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The mothership and TI-99 ROMs for emulators


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#1 iKarith OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 7, 2017 10:32 PM

Hey all,

 

As I posted elsewhere (because I've been shamefully neglectful of the forum for far too long now), I'm working on proper ti99sim Debian packages this weekend.  And while I've been working on this, I've wondered: We have seen a lot of stuff TI never released to the market come up here, including some internal documents and other things.

 

What I wonder is, the console ROMs themselves are generally regarded as "you need to extract these from a console yourself."  Which isn't entirely easy to do without peripherals a lot of folks don't have.  Dumps of the ROMs are out there, and the more technically minded among us can extract them, but is there any possibility of getting TI to permit distribution of ROM images with TI-99 emulators?

 

Generally I'd have thought LOL not likely, but Tursi getting the actual license to produce his Dragon's Lair port to the TI has got me wondering if anybody ever asked.  I can't imagine they'd release the assembly source under any kind of open source license (that'd assume they had it to release anymore), but perhaps they could permit the binary as-is under "free-enough for distribution" terms or even issue a quitclaim statement as Infogrammes did for the assets of the DOS games Blood and Blood 2?

 

The biggest problem might be knowing who might be connected to somebody still at TI who could ask the question.  I have no idea who that might be, however.



#2 arcadeshopper OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 7, 2017 10:36 PM

Tursi got permission to include Ti roms too. Also there is a general release from ti for "users groups" to distribute ti SW etc.



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#3 jedimatt42 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 7, 2017 10:36 PM

The docs for Classic99 and I think the blurb for 'The Cyc' indicate that they have acquired permission from TI to bundle what they bundle.  So your goal should be hopeful.  It has been done in the past. 

 

-M@



#4 sometimes99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 8, 2017 1:38 AM

What I wonder is, the console ROMs themselves are generally regarded as "you need to extract these from a console yourself."  Which isn't entirely easy to do without peripherals a lot of folks don't have.  Dumps of the ROMs are out there, and the more technically minded among us can extract them, but is there any possibility of getting TI to permit distribution of ROM images with TI-99 emulators?
 
Generally I'd have thought LOL not likely, but Tursi getting the actual license to produce his Dragon's Lair port to the TI has got me wondering if anybody ever asked.  I can't imagine they'd release the assembly source under any kind of open source license (that'd assume they had it to release anymore), but perhaps they could permit the binary as-is under "free-enough for distribution" terms or even issue a quitclaim statement as Infogrammes did for the assets of the DOS games Blood and Blood 2?
 
The biggest problem might be knowing who might be connected to somebody still at TI who could ask the question.  I have no idea who that might be, however.

 
TI effectively abandoned the TI-99/4A on March 28th, 1984. On the issue of TI copyrights with respect to the TI-99/4A, I like this comment ...
 

This kind of topic goes nowhere. Look at examples like MAME, any other kind of emulator, hardware reproductions, etc. There are all sides to this debate, and in the U.S. with our stupid !@#$% copyright law that was extended to something like 100-years after the death of the copyright holder... WFT!?

Anyway, abandon-ware is real and if copyright holders do not aggressively (i.e. through lawyers, cease and desist letters, lawsuits, etc.) protect their copyrights, courts tend to not uphold their copyright.

You also have to consider what kind of market you are looking at. I really don't think TI cares about the 99/4A. I'm not even sure they know they made it any more, and they certainly are not going to spend any money trying to sue an individual over anything they do with 30+ year old gear. I don't care what you make for any classic computer system, hardware or software, your world-wide global market will not exceed more than a few hundred people, and if it costs more than $100, cut that in half.

Anyway, this is a 3-sided fence with people on both sides and sitting in the middle. There is no answer, there are always exceptions, always gray areas, always morality questions, etc.



#5 iKarith OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 8, 2017 9:31 AM

Abandonware tends to be ignored, but that's not good enough for distributions like Debian.  Non-free is one thing, but no license is something else entirely.  But it appears we have a license of sorts, and TI has granted explicit permission for Classic99 (which sadly does not run on Linux, though if Tursi's ever game for an SDL2 port, I'd be up for looking at whatever else is necessary to make it more OS-agnostic.)

 

Probably the right thing to do would be for the ROM to be downloaded by the Debian package from a website if it does not exist similar to how the Microsoft web font installer works.



#6 arcadeshopper OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 8, 2017 9:45 AM

dredged this up from the yahoo forum:

 

80995Finally found the TI-99/4A ROM permission I've remembered all these years...
Expand Messages
 
  • swstiletto
    Mar 8, 2013
     
    Apologies if all this is known, and for bringing up (once again) this contentious subject.

    --------

    Supposedly Texas Instruments can grant you permission to distribute TI-99/4A BIOS ROMs, cartridges, other software, and even manual scans for personal use (at least) though definitely not extending to the third-parties that also made software for the TI-99/4A.

    I finally found the permission granted to one such person I've remembered for years (attn: mizapf, Justin)... in this very group!

    http://tech.groups.y...sage/4682?var=1
    re: http://www.99er.net/...ssages/685.html

    > For those titles that TI owns the copyright in,
    > TI does not object to your distribution. If the software title
    > contains a copyright statement indicating TI copyright ownership
    > you may be able to assume TI ownership.
    ...
    > Regards,
    > Herbert W. Foster
    > E&PS Business Services

     
    ...though I also remember seeing an older permission somewhere... included with one of the early TI-99 emulators as ASCII text maybe. Maybe an old-timer will remember.

    Other TI-99/4A emulator authors supposedly with permission:
    Classic99:
    http://www.harmlessl.../onesoft.cgi?10
    http://www.harmlessl...c.php?f=3&t=111

    PC99:
    http://www.cadd99.com (sells them!)

    ---------

    Also, Texas Instruments granted permission to distribute TI99/8 ROMs:

    https://groups.googl.../?fromgroups=#!msg/comp.sys.ti/SQ0CkVK9IOw/cxW8sz8YaAUJ

    > TI is pleased to grant you permission to copy and distribute any TI
    > copyrighted program written specifically for the TI-99/8 home
    > computer, including the ROM for the console. This permission is
    > conditioned upon your agreement not to alter the copyright notice in
    > the program and to include the copyright notice with each copy you
    > make and distribute. This permission does not apply to any program
    > bearing the copyright notice of any party other than TI. You agree
    > to include a separate notice with each copy you distribute that such
    > distribution is made under license from Texas Instruments.

    > TI makes no warranty with respect to the program and is under no
    > obligation to provide any support or assistance with respect to the
    > programs. TI is under no obligation to provide upgrades to the
    > programs.

    > TI accepts no liability with respect to your use, coping or
    > distribution of the programs.

    > Regards,
    > Herbert W. Foster
    > Manager, E&PS Business Services

     
    Also, 99er.net has permission to distribute scans of TI-99/4A manuals: http://www.99er.net/...Ipermission.pdf

    > From: Abbott, Fred
    > Sent: Monday, September 27, 1999 5:46 PM
    > Subject: Putting 99/4A info on Web Site

    > I just got the word back that your putting obsolete manuals on your
    > web site would not be a problem for us.

    > Fred Abbott
    > 1-800-842-2737

     
    --------

    However, in the past they've sent C&D's and/or DMCA takedown notices regarding calculator ROMs and signing keys.

    -----

    In conclusion, finally, but none the least importantly - if you're opening a ROM site or server to distribute Texas Instruments TI-99/4A ROMs or manuals, you have to contact them and ask for permission - you can't take someone else's permission (Classic99's, PC99's) as your own.

    It appears the department to talk to is TI's Educational & Productivity Solutions Division, Business Services department.

    However, here in 2013, it's unknown if Herbert W. Foster is still there. According to the DMCA takedown notices of 2009-2010, he was still with them then. You could try contacting:

    Texas Instruments Incorporated
    Herbert W. Foster
    Manager, Business Services
    Education Technology Group
    (972) 917-1522
    h-foster@...


#7 iKarith OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 8, 2017 10:21 AM

That is correct.  Unless they have granted permission for a particular type of use, then permission must be freshly obtained for each new thing/person doing the distributing.  Thanks for digging up the contact info.  After I've had some sleep, I will begin composing a letter.  These things work best in my experience when they're short, but they need to be specific enough that a simple affirmation in reply being sufficient.  ;)



#8 arcadeshopper OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 8, 2017 9:34 PM

Abandonware tends to be ignored, but that's not good enough for distributions like Debian.  Non-free is one thing, but no license is something else entirely.  But it appears we have a license of sorts, and TI has granted explicit permission for Classic99 (which sadly does not run on Linux, though if Tursi's ever game for an SDL2 port, I'd be up for looking at whatever else is necessary to make it more OS-agnostic.)

 

Probably the right thing to do would be for the ROM to be downloaded by the Debian package from a website if it does not exist similar to how the Microsoft web font installer works.

 

Classic99 does run in wine though


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#9 mizapf OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 9, 2017 2:42 AM

We have an exhaustive collection of ROMs on WHTech, but in the light of this situation, maybe we should arrange it to have TI-only ROMs in a public area, also making it available by links on web pages, in particular on the MAME pages, and the other ones behind the curtain.

 

I already thought about creating a MAME installer that automatically downloads the ROMs from WHTech.



#10 Tursi OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 9, 2017 7:35 AM

which sadly does not run on Linux, though if Tursi's ever game for an SDL2 port, I'd be up for looking at whatever else is necessary to make it more OS-agnostic.


Tursi knows how to program for Linux, he just doesn't like to - and this is hobby work ie: for fun. ;) But I've thought about cross platform more and more as the years go on. I'm just too busy.

The 99/8 letter quoted above is (almost) word-for-word the license I received for Classic99, except naming 99/4A software. I don't know if you'll be able to obtain permission suitable for Debian but it'd be kind of cool if you could! :)

#11 iKarith OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 9, 2017 8:18 AM

 

Classic99 does run in wine though

Which is not a lot of help on a Raspberry Pi with an ARM CPU...



#12 iKarith OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 9, 2017 8:41 AM

Tursi knows how to program for Linux, he just doesn't like to - and this is hobby work ie: for fun. ;) But I've thought about cross platform more and more as the years go on. I'm just too busy.

The 99/8 letter quoted above is (almost) word-for-word the license I received for Classic99, except naming 99/4A software. I don't know if you'll be able to obtain permission suitable for Debian but it'd be kind of cool if you could! :)

 

For Debian, I'd just need to avoid the Keyspan firmware issue.  Keyspan has licensed the firmware to their USB-Serial dongles (really just braindead Intel microcontrollers with bare-bones microcode) as able to be distributed with Linux or i n a Linux distribution.  Debian does not distribute that firmware at all, not even in non-free.  Because Debian doesn't include firmware in the kernel package itself, and non-free is defined by Debian (but nobody else really) as not part of Debian even though it's part of the Debian FTP archive.  Since Debian says it's separate, it's separate, and Debian has no license to distribute this abandonware firmware.  Which means unless you do some research and install the files by hand, the very popular for Mac users serial dongles made by Keyspan are paperweights on Debian.  Other distributions are less paranoid--the intent is clear and when you wind up arguing the definition of undefined words in a contract, the licensee is going to win.

 

If I can get them to make the permission general enough to cover the use of the ROM code for education and hobby purposes, including emulation of the computers in question, that'd be ideal.  It'd still be non-free, but we'd put the relevant files into a package named ti99-roms which would be depended upon by ti99sim in contrib.

 

I did package the Keyspan ROMs for Raspple II.  If Debian can say that non-free is not part of Debian and that means they can't distribute it, I can say that it is part of Raspple II so I can.  ;)  Any license at all gets it into my packages, but if they're ever to find their way into Debian/Raspbian proper, something Debian is okay with for non-free is required.

 

That they won't get sued is not enough for Debian--they insist on absolute paranoia such that no reasonable person could fathom it's even possible for them to be sued.  :P



#13 Stiletto OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 6, 2017 2:14 PM

 

dredged this up from the yahoo forum:

 

Finally found the TI-99/4A ROM permission I've remembered all these years...
 
  • swstiletto
    Mar 8, 2013
     
    Apologies if all this is known, and for bringing up (once again) this contentious subject.

    --------

    Supposedly Texas Instruments can grant you permission to distribute TI-99/4A BIOS ROMs, cartridges, other software, and even manual scans for personal use (at least) though definitely not extending to the third-parties that also made software for the TI-99/4A.

 

 

Hey, my name in lights. :-D

I intend to license the TI ROMs we can obtain permission for and host them at mamedev.org/roms free for personal use - and would appreciate mizapf's help when he can :) . Because we can do that sort of thing, when there's permission at least.

Unfortunately I am a very busy guy and I'm not sure when I'll get around to it. I would be interested in hearing if iKarith made any progress finding out if Herb Foster is still with the company or has found his current replacement, though.

*waves to all the familiar faces here*


Edited by Stiletto, Fri Oct 6, 2017 2:18 PM.





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