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'Free' games from GameSpy: Abandonware or piracy?
January 2nd 2001, 03:56 CET by Andy

The new year brings a new twist to the contentious issue of 'abandonware', as GameSpy distributes an old game against the copyright holder's wishes.

GameSpy has often been criticised for its ClassicGaming.com site, which features a huge archive of old 8-bit, console and arcade games. But the company has so far stayed away from so-called 'abandonware' PC titles.

This changed in a recent article, written by Rogue Entertainment developer Rich Carlson.

The History of Computer Games: Worlds In Boxes took a look back to the birth of gaming, giving a nostalgic tip o' the hat to many classics, right through to the present day.

The article included links to several full copies of old games, such as Zork, M.U.L.E., Wasteland and Empire.

Abandonware sites commonly argue that by not speaking out against the free distribution of old games, copyright holders effectively give their blessing. But this argument doesn't wash in the case of one game now being distributed by GameSpy, and linked from Rich Carlson's article -- Gateway by Legend Entertainment.

Legend have made it clear in the past that they don't consider their old games to be 'abandonware', and don't allow them to be freely distributed. Legend's Glen Dahlgren posted his thoughts on the issue in a recent PlanetCrap thread:

Let me be absolutely clear: "Abandonware" is piracy, plain and simple. It just has a different moral wrapper around it. There's no right to it. If the author/copyright holder has not come forward and stated his wishes, it's illegal, and it shouldn't happen.

Glen also discussed the common belief that old games are no longer of any value to the copyright holders, coincidentally explaining how Gateway has been used for promotional purposes:

Apart from the wishes of the designer, old games have real value to the copyright holder/publisher. In the case of Gateway, we gave it away free to people who visited the Legend Entertainment site at one point. We've also sold games to be included in magazine disks, especially overseas. We've sold games to be included in compilations. Do you seriously think that the (real or perceived) value of these games isn't diminished if they are freely available on the net?

Many of the games linked from the GameSpy article are on external sites, such as fan sites and abandonware archives. Gateway is stored on GameSpy's own servers, in a questionably-named directory, "freegames".

In all likelihood, neither Rich Carlson nor anyone at GameSpy deliberately went against Legend's wishes. They probably just didn't realise that Gateway was strictly off-limits. But the fact remains that by assuming the copyright holder wouldn't mind, the self-proclaimed "gaming's homepage" has stepped into the murky world of piracy. Again.
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Home » Topic: 'Free' games from GameSpy: Abandonware or piracy?

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#1 by "orbz0r"
2001-01-02 03:57:40
orbital@speakeasy.net
first!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
#2 by "the_reformed_pianist"
2001-01-02 03:58:53
pianist@canada.com
second!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
#3 by "orbz0r"
2001-01-02 03:59:38
orbital@speakeasy.net
woohoo, dare I?
#4 by "the_reformed_pianist"
2001-01-02 04:00:25
pianist@canada.com
Andy you're a spider monkey. Check out my pending stizorie!!!!!! it's radileet magoo!!!!!!!
#5 by "the_reformed_pianist"
2001-01-02 04:04:35
pianist@canada.com
It's a cutting edge, bleeding edge, edgy story about Diablo II.

Not I, but II.
#6 by "Barneyque"
2001-01-02 04:06:34
barneyque@hotmail.com
Interesting, I just checked the link to the mule game, and a couple of others in what appears to be zdim's directory, and they are all dead.<i><b></b></i><i></i><i></i>
#7 by "player11"
2001-01-02 04:08:16
thrawnage@bigpond.com
classicgaming.com isn't really abandonware, its just another emu site with roms. Which i have no problems with. So go download some classics bitches! Do they have CPS2 roms yet? :P

So go forth to classicgaming and download Street Fighter II for CPS1 grab the emulator and remember why its one of the greatest games of all time. Then download some classics for mame. Then System16, then Raine, then move to Neo Geo.

So dont be bitching about classicgaming.com sure its just a site of roms but in its keeping these old games alive on peoples harddrives, which is a great thing,
#8 by "Atma"
2001-01-02 04:39:14
dweller@gmx.net
EIGHTH.
#9 by "Fragaday"
2001-01-02 04:47:03
fragaday@bigfoot.com
The question we must ask is this: How old, is old? 3 years? 5? 10? 20?

At which point in a games life will sites decide its "ok" to distribute it? This will  become more important in the future when <b>decent</b> games like Q3, HL etc start getting really old.

Then the matter of copyright owner: I suppose I can see the argument on both sides here, and it is hard to decide. After all, there are so many old games, most authors have probably forgotton about them and dont care, but some may really care (e.g. Legend), the question is, what if you cant find them? Does it become "ok"?

On rereading this it sounds like drivel (no change there then), but its 4am so I'll just post it and go to bed.<i><b></b></i><i></i><i></i>
#10 by "Apache"
2001-01-02 04:54:32
apache@stomped.com
3 months = old

;)
#11 by "the_reformed_pianist"
2001-01-02 05:03:51
pianist@canada.com
I'm depressed over Atma getting eighth.
#12 by "Atma"
2001-01-02 05:12:26
dweller@gmx.net
here's my crazy post where i drop some unsolicited wisdom on the masses.

The difference between abandonware PC games and abandonware console ROMs is great. Console ROMs are "morally okay" to make an illegal copy of because most people's consoles have long since gone ka-put. If i wanted to play 'Sentinel Wars: Future Magic' (circa 1988, EA), I could. Why? Because it was written for DOS (aka Win9x). Anybody with a computer that runs Windows 95/98/ME could still play Sentinel Wars, 13 years later!

So why is it bad for people to distribute illegal copies of ancient PC games and OK for people to build huge antique console ROM collections? Partly because that PC game you bought 6 years ago still works the way it's supposed to. Err.. yes. This post is totally off-topic. I'm depressed too, the_reformed_pianist.




:|
#13 by "Atma"
2001-01-02 05:13:51
dweller@gmx.net
I think I was expanding on #7's comment........... I think...
#14 by "the_reformed_pianist"
2001-01-02 05:19:50
pianist@canada.com
Take this job and shove it!
#15 by "the_reformed_pianist"
2001-01-02 05:20:13
pianist@canada.com
Oh lookie here, what's this? 15th post? IN YOUR FACE TAMROCK!!!!!!
#16 by "mcorleone"
2001-01-02 05:34:15
kurin6@home.com
Seeing as in a recent thread I posted a link to AITD, Andy, where do you stand on the issue?

I can understand the point that the developer still owns the rights and could excercise them to sell/license to a magazine, website etc. for promotional purposes.  The problem is that when the youngsters (I'm 25, old, heh) don't have a point of reference to these older games and likely never would get the chance to experience them, I want them to be able to provide them with the same experience I had with said game.  

I deem it "morally okay" when there is no monetary loss in the situation for the original developer.  

Barneyque noticed that on the site that I linked for AITD, it had a fairly recent (2/3 yrs) game:  Crusader, No Regret or No Remorse or something.  I was shocked to see that the game was classified as abandonware already.  

But then, this topic is most likely soon to be moot as future "abandonware" games will be full CD games, and I hardly think that abandonware sites will be linking free to full 650MB isos.
#17 by "Atma"
2001-01-02 05:51:48
dweller@gmx.net
I was recently cruising the internet superhighway for some "abandonware". It felt naughty.
#18 by "The_Punisher"
2001-01-02 05:53:28
mario_lowang@hotmail.com
to: the_reformed_pianist

Do me a great favour my black child; describe to me your armpit smell so that I may indulge in a fantasy sniff. <slurp>
Then describe to me the sound your butt makes when you hear: "PRUTT" from it.
I'd like to smell that wonderful delight too. I certanly hope that you don't wash too often. I like my niggers dirty. Wanna fuck ??


to ANDY:

You sir, are the biggest fuck I've met in a while!! After just a short while on this "planet" I realised your stupidity. It is obvious from your childish posts that you seem to crave attention towards abandonware. From who ? The ISDA ? Your mother ? Your fat ugly smelly cat ? Who are you trying to impress ??? It's almost as if you want to "hurt" abandonware by publicizing it OUT LOUD!!! You, nor anyone else will EVER stop it. Get over it FATboy. Go read Viz and eat some "chups" mate.
#19 by "Atma"
2001-01-02 06:01:05
dweller@gmx.net
I can feel the intelligence radiating from #18.
#20 by "the_reformed_pianist"
2001-01-02 06:10:10
pianist@canada.com
I can feel it, but I can't feel it.
#21 by "spackbace"
2001-01-02 06:10:15
brian@cc.gatech.edu
Re: #18:

dumbass, its spelled "realize".  pffft.
#22 by "EvilAsh"
2001-01-02 06:10:16
evilash@eviladam.com
Ignoring the stupidity of Post 18.. lets get back to the point of this pc article...  If Gamespy erred and linked an old title that legend did not give permission to link to.. Then they definitely are in the wrong.

Its amusing how people have come up with the idea of abandonware... its not like example..  3drealms made the original dukenuk'em and they just gave up on it...   many of these so-called abandoned titles.. many of the designers are still living and breathing and creating games.. just because the PUBLISHEr of the original title is toast.. does it mean its now free for everyone?

Example.. cause id released the source code for Doom 1....... does it mean doom 1 is abandonware?! nope..

I like what the ultima 1 redux project team did.... They asked Lord British for permission. And thats what people should do... never assume a title is now abandonware.. do some legwork..  research whether or not... it is or not.

then again this is Gamespy industries.. They love stealing web urls for just announced game titles.. so stealing someone's game is not a suprise for them.
And
#23 by "spackbace"
2001-01-02 06:12:46
brian@cc.gatech.edu
and I can only feel it.... whats wrong with me?
#24 by "the_reformed_pianist"
2001-01-02 06:15:22
pianist@canada.com
Don't actually call him "Lord British" for christ's sake. He is not a Lord. Unless.... you mean Lord of the Fags!! AHAHHAHA FUCK YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pianist 1, Lord British 0
#25 by "spackbace"
2001-01-02 06:22:53
brian@cc.gatech.edu
in #24:
Don't actually call him "Lord British" for christ's sake. He is not a Lord. Unless.... you mean Lord of the Fags!! AHAHHAHA FUCK YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pianist 1, Lord British 0


Um... YOU just referred to him as "Lord" British.  

Pianist 1, Lord British 0


Dumbass.
#26 by "None1a"
2001-01-02 06:26:16
none1a@home.com
<b>#22</b> "EvilAsh" wrote...
<quote>
I like what the ultima 1 redux project team did.... They asked Lord British for permission. And thats what people should do... never assume a title is now abandonware.. do some legwork.. research whether or not... it is or not.
</quote>

How do you feel about those that make the attempt to do the legwork and find out, but get no word on it. Many times it's assumed the company no longer cares or dosn't know about the work any longer, is it then ok to post the stuff? <i><b></b></i><i></i><i></i>
#27 by "Atma"
2001-01-02 06:27:21
dweller@gmx.net
#25.....


in #24:

Don't actually call him "Lord British" for christ's sake. He is not a Lord. Unless.... you mean Lord of the Fags!! AHAHHAHA FUCK YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pianist 1, Lord British 0


Um... YOU just referred to him as "Lord" British.


Pianist 1, Lord British 0


Dumbass.


I'd like to point out the "Unless...." in mister pianist's statement.
#28 by "the_reformed_pianist"
2001-01-02 06:29:44
pianist@canada.com
YEAH!!! Put that in your cock and smoke it, backspace!!! Can you feel that???
#29 by "Atma"
2001-01-02 06:29:58
dweller@gmx.net
AHEM. I AM A MOORONG.
who reads carelessly. and replies ever carelesslyer.
#30 by "the_reformed_pianist"
2001-01-02 06:33:34
pianist@canada.com
Just chill, tam. We're winning here. Never bow your head to your enemy, that's what Tatsu from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Motion Picture would have said.
#31 by "the_reformed_pianist"
2001-01-02 06:37:16
pianist@canada.com
On a related note, if Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Motion Picture was here, he would say "Together we will punish these... creatures. These... turtles!"

That wouldn't help us, but that's because Shredder is a fag.

CHECKMATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pianist 2 Lord British 0 Shredder 0
#32 by "spackbace"
2001-01-02 06:38:36
brian@cc.gatech.edu
Rehashing your own already discovered lunkheadedness in #27:

I'd like to point out the "Unless...." in mister pianist's statement.



Yes... lets analyze this.  


Oh nevermind I'm lazy.  Figure out what I'm trying to say, form a rebuttle in your head, smack yourself, and say sorry.  Thanks.
#33 by "BryanVandy"
2001-01-02 06:40:57
bryanvandy@iamwasted.com
My cats breath smells like cat food.
But moving on, I think abandonware is a good thing. It gives younger gamers the chance to see some of the best games ever created. Now I don't think it is a good thing for developers unless they stoped milking the game and aren't losing any foreskin...or something....
#34 by "Atma"
2001-01-02 06:44:06
dweller@gmx.net
sbackpace is smart. #27 is not. The End.
#35 by "spackbace"
2001-01-02 06:45:06
brian@cc.gatech.edu
#34:
sbackpace is smart. #27 is not. The End.



Wooo-ay.  Suck it piano man.
#36 by "Atma"
2001-01-02 06:46:04
dweller@gmx.net
i think my lunkhead is showing!!!!!!
#37 by "the_reformed_pianist"
2001-01-02 06:49:43
pianist@canada.com
If spackbace is so smart, why can't he spell "rebuttal"?      YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pianist 3 Lord British 0 Shredder 0 spackbace 0
#38 by "spackbace"
2001-01-02 06:55:16
brian@cc.gatech.edu
uh uh... uh...

damn.


Um, I was spelling it the european way.
#39 by "CreoleNed"
2001-01-02 06:55:40
cned@telus.net
As to Crusader: No Regret being abandonware, it may seem surprising until you realize that:

a) the company that made the game, Origin, is gone, completely swallowed up by EA
b) the game is impossible to find on store shelves now. I have not seen it for at least two years (ironically, the first one, Crusader: No Remorse, can still be found on occasion)
c) the lead designer has long since left EA/Origin and EA is unlikely to ever use the property again

I'm not defending abandonware here, just trying to provide an explanation for why a fairly recent title may be considered such. The first three Zorks were released free by Activision a few years back, as well, so they are "legit". On the issue in general, I'm ambivalent. On the one hand, I'd have no problem grabbing a copy of a game I once owned but have since lost track of, but for something I'd never played before, I'd probably want to at least know it was ok by the publisher/developer first.

A lot of this rests on how the owner of the game views the value of the property. Is abandonware theft or piracy? It depends on how it was abandoned, I'd think.
#40 by "spackbace"
2001-01-02 07:06:26
brian@cc.gatech.edu
#39 :

A lot of this rests on how the owner of the game views the value of the property. Is abandonware theft or piracy?



Uhm... theft and piracy... same thing there buddy.  You break into some dudes house and take his Playstation, that's theft.  Do the same thing, but the dude lives on a boat, now its Piracy.  still stealing.
#41 by "CreoleNed"
2001-01-02 07:10:38
cned@telus.net
If there was an editing feature, I'd fix that. :)

What I meant to say was: Is abandonware theft/piracy?
#42 by "spackbace"
2001-01-02 07:19:48
brian@cc.gatech.edu
boolean pianistIsGay = true;
int spackScore = 0;



if (pianistIsGay)
{
   spackScore++;
}
else
{
   destroyUniverse();
}

public void destroyUniverse() {
   printf("c:\deltree *.*");
}
#43 by "Atma"
2001-01-02 07:23:29
dweller@gmx.net
amazing.
#44 by "spackbace"
2001-01-02 07:29:02
brian@cc.gatech.edu
indeed.
#45 by "Quicken"
2001-01-02 07:39:03
geoffrey@access.com.au
Didn't take long for this thread to devolve into a mix of trolling and "is abandonware moral" discussion that's been done to death. It looks to be an interesting article though and lists many more significant PC games than the list of 15 gamespot put up. Those that (unlike me) have been gaming only a few years should have a good read through it.
#46 by "spackbace"
2001-01-02 07:48:08
brian@cc.gatech.edu
whats "trolling"?
#47 by "the_reformed_pianist"
2001-01-02 07:49:48
pianist@canada.com
I'd like to point out that in post #116 of But we can't just call it ''15 games we liked'', can we?, I wrote:
This article is better: http://www.gamespy.com/devcorner/january01/carlson/



So the troll was responsible for the interesting article!!!!! Like sands in the hourglass!!!!! The tables have been turned now!!!!!

Pianist 4 Lord British 0 Shredder 0 spackbace -1 Quicken 0
#48 by "Hambone"
2001-01-02 07:53:50
Cosmando@homestead.com
#25

Example.. cause id released the source code for Doom 1....... does it mean doom 1 is abandonware?! nope..


What kind of stupid person logic do you use to figure that one? If I can download the source code, and download a free C compiler, then compile the source code, then why the hell couldn't I just skip those steps and download the fucking game? id doesn't give a rats ass, and neither should you.
#49 by "None1a"
2001-01-02 07:57:16
none1a@home.com
<b>#48</b> "Hambone" wrote...
<quote>What kind of stupid person logic do you use to figure that one? If I can download the source code, and download a free C compiler, then compile the source code, then why the hell couldn't I just skip those steps and download the fucking game? id doesn't give a rats ass, and neither should you.</quote>

Well the doom source code does NOT include a few files your going to need to play the game. O like say the levels or art for the whole game. <i><b></b></i><i></i><i></i>
#50 by "Barneyque"
2001-01-02 07:59:30
barneyque@hotmail.com
<b>#16</b> "mcorleone" wrote...
<quote>Seeing as in a recent thread I posted a link to AITD, Andy, where do you stand on the issue?

I can understand the point that the developer still owns the rights and could excercise them to sell/license to a magazine, website etc. for promotional purposes. The problem is that when the youngsters (I'm 25, old, heh) don't have a point of reference to these older games and likely never would get the chance to experience them, I want them to be able to provide them with the same experience I had with said game.

I deem it "morally okay" when there is no monetary loss in the situation for the original developer.

Barneyque noticed that on the site that I linked for AITD, it had a fairly recent (2/3 yrs) game: Crusader, No Regret or No Remorse or something. I was shocked to see that the game was classified as abandonware already.

But then, this topic is most likely soon to be moot as future "abandonware" games will be full CD games, and I hardly think that abandonware sites will be linking free to full 650MB isos.</quote>

I hate to be such a puritan, but I believe the final decision lies with the owners of the material. There is a case where it becomes greyer to me, but I could still be motivated in either direction.  If you previously owned, or own the game, I don't see why you can't "save" it to a medium of your choosing.  I do the same with music, If I own something on vynal, and I want to listen to the music in the car, then I have no problem with media transference.

In the specific case that Andy has mentioned though, it would appear that the decision lies in the hands of a still active developer/publisher, and there wishes were made clear.

Now, having said all that, I would not be the one tossing people in jail for playing a 20 year old video game.<i><b></b></i><i></i><i></i>
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