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World of Spectrum gets a Visit from the IDSA 258

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the wrong-tree-barked-up dept.
Dasaan writes "the World of Spectrum , a site that legally archives old Sinclair Spectrum games, has been accused of distributing copyrighted material by the IDSA . The list of games supposedly being offered on the site include titles such as Soldier Of Fortune and Barbarian. And a quick search of the site shows that these titles are indeed being offered, however they are the original versions that were released many years ago and have now been officially made legal to supply by the current copyright owners." Their correspondence is also available.
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World of Spectrum gets a Visit from the IDSA

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  • Eh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:43AM (#5404737)
    IDSA is a company / organisation, not a gov body. Tell them to fuck off.

    Same for the BSA and others. They carry no weight, they can represent who they want. its in the courtroom that matters.
    • Re:Eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28, 2003 @08:08AM (#5404927)
      IDSA is a company / organisation, not a gov body. Tell them to fuck off. Same for the BSA and others. They carry no weight, they can represent who they want. its in the courtroom that matters.

      The problem is that for a small organization or a single person running a site, telling these companies to "fuck off" will end up putting them out of business. They'll drag your ass to court and you'll have to spend money on lawyer fees and court costs whether you are guilty or not. That's why a lot of times the mere threat of these is enough to get someone to roll over and shut down. Would you really want to deal with contacting a lawyer, shelling out money to retain them, preparing a legal defense, etc.? Most people don't since we're not comprised of professional lawyers, but the BSA and IDSA is. They have nothing better to do than make your life a living hell. Yet another reason why we should eliminate all lawyers.

      • There should be a way to counter sue for damages and recoup all your losses to defend yourself against the ludicrous case in the first place.

        Frivolous law suits are illegal, aren't they?

        I'm sure a class action lawsuit with some high powered lawyers would put these people back in their place... oh wait.. the lawyers benefit more when the frivolous lawsuits are taking place... Hmmmm
        • Re:Counter Sue? (Score:3, Informative)

          by Gleef (86)
          nurb432 wrote:

          There should be a way to counter sue for damages and recoup all your losses to defend yourself against the ludicrous case in the first place.

          Frivolous law suits are illegal, aren't they?


          Technically, there are laws against frivolous lawsuits, but what they are and what you have to do to trigger them vary from country to country. In the US (where IDSA is located) it is very very hard to prove that a lawsuit was illegal. World Of Spectrum is in the Netherlands, which might have more protection, but who knows what jurisdiction any lawsuit will end up in this case.

          Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, the above should not be interpreted as legal advice.
        • The problem is that cases against sites hosting very old software may be anything but frivolous. Perhaps we do not agree with their methods, and perhaps even the court will not, but this does not mean that their case was not legitimate.

          There ARE two sides to this issue, and the people on the opposite side from us are just as rabid in their self-righteousness as we are.
          • I was being more generic: A lot of BSA style suits are frivolous and meant only to harass / intimidate and they should be taught a lesson.

            If the suit legit, then of course I don't agree with the counter sue..

            Piracy for profit is bad, and should prosecuted. Not aruging with that one, but in this specific case they have the permission to distribute, so this would fall under the ability to counter sue to recover any costs as far as I'm concerned.
      • Eliminate all lawyers? Sure, just eliminate all the laws beforehand. And since all human remotely civilized societies ever have had laws (and their interpreters), you should eliminate all humans first.
        • by cosmo7 (325616)
          Eliminate all lawyers? Sure, just eliminate all the laws beforehand. And since all human remotely civilized societies ever have had laws (and their interpreters), you should eliminate all humans first.


          it's still worth it.

        • you should eliminate all humans first.

          Yeah! That'll leave world full of psychopaths with us geeks building road-warrioresque ORVs and maintaining the oil rigs...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Their correspondence is "Abuse denied?" With that attitude they'll get a lot of attorney friends.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:49AM (#5404746)
    Here is a working one [worldofspectrum.org]. They are surprisingly pro-rights-holder. Unlike most such sites, they don't simply say 'we can distribute this because we want to', but they acknowledge that a company who has spent many hours (albeit 10 or 20 years ago) and money developing a game has the right to distribute it (or not!) as they feel fit.

    Reading that link you realize that essentially they are PRO-IDSA.....

    • by pak21 (101028) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:59AM (#5404767) Homepage

      Reading that link you realize that essentially they are PRO-IDSA.....



      That's certainly not true. Whilst the WoS team (of which I may be considered to be a part) and in fact, a significant proportion of the ZX Spectrum emulation community will respect the decisions of a few companies not to have their work distributed, the way the IDSA is going about it (trawling the web and sending off threatening letters based on filenames) is completely out of line.



      • the way the IDSA is going about it (trawling the web and sending off threatening letters based on filenames) is completely out of line.

        Is this really how they are doing it? If so, can anyone post the list of file names that they are looking for?

        If we can get the file names, we can easily set up a sting operation. We just invite all our readers with web sites to create dummy files with those names, perhaps in a /games/ directory. Then we collect the threatening letters. If this works, we'll have plenty of evidence against them in court.

        It hardly seems likely (or even vaguely reasonable) that anyone could own the rights to a file name. I typically create hundreds (sometimes thousands) of file names each day during software testing. Right now I'm working on a web site, and a test I'm running is creating roughly 100 files per second. If I have to check for possible copyright infringement of every file name, the job becomes utterly impossible, since what was a 10-second test run will take years.

        If companies are really making copyright claims based merely on file names, we should stop this practice right now. Anyone want to help?

        • by pak21 (101028) on Friday February 28, 2003 @11:18AM (#5406004) Homepage

          Is this really how they are doing it? If so, can anyone post the list of file names that they are looking for?

          In all honesty, don't know. However, they certainly didn't appear to do much more than that. Getting as far as WoS's database entry for Soldier of Fortune [worldofspectrum.org] (one click away from the game listings) clearly shows that it's not the modern game.

          As has been pointed out elsewhere, that's the most clear-cut case; some of them (eg 007) I don't believe the IDSA are representing the copyright holders to the versions on WoS, even if we don't have permission to distribute them. Others (Mario, Frogger, etc) the IDSA may be representing the copyright holders, at least for some of the versions. If the IDSA responds to Martijn's reply, then action may be taken with respect to those games.

    • K.H. (Score:3, Informative)

      by cgenman (325138)
      from here [worldofspectrum.org]

      From: dmca@idsa.com.no.junk.mail To:abuse@xxxxxxxxx
      Subject: Berne Convention - Demand for Immediate Take Down - Notice of
      Infringing Activity - Reference#: 922932 Date: 14 February, 2003 5:23 PM
      Interactive Digital Software Association 1211 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20036 USA Attention: Piracy Enforcement - DMCA Officer
      Telephone: 202-223-2400 Fax: 202-223-2401 E-mail: dmca@idsa.com Friday, February 14, 2003

      Dear abuse@xxxxxxxxxx,

      I am an authorized representative of the Interactive Digital Software Association ("IDSA"), which represents the intellectual property interests of almost thirty companies that publish interactive games for video game consoles, personal computers, handheld devices and the Internet.

      IDSA is providing this letter of notification to make xxxxxxxxxx aware of material available via its network or system that infringes the exclusive copyright and trademark rights of one or more IDSA members. This notice is addressed to you as an agent of xxxxxxxxxx for purposes of receiving notifications of claimed infringement. We hereby affirm that the IDSA is authorized to act on behalf of the IDSA members whose exclusive copyright rights we believe to be infringed as described herein.

      Based on the information obtained by IDSA that is provided in this e-mail's attachments, IDSA has a good faith belief that the Internet site found at http://www.worldofspectrum.org/ infringes the rights of one or more IDSA members by offering for download one or more unauthorized copies of one or more game products protected by copyright, including, but not limited to: 007 Barbarian Donkey Kong Frogger Mario Pac Man Soldier Of Fortune

      Through the Berne Convention and other international treaties covering intellectual property rights, we believe that our members' rights in such games are entitled to the full protection of the intellectual property laws of your country. The unauthorized copies of such game product[s] appearing on, or made available through, such site are listed and/or identified on such Internet site by their titles, variations thereof or depictions of associated artwork (any such game titles, copies, listings and/or other depictions of, or references to, any contents of such game product, are hereinafter referred to as "Infringing Material"). Based on the information at its disposal on 2/7/2003 6:49:39 PM GMT, IDSA believes that the statements herein accurately describe the infringing nature and status of the Infringing Material.

      Accordingly, IDSA hereby requests xxxxxxxxxx to immediately remove or disable access to the Infringing Material at the URL address identified above.

      Should you have questions, please contact the IDSA at the above listed mailing address or by replying to this email. Please also include the above noted Reference Number in the subject line of all email correspondence. We thank you for your cooperation in this matter. Your prompt response is appreciated.
      Regards,
      Robert L. Hunter, IV

      Interactive Digital Software Association
      Note: The information transmitted in this Notice is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed and may contain confidential and/or privileged material. Any review, reproduction, retransmission, dissemination or other use of, or taking of any action in reliance upon, this information by persons or entities other than the intended recipient is prohibited. If you received this in error, please contact the sender and delete the material from all computers.

      From: Martijn van der Heide
      To: dmca@idsa.com.no.junk.mail
      Subject: Your reference #922932
      Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2003 12:54:02 +0100 (CET)
      Your reference: #922932

      Dear Mr Hunter,

      Thank you for your email dated 14th February 2003, 5:23PM CET. The World of Spectrum archive site at is a software preservation site, archiving software for the classic microcomputer, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

      We strive to gain permission for redistribution for all software in the archive from the original publisher, and if the publisher no longer exists, from the original author. We publish all such permits on our site, and where such permission has been rescinded by either the publisher and/or author, we comply and remove the affected titles from the archive. Our copyrights policy is available in a dedicated section of the site, the Copyrights section, at .

      To this end, we take all allegations that we are carrying software to which we do not have permission very seriously, however, the list of titles provided to us by yourselves is unfortunately somewhat vague, and we believe there may in fact be 'false positives', with titles in our archive of old software originally made during a period between 1982 to 1992 matching currently available software. An example is the title 'Soldiers of Fortune', for which we have explicit formal permission from the publisher Firebird Software Ltd (a label from British Telecom). If there is indeed clear and present proof that the titles you specifically list are present in our archive, we will be happy to remove those titles to endeavour to retain the goodwill we have in the industry and our position as being responsive to creators requests. To this end, could you please provide further information on the titles you have listed, such as publisher (or relevant IDSA member), release date, platform and so on, so that we can properly investigate and expedite this request.

      Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

      Yours sincerely,
      Martijn van der Heide
      --
      Martijn van der Heide
      Owner of the official world archive for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum
      The World of Spectrum, http://www.worldofspectrum.org/

      -------------
  • by Lynn Benfield (649615) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:54AM (#5404754)
    Searches like this are probably sub-contracted out to the lowest bidder, which will come down to a couple of interns typing "soldier of fortune download" into Google...

    Bit of a pain for WoS to have to respond to this kind of rubbish, but it's obviously sent out to intimidate (since when did the Berne Convention have anything to say about "Immediate Take Down").
    • Agreed, I think the other worry is that the IDSA didn't indicate in the letter that they *could* be wrong.

      There was no "if this letter was received in error" or "if we've fscked up, then sorry" - just a threat to take down the unverified "offending" material immediately.

      I don't think they realise the damage this does to their reputation and, conversely, the power that a positive and insightful IP enforcement body could have.
    • Interns? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GQuon (643387)
      Searches like this are probably sub-contracted out to the lowest bidder, which will come down to a couple of interns typing "soldier of fortune download" into Google...

      If they're not just using a robot search program that go through their database of titles.
      Another site that got attacked. [back2roots.org]

      IDSA (Interactive Digital Software Association), self appointed world software cops, attacked our site again. Obviously they run a robot, which parses sites for zipfiles with names of games they protect, and, once detected, directly notify the owner of the IP space to disable access without doing any research. That is exactly what happened to us, now the second time. Last time [back2roots.org] (one year ago) we provided contact details and the information that all stuff on our site is either freely distributable or licensed. They did not even respond. The first answer is the second attack now, mostly because of freeware and demo versions! Fortunately the IT department of the university hostig us are some bright minds. They disabled routing for our machine for a while and asked IDSA to approve their statement in any way, which did not happen, so they enabled our site again. Big thanks for this wise reaction!

      If you run a legal download site, please warn your ISP about the way IDSA is doing their work, and that they blindly try to shut down sites, no matter how many years of research you invested in getting licenses to keep your site legal. If you're one of the companies supporting IDSA consider giving your money to someone who takes the subject more seriously.


      mmmm. Interns....
      • IANAL, but can't they charge the people at IDSA for perjury or fraud? I'm sure sending false DMCA complaints is against some law. Don't they have to write "under penalty of perjury" somewhere when they file a DMCA complaint??? At the very least, these guys should be able to sue IDSA for slander / libel.

        Until the victims of false DMCA complaints do something, these companies will keep it up...

        • Re:Interns? (Score:3, Interesting)

          I believe the word we should use here is barratry. quick definition is "attempting to use baseless legal threats to frighten the subject into compliance. When employed by actual lawyers, it can result in disbarment. Assuming the prey bothers to find out that's whats happening. People are largely ignorant that unethical behavior like barratry is more actionable than the made-up "facts" that are bandied as theats in these cases...
  • Why o Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Smid (446509) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:54AM (#5404756)
    I was wondering this...

    Why are copyright owners tracking down such things which wouldn't get pennies nowadays (they were selling off the old cassettes for 10p long ago).

    Only thing I can think of is that some people are realising the value of not so much the games, but the ideas. Things like Sabre Wulf is one of the old Ultimate franchises which can be updated, and its franchises which sell nowadays. A lot of licenses tied up in those games too (I think Ocean owned the franchise for Batman for a long time too), maybe thats what they are trying to protect.

    Or maybe they're just going to sell them all back to us again, like nintendos been doing with the GBA.

    I suspect the former... I mean, have you played some of those games recently? While they had value at the time, they are not up to par graphics wise to something like the GBA...
    • Re:Why o Why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by psychofox (92356) on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:38AM (#5404855)
      I think the point the article is trying to make is that the copyright owners aren't trying to 'track down' these things.

      The problem is with organisations like IDSA which stumble across websites offering games and then automatically assume there must have been a copyright violation.

      The article explicitly states that the website in question had already obtained permission from the copyright holders to redistribute the material...

    • Re:Why o Why? (Score:2, Informative)

      Sabre Wulf was a great game! But...Ultimate changed their name to Rare. Rare actually still uses their old stuff in newer games. They even used the name Sabre Wulf for a charcter in beat-em-up Killer Instict. The killer app for the original 16k Spectrum, Jetpack, appeared as a mini game in Donkey Kong 64

      Note that Rare was recently purchased by Microsoft. Not very likely that they'll release their old Speccy titles for public use.

      A ner Alien8 would be fun though...
      • Re:Why o Why? (Score:2, Informative)

        by FromWithin (627720)

        >Note that Rare was recently purchased by Microsoft. Not very likely that they'll release their old Speccy titles for public use.

        That's not necessarily true. Microsoft bought The Blue Ribbon Soundworks, creators of the greatest MIDI program in the world, Bars & Pipes Pro [fromwithin.com] and eventually (after about 6 years) released the source code to the program back to the Amiga community.

    • But the ROM and the licence are not the same thing. For example, when I write a paper for publication in a journal, I sign a copyright form. This gives the publisher copyright over the manuscript, but the ideas contained within it remain mine. This is similar I think - let people distribute the ROM (it maintains interest in the game for when you do release an updated version), but keep the intellectual property rights to the idea.
      • Re:Why o Why? (Score:3, Informative)

        by program21 (469995)
        You do realize that copyright doesn't cover ideas, but the expression of those ideas? The words you used, the way you formatted, etc. is what you own the copyright on, but there's nothing to stop anyone else from writing about the same thing.
      • Ideas are not copyrighted. They may be patentable, but fall outside the reach of copyright. And let's keep it that way.
      • Yeah, just read a description of copyright on the form and I'd mixed up patents with copyrights - I maintain the patent rights to the idea if I want them (and patenting ideas developed at the public's expense is just plain wrong).

        So why the hell do these companies care so much about redistributing ROMs?
    • Re:Why o Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by NigelJohnstone (242811) on Friday February 28, 2003 @09:35AM (#5405160)
      "Why are copyright owners tracking down such things which wouldn't get pennies nowadays (they were selling off the old cassettes for 10p long ago)."

      Its about reducing choice, all this free stuff on the internet make it harder to sell new games. If people spend their time playing this old stuff, they won't want to fork over $50=$70 buying the latest and greatest.

      So organisations like this go around trying to wipe out these sites. of course its not about copyright violation, no ZX pectrum game designer is paying these people to do this. No, its about control of market, the newer game companies are paying this company.

  • Soldier Of Fortune (Score:5, Interesting)

    by VON-MAN (621853) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:55AM (#5404757)
    They might even be under the impression that the SOF download is one of the new Activision/Raven games. And then simply threw in a couple of more titles to give the letter some weight. This is typical heavy handed legal hardballing that the BSA is also famous for.
    • by unikron (524813) on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:15AM (#5404799)
      Notice the titles that they claim to be braking the law...
      007 (007 Nightfire is released)
      Barbarian (That new barbarian game is released)
      Donkey Kong ( Donkey Kong's nintendo latest games)
      Frogger ( Wasn't there a gba version?)
      Mario ( New mario games for gba and gc are released)
      Pac Man (Pac man world 2 is released)
      Soldier of fortune (that 3d game that is released)

      It seems to me that IDSA thinks that spectrum is a game console or a very high standard pc codename(if so, 48k should be enough for anyone).

      What's next? They are going to stop anyone who makes pong distributable to other platforms?
  • Legal archive? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MisterFancypants (615129) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:58AM (#5404764)
    A lot of the ROMs on that site *ARE* illegal. Yes, the Soldier of Fortune listing is wrong (the one they have is legal as they got permission..it has nothing to do with Raven's FPS), but for example they do NOT have permission to have the various Nintendo games, nor games where other publishers currently own the rights, such as Frogger.

    If you read WoS's FAQ it even pretty much admits that their archive isn't fully legal...And if you read the correspondence, it only really deals with SoF, it ignores the other infringing games such as Frogger, Donkey Kong, etc.

    • by grahamlee (522375) <iamleeg@@@gmail...com> on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:23AM (#5404820) Homepage Journal
      A lot of the ROMs on that site *ARE* illegal.

      ROMs, sir? ROMS?? I'll have you know that the Speccy was a fully tape-based computer, except for the Amstrad ones cos some of them had disk drives (though they were crappy disk drives, three-inch thingies). The only ROMs I've ever seen in a Spectrum are the ones that hold the Operating System, and those are freely distributable according to Amstrad.

      You may be thinking of the very very VERY small number of cartridge games (i.e. 2) that were available for extensions like the multiface, etc. Or you may be confusing a proper computer like wot the spectrum woz for a two-bit eight-bit console like the NES.

      • Re:Legal archive? (Score:2, Informative)

        by erinacht (592019)
        What about the Interface2 roms, the were instantly loaded (Horace, loaded when you turn on! hello baby!) - though they were a flop they did exist...

        but regardless, I Think you're right he has mistaken 5 minutes of kraftwerk music to a rom because nowadays it comes in a little .sna file.

        [http://www.worldofspectrum.org/int2roms/]
        Ther e were ten such cartridges released by Sinclair:
        Jetpac.
        Pssst.
        Cookie.
        Tranz Am.
        Chess.
        Backgammon.
        Hungry Horace.
        Horace and the spiders.
        Planetoids.
        Space Raiders.

        They were intended to compete with the games consoles of the day, but were not very successful.

    • Re:Legal archive? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jack Hughes (5351) on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:40AM (#5404861) Homepage
      What Nintendo games? I can only see spectrum games on the website, which were almost always tape based.

      Show me a link to a Nintendo game on the site - otherwise I am pretty sceptical. I suspect that you may be as guilty of rushing in without checking the facts first as the the Lawyer from the main story - which is surely the moral here.

      P.S. Donkey Kong may have originally appeared in the arcades on a Nintendo machine, put in the case of the spectrum, the Donky Kong game was published by Ocean and even then written by someone else - so just because it is called "Donky Kong" doesn't mean that it has anything to do, in copyright terms, with Nintendo (although the name Donky Kong may have been licensed from Nintendo at some point).

      • Re:Legal archive? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by grahamlee (522375)

        Your P.S. was correct. The Donkey Kong name, the characters Mario, Donkey Kong and Daisy etc. were all licensed from/ripped from Nintendo. In either case, Nintendo have the right to claim distribution denied if they so wish.

        A similar thing occurred on the Dragon32 (now there was a nice computer) when Microdeal created a rip-off version of Donkey Kong which, imaginatively, they entitled Donkey King. Nintendo got in a huff, and made them change the name of their program to The King. Which they did. Shortly they released a rather good game called Junior's Revenge, in which Kong's son Junior kidnapped Mario and Luigi had to go through about five screens of dodgy platform-style japes in order to rescue him.

        FWIW there are licensed games on the site which are still actively protected: e.g. Sega's Frogger.

      • Interesting factoid: The name Donkey Kong is actually a translation mishap when they brought the game in from Japan. It was originally meant to be something along the line of Monkey Kong.
      • That old Donkey Kong clone from Ocean was in fact called "KONG" and was itself an illegal (not licensed) copy of the Nintendo game. Ocean did this rather often...
    • it only really deals with SoF, it ignores the other infringing games such as Frogger, Donkey Kong, etc.

      The IDSA letter only says the site has ONE OR MORE (but not limited to) infringing items. That list was probably a generic list of games the IDSA have permission to look for.
  • Devil's advocate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mccalli (323026) on Friday February 28, 2003 @06:58AM (#5404766) Homepage
    Well, the list of example titles I saw in that correspondence included Mario. I don't even need to begin to do a search to tell that that one's still copyrighted, and certainly has never been given permission to be downloaded freely to anything anywhere.

    I'm a big user of emulation - some MAME, a fair amount of C64 and also Amiga stuff. However, I do feel that if the original copyright owners complain, then the fair thing to do is to take the downloads down. In this case, IDSA is being too vague and needs to give a specific list of titles. Once given though, I feel it is only correct to comply.

    Cheers,
    Ian

    • >I'm a big user of emulation - some MAME, a fair amount of C64 and also Amiga stuff

      dude do u konw where I can get kof2001 romz or just email them 2 me thx otherwise u sux lol!!!
    • Re:Devil's advocate (Score:5, Informative)

      by meringuoid (568297) on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:27AM (#5404827)

      Nintendo were very careless about licensing in the early eighties. Donkey Kong and Mario Bros appeared on several home computers before Nintendo realised they could make more money if they only appeared on the NES. It may well be that the companies that published the old Nintendo arcade games on computers in the eighties actually do have the right to make them freely downloadable.

      That said, just saying 'Mario' is about as vague as it gets. How many Mario games are there now?

  • Sloppy work (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrMickS (568778) on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:02AM (#5404772) Homepage Journal
    Given that the authorizations for publication are fairly easy to find on WoS doesn't it behoove the IDSA to check before sending the cease and desist? It would also save them time in the long run to give a list of specific infringements.

    This would of course take time and effort and a general scare letter may work in the majority of cases.

  • by arvindn (542080) on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:02AM (#5404773) Homepage Journal
    Read here [the-underdogs.org] how they have been bullying the-underdogs.org.

    The IDSA wants all emulators to be banned [stanford.edu]. More on this here [ysrnry.co.uk].

    More bullying [chillingeffects.org] by IDSA and Cox.

    I'm guessing the IDSA is a games-only version of the BSA.

    • by junklight (183583) <mark.junklight@com> on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:09AM (#5404789) Homepage
      "Posting pirated software on the Internet so that it can be run on an emulator is commonplace nowadays -- and also costly. The Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA) alleges that the $6.3 billion interactive entertainment industry loses $3.2 billion a year to software piracy, including this kind of Internet software piracy. Moreover, the IDSA alleges that this kind of piracy would not exist were it not for emulators."

      ALthough they don't actually say it the implication is that emulators are costing the industry a lot of money. In whose world? its not like any of this stuff is making anyone any money. I can understand copyright owener wanting to protect franchises etc. but even then they surely would be hard pushed to show how they where losing money from it.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      But isn't this similar to why the RIAA *really* wants to lock up cheap distribution, etc.?

      Anyone playing a game on an emulator is not playing a new game.

      In other words, even if you are only playing crappy old Spectrum titles that are officially redistributable for emulation, it still cuts into their market because the time you spend playing around with emulation is not spend playing one of their new games. As a result, less new games are sold.

      In other words, it is their oligopoly they are protecting rather than someones copyright.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:07AM (#5404781)
    Or, as is more likely, they'll be re-selling the rights to such classic games for inclusion on mobile phones...

    Since most spectrum games were way better than anything seen thus far on a mobile phone...
    • Already been thought of :-) See the Spectrum emulator for the Nokio 9210 [worldofspectrum.org].
    • Example: Elite (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mccalli (323026) on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:29AM (#5404835) Homepage
      Or, as is more likely, they'll be re-selling the rights to such classic games for inclusion on mobile phones...

      Ever play Elite?

      Right now, on alt.fan.elite, there are threads going on where one of the joint copyright holders has 'asked for' (required) all Elite-a-likes to be removed from download. The reason was that he'd just realised a commercial Elite-a-like for handhelds, and when searching for reviews of it he found only illegal ports of Elite to the handhelds.

      So yes, it may well be that they're trying to preserve copyrights so that these older games can be ported to mobile phones, PDAs...whatever. They do own the copyright, and they are within their rights to do that.

      Cheers,
      Ian

      • Re:Example: Elite (Score:4, Informative)

        by meringuoid (568297) on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:39AM (#5404857)
        Right now, on alt.fan.elite, there are threads going on where one of the joint copyright holders has 'asked for' (required) all Elite-a-likes to be removed from download. The reason was that he'd just realised a commercial Elite-a-like for handhelds, and when searching for reviews of it he found only illegal ports of Elite to the handhelds.

        Curiously enough, the other joint copyright holder has just about every version of Elite ever released available for free download on his website [clara.net]. It seems the two no longer get along terribly well...

        • Re:Example: Elite (Score:4, Interesting)

          by mccalli (323026) on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:52AM (#5404892) Homepage
          It seems the two no longer get along terribly well...

          A mild understatement. I've been a fan of Elite since it first appeared on the BBC micro, and the pettiness between Ian Bell and David Braben is extraordinary. It occasionally spills over into alt.fan.elite, such as at the moment. The author of the re-engineered version is also working with Ian Bell to produce an Elite-inspired game which would be free of all Elite-based copyrights. Bell seem to refuse to even speak to Braben, let alone co-operate with him.

          Without knowing people it's impossible for me to take sides without just guessing. The majority of the fans seem to have sided with Ian Bell, but Braben appears to have been behaving quite reasonably in his newsgroups posts so I'm withholding judgement.

          Cheers,
          Ian

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:07AM (#5404782)

    I'm not familiar with their former actions, but this doesn't seem to be a good sign. Looking at their members [idsa.com], any questionable conduct could have very widespread effects. Don't wait until it's too late, let them know what you think now!

    • The fact that they leave a site like Cherry Roms [cherryroms.com] alone after the first letter is complied with says to me that, unlike the RIAA, these guys are either incompetent or smart enough to not bother sites with unprotected copyrighted material.

      Ask anyone in the Emulation community - the IDSA has been doing this for years but they certainly aren't heavy-handed - they demand you remove things that they have copyrights to and nothing more (unlike the RIAA, which doesn't discriminate).

      Clearly, they investigate many sites and just have a list of copyrights they hold. Now, it may be that the IDSA is right and the redistribution rights of, say, the Frogger license, mean that the licensee (ie/ the game producer/publisher/author) do NOT have the right to redistribute the game for free. This has not been explained by either the original letter or the response.

      Of course, Occam says that the IDSA just has a bunch of interns searching Google and Top50 sites. :)

      I am only speaking from experience and I am always willing to hear different opinions and experiences people have had with the IDSA...
  • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:08AM (#5404788) Homepage
    One huge problem with old software is that no one supports or sells it anymore, but many users still want to use it. Redistribution is still illegal, since it's copyrighted.

    I think a law should be made to make it possible to declare something abandonware and enable non-profit redistribution, if the original firm holding the copyrights aren't selling/supporting it anymore.

    There is probably lot's of problems with this approach, but I suspect there are more problems with going after people wanting to relive their memories, or wanting to let other people do so...
    • by Pogue Mahone (265053) on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:36AM (#5404850) Homepage
      A couple of legal tips:

      In Germany, it's not an infringement of copyright to make, or have made for you copies of works that have been out of print for 2 years or more. (If I understand the law correctly -IANAG :-)

      In the UK, software copyrights only last for 25 years, so for the spectrum you don't have much longer to wait.

      Disclaimer: IANAL. This legal advice is worth what you paid me for it.

    • This is a general problem for all copyrighted material. Software "spoils" faster than most other copyrighted stuff, since the hardware it runs on becomes obsolete so quickly. So, we're seeing the problems with preserving 20 year old software. However, the same problem applies to old radio programs, old movies, old books...

      We need general copyright law reform. Copyrights should require explicit renewal once the material enters the commercial market and after a suitable initial period of protection.

      Something on the order of - lifetime of the author until a copy of the copyrighted material is made available to the public. From that point, the material is protected for 20 years without renewal. At the 20 year mark, and every 20 years thereafter, the copyright must be explicitly renewed by the copyright holder to remain in force.

      That'd protect authors with unpublished work. But, once the work gets published, it would make it far more likely that the work would pass into the public domain before being lost.

      Too bad the Berne Convention essential makes copyright reform in this direction impossible.

    • In The Netherlands it is kind-of legal (I don't know exactly how legal, IANAL) for you to live in a house that's been abandoned by the owner. Abandoned in this case means that the owner keeps the house unused for his own reasons (e.g., waiting for a better housing market to make a profit). AFAIK, it's not actually legal but they can't deny you stuff like electricity and water and they can't kick you out unless the owner is actually going to do something with the house. A strange consequence of this is that owners now rent their houses to other people even if they don't really want to, just to prevent other people from moving in there - so, the final effect of this being legit is not that it's legal to live in other people's houses for free, but that it's become impossible to keep unused houses off the market if there's a housing shortage, which is a good thing. I think there should be something like this in the law for IP, e.g., that you can't keep intellectual property that you own off the market if you're not going to do something with it yourself, and that you might be forced to allow licensing if you don't have plans to develop a product with the knowledge. The "abandonware clause" is a solution very much like in the abandoned-houses example. This would work well to prevent the just-because-we-can type of keeping-stuff-off-the-market behavior we see from companies that are too lazy to look if they're actually doing something with things they own.
  • by hdparm (575302)
    ...Boulder Dash and Manic Miner were amongst the first games that made me sit and play all night. There will be some downloading tonight, I tell ya.
    • Fantastic idea. BoulderDash 1, 2, 3 and 4 I think. Maybe School Daze and Renegade too...

      ...or I could just climb into the loft and bring down the originals...

      ...then visit eBay!

      Fantasic idea.

  • Mobile Phones? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DragonC (169447) on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:28AM (#5404830) Homepage
    I think this is caused by the new versions of Mobile Phones.

    In days of Olde, these games were so popular because of the actual gameplay. Yes they had limiting graphics, but what they had worked so well. Now in this day of new mobile phones (Ericcsson P800 springs to mind) people are looking back at these games and thinking "that could easily be ported".

    I grew up and learned to program in the Spectrum era. In fact if you hunt closely you may find one of my games. (^_^) Mobile Phones are now reaching the kind of status as a portable entertainment device. And games obviously figure quite highly on the list of money making revenue that the providers like. Forget Tetris. Multi-player Barbarian anyone?
    • Re:Mobile Phones? (Score:2, Informative)

      by millarm (547987)
      Does anyone actually think of the complexities of _porting_ a game from a ZX spectrum to a mobile phone? First you'd need to update the graphics - consumers just wouldn't be satisfied with the graphics from ZX Spectrum era. You'd then need to update the interaction as many of these phones don't have the same keyboard layouts as a ZX Spectrum. %-) Finally you'd need to update the code from the assembler it's likely to be in into something maintainable - I think you'd end up going for C/C++ for these modern devices. All in all what I think you'd end up doing is re-implementing a "clone" of the game.
  • by jade42 (608565)
    Perhaps this is an instance of one part of a company not knowing what the other is doing. Corporate laywers tend to jump onto what they see as 'problems' like a pack of wolves.
  • by jkgamer (179833) on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:31AM (#5404838)
    Something that you might want to consider is that, while the publisher or author has given permission to distribute these works, it is possible that the publisher/author themselves were in violation of copyright laws. During the late 70's and early 80's there were a lot of independent developers that programmed 'clones' of popular arcade games for home computer/hobbyist systems. These games were distributed without permission or license from the copyright holders of the original arcade games. Many old timers will probably recall the infamous "This game is over" ads from Atari concerning clones of its licensed games. Most notable of these were the PacMan clones. It was during this time in the industry that Atari asserted that just because a game did not use actual code nor actual artwork from the original, it was not immune from copyright infringement litigation if it could be reasonably concluded that it diluted the copyrighted work's value. From the list of titles given, it appears that each of them are well known copyrighted and trademarked entities. As such, it is the duty of the copyright holders to enforce any alleged misuse of those copyrights/trademarks. It is doubtful that the Spectrum version of PacMan, Donkey Kong, or even 007 were distributed through a valid license agreement with the original copyright/trademark holders. Perhaps with some clarification from the IDSA, WorldOfSpectrum could contact the copyright/trademark owners of the alleged infringing properties and obtain permission from them. Please don't misunderstand my take on this. I am not attempting to side with IDSA, I just happened to glance at this issue from a different perspective.
    • by BJH (11355) on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:42AM (#5404864)
      ...as "dilution of copyright". You either have copyright on a work, or you do not. It's like saying "reduction of pregnancy".

      That said, you were probably thinking of trademarks. If Atari had Pacman trademarked (which is likely), then a clone or near-clone of it would indeed dilute the trademark.

      The other possibility is that the graphics of the clones were so close to the original as to be seen as a copy, in which case they would have been in breach of copyright.
    • "During the late 70's and early 80's there were a lot of independent developers that programmed 'clones' of popular arcade games for home computer/hobbyist systems"

      There is a limit on how long after the fact you can sue someone. I believe its 6 years after the violation for the UK.

      These games date from twenty years ago, so its a little late in the day.

      Plus its not dilution of copyright, at best its a trademark infringement. The code from these games is not the same code, you might argue that a monkey throwing barrels is the same as Donkey Kong throwing barrels but the time to argue that was twenty years ago when it was fresh in everyone's minds.

      Now nobody can remember if the original 'claimed' trademark holder is really the same as the real trademark holder. Its worth remembering that just because a large company claims it has rights to these products doesn't mean its true. The video game companies themselves were notorious for making clones of the competitors products.

  • by Montreal Geek (620791) <marc@[ ]rbox.org ['ube' in gap]> on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:35AM (#5404849) Homepage Journal
    ... but if I had the patience to maintain an archive of abandonware(1) I would reply to the ISDA with a form letter going mostly like this:

    Dear non-copyright-holder.

    Thank you for the concern you express about somebody else's intellectual property. If you forward to me a hardcopy of the document signed by the copyright holder giving you the authority to request my not offering ___ for dowload, or if the original copyright holder makes such a request, I will promptly comply.

    Yours, blah-blah-blah.

    Given that the ISDA is a self-proclaimed authority that, in fact, very few copyright holders (and almost none outside the US) are members of, and given than the copyright holders of most of these programs have long gone the way of the dodo...

    -- MG

    (1) where my definition of "abandonware" is the most common one: software published by a company which is defunct, and which can no longer be purchased.

    • Given that the ISDA is a self-proclaimed authority that, in fact, very few copyright holders (and almost none outside the US) are members of, and given than the copyright holders of most of these programs have long gone the way of the dodo...

      However, members of the IDSA do hold the rights to a significant number of Spectrum games (most notably the Ocean and Ultimate games), actions designed to annoy them probably aren't the wisest course of action. As has been pointed out elsewhere, we don't have permission to distribute most of the games on WoS, despite our best efforts (or more precisely, those of Martijn van der Heide, the owner of WoS, who had previously contacted every IDSA member telling them we had their games available and asking for permission to do this).

  • by DarkZero (516460) on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:36AM (#5404851)
    The IDSA seems to be on a roll when it comes to stupid cease and desist letters. Lik-Sang [lik-sang.com]'s ISP recently received a letter [lik-sang.com] from the IDSA alleging that they had "a good faith belief" that Lik-Sang was violating the DMCA (and apparently the DMCA applies to Hong Kong now?) because their prices were too cheap and that meant that they must be pirating the discs and selling them just above cost.

    Lik-Sang, of course, went absolutely wild over it. They found it to be pretty hilarious and saw "So cheap, the IDSA finds it suspicious!" to be a brilliant selling point for their new "Price Crusher" promotion.
  • Heroes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28, 2003 @07:48AM (#5404880)
    I'm the sort of person that was pretty much raised on computer games. Although these game companies only consider games "consumer products", I consider computer games an integral part of our culture. Destroying computer games are not unlike burning books.

    There are several ways of destroying games and one of the most effective ways is to simply not preserve them while trying to stop others doing so. Spectrum games are stored on ordinary cassette tapes that unlike paper books does not stand the test time. The information deteriorates over time, and it's most unlikely that these cassettes will be usable in 10 years time and definately not in 50 years.

    With the IDSA, MPAA and organizations fighting emulation with stupid laws like the DMCA and threats like this, they are making both themselves AND future generations a big disservice. How many here honestly believe that Nintendo (who owns the copyright of the Mario character) actually have a copy of Mario for the Spectrum?

    I collect games. But I don't store 10000 old 8bit games so I can sit and play them all day. I also collect them to ensure that they aren't lost. Do take a look at the "Missing in Action list att WoS to see the names of games that didin't make it. I don't trust a single person or a handful of them to actually manage keeping this stuff alive for future generations. I would like as many as possible to store stacks of old games on CD:s in their homes.

    Software companies could aid this preservation in mainly two ways. They can either:

    1) Allow free distribution. There's no drawback in doing so for them. It's goodwill and it's allso an efficient way to keep your company name fresh in peoples mind. These games are not something they will make very much money off anyway, and granting free distribution does NOT mean that they would lose copyrights for the lucrative characters.

    2) Sell their old games. And I don't mean in newly "touched up versions". Just fill a CD with the original games and sell it in bulk. Currently, no company does so, although I applaude Sega and Konami for releasing at least some of their back catalogue commercially in _almost_ original shape.

    If for instance Codemasters* were to ship a CD with all of their 8/16-bit games (which would easily fit onto 1 cd), I would buy this CD. As it stands now, Codemasters probably doesn't even have all their games themselves so they can't even compile such a CD anyway.

    As the situation is today, I consider sites that distribute abandonware and old games freely to be custodians of our cultural heritage. Future digital archaeologists will thank "petty criminals" like Martijn Heide for the work they put into preserving these games. They are heroes! /Lars

    * I use Codemasters as an example since they have denied distribution of their old 8bit games.
    • Re:Heroes (Score:3, Insightful)

      by malf-uk (456583)
      Codemasters did release a CD with 30 of their games in 1990.

      However, it required you load a small program from tape first and then load the game from an audio CD player via a lead supplied with the CD to the joystick port of the later Amstrad manufactured "speccies"!

      This cunning method also loaded the games into the computer a lot faster than from tape iirc
    • Agreed

      Publishers should sell archival CD's to collecters and (gasp) libraries. $500 for an archive of all 20 (or whatever) games your company made between 1980 and 1986, sold in a run of 100. Game company makes 50k (less 5k packaging and 10k distribution), ensures that the games are not lost for all time, makes a few collecters happy, and doesn't risk losing the revenue on a sequal to cheezy Amiga Pacman clone #3.
  • (non-)profit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It's just another way to stifle competition, in this case competition from older games/platforms.

    1) File lawsuit against people making old games available.
    2) Non-profit guys scared shitless, can't afford lawsuit, remove old games from site.
    3) Old games no longer available, sales of new games up.
    4) Profit.
  • Remakes! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hewligan (202585) on Friday February 28, 2003 @08:12AM (#5404936)

    On an almost on-topic note, I've gotta point out this [sgn.net] site.

    The spectrum had some of the coolest games ever, and the guys at Retrospec have made some great remakes. For those of you who were unfortunate enough to never have a Spectrum, I'd especially recommend any of the versions of Manic Miner, and Klass of '99 (a remake of Skool Daze).

    I'm sure I still have a working Spectrum around here somewhere...

  • Over-zealousness (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FromWithin (627720)

    There is a similar Amiga (and PC demo) site, Back 2 the Roots [back2roots.org]. It is a great site with hundreds of Amiga games, demos, music, and PC demos on there for download. The owner of the site has gone to great pains to get permission for every piece of copyright work (i.e. games and music) on there.

    The site has been knocked out of action twice by IDSA. The problem is that the IDSA didn't check or anything (both times), they just told the ISP the site was illegal and the ISP complied!

    I sent a complaint mail to them about it, but of course, I didn't receive anything back.

    The IDSA may have their place, but they are being paid by the industry to do a job that they are obviously not doing properly.

  • For the record, these games:

    http://c64.users2.50megs.com/ [50megs.com]

    Are absolutely fine by me. Its abandonware, I wrote them when I was a spoilt brat and I was really please to see a C64 enthusiast take them and put them on the net. (Just wish they were better games, I can write better than this now, honest!)

  • by MidoriKid (473433) on Friday February 28, 2003 @09:10AM (#5405063)
    The information transmitted in this Notice is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed and may contain confidential and/or privileged material. Any review, reproduction, retransmission, dissemination or other use of, or taking of any action in reliance upon, this information by persons or entities other than the intended recipient is prohibited. If you received this in error, please contact the sender and delete the material from all computers.
    Now I have to erase my cache or the ISDA is gonna nail me!
  • by Tomcat666 (210775) on Friday February 28, 2003 @09:35AM (#5405161) Homepage
    What a coincidence... something similar just happened to the German university of Münster.

    The BSA sent the university a cease&desist-letter and told them to stop distributing MS Office over their FTP server.

    Unfortunately, the file mentioned in the letter is "/mandrake_current/SRPMS/OpenOffice.org-1.0.1-9mdk .src.rpm". Now *that's* one pirated office!

    Read more about it on Heise [heise.de] (sorry, German).
  • IDSA repeats (Score:3, Informative)

    by Isofarro (193427) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:52AM (#5405755) Homepage
    Not the first time IDSA has had a go at organisations legitimately distributing Spectrum games.

    When Sinclair User brought out the MegaTapes, the first couple of tapes had some decent stuff, games no longer available for resale. Then IDSA stepped in and complained that it was preventing people from buying newer games, which had the effect of turning the MegaTapes into a demo/reader written game range.

  • We should have /. itnerviews with idsa and bsa... if we filter out the flames, that may be interesting.
  • (Reprinted from a BBS somewhere)

    I make no excuses; I own a Apple IIGS, and an old Powerbook. Just what do these people expect?

    The machines are unsupported, out of warranty, and are completely obsoleted by Apple. Yes, they have system software downloads for the IIGS, and for the Mac, but those stop at sys 7.5x (Mac.)

    I own these machines, and will do whatever I want with them. If it takes downloading a .2mg file for the GS emulator on my mac, if I need to make a disk image of my mac HD, If I have to scour the net for a control panel that was EOLed and is not able to be purchased, I will in a heartbeat.

    Screw these people who are 'defending' the copyright of 'Beneath Apple Manor', Cannonball Blitz, and whatever else runs on the IIGS. Show me where I can buy these, online or otherwise.

    The copyright problem here is that software will outlast the machines they run on. 20 years from now, when the motherboard of the IIGS goes bad, all the software, and info that was created/stored on this machine can be used in an emulator.

    I really don't care about the 'rights' of copyright holders in this context, it all comes down to what I need/want to do on these machines.

    Some authors are still active, and are awake to the situation. They realize there is no point to holding on to their releases, and submit them as freeware. That's great. Even Shareware serves this purpose.

    Cinemaware is a good example of this. They are rereleasing Defender of the Crown on new platforms (GBA/phones) *AND* making the old disk images available for download! Why not? Is someone going to walk into Software, ETC. and ask for the black and white Macintosh version anytime soon? I think not.

    All best are off when the copyright holder is not available, or just sitting on this stuff. I will have it one way or another. Abandonware is illegal because copyright is (becoming) eternal. Frankly, I don't care.

    I cut my 'pirate' tooth on a Apple IIe, (do legal copies of any Apple II game even exist?) and will continue to use and promote the Apple II software.

    Abandonware should be legal. Out of print, EoL software should be legal. If I can't buy it new and supported from a store or online, it should be fair game.

    When copyright is extended to absurd lengths, it only weakens the idea of copyright on new things.

    Lots of people feel that Abandonware is fine and dandy to copy and distribute. Some even feel it's ok to charge for it. That's where I draw my line in the sand. If the copyright holders want to charge for it - Great! It's not Abandonware. If some guy wants to sell you a $4 floppy with Hard Hat Mack and Diamond Mine on it, no way. Don't sell this stuff.

    Copyright lasts too long. Public Domain is already on it's way out. Abandonware is illegal. I will continue to break the law until the law is changed. Many people feel similarly, (50,000,000 Fans of Elvis using Kazaa Can't Be Wrong) and the copyright laws need to reflect this. Laws should reflect society and not lobbying.

    My name is Steve Jobs, and I am a pirate.

Disobedience: The silver lining to the cloud of servitude. -- Ambrose Bierce

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