Abandonware is defined as any PC or console game that is:
- At least four years old
- Not being sold or supported by the company that produced it or by any other company. When a certain piece of Abandonware is later found to be sold or supported by a company, then it ceases to be Abandonware.
Why abandonware is software pirace
According to U.S. Law and International Treaties, a copyright belongs to the author of a software product for 70 years beyond the life of the author or 95 years after the copyright date if the work is done by a corporation or anonymous source.Before that time expires, nobody (except the author) has the right to copy that piece of software.
Why abandonware should not be considered piracy by Walt Crawford
When the U.S. was young a copyright lasted 14 years, renewable only once if the author was still living. Between the nation’s founding and 1909, only one term extension took place. In 1909 the term was doubled to 28 years. However corporations still felt it was too short. So in 1976 Congress changed the copyright to a remarkably long and unpredictable term: Life of the author plus 50 years – and, for works made for hire (corporation) a generous 75 years.Under corporate copyright, the earliest Michey Mouse cartoon would have entered the public domain 75 years after the first cartoon’s release, in 2004. Thus, Congress passed the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) in 1998,which extended both forms of copyright 20 years (70 years for an author, 95 years for a corporation). Is there anyone who believes that the Disney Corporation won’t push for another 20 year extension in 2018 – or that Conress won’t pass it?A good example of the problems this is already causing is going on right now in the movie industry. Dacaying nitrate-based film from the early days of motion pictures may not be restored because Moviecraft and other companies that restore and reissue these movies can’t do so because they can’t identify the copyright holders and the movies seem to never pass into the public domain. Preservation activities in general, and particularly digital preservation activities, are made more difficult when material never enters the public domain.
This is why we have abandonware. If these games are not
shared and preserved now do you think anyone will have a
copy of IBM’s Alley Cat in 2079 when it’s copyright expires?