself aren't hosting some Torrent hub and providing it for download to others, you're still pirating 9downloading) someone's copyright material and getting it for free. Additionally, for software applications, to use them you have to crack them, which involves practices like circumventing copyright protection.

All of which is illegal under the DMCA, and under most copyright laws around the world for that matter. Not sure if Australia's ancient laws have the provisions though. I think that's why I pirate as much as I do without fear.

4th Guy -- Don't make it sound like they outsource 300 people somewhere to sit and read websites all day. They have nice little programs that go out and search for keywords, just like everyone else.
If they're releasing the collections at $20 a pop, they'll care...

I agree with this point. I'm positive Vivendi has 'spies' who may not search forums, but definitely have eyes and ears around places and get reports from fans. The financial incentive is there, right enough. But I'm nowhere near thinking along the lines of conspiracy theories, I think it's dead simple- they're a greedy corporation and the costs outweigh the benefits as far as stopping piracy goes.

Meh. Really, they probably don't think too much about it, they'd just rely on 'dob-ins' and the really obvious cases. The ESA does a lot of work also, those bastards.

If I recall correctly, the Space Quest downloads on SQN were shut down using the report system, but Spikey might be able to tell us more about that if he remembers,as unfortunetly I don't remember perfectly but Frans did mention that someone reported the website or something similar.
Of course now they monitor, because they $pent money to make the collection$. However, there are lots of warez sites and they've never been fully shut down. One site shuts down, another will replace it eventually.

Basically, some wanker on the Janitorial Times forums (SQN forums) wrote to the ESA or Vivendi and said SQN had the SQ games for download. So, the companies had an easy target. So they were removed.
Which is their legal right, but it's also bloody stupid in a real sense. Protecting your property is fine, but when you're not having all games for sale (they weren't at the time) it's just hoarding and greedy. They didn't even write the games.

Warez sites are pretty defunct, and in particular I think websites about games for download are generally pointless, the Udnerdogs being a notable exception to that rule. The reason it's pointless to have a website where people download oldies is pointless in my opinion is because the hosting fees and webspace needed is a lot. BitTorrent and programs like eMule have all the games for download, and it's so easy to get them, also.

People talk about spyware, but that's nonsense. No good P2P program has spyware.

Anyways, where were we? :)

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Postby Xenon Explosion » Sat Oct 07, 2006 1:06 pm

We were talking about how piracy is immoral, but antipiracy is illogical. ;)

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