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Thread: Odd question but is old software still copyrighted? I don't know how it works.

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Orange View Post
    Does 'abandonware' have any legal status? In my thinking if it was once copyrighted it still is.
    No. In the UK there is a concept of "Orphan Works" where the copyright holder can not be traced

    https://www.harpermacleod.co.uk/hm-i...cant-be-found/

    but it does not apply to computer programs.
    Dave
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    Looking for Analog Computers, Drum Plotters, and Graphics Terminals

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Orange View Post
    Does 'abandonware' have any legal status? In my thinking if it was once copyrighted it still is.
    "Abandonware" is a slang term that has no legal status.

    To the OP: US copyright law, which Chuck linked to earlier, has Fair Use provisions for educational use, research, and commentary. Since using very old software (30+ years and older) falls under that category, you are generally within your rights if you install copies of old software on your vintage systems.

    You wrote "Want to respect all copyrights". In today's vintage computer hobby, that's quite impractical. If you adhere strictly to the copyrights and licensing terms of 30+-year-old software, the only software you could run on your vintage system would be whatever software it came with when originally purchased.
    Offering a bounty for:
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  3. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trixter View Post
    If you adhere strictly to the copyrights and licensing terms of 30+-year-old software, the only software you could run on your vintage system would be whatever software it came with when originally purchased.
    That's an odd statement. You can run whatever software you legally own. You can not run software the system came with, unless you own that, too. It's a common misbelief that you are e.g. allowed to copy Workbench 1.2 to run on your Amiga 500 because the Amiga 500 came with it anyway. That's not how copyright works. The English word "copyright" is actually very precise here in that it literally means "the person or company that has the rights to produce copies".

  4. #14
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    Since all A500s came with an operating system, why would the owner of an A500 not automatically own the operating system that came with their A500 as well?
    Offering a bounty for:
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    - Music Construction Set, IBM Music Feature edition (has red sticker on front stating IBM Music Feature)

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trixter View Post
    Since all A500s came with an operating system, why would the owner of an A500 not automatically own the operating system that came with their A500 as well?
    You never own the software, you do own a license to use the software as long as you follow the terms and conditions set forth in the license.
    Crazy old guy with a basement full of Pentium 1 laptops and parts

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeltaDon View Post
    You never own the software, you do own a license to use the software as long as you follow the terms and conditions set forth in the license.
    I understand that well. My question for Timo was that most operating system licenses clearly grant the user the ability to use (and make copies of) the software for use with the original system they came with. If the system is transferred to a new owner, those licenses transfer as well. Timo's statement "It's a common misbelief that you are e.g. allowed to copy Workbench 1.2 to run on your Amiga 500 because the Amiga 500 came with it anyway." is what I was challenging, since any transfer of the A500 would have transferred the license to use workbench from the old owner to the new owner. (Unless there was a universe where A500s were sold without Workbench...)
    Offering a bounty for:
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    - Music Construction Set, IBM Music Feature edition (has red sticker on front stating IBM Music Feature)

  7. #17

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    Yeah, in the US it's still copyrighted for decades after the death of the author, regardless of orphan status. Our copyright law is out of control (originally it was 12 or 14 years iirc, similar to patents). Personally, I don't think the fair use argument would hold up in court, because it pertains to excerpts and parody, not use as a whole as-is. But IANAL.

    But realistically, if the work is abandoned, nobody is going to enforce the copyright, so whatever. Our copyright law is stupidly out of control, so just do it.
    -- Lee
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