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RampantOctopus

Washington Post Op-Ed on Roms and “public availability”

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File under, "I'm just going to leave this here..."

 

Beau Brunson has penned a op-ed for the Washington Post regarding the need to modernize copyright protection for video games vis a vie ROMs... Nothing new to us, but interesting to see this in mainstream news media:

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/03/12/how-keep-classic-video-games-getting-lost-forever/?utm_term=.8bcd2880f820

How to keep classic video games from getting lost forever - The Washington Post.pdf

Edited by RampantOctopus
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The TL/DR is - The author encourages companies to find new ways of reselling ROMs, all in the name of "legality".

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The TL/DR is - The author encourages companies to find new ways of reselling ROMs, all in the name of "legality".

 

Nice bait & switch then :)

 

Luckily the scene is not concerned with the overground rumblings, the aim was always to archive everything no matter what the "legal" status of it is.

 

The real threats to preservation that I see are some of the circles becoming too elitist and refusing to leak the content to general public and some individual collectors who refuse to share some ultra-rare stuff even with the underground. And without widely distributed sharing there is no real preservation.

 

Then there's of course nuclear-option campaigns like the latest Nintendo crusade, which had a knock off effect and scared lots of sites and even known packs such as No Intro into removing their stuff.

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I have everything I want to preserve on a pair of HGST NAS 6TB drives in RAID1. Need to figure out off-site backup but at least locally Im good

 

More on topic the article does nothing to advance the debate. Another in a million rehashes of the same nonsense.

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The real issue here is, why haven't game companies adopted the same distribution methods of movies and music?

 

If you want to share a game, from your childhood, with daughter you should be able to buy it legally and play it.

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I believe the music industry much earlier on came up with contracts regarding who own the artistic and economic rights to each song, though there sometimes are controversies there as well when a record company puts music on e.g. Spotify or iTunes but the artist rejects it being uploaded. Basically it seems to boil down to rights, even a company like Activision may not have full redistribution rights to everything they once published. From the outside it is easy to assume that all rights to old games are well defined and available at the right cost, though it doesn't quite seem so. Also perhaps the publisher doesn't want to make available certain old games that were of inferior quality, in particular in cases when they had multiple versions and only promote one of them.

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What carlsson said happened with Space Invaders. In one of the Atari collections, Taito wanted their version of space invaders published and not the atari 2600 version.

 

Third party licensing can complicate things such as the article's example of the goonies ii video game. The rights owner of the movie/music might block the game for whatever reason. Otherwise rights may have changed hands but shouldn't be an issue to publish again.

 

The blame nintendo for lack of access is overblown. I still see nes rom files on archive.org

Edited by mr_me

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There was an interesting ep of Retonauts recently (I'm guessing it was "The History of Video Game Piracy") that explored some things I didn't know about how the business culture in Japan; specifically, they discussed how undocumented handshake agreements may have obfuscated IP ownership over time. I'm no expert, but I'd imagine that it would be next to impossible to ever sort out the who-owns-what rights related confusion-- particularly in Japan-- for business to ever license half the games that were published even for mainstream consoles. How much do I care about this-- almost not at all, and please don't tell interpol about my MAME cab-- but I do find it an empirically interesting quandary.

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The real issue here is, why haven't game companies adopted the same distribution methods of movies and music?

 

If you want to share a game, from your childhood, with daughter you should be able to buy it legally and play it.

You mean, by locking down digital distribution with DRM and pushing streaming instead of physical media? Don't worry, games are going that way. :lolblue:

 

DRM-free media is nice, but the industry had to be dragged kicking and screaming to get there.

 

Maybe games will get there someday. The fact that Microsoft gives away Xbox 360 titles to Gold subscribers (letting you keep the game even if you stop subscribing) seems like a step in the right direction. There's also GOG, which deserves to be bigger and more popular than it is.

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I still see nes rom files on archive.org

 

One (1) decent source which operates under a peculiar, and easily revoked agreement does not make a spring (nor argument). And the future looks rather bleak, because the once-countless trackers and sites have been decimated. The attitude of "I'm covered, so screw the rest" I encounter more and more often is not helpful either.

 

The bottom line is that the both copyright and distribution systems are a big ol' joke. Set a kindly ~20 years expiry date on cultural content copyright and bring back ownership and reselling of digital media and we can stop caring for and mourning the not-so-jolly rogers.

Edited by youxia
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20 years would be WONDERFUL. This year, we would get Sega Dreamcast launch games and everything that came before. The GameBoy Advance launch titles would follow in a just a few short years.

 

Of course, that would maim projects like Flashback, 1UP mini-arcades, Virtual Console, compilation packs, and so on. Or it could make them even better by allowing lawyered-up IP to breathe free again, enjoyed by a larger audience and stimulating the culture.

 

Naturally, it's unlikely to happen in our lifetimes. I don't even know who the thought leaders in copyright reform might be, and where they live. I doubt it's as lucrative as working for the big IP holders.

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What "agreement" are you talking about regarding archive.org.

archive.org is officially an internationally recognised library (from Internet Archive Wikipedia): The Archive is a member of the International Internet Preservation Consortium. | This non-profit digital library was officially designated as a library by the State of California in 2007.

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No library has the right to electronically distribute copies without permission like that. My understanding is that archive.org would remove any downloads if asked by the copyright owner.

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OK. But the more we insist upon asking permission rather than forgiveness, the more old stuff will be lost and forgotten.

 

If enough people care about an issue, laws that don't work well can be changed.

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The real issue here is, why haven't game companies adopted the same distribution methods of movies and music?

 

If you want to share a game, from your childhood, with daughter you should be able to buy it legally and play it.

 

Something like "iTunes for Roms"? Put entire back catalogs up, sell for reasonable price given the age.

 

GoG does this to an extent, but I think they only sell older PC games.

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Naturally, it's unlikely to happen in our lifetimes. I don't even know who the thought leaders in copyright reform might be, and where they live.

 

EFF maybe?

 

 

OK. But the more we insist upon asking permission rather than forgiveness, the more old stuff will be lost and forgotten.

 

If enough people care about an issue, laws that don't work well can be changed.

 

One problem is these copyright holders have deep pockets and armies of lobbyists, and copyright law coincidentally keeps getting changed in their direction. It will take lots and lots of letter writing campaigns to overcome that.

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Something like "iTunes for Roms"? Put entire back catalogs up, sell for reasonable price given the age.

 

GoG does this to an extent, but I think they only sell older PC games.

Yeah, something like that. But the challenge is that they have to make it better (easier, more fun/functional, convenient) than piracy. I think Nintendo's attempting to do that with the Switch Online service, and to a certain limited extent, they're succeeding.

 

GoG is part of CDProjekt, which makes The Witcher games. They have new stuff too. No console games yet, though.

 

EFF maybe?

 

One problem is these copyright holders have deep pockets and armies of lobbyists, and copyright law coincidentally keeps getting changed in their direction. It will take lots and lots of letter writing campaigns to overcome that.

 

Yeah, maybe EFF, but there's a lot more money on the side of copyright holders, as you say. Or we just continue to treat digital releases like newspaper sales circulars -- transient, disposable.

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Completely unscientifically asking here-- what would be a fair amount of time for a game to exist before entering the public domain; just your gut reaction? 30 years? 35?

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Completely unscientifically asking here-- what would be a fair amount of time for a game to exist before entering the public domain; just your gut reaction? 30 years? 35?

 

I think 20 would be "a good start" right now, but it's probably too short for the long term, especially as technological advances slow down and the innovation curve flattens out. I remember when 30FPS at 1080p resolution was really something special, but it's a minimum spec since the Xbox 360 in 2005 -- 14 years ago.

 

30 years ago -- still commercially viable, but just barely. It's a very long time ago. I'd say public domain them, but allow exceptions IF someone like Nintendo wants to monetize A FEW of them in a consumer-friendly way.

Golden Axe, Stun Runner, Super Mario Land, TMNT NES, Phantasy Star II, SimCity, Shadow of the Beast, Dragon Warrior, Populous, Harpoon

 

35 years ago -- yeah, these and things that came before them should be in public domain for sure.

Pac-Land, Grobda, Super Xevious, Hydlide, Infocom text games, King's Quest, Impossible Mission, Donkey Kong 3 NES, Pitfall II Lost Caverns, Gateway to Apshai. Discontinued: Atari 5200, Odyssey 2, Vectrex.

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35 years ago -- [...] Vectrex.

 

So much respect and gratitude toward Jay Smith for that one. Not just a great system, but making all his IP public domain, a great ethos too.

 

35 years seems good to me-- there's still a lot of fun to be had playing those games; most of the commercially viable stuff is available in one way or another, and it's not so long that the obscure stuff with no real retail potential has been totally forgotten.

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I think 20 would be "a good start" right now, but it's probably too short for the long term, especially as technological advances slow down and the innovation curve flattens out. I remember when 30FPS at 1080p resolution was really something special, but it's a minimum spec since the Xbox 360 in 2005 -- 14 years ago.

 

30 years ago -- still commercially viable, but just barely. It's a very long time ago. I'd say public domain them, but allow exceptions IF someone like Nintendo wants to monetize A FEW of them in a consumer-friendly way.

Golden Axe, Stun Runner, Super Mario Land, TMNT NES, Phantasy Star II, SimCity, Shadow of the Beast, Dragon Warrior, Populous, Harpoon

 

35 years ago -- yeah, these and things that came before them should be in public domain for sure.

Pac-Land, Grobda, Super Xevious, Hydlide, Infocom text games, King's Quest, Impossible Mission, Donkey Kong 3 NES, Pitfall II Lost Caverns, Gateway to Apshai. Discontinued: Atari 5200, Odyssey 2, Vectrex.

 

Maybe 20 years with renewal options. That way IP owners could renew still commercially viable games, like say Mario, but all those games that nobody seems to have a financial interest in anymore, and who the IP holder is often isn't even clear, would fall into the public domain.

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