In copyright we need a simple principle from property law to be added, Abandonment. If you are no longer using a work it should be liberated into the public domain so that others can use it as the copyright act intend. Copyright was meant to bring works forward not to let them rot. A local lawyer/gamer geek I know is spending this week on Abandonware : tens electrical stimulation machine
What is abandonware? Like many programs which were released in the early to mid nineties, abandonware is a program, usually a game, which appears to have been “abandoned” by the owners. Much like shareware, freeware, and malware, abandonware was named by taking the identifying suffix “-ware” and adding the descriptive verb which best describes how the software is viewed by the end user community.
Some abandonware started out as freeware, released by small companies or a promotional release that incorporated a consumer tie-in in an over-the-top way. Casual or mobile games released as tie-ins to other entertainment properties tend to be the closest parallel today, although the open source community has a large number of these types of games available as well. Games which encouraged user generated content such as level designs often allowed the users to share the levels without extra cost, although a copy of the underlying game itself was required in order to use the free levels.
Other abandonware started as shareware, which tended to be smaller demos or free levels given out by the game company to get players interested in the proprietary game. It wasn’t the full game or a totally free version, hence the division in naming, but was still intended to have more of a viral marketing presence than possible through just magazine or radio ads. Doom and Duke Nukem still have demo versions floating around online, and the need to test a product before buying it has become ridiculously easy now that so many games are delivered digitally, without cartridge, dongle, or paper manual.
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