I understand quite fully how copyright works. You may be mistaking me for someone else based on your later conclusions about my view.
I based my comments on things you said in this thread. If I mischaracterised something, it was not on purpose, so feel free to point it out and I'll address it.
It's "grey" because you yourself make comments referring to the public domain, which is essentially a legal fiction under today's laws. There is no actual mechanism of placing something in the public domain voluntarily.
I understand that it's de rigueur to put the hate on intellectual property rights and to ridicule legal protections and processes nowadays, but often the echo chambers around the Interwebz are not necessarily right.
If the rights to copy and distribution fall solely on the author, by fiat, and he is free to do as he wishes with them (as prescribed by Copyright law), then it stands to reason that he can as well abdicate them.
You also post (both here and on your page) that it's cool that I download, play, and share Christmas Carol, but legally, I have absolutely no legal protection if I choose to do so.
You do, you have my express permission, which is all you need. If I were to sue you (ha! ha! no, really, just follow me), you can point at the very clear invitation to do so from the web site, or to the myriad posts in which I re-itarate so.
Copyrights arguments are settled on a case-by-case basis, based solely on the circumstances of each case (and precedent in case the circumstances have been visited before).
Hint: All you need is permission of use.
I'm operating entirely within a grey area - I'm only getting away with it because you're not suing me.
Not really. Copyrights are precisely that: the rights to copy (which include download and execution). I can do as I please with those rights, including granting permission. (See above.)
Unless you've actually gone and posted a license somewhere that I've missed, which is somehow being transmitted with the ROM as it's shared.
And by license, I suppose you mean one of those terse and inscrutable jargo-filled EULAs that mostly relieve the owner of liability as opposed of granting much permissions. Right? You should know that EULAs written in legalese are just ONE way to confer license. Pretty much anything written, which you can prove was by me, granting permission constitute a license. And I say written because it's easier to convey and prove. If you have witnesses to a "wink and a handshake" you can defend yourself as well.
In my case, you have a rather clear representation of permission in the form of an invitation for download and play (for non-commercial use) on a public web site, and a comment to that effect on the start-up screen of the ROM.
All of the ROMs on intellivision.us - legal or no? How would one find out?
I would say that, only those to which the site owner got express permission from the author or copyrights owner, are legal. The rest are not. You can ask him if you are interested, and keep track yourself.
However, I grant you, this is not easy if sites like that muddle the waters further by commingling stuff that is legal (original works produced by him or to which he was granted permission to distribute) and stuff he ripped from somewhere else. Nonetheless the responsibility of obtaining rights to it lie within the requestor.
This is part of the problem that many would-be artists have when attempting to get permission to reproduce or cover an original work.
Not quite as crisp-clear as it seems at first.
It is not quite crisp-clear to find the owner in order to request permission, yes. However, if you did not get permission and you did not make it, it is clearly not yours to copy. This is the fundamental point I'm trying to make.
You can go ahead and do it anyway, and you'll probably never hear about it. However, you'd be taking a risk, albeit a small one, that someone will someday make a claim on it.
This can't possibly be the interpretation of what I posted. If anything, I'm arguing that no one, ever, can share a ROM - regardless of the author's intentions. Copyright has no allowance for anything of the sort. Even downloading a copy of GoatNom that I posted in the development threads is technically copyright infringement (albeit an absurdly insignificant amount) - but sending a copy to your friend? That absolutely IS infringing.
I have no idea where you got that notion from. Copyrights are meaningless if the owner cannot exert his -- you know -- rights! And exerting his rights include giving permission to copy and use in whichever way he wants.
It's a grey area because many authors kinda-sorta give permission to kinda-sorta do a few things that legally, are copyright infringement.
They are only infringement if they go outside the permissions granted the user. In other words, if you do something with it without permission, you are infringing.
I pulled Mattel ROMs from my Intellivision Lives and Rocks discs, to load onto the LTO Flash! for PRGE. Fair use? Probably. Except that for one of them, I had to extract from an Xbox disc, thereby almost certainly violating the anti-circumvention clauses of the DMCA. But Keith has given the nod to people using those ROMs in emulators and such, albeit not exactly formally. I also put Christmas Carol on the cart, because you've indicated in the past that you're happy to see more people playing it and I assumed you'd at least tolerate it, if not be tickled. So - legal or no? As the law is written, absolutely not.
I'd like to know which law is that, which does not allow a copyright owner grant license to limited use.
It's only black & white if you never, EVER touch a ROM file that you yourself did not create. Which is fine, but the implication there is that multicarts are essentially illegal for everyone but the handful of developers who use them.
I say it is black & white because to me it's quite simple: Did you create it? If not, do you have express permission to use it from the Copyrights owner? No, then you are not allowed to use it. Full stop.
Conversely, if you created it or received authorisation to do something with the work, knock yourself out.