We touched on this briefly at VCF-SE. My problem is I clearly see both sides of the argument, but ultimately I fall onto this: creative destruction has necessary casualties whether the "blame" can be placed upon one person or a group of people; no one has a right to anything owned by anyone else even if it can be copied or reproduced, and there is no right, nor duty, of preservation.
I respect your opinion. I just don’t necessarily agree with it. Let’s take preservation out of the realm of computers, and say, old houses. Or old schematics for tube radios. Or old paintings that go into a museum.
There’s plenty of room for preservation of something without widespread distribution. Museums often hang pictures up for the public to see that belong to someone else, but the owner of the piece reserves the rights to sell merchandise like print copies. The public can still appreciate it, experience it, just can’t take it home.
Now, what if the picture was left in someone’s house and then they had a fire? Nobody would have experienced the picture, photographed them standing next to it, saw what it looked like, been able to buy a print copy of it, etc. For all intents and purposes, it’s like a copy of vapor ware or becomes urban legend.
Preservation for a picture means bringing it out and making it known, copying it and making prints and selling these to people so it gains widespread knowledge. The point is that it’s preserved, or put into other media, so that it’s not lost.
Do owners of paintings do this preservation because they are required to? No, on the contrary, it’s done for the greater public good. They know that the people that created these works originally intended them to be shared, known, and talked about. They know that the more people know, experience, and have exposure to the work, the better known it becomes, and that does increase the value.
Atari is the ultimate owner of these ROMs and can release them tomorrow. In the meantime, they’ve abandoned them, and left them in the hands of a few individuals who really don’t seem to understand preservation for the public good. Atari was a public facing entity that had much impact in many people’s lives. Should a video game that they made and abandoned be treated like a newfound Picasso that the owner allows copies to be made of?
Just some food for thought. The owners of the cabinets don’t own the data on the ROMs at all. It’s not theirs. In a sense, are they able to dictate the public good of keeping that game rom contents from being preserved? Or, does the public good dictate that it be copied and some sort of preservation applied to it in case something happens to those cabinets?
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