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Current Ring Stats:
Member total: 70
Sites updated today: 2
Suspended Sites: 2
Frequently Asked Questions

THE ABANDONWARE FAQ v6 (written 1997, revised 2006)

  1. What abandonware is
    1. The definition of abandonware
    2. Why abandonware is technically software piracy
    3. Why abandonware should not be software piracy
    4. What is NOT abandonware
    5. How something ceases to be abandonware
    6. The history of abandonware
    7. Articles on abandonware
  2. The Abandonware Ring
    1. What the Abandonware Ring is
    2. Benefits of joining the Abandonware Ring
    3. How to join the Abandonware Ring
  3. Other abandonware resources
    1. Newsgroups
    2. IRC
What abandonware is
  1. The definition of abandonware
    Abandonware is defined as any PC or console game that is:
    1. At least four years old
    2. Not being sold or supported by the company that produced it or by any other company. When a certain piece of Abandonware is later found to be sold or supported by a company, then it ceases to be Abandonware.
  2. Why abandonware is technically software piracy
    According to U.S. Law and International Treaties, a copyright belongs to the author of a software product for 70 years beyond the life of the author or 95 years after the copyright date if the work is done by a corporation or anonymous source. Before that time expires, nobody (except the author) has the right to copy that piece of software.

  3. Why abandonware should not be considered piracy by Walt Crawford
    When the U.S. was young a copyright lasted 14 years, renewable only once if the author was still living. Between the nation's founding and 1909, only one term extension took place. In 1909 the term was doubled to 28 years. However corporations still felt it was too short. So in 1976 Congress changed the copyright to a remarkably long and unpredictable term: Life of the author plus 50 years - and, for works made for hire (corporation) a generous 75 years.

    Under corporate copyright, the earliest Michey Mouse cartoon would have entered the public domain 75 years after the first cartoon's release, in 2004. Thus, Congress passed the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) in 1998, which extended both forms of copyright 20 years (70 years for an author, 95 years for a corporation). Is there anyone who believes that the Disney Corporation won't push for another 20 year extension in 2018 - or that Conress won't pass it?

    A good example of the problems this is already causing is going on right now in the movie industry. Dacaying nitrate-based film from the early days of motion pictures may not be restored because Moviecraft and other companies that restore and reissue these movies can't do so because they can't identify the copyright holders and the movies seem to never pass into the public domain. Preservation activities in general, and particularly digital preservation activities, are made more difficult when material never enters the public domain.

    This is why we have abandonware. If these games are not shared and preserved now do you think anyone will have a copy of IBM's Alley Cat in 2079 when it's copyright expires?

    For more information on the fight to bring common sense back to copyright laws check out www.eldred.cc

  4. What is NOT abandonware
    Software that is either:
    1. Less than four years old
    2. Still sold and/or supported by a company
  5. How something ceases to be abandonware
    When a software company decides that they are going to start selling or supporting the title again. Fortuantely, this has been happening often over the last few years. We have seen arcade, and console re-releases coming from Activision, Atari, Midway, Namco, Nintendo, and Sega just to name a few. In 2005 the online game "rental" service GameTap started and is offering an ever increasing library of classic games for a low monthly fee.

  6. The history of abandonware
    Back in February 1997, Peter Ringering and Ben (from Israel) noticed that there was no software or support out there for people with old computers. So, he set up his Oldie Computer Site and Ben set up the Classic Gaming Archive. Other people (like Jou and Mattijs) saw it and decided to join in and so they set up their sites. Then they all decided to work together and pool their resources so that they could accomplish more as a team instead of putting in a lot of work to just have the same general content.

    In March, Peter set up the Abandonware Ring Central (now known as just Abandonware Ring). He stepped down a few months later and Swizzle quickly took over the site. From there on out a lot of people came and a lot of people have left. But we've all worked hard to bring you what you see today.

  7. Here is a list of articles available online that have been written about abandonware.

    Byte.com "Can Abandonware Revive Forgotten Programs?"
    CanadaComputes.com "Thieves or saviours? Abandonware roosts in legal battleground"
    Cnet.com "Abandoware Pirates"
    Elpais.es "El movimiento 'abandonware' no cree que liberar programas antiguos dañe a la industria" (Spanish)
    Gamespot "Flashbacks for free: The skinny on Abandonware"
    MobyGames "Abandonware in a nushell - why nobody wins"
    New York Times "Out of print Computer Games"
    Tech TV "Abandonware Free For All"
    The Adventure Collective "Abandonwarez: The pros outweigh the cons"
    Washington Post "Abandoned games kept alive illegally"
    Wired "Abandonware: Dead Games Live On"
The Abandonware Ring
  1. What the Abandonware Ring is
    The Abandonware Ring is a group of WWW sites that are devoted to distributing and supporting Abandonware. Since none of us have unlimited web space to store Abandonware titles (well except for a few websites such as Home of the Underdogs) the games are usually rotated. Abandonware Ring sites are known because they have one of our Abandonware Ring buttons on them.
  2. Benefits of joining the Abandonware Ring
    1. You will receive allot of hits to your site since we are all linked together.
    2. You will receive access to private resources for Abandonware Ring members.
  3. How to join the Abandonware Ring
    Just check out our webmasters page and fill in the information.

Other Abandonware Resources

  1. Newsgroups
    Newsgroups are the best place to get abandonware from the mid 90's and up and applications.

    alt.games.abandonware
    (discussion)
    alt.binaries.old.games (best - this is where you will find the CD ISO's)
    alt.binaries.warez.ibm-pc.old (generally this is Applications, all pre Win-95)
    alt.binaries.emulators.* (too many to list, ~20+ groups available in this heirachy)

  2. IRC
    Internet relay chat is a good place to hang out and discuss abandonware. There are generally several file servers and FTPs running in these rooms. All of the following are on the Efnet service:

    #abandonware
    #classicgames
    #oldwarez



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