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Games Your Rights Online

Why Games Should Be In the Public Domain 360

Posted by timothy
from the beats-the-alternative dept.
Robotron23 writes "Rock, Paper, Shotgun writer John Walker shook a hornet's nest by suggesting old videogames should enter the public domain during GOG's Time Machine sale. George Broussard of Duke Nukem fame took to Twitter, saying the author should be fired. In response to these comments RPS commissioned an editorial arguing why games and other media should enter the public domain much more rapidly than at present. 'I would no more steal a car than I would tolerate a company telling me that they had the exclusive rights to the idea of cars themselves.' says Walker, paraphrasing a notorious anti-piracy ad (video). 'However, there are things I'm very happy to "steal," like knowledge, inspiration, or good ideas...It was until incredibly recently that amongst such things as knowledge, inspiration and good ideas were the likes of literature and music.'"
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Why Games Should Be In the Public Domain

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  • Picasso (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PvtVoid (1252388) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @12:31PM (#46150629)
    "Good artists borrow. Great artists steal."

    Pablo Picasso
    • Re:Picasso (Score:5, Funny)

      by contrapunctus (907549) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @12:34PM (#46150663)

      "Good artists borrow. Great artists steal."

      me

      • "Unsuccessful artists pay royalties, get broke and end up flipping burgers. Great artists steal."

        me

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This brings up a good point. While attribution and copyright are lumped together they should not be.

        You should have the right for your work to carry your name indefinitely, others shouldn't be allowed to claim your work as theirs.

        Copying your work to give away for free or to sell should have a much much shorter leash, as should the privilege to restrict others from creating new things based on your work. 5 years seems more than enough to me in this digital age.

        And if a company is so dependant on that one pr

        • by Dutch Gun (899105)

          This brings up a good point. While attribution and copyright are lumped together they should not be.

          You should have the right for your work to carry your name indefinitely, others shouldn't be allowed to claim your work as theirs.

          Copying your work to give away for free or to sell should have a much much shorter leash, as should the privilege to restrict others from creating new things based on your work. 5 years seems more than enough to me in this digital age.

          And if a company is so dependant on that one product, let them have the monopoly longer, have the state take a percentage cut out of that company's income and increase the tax over time.

          That should get the creative juices flowing.

          I'm currently developing my new company's first videogame, and I've drained many years of savings in order to spend two years of my life with zero income building it. I'm not expecting to get rich selling it (hoping to sell enough to just sustain future development), but I'd like to start building up a portfolio with a "long tail" of many products that will sustain me into eventual retirement. I'm creating this game entirely on my own, and taking a huge risk to my financial future to do so. It's easy to

    • by kamapuaa (555446)

      Does this mean thepiratebay is full of great artists? JewHater69's "More seedz pleez" comment might one day be shown in the Guggenheim?

      • by denzacar (181829)

        According to Picasso and Warhol - yes.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        well youtube certainly is.

        shitloads of music there that you can't find on spotify & etc. why? because the samples etc used aren't licensed.

    • by houghi (78078)

      Almost : http://www.flickr.com/photos/h... [flickr.com]
      "The bad artists imitate, the great artists steal."

  • by korbulon (2792438) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @12:32PM (#46150647)
    I suggest using a time unit of one "dukeNukeEm", which is approximately 15 years.
    • by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @12:49PM (#46150833)

      It seems absurd to me that a work be protected for 95 years when the medium it was produced for will last less than a decade.

      Paying GoG for their work in *adapting* the game - spending the time to troubleshoot or repack the installer, repack the system updates, correctly create the auto-configuration for Dosbox or other compatibility software, and so on - I'm perfectly fine with.

      But the point is valid. We LOSE more than we gain from the public domain these days. Almost no software, except that specifically gifted to the public domain, is available like that. The media they are stored on dies, and those whose goal is preserving our digital history against the simple ravages of compatibility and bitrot must be willing to skirt the law in order to do so, which is frankly asinine.

      The expansion of knowledge requires that it be brought to the public domain. I propose we limit copyright to a term no greater than that of patent, and require that the source code of any software be provided in the copyright filings so that it cannot be lost.

      • by argStyopa (232550)

        The original framers of the constitution recognized this at the founding of the republic.

        "The Congress shall have Power To...promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries...."

        Nobody objects to people having the protection of a limited copyright so that they can profit from their ideas. Everyone - including, I'd argue, most copyright holders but excepting apparently their very successfu

        • Don't you understand? Disney's ability to take now-important cultural artifacts and lock them in their "vault" until they develop enough value to sell briefly again is for the artists who got their cut when it was made and won't see a dime of the new profits, so they keep making things, well past retirement.

        • Nobody objects to people having the protection of a limited copyright so that they can profit from their ideas.

          I guess I do, technically.

          First, copyright protects expressions of ideas, but not the underlying ideas themselves. E.g. anyone can make a game about a woman who hunts for treasure by raiding tombs and shooting endangered wildlife. But you can't just outright copy Tomb Raider's code, art assets, and so forth.

          Second, the reason for granting copyrights isn't so that people can profit from their works, but so that the public profits from having more works created and published than otherwise would've been, and

        • by achbed (97139)

          The original framers of the constitution recognized this at the founding of the republic.

          "The Congress shall have Power To...promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries...."

          Nobody objects to people having the protection of a limited copyright so that they can profit from their ideas. Everyone - including, I'd argue, most copyright holders but excepting apparently their very successful lobbyists and tame congresspeople - agrees that "copyright" != "rights to exclusivity in perpetuity so that person and their heirs never have to work again".

          You do realize that SCOTUS has ruled that limited times is subject to the "I'll know it when I see it" rule of being out of bounds. They have yet to see a number that they've declared limited. Of course, it's all about perspective. In a geologic time scale, then 100 years is very "limited".

          What I would like to see is a "short-circut" timer based on dates of publication. If a work is not published at all (made available to the public in some form), then it gets a shorter protection time. Once a work is p

      • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @01:35PM (#46151339) Homepage

        I propose we limit copyright to a term no greater than that of patent, and require that the source code of any software be provided in the copyright filings so that it cannot be lost.

        I feel your second point is terribly important, and often lost in the discussion. When an author writes a book, and it enters the public domain even after 100 years, we don't have problems then reproducing the work 100 years later. If one copy survives, we can reproduce it with a little work. If you have a copy of a piece of software from 100 years ago, who knows what your options will be? The operating system that your software ran on will no longer be in use. The hardware that the operating system ran on will no longer exist. Even if there are emulators, there's the issue of copy protection-- Will keys be made available? Will the authentication/activation server be running?

        The only way to hope to make these things available for posterity is to provide source code. Then, even if you have to rewrite it a bit to make it work on current platforms, you'll be able to do that.

        Therefore, I believe we should change copyright law for software, to say that for a piece of software to be protected by copyright, a copy of the source code must be provided to the Library of Congress. It can sit in a vault for however long the copyright holds, at which point it's republished under the public domain.

      • Consider Spiderman.

        The character was created in 1962, which puts it just over 50 years of existence. But the character is still being used in new and ongoing works. I expect that 100 years from now, the character will continue to exist in some form.

        I think copyright laws need to recognize that characters used in ongoing works need different protection then something like a song (which is written once).

        END COMMUNICATION

        • by Urza9814 (883915)

          Why?

          The purpose of copyright is to encourage artists to create new works. Stan Lee created Spiderman. If Stan Lee drops dead tomorrow, why should Marvel get to continue milking SOMEONE ELSE'S creation for decades to come? Which will encourage the creation of more works -- only one company having access to that, or opening it up for competition? Perhaps the copyrights expiring would encourage Marvel to create *better* Spiderman stories because they'd have to rise above the competition. Perhaps it would encou

    • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @01:34PM (#46151323) Homepage

      And coincidentally, 15 years is the maximum duration that copyrights should last, according to the only proper study of economic incentives surrounding copyright [rufuspollock.org] of which I am aware.

      We could use some more research on this, but it sounds okay to me.

      • by Algae_94 (2017070)
        But if copyright only lasts 15 years, then anyone could make a terrible Robocop reboot instead of the one official terrible reboot.
  • And A Rebuttal (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @12:35PM (#46150675)

    And a rebuttal by Steve Gaynor [pastebin.com].

    • Re:And A Rebuttal (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @12:40PM (#46150721) Homepage

      ...and I don't really care about his excuses.

      If it's been 20 or 30 years since you published something, then your time has passed already and it's time for you to step aside and allow the next generation a chance.

      In the intervening period, a work has either become too important to hoard or too worthless to justify being a burden on anyone.

      After 20 years, it's time for you to allow the next group of people to have the advantages that you were allowed.

      • Re:And A Rebuttal (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jason Levine (196982) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @01:00PM (#46150911)

        Exactly. Even if it comes down to earning money on works, long copyrights don't make sense. For example, here's a list of movies released 25 years ago in 1989 by US box office results: http://www.imdb.com/search/title?at=0&sort=boxoffice_gross_us&title_type=feature&year=1989,1989 Obviously, some of those (e.g. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) might still be making the companies some money while others (Fletch Lives) probably aren't. Even the movies making money are probably not making huge amounts.

        Of the 3,166 titles that IMDB lists, how many are still actively making a decent amount of money for the companies that own them? If it is a small fraction, then why are we holding back Public Domain status on the vast majority just so a few movies can draw in a couple more bucks?

        • As an addendum, that was with movies. Games, arguably, have a lower "shelf life" than movies do. You might purchase the DVD or Blu-Ray of a movie from 1989, but you aren't likely to purchase a copy of a game from 1989.

        • Re:And A Rebuttal (Score:4, Interesting)

          by xorsyst (1279232) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @01:35PM (#46151349) Journal

          If I made a movie in 1989, I wouldn't care about you copying it to watch it.

          But I would care about:
          1. Someone else charging you for a copy.
          2. Someone else remixing the crap out of it to make something shitty that's still associated with my name.

          I don't think PD is the answer - perhaps things could go Creative Commons after 25 years instead?

          • Re:And A Rebuttal (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Jason Levine (196982) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:39PM (#46152483)

            The problem with saying "Public Domain isn't the answer" is that Public Domain is the essential trade-off for copyright. The only reason people are given copyrights is that they are allowed a temporary monopoly on a work they created before it falls into the Public Domain. The Public Domain then helps feed the next round of creators who make works that copyright protects before they, in turn, fall into the Public Domain.

            What we have today is works that essentially never leave copyright. If I released a book/movie/game/etc today, it would be covered by copyright until 2109 (assuming no law changes between now and then - a big assumption). The logic behind the copyright extension was that it would encourage the creator to make more books/movies/games/etc. The only problem is that I'd be 134 in the year 2109. If I'm even still alive then, I doubt I'll be in any shape to create many more works. If I'm not alive, then what is my copyright encouraging me to do? I doubt I'll rise zombie-like from the dead to pen a book about the after-life. ("It's Cold In The Ground" by Zombie Jason. But it before I eat your BRAAAIINNNSSS!!!!)

            If the copyright expires on your work, you don't get any say in what people do with it. Were Shakespeare to come back to life today, he wouldn't have any say over some movie company making a modern musical version of Romeo and Juliet. Da Vinci wouldn't have a say in someone taking an image of the Mona Lisa and selling it on a postcard. If your work goes Public Domain and someone makes a "remix" version of it, that doesn't reflect poorly on you, but on the remix maker.

            Copyrights NEED to expire at some point. It's hard enough trying to find out who owns the rights to Random Game From The 80s. Imagine trying to track down the rights holder for A Mid-Summer Night's Dream to make a movie based on it. It's not a question of SHOULD copyrights expire, but WHEN should they. I, and I'd wager most people here, think that copyright term length has been extended way past its usefulness and should be seriously trimmed back. (Personally, I'd go back to 14 years plus a one-time 14 year renewal, but at this point I'd take one 50 year copyright term as an improvement.)

        • Re:And A Rebuttal (Score:4, Interesting)

          by wisnoskij (1206448) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:40PM (#46152507) Homepage

          That said, not all films/video games are made the same; And I am not just talking better/worse/more popular.

          Their are loads of films and games, both glaring failures and explosive successes, that make 50% of their money on opening week (and the following 49.99% the following four months).
          Their are other longform media that were never meant to make any noticeable amount of money the whole first year.

          Dwarf Fortress for example was released 8 years ago, and is making more than ever. And the creators have turned it into his full time career, meaning we might have 4-+ years left of development. Additionally, this income is necessary for this very worthy addition to our culture to continue to flourish.

      • Re:And A Rebuttal (Score:5, Interesting)

        by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @01:13PM (#46151045)

        I mostly agree with you 100% with respect to the original work.

        The main issue I see though is its short enough that derivative works become an issue.

        Take books to movies. Runaway success like Hunger Games and Harry Potter will get made into movies within the 20 year copyright and the author will get some reward.

        But any book that didn't get made into a movie in the first 3-5 years would probably languish for the next 15, and then get strip-mined by the film industry.

        For some reason the idea of Hollywood sitting around strip mining books from the 90s without compensating the authors rubs me the wrong way. Especially knowing that they are literally waiting like vultures for them to roll over into the public domain precisely so they can deprive authors of any royalty or payment.

        Likewise, I dislike the idea of musicians having their music co-opted without their consent into jingles to peddle stain removers and political parties in commercials.

        So I propose that the copyright be broken up a bit.
        a) The rights to basic broadcast and redistribution expire after 20 years. So you can make a copy of a movie, or a book or whatever after 20 years for free. You can show it in a theatre or school, etc.

        b) However the rights over derivative works (book to movie, etc) and commercial re-purposing (e.g. advertising etc) are "75 years or life of the author + 5 years*, whichever is longer" or something, and requires active renewal for a nominal fee. (So that abandoned works automatically roll into the public domain quickly.)

        (* + 5 years to prevent the inevitable strip mining of an authors estate right after they die, capitalizing on the news of their death as free marketing for whatever they produce by strip mining. So the estate can benefit a bit from that.)

        • But any book that didn't get made into a movie in the first 3-5 years would probably languish for the next 15, and then get strip-mined by the film industry.

          Meh. It works both ways. Authors who wanted to write a sequel to a movie would just have to wait for a little while before they'd have their chance.

          And in any case, I don't think that your scenario with the movies is terribly likely. Movie studios like to have exclusivity. If no one had jumped on, say, Cryptonomicon rapidly, and then it turned into a waiting game, having two different big budget adaptations of it at the same time would piss off both studios involved. This means they'll have to either develo

        • So I propose that the copyright be broken up a bit.

          a) The rights to basic broadcast and redistribution expire after 20 years. So you can make a copy of a movie, or a book or whatever after 20 years for free. You can show it in a theatre or school, etc.

          b) However the rights over derivative works (book to movie, etc) and commercial re-purposing (e.g. advertising etc) are "75 years or life of the author + 5 years*, whichever is longer" or something, and requires active renewal for a nominal fee. (So that abandoned works automatically roll into the public domain quickly.)

          (* + 5 years to prevent the inevitable strip mining of an authors estate right after they die, capitalizing on the news of their death as free marketing for whatever they produce by strip mining. So the estate can benefit a bit from that.)

          I agree with the concept of breaking up the terms for copying/distribution and creation of derivative works, but in the exact opposite direction. Derivative works - such as sampling or remixing - create new creative works, albeit on the bones of older works. They actually add to the wealth of public knowledge, arguably less than a completely original work, but still more than merely copying existing works. Many remixes and sampling artists create works of great value, and this should be encouraged.

          By compa

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        There's another argument here as well: If you've made a really successful game, but the copyright is going to run out before you retire, you'll be more motivated to make a second successful game because you know your gravy train is going to dry up. And yes, that works for all kinds of copyrighted things: For example, many one-hit wonders happily call it quits because that's good enough, rather than trying to write more hits.

      • This is why I think there should be an escalating copyright registration fee: First year is a dollar, and each subsequent year it doubles. After 10 years, it'll cost $1024 for a year's worth of copyright protection. After 20 years, a year of protection will cost over a million dollars. At some point it's going to cost more to protect than the work will earn through sales. It'll take really deep pockets to maintain a copyright for more than 25 years, and only the deepest and most committed would have the
    • Can't tell what Gaynor's defending here; he correctly pins down the idea-expression divide, but seem unaware that copyright restricts people from creating derivative works.
      I'm of the opinion that a good beginning to copyright reform would be immediate (or 2-year delayed) permission for anyone to create derivative works that are reasonably distinct from the original.
      I welcome Gaynor to the fight for more reasonable copyright as soon as he figures out that's the side he's on.

  • Yeah, right ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @12:38PM (#46150701) Homepage

    Sorry, but the copyright lobby has more or less assured that the Public Domain is essentially dead.

    They've managed to get laws passed which more or less say "if any commercial entity has ever made money off it, the exclusive right to do so is theirs in perpetuity".

    They can afford to throw far more money into the pockets of politicians, and the US has more or less staked its future on IP. There's just no way in hell you'll see things going into the public domain ever faster, because I fear the way things are, things will never again go into the public domain -- unless it means a company can claim your stuff was in the public domain and then assert ownership of it.

    Simply not going to happen.

    • Re:Yeah, right ... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kierthos (225954) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @12:42PM (#46150753) Homepage

      Yeah, Mickey Mouse will potentially enter the public domain in (I think) 2018. Because the terrorists win if that happens, look for Disney to push for another copyright extension either right after midterm elections this year, or after the 2016 elections.

      • Re:Yeah, right ... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @01:03PM (#46150951) Homepage
        Actually, it's 2023. And another important correction. Mickey Mouse [wikipedia.org] cannot enter the public domain, because Disney has trademarked the character. Certain recordings can enter the public domain. but that doesn't mean people will be able to make new cartoons showing Mickey Mouse. Having century old recordings of Mickey go into the public domain will have zero effect on Disney's bottom line, since they do not sell these old cartoons anyway.
        • by westlake (615356)

          Having century old recordings of Mickey go into the public domain will have zero effect on Disney's bottom line, since they do not sell these old cartoons anyway.

          Actually, they do.

          Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2 DVD [disneystore.com]

          Listmania: Walt Disney Treasures Collection [amazon.com]

        • And another important correction. Mickey Mouse cannot enter the public domain, because Disney has trademarked the character.

          Guess again.

          Trademarks only exist so long as they serve as a source identifier for marked goods or services. That is, LEVI'S is a trademark because pants with that mark on them can only come from Levi Strauss & Co. But BLUE JEANS is not a trademark (for pants) because pants with that mark on them could come from anywhere.

          Once Steamboat Willie hits the public domain, everyone is entitled to make copies of it. This means that a good which has MICKEY MOUSE in it can come from anywhere. And so MICKEY MOUSE

      • Yeah, Mickey Mouse will potentially enter the public domain in (I think) 2018.

        No, he doesn't.

        It is the silent-era shorts and the early talkies that enter the public domain.

        That does not give you access to primary sources. Prints on nitrate stock. Sheet music or sound tracks that can be read outside the laboratory.

        The expiration of the copyright on "Steamboat Willie" only gives you the right to create derivatives based on the story and characters of "Steamboat Willie." You do not get the Mouse or his world in any other of their many incarnations. No Pluto. No "Phantom Blot."

        You do

      • what about a renewal fee so stuff like Disney can be still be copyrighted but other abandonedware goes PD

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @12:40PM (#46150737)

    Old arcade games as well and if we don't save them the code may die with them as some are on real old hardware / old pc's.

    some people with the old games from places that are long out of business have the nerve to say the copyright BS for an old game that is no long made when asked about dumping the roms / HDD.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @12:45PM (#46150785)

    Lets face it, games will get old and out of date, game makers will not make much if any more money off the games, and should just release them to the public to enjoy.
    Holding on to them figuring that at some point you will release a set of old games on your next version of media, means you are just allowing your product brand to deteriorate over this time and when you do release the customers will go what was that?

    Lets say Activation who somehow now seems to own the Old Sierra Adventure games, releases these games for free as in beer. So people will play them/replay them again and share them with some friends... Then the brand image will improve King Gram with the feather in his cap, Roger Wilco in his inept adventures threw space and time, Our mighty hero in Quest for glory, in his world of Glorania. (Leasuresuit Larry is the exception as his brand seem to stay popular.)

    That means there will be a defined actor and an world that will recognizable for future games, where they can make a ton of money off of.

    • by kamapuaa (555446)

      I agree that companies should for defunct games. However for the most part, the games that people actually care about are still being sold/being re-made. Nintendo makes repackaged 80s games the core of its business, Burger King's happy meal somehow is 'Pac Man,' [bkcrown.com].

      Realistically, do people still pull out 1987 copies of Leisure Suit Larry, and does this get them excited about the recent re-release?

    • That means there will be a defined actor and an world that will recognizable for future games, where they can make a ton of money off of.

      In the public domain.

  • by NixieBunny (859050) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @12:48PM (#46150815) Homepage
    This article is so right! He has found a way to express something that's been bugging me for a long time. I love his comparison of a policeman to a song writer.

    The other thing about copyright is that it's not the creative people who make money forever off of their own work, it's the corporations that manufacture the plastic discs who make the money forever off of the songwriters' work.
    • by kamapuaa (555446)

      Well it's like saying JK Rowling doesn't make money off tomes of paper (and ebooks and audio books, I suppose).

      She herself doesn't, Scholastic does. However because they have the right to profit off tomes of paper, they give JK Rowling a lot of money. So another way of phrasing the issue is, do artists have the right to sell their artistic works?

      You treat the word "corporations" like it's a buzzword for "evil." However every single piece of pop culture you love was released by a corporation. Star Wars,

    • by langelgjm (860756)

      I love his comparison of a policeman to a song writer.

      Thing is, one could argue that policeman actually do get paid for arrests made 35 years ago. They get pensions.

      Of course, pensions are technically supposed to be deferred compensation. But practically speaking, isn't the "artists' rights" lobby (which is not the same as the copyright lobby) really arguing for a pension? Albeit one that varies by popularity of the work, and extends to dependents.

      In both cases the goal is to stretch out income over the lifetime of a person. Maybe copyright could benefit from

  • by Kinwolf (945345) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @12:49PM (#46150839)
    I understand Geroge Broussard being againt this; If games would fall in public domain after X time passed, Duke Nukem Forever would have actually entered public domain before ever being published.
  • by PocketPick (798123) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @12:54PM (#46150863)

    The problem George Broussard has with the issue is that companies like 3D Realms (while they were actually still a game development studio, and now during it's quasi-half-existence as a publisher) cling desperately to old properties as their their only source of revenue. They've failed miserably at actually releasing any updates to their own works or creating new properties, and so their revenue streams has devolved to porting Duke Nukem 3D to the Xbox, PlayStation, Steam and any other platform that comes to mind, and licensing everything else out to separate studios (such as the Duke Nukem Forever, and last year's Shadow Warrior update).

    The later, I assume, is the only thing that is holding them together as a corporate entity, along with anything that might of come out of the settlement with Gearbox (if they got anything).

    Take away their copyright to those IPs, and companies like 3D Realms would not last another year.

    As a result, his reaction to these kinds of comments is totally unsurprising.

    • by kamapuaa (555446)

      Duke Nukem 3D is an easy target I suppose, but what about Nintendo? They released Wind Waker & Metroid Prime way after the original products, and these are considered among 2 of the best games ever released for a console. Would these games ever have been released if the IP had gone public and 200 shitty Zelda clones were released in 1993? Their entire business is based on revamps of older games, and yet Nintendo certainly has its fans.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        why the fuck do people think that ip is somehow preventing people from pumping out zelda clones?
        WHAT THE FUCK MAN WHAT THE FUCK?
        1993-1995 has multiple zelda clones, ff clones and whatever.

        if anything, if nintendo had lost the copyright to the original metroid they would have more incentive to bring out new games instead of re-re-re-releasing the old shit to their newest handhelds online store.

    • by MtHuurne (602934)

      As a result, his reaction to these kinds of comments is totally unsurprising.

      Disagreeing with an editorial piece is fine, even if the motivation behind it might be self-serving, but asking for whoever published it to be fired is completely unreasonable, in my opinion.

  • One objection I can see to putting games in the public domain is that they are starting to reach a level of sophistication and maturity where age (tied to hardware performance) is getting to be less of an issue in relation to quality gameplay. In other words, the hardware started to catch up to what people were trying to design, and has passed it in many cases (if you look at many mobile apps). thief, for example, might have dated visuals, but there's nothing lacking in terms of gameplay or experience, an
    • by Hatta (162192)

      Hardware performance has never been an issue in relation to quality gameplay. No, you couldn't do GTAV on an Apple II. But you could do Roadwar 2000, and that's actually a better game.

    • thief, for example, might have dated visuals, but there's nothing lacking in terms of gameplay or experience, and if given some fresh visuals, could stand against some other things I've played lately.

      Totally agree with you with respect to Thief. I've actually been playing Thief II recently. The gameplay is so good, and the concept and missions so interesting that I still enjoy playing it 14 years later.

      The graphics are of course abysmal by today's standards. But, I think it's worth noting that if Thief or Thief II was "given some fresh visuals" as you say, it would qualify for a new copyright. Besides, if someone went through the trouble of updating visuals, they'd probably release new missions as well,

  • by DarthVain (724186) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @01:07PM (#46150981)

    First, I would like to say that Masters of Orion 2 should be entered into the public domain. It is silly that it is not. It came out in like 1995, like 19 years ago.

    The ethics and idealistic rhetoric aside, there are some practical considerations. Namely that of technology changing much faster than the current copyright scheme. I am not talking even about music or outdated business models or anything like that.

    So I would ask that Duke Nukem idiot, to go connect to TEN, and I challenge him to a game of Duke Nukem 3D, or if he can connect to my computer VIA his 2400 baud modem and beat me in a game we will all accept what he says as Gospel. Hell, I will even allow him to set up a Null Modem serial connection for some LAN play... Not to mention I have loaded Duke Nukem 3D onto a modern computer with modern resolution, nostalgia aside, it looks horrible! Keep your memories, they are much nicer.

    In conclusion, he is an idiot, and his odd ramblings and gesticulating, should be avoided akin to looking directly into Cthulhu's eye holes, you will go mad trying to comprehend thoughts so alien to humankind.

    P.S. Someone jokingly mentioned a unit of time for Public Domain being a DukeNukem which would translate to 15 orbits of our sun, which really isn't all that a bad idea. Duke Nukem 3D and Masters of Orion, Warcraft, would all have been in the public domain 4 years ago.

    I mean honestly law makers need to look and say, OK what is the rational here? How much value did any of these games make their owners? I am going to guess so close to zero that it matters not.

  • by Simulant (528590) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @01:08PM (#46151007) Journal
    ...and as far as I'm concerned, it is.

    No you don't have the right to make money indefinitely from work you, or in most cases others, did once.
    No you don't have the right to hold our culture hostage.

    I don't even think IP should be transferable, or if necessary, only very temporarily.
  • Broussard is a fine one to talk about copyright considering how all the best one-liners in Duke Nukem were lifted from other sources:

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/D... [wikiquote.org]

  • by lord_mike (567148) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @01:25PM (#46151191)

    If you are not actively selling or supporting a version of publicly available software, then there is no reason for you to have any protections for said software. If someone cannot acquire or purchase the license from you, how can you claim "theft" if someone copies it or acquires it from third parties? There really should be allowances fro abandonware in IP law. There are some provisions dealing with abandonware, but they don't nearly go far enough. If you want to make some new version of Pac Man for the X-Box One, you can keep the protections for the character and such, but unless you actively support and sell the Commodore 64 version, you shouldn't get any special protections for that.

  • I did RTFA and he had some public domain paintings in the article. Can anyone identify this painting? http://www.rockpapershotgun.co... [rockpapershotgun.com]
  • Happy medium (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sideslash (1865434) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @01:27PM (#46151229)
    When books are out of print, or videogames not available for purchase for a certain length of time, then third parties should be able to "do something with them" without being labeled pirates. Original creators should still collect royalties, and I think there should be clearly established legal guidelines for each industry for royalties to be paid to the original copyright holder so people know what to expect. No negotiation is required, standard rates will apply if you let your stuff "expire" like that.

    If the concern is that works are just being lost from our culture, a compromise move like this would address it, and provide people with incentive to keep their stuff available for sale.
  • by Tom (822) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @01:30PM (#46151265) Homepage Journal

    The confusion in the public eye, intentionally created by some, is between the actual authors/creators and the copyright holders.

    They are often not the same.

    I've also written a much longer reply to John's Editorial on my own forum [mightandfealty.com].

  • by tomhath (637240) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @01:42PM (#46151443)
    If you want a game like [your favorite game here]? Just write it; that's what the author did in the first place. Oh wait, you don't want to make the same investment they did? Boo hoo.
  • The problem is (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:01PM (#46151741)

    Everything should enter the public domain quicker than it does now.

  • by SirWhoopass (108232) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:02PM (#46151767)

    I would no more steal a car than I would tolerate a company telling me that they had the exclusive rights to the idea of cars themselves.

    This did happen. A lot.

    A consortium held the patent on the idea of a car, and would grant or deny the right to build one at the dawn of the 20th century. This patent was eventually fought by Henry Ford after the consortium refused to grant him a license.

    Maganox held a patent on the idea of a home video game system. Atari, Mattel, Activision, and Nintendo all paid royalties to build a home video game

    Thomas Edison held a patent on movies. Hollywood arose, in part, due to filmmakers running as far away from Edison as possible to avoid his patent enforcement.

    I'm not defending infinite copyright, just pointing out that his example isn't as absurd as it seems. History is full of examples. And yes, I do understand the difference between a patent and copyright. The original author lumped the two types of IP together in his analogy.

  • by t0qer (230538) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:18PM (#46152065) Homepage Journal

    Yah I have to put homeworld in a category of its own. I haven't played a game since that holds up so well 15 years after its release. That feeling when you're trying to save the cryo-tubes, Adagio for Strings is playing, and that overwhelming sense of hopelessness. One of those few games that is truly a work of art. I've played and replayed lots of games from that era (spent a lot of time in descent on KALI) but overall I think that is the one game that is quintessentially unique.

    It's not fair to say, "Only one game deserves such a protection" though. You can't fairly say one game is excepted, so you have to accept that all games should be allowed to keep their copyrights/trademarks. Even the crappy ones.

  • OK, see here's the deal.

    The RPS author mentions 20 years. I'm assuming it's because 20 years is an arbitrary-ish figure he settled on.

    It's 2014, so 20 years ago is 1994.

    Really what he was getting at originally was that it was somewhat bizarre that computer games from the 1980's are still considered copyrighted and illegal to distribute, even if the original developers, publishers, etc. have long since gone defunct.

    So I really think the author should have said 25 years or something like that but just for the sake of discussion let's stick with 20.

    The game Super Mario Bros. from Nintendo was released in 1985. That's almost thirty years ago. So, by a blanket application of his proposition, SMB would have gone PD back in 2005. Anyone could do anything they wanted with the game and there would be nothing Nintendo could do about it.

    But this smacks of unfair for one reason - Nintendo is still around. And they're still selling SMB. You can get it on Virtual Console on Wii, Wii U and 3DS.

    The author isn't necessarily proposing that a developer should only get to make money off of his or her creation for 20 years, or at least that's not how I'm interpreting it.

    Let's take another example - there's a critically acclaimed game called No One Lives Forever, a somewhat wacky spy caper with a female protagonist that has a parody of James Bond in the 60's thing happening. The game was developed by Monolith and published by Fox Interactive. Fox got bought by Activision, Activision merged with Blizzard, and Monolith got bought by Warner Bros. Long story short, no one can release the game on GOG because no one knows who owns it. But someone does, in theory. However it will be a long time before anyone sorts it out because there is, in theory, not enough money for anyone to care.

    By the way copyright works today, NOLF will be illegal to distribute until 2090. Who knows what will happen by then? If we lived in a perfect world where piracy and copyright infringement didn't exist, then the only places NOLF would exist are on the hard drives of Monolith and the discs of whoever bought the game - what are the odds either would be functional in 2090?

    But a dirty little secret is you can go download NOLF right now on torrent sites. Anyone can download it. Thanks to copyright infringement it will never truly go away.

    This happens in other sectors, too. There's about a hundred of the original Dr. Who episodes from the 1960's or so which are lost because the BBC taped over them. I'm not kidding, they seriously never thought that anyone would want to watch them in the future. But every so often a few turn up - they put nine episodes on iTunes a few months ago - all because someone somewhere found some tape they were either supposed to return to the BBC, or someone taped them and didn't realize they still had them.

    So going back to SMB, Nintendo is actually sort of doing the right thing here. Sure, they're basically selling a ROM image and an emulator, and the only people who get to play SMB are the ones who paid for it, but the point is they can get it, play it, and pay for it. It's available.

    But if Nintendo had closed up shop in 1995 or something would it really benefit anyone to have to wait until 2075 to be able to play SMB again in our piracy-does-not-exist fantasy land?

    GeorgeB3DR is getting upset about this because he is still selling those old games and still making a living off of it. The hard-and-fast 20 year proposal would fuck him over. But the point is he's still selling them.

    Let's say that we had a different rule - if your game hasn't been available for ten years for sale it goes PD. GeorgeB3DR would be fine. Nintendo would be fine. And we could distribute NOLF all we want.

    Of course, under this rule it's possible that ActiVendiFoxoLith would get their shit together and hash out who owns what and release it for sale on GOG or something. Sure, we wouldn't be able to just distribute NOLF for free that way, but isn't it better that we ha

  • Abandoned works (Score:3, Insightful)

    by darkwing_bmf (178021) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @03:00PM (#46152803)

    As long as the game is actively for sale, I don't see anything wrong with the copyright holder continuing to make money from it. The problem is when games and other works can no longer be found for sale. For other works the copyright ownership might be unknowable. For these works, they should be in the public domain. To me this strikes the right balance. If someone cares enough to keep the game working on current hardware, they can keep the copyright. If they no longer care about the game, then the public can have it.

"But this one goes to eleven." -- Nigel Tufnel

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