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Why Games Should Be In the Public Domain

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the beats-the-alternative dept.

Games 360

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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Picasso (5, Insightful)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about 6 months ago | (#46150629)

"Good artists borrow. Great artists steal."

Pablo Picasso

Re:Picasso (5, Funny)

contrapunctus (907549) | about 6 months ago | (#46150663)

"Good artists borrow. Great artists steal."

me

Re:Picasso (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 6 months ago | (#46150711)

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

me

Re:Picasso (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46150827)

"I do love a good burger."

Pablo Picasso

Why just steal when you can sell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46150867)

"I do love a good burger. And the best burgers are at Zaxby's. And also are chicken."

Pablo Picasso.

Re:Picasso (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46151219)

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.

Re:Picasso (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 6 months ago | (#46150877)

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

Re:Picasso (1)

denzacar (181829) | about 6 months ago | (#46150915)

According to Picasso and Warhol - yes.

Re:Picasso (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 6 months ago | (#46151035)

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.

Re:Picasso (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46151139)

There's no mass "Paul's Boutique" movement where Youtube is the only way to distribute the original music with uncleared samples. There's just a bunch of people posting songs to Youtube, so you can download them without paying.

Re:Picasso (2)

houghi (78078) | about 6 months ago | (#46151263)

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

As a max time limit before entering public domain (5, Funny)

korbulon (2792438) | about 6 months ago | (#46150647)

I suggest using a time unit of one "dukeNukeEm", which is approximately 15 years.

Re:As a max time limit before entering public doma (5, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

And the source code is kept Trade Secret. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46151003)

So how does it get copyright AND trade secret (and in some cases, Patent)?

And how does it get to the public domain if the source code isn't there?

The owners of the copyrights aren't holding up to their part of the bargain. So why should they get ANY of the benefits?

Re:And the source code is kept Trade Secret. (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 6 months ago | (#46151203)

Is there a reason the binaries and source code must be distributed under the same license (or at all)? Other than the GPL, obviously, which includes explicit provisions on the matter.

Re:And the source code is kept Trade Secret. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46151383)

Do you understand intellectual property at all? A work is protected by copyright the moment it is fixed in tangible form. Trade secrets that are written down are certainly copyrighted. In the US patent applications are specifically excluded from copyright protection. Patents are trade secrets are also diametrically opposed as patents rely on making something public for guaranteed limited time protection while trade secrets rely on, well, being secret, with no guarantee on how long. Something can be A) patented, or B) copyright protected and optionally kept a trade secret.

Re:As a max time limit before entering public doma (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about 6 months ago | (#46151175)

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".

Re:As a max time limit before entering public doma (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#46151379)

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.

Re:As a max time limit before entering public doma (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 6 months ago | (#46151437)

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 in the public domain as much as possible, as soon as possible. That copyrights may have economic value which can provide a profit for authors is a side effect, a means to an end. It's not the actual point, though.

I don't have an objection to copyright generally, however, provided that it produces a better outcome for the public than if we didn't have copyright.

Re:As a max time limit before entering public doma (5, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | about 6 months ago | (#46151339)

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.

Re:As a max time limit before entering public doma (4, Interesting)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 6 months ago | (#46151323)

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.

Hoyle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46150651)

He didn't steal the game of poker, he aced it.

And A Rebuttal (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46150675)

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

Re:And A Rebuttal (5, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about 6 months ago | (#46150721)

...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 (5, Interesting)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 6 months ago | (#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?

Re:And A Rebuttal (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 6 months ago | (#46150937)

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 (5, Insightful)

Baldorcete (1184665) | about 6 months ago | (#46151149)

The answer is simple: Greed. They don't want their old (free) titles competing with the new.

Re:And A Rebuttal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46151423)

The irony of you posting this on an article about a company selling games from 1989 is almost painful.

Re:And A Rebuttal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46151079)

I appreciate where your heart is at. But I wanted to point out one thing which might shed some light on this:

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?

You answered your question before you finished asking it: So that those few movies can draw in a couple more bucks. Money talks. Huge media corporations are the only ones who both care about this and have any money to throw at the government. So they get their way.

Re:And A Rebuttal (3, Interesting)

xorsyst (1279232) | about 6 months ago | (#46151349)

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 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46150995)

I agree completely. The whole point of copyright and patents is to increase innovation. It's hard to argue that royalties
30 years after the fact improves innovation at all and it would be easy to argue that it hurts innovation.
Another point to look at is that a lot of industries don't have royalties at all and do fine and even those that do have
royalties the royalties are not evenly distributed or in many cases are not even going to the right person.
If I'm a programmer who works on a game, I get a paycheck but no royalties. 30 years later the company I worked
for is still getting royalties for my work. Yes, I signed my rights away, but to say that royalties are protecting the
artist is a little too simplistic. In some industries royalties continue long after a person's death and become what
Warren Buffet likes to call "privately funded food stamps". I think 20 years is plenty of time for residual income and
after that gifting it to the public is the right thing to do.

Re:And A Rebuttal (5, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | about 6 months ago | (#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.)

Re:And A Rebuttal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46151237)

I mostly agree with you 100%

Lolwut?

Re:And A Rebuttal (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 6 months ago | (#46151365)

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.

Immediate unlimited derivative works? (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | about 6 months ago | (#46151117)

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.

A good read on the public domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46150687)

The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind
By James Boyle

Available for download under the CC by-nc-sa 3.0 at

http://thepublicdomain.org/ [thepublicdomain.org]

Yeah, right ... (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#46150701)

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 ... (4, Informative)

Kierthos (225954) | about 6 months ago | (#46150753)

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.

What ever happened to abandonment? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46150879)

I have at least some sympathy with Disney's argument that the symbol of their company shouldn't enter the public domain. It's a very actively used, highly visible symbol of a major corporation. This is where copyright and trademark law overlap (Mickey as character vs. Mickey as symbol).

What I don't have sympathy for is that principle extending to something that's decades old and is not currently being used by anyone commercially. For example, the characters and designs of the sprites in the old videogame Galaga aren't (to my knowledge) in active use. There's no confusion to be created in the marketplace. It's not IP that has any significant current sales. It's not something that IF it became public domain would allow someone to misleadingly imply something was backed by a major trusted corporation when they were not (the Disney argument).

To my knowledge, there's a doctrine around IP being "abandoned" that has at least some legal clout (IANAL). Why isn't that the test here?

Re:What ever happened to abandonment? (3, Interesting)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 6 months ago | (#46150955)

Good news for Disney. Their trademark on Mickey will never 'expire'. The only way it goes away is if Disney is bankrupt and nobody want's to buy the trademarks from the bankruptcy trustee.

The only thing that goes into the public domain in 2018 is 'Steamboat Willie'. Consider that 'Buried Treasure' (the greatest animation of the era) is already public domain, as it was done open source style. After hours, without Walt knowing a thing about it. Too bad their aren't better copies.

Fair warning 'Buried Treasure' is NSFW.

Re:What ever happened to abandonment? (1)

Moryath (553296) | about 6 months ago | (#46150975)

Trademark =/= Copyright.

They can copyright that fucking mouse all day long, the copyright on the older works is far overdue to reenter the public domain - especially when Walt, the fucking thief, took liberally from the commons to make most of his early successes.

Want to make a new creative work out of an old fairy tale today? Watch out you don't cross The Fucking Mouse's Army Of Lawyers. Nevermind that Sapsorrow/Cinderella is in the public domain, they'll come after you for making something "similar" to something they made based on the same thing.

Same thing for half of Hans Christian Andersen's catalog, same thing for so many songs where they blatantly stole the melodies from earlier-era, public domain music, and on and on and on. Disney and the copyright cartels see the public domain, not as a common resource for all, but their personally owned little idea-mining zone and that needs to fucking change.

Re:What ever happened to abandonment? (2)

Zalbik (308903) | about 6 months ago | (#46151173)

Oh please, cause nobody else has made a version of Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Alice in Wonderland, etc other than Disney, as they are all so terrified of Disney's army of lawyers?

Take a look at IMDB sometime...you'll find multiple versions of all of the above.... :rollseyes:

Re:Yeah, right ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46150899)

Mickey mouse is covered by trademark laws as well especially since it is their primary mascot so
don't expect mickey to be public domain anytime soon regardless of the copyright laws.

Re:Yeah, right ... (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 6 months ago | (#46150949)

Mickey mouse is covered by trademark laws as well especially since it is their primary mascot so
don't expect mickey to be public domain anytime soon regardless of the copyright laws.

No but Steamboat Willy will be in public domain.

Re:Yeah, right ... (1)

rjstanford (69735) | about 6 months ago | (#46150965)

The particular depiction of Disney's trademark, while similar to Mickey the cartoon character, is not Mickey the cartoon character.

They could (and should) successfully argue against any use of the character that confuses people about their trademark. That shouldn't mean that nobody else can make cartoons about a mouse named Mickey.

Re:Yeah, right ... (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 6 months ago | (#46150951)

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.

Re:Yeah, right ... (1)

westlake (615356) | about 6 months ago | (#46151255)

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]

The fine print. (2)

westlake (615356) | about 6 months ago | (#46151137)

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 not get the rights to Disney's trademarked character designs.

Re:Yeah, right ... (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 6 months ago | (#46151333)

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

From the maker's perspective? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46150709)

The Slashdot freeloaders are probably quickly to approve the idea, but let's think it from the opposite perspective. You are now Nolan Bushnell or Trip Hawkins, and have the responsibility of running a successful business. Would games being moved PD just like that be bad for the business and brand protection of a video game company? I challenge you try to convince me wrong with a calm and well-reasoned opinion.

Re:From the maker's perspective? (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about 6 months ago | (#46150781)

Brand protection? Who cares? This is simply not an area where "how does this impact profits" should even come into the discussion. That it's even being brought up just shows how much the law has been corrupted by corporate lobbying.

If you are Nolan Bushnell, you shouldn't be in a position to care about what is being done with 20 or 30 year old works.

It's rather amazing that anyone on a tech site would be defending the idea of stagnation imposed in terms of DECADES.

A 20 year copyright is not the idea of "freeloaders". It's simply how things used to work.

Re: From the maker's perspective? (0)

Scowler (667000) | about 6 months ago | (#46150919)

Brand protection MATTERS. It's worth hundreds of billions in the US alone. And that's a lot of jobs and a lot of livelihoods, which the government would be idiotic to ignore, especially if the only real opposition is flocking to torrents regardless the legal outcome.

Re: From the maker's perspective? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46151023)

Brand protection is the domain of TRADEMARKS, not copyright.

Re: From the maker's perspective? (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 6 months ago | (#46151107)

It is mostly trademarks, yes, but if you are a publisher, you obviously need both.

Re: From the maker's perspective? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46151185)

That's a clever excuse but quite clearly not the real reason the government isn't doing anything about this. If the US government cared about individual citizens' jobs and livelihood, they would actually do something to protect those things. When's the last time you've seen that happen?

Re:From the maker's perspective? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46150835)

What if I asked you this: Would software being moved to Open Source just like that be bad for the business and brand protection of a _INSERT_INDUSTRY_ company?
No. It endears you to the public, it gives you good karma, it helps build a community of modders, it makes derivative works possible, etc... So it EXTENDS the life of the brand.

Re:From the maker's perspective? (0)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 6 months ago | (#46150953)

it gives you good karma,

Thank you Mr. Hippy for destroying any valid point you might have had.

Claiming karma somehow exists is like saying homeopathy procedures are medicine.

Re:From the maker's perspective? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46150891)

Most software isn't even available for sale after 15 years,assuming it even works at that point. For most software, after 15 years it either serves a purpose that nobody needs or has been replaced by at least 5 newer versions that do a better job. Assuming that it even runs on modern OSes, which isn't necessarily a given. A ton of 32bit software back in the Win 9x era used a 16bit installer that wouldn't work on 64bit versions of Windows.

Re:From the maker's perspective? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46150917)

The problem here is that the headline is pretty deliberately misleading*. The argument isn't "the only moral answer is that all games MUST be public domain and open source and perpetually directly supported by the creators at their own expense from the moment they're released, so get to work entertaining us important people, slave" that the headline implies, it's "games should enter the public domain relatively quickly". Bushnell or Hawkins would have the chance for their businesses to make money off their respective creations, but they wouldn't be able to milk the desiccated corpses of their games until dust comes out.

*: Or that you're trying to deliberately mislead the argument, but I'm just going to be civilized and assume the mistake is Slashdot's this time.

Re:From the maker's perspective? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#46151125)

The Slashdot freeloaders are probably quickly to approve the idea, but let's think it from the opposite perspective. You are now Nolan Bushnell or Trip Hawkins, and have the responsibility of running a successful business. Would games being moved PD just like that be bad for the business and brand protection of a video game company? I challenge you try to convince me wrong with a calm and well-reasoned opinion.

You beg the question: If the question were 'what is good for the business and brand protection of a video game company', the answer would be 'the right to do whatever it wants forever and ever and also a big fat subsidy.'

The question is 'what is a good implementation of what copyright law is supposed to do?'

Well, let's see... "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". There we go. That is the sole criterion governing congress's power to establish copyright laws.

Re:From the maker's perspective? (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 6 months ago | (#46151395)

I challenge you try to convince me wrong with a calm and well-reasoned opinion.

Instead they mod you Troll. Good to see people still understand what the word "Discussion" means.

Yeah.. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46150715)

Artificial protection schemes should last 10 years.. Be it copyrights or patents.

10 years. You get exclusive rights to your shit for 10 years. Then anyone can do anything they want with it and tell you to fuck off.

As it stands now you can create entirely new humans and release them to the world at 21 faster than stuff enters the public domain. That's fucked up.

Re:Yeah.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46151371)

Not only can *you* create a brand new human, and release them into the world at age 21 before a work you create the same day enters the public domain, that brand new human can create another brand new human, and release them into the world at age 21, and *THAT* brand new human can create another brand new human and release them into the world at age 21. 7 years *later* the work enters the public domain. (Assuming you *died* immediately after you birthed the original 'brand new human' in the chain.)

Porting is ok (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46150727)

There is some value in porting it to modern platforms, I don't mind paying for that. GOG does a decent job of it. Eventually they will be released into the public domain, same as movies and books. I personally think they all should be a shorter time (20 years), but I don't think that video games should not be shorter than books or movies.

Old arcade games as well and if we don't (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:Old arcade games as well and if we don't (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46151309)

I guess there argument would be if it becomes public, anyone could rewrite the game. Or even remake/revamp the game to a more modern day graphics engine, with far greater graphics.

In making them public, they lose out on the game should it make a comeback, or become a cult classic among today's smartphone devices. Really silly to hold onto something that no one is willing to pay for anymore, when it comes to a license agreement, let alone a game that can't be played because no one wants to buy old equipment to buy an 8 bit colored game.

author misses the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46150783)

Not once does John Walker mention source code, he just wants his free executables. They already exist- people make knockoffs of every good game and post the executables, and some of them are even semiplayable. I'd really like to criticize his semicoherent thought process here by pointing out the similarities between the things he says and the things said by a certain social group that people tend to smirk at. But it's just too dangerous anymore. Oh well.

Re:author misses the point (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 6 months ago | (#46150841)

The "free executable" is what can get people jailed over something that really should have no consequences. It's also what actually has the theoretically limited copyright protection.

Requiring source code for a software copyright is a wonderfully subversive idea and one that I suspect that you aren't really willing to advocate.

Abandon-ware. (2)

jellomizer (103300) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:Abandon-ware. (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 6 months ago | (#46150961)

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?

Re:Abandon-ware. (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | about 6 months ago | (#46151233)

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.

Article's arguments are weak. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46150805)

While copyrights are too long in general, the author provides no solid argument for why video games should be treated differently by the law versus other media. He just wants free (gratis) shit. The fact that GOG.com is a viable business kills his point that old games have no economic value. As for preservation, the Library of Congress has been archiving video games for thirty years. As of 2008, they had over 25,000 titles.

What we definitely don't want is special laws for video games. That's a Very Bad Thing.

Hits the nail on the head (2, Informative)

NixieBunny (859050) | about 6 months ago | (#46150815)

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.

Re:Hits the nail on the head (2)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 6 months ago | (#46151021)

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, Game of Thrones, Indian MILFs #13, the Beatles. And in turn, these corporations compensated the artists responsible.

Re:Hits the nail on the head (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 6 months ago | (#46151343)

However every single piece of pop culture you love was released by a corporation.

Doctor Horrible?

Re:Hits the nail on the head (1)

langelgjm (860756) | about 6 months ago | (#46151165)

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 thinking about that goal. Of course, pensions seem to be a passing fad now, so maybe not.

I understand Broussard (5, Funny)

Kinwolf (945345) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:I understand Broussard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46151051)

He should have been fired after sitting around playing poker and WoW instead of doing his job. It should not have taken nearly so long to produce DNF which in the end was finished by Gearbox and was still a very very mediocre shooter.

The problem George Broussard has (5, Interesting)

PocketPick (798123) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:The problem George Broussard has (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 6 months ago | (#46151065)

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.

Re:The problem George Broussard has (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46151275)

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?

Define "shitty Zelda clone". If you just mean the gameplay designs that the original Zelda pioneered*, I can pretty well assure you that 200 shitty clones of a runaway popular success released in Japan in 1993 would be lowballing the estimate...

*: *sigh* Yes, I guess I DO mean whatever obscure game from Outer Bumfuckia Development Limited that Zelda obviously copied from, fine fine, now you can safely get back to digging for stray Cheet-Os in your neckbeard.

Re:The problem George Broussard has (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 6 months ago | (#46151389)

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.

Re:The problem George Broussard has (1)

MtHuurne (602934) | about 6 months ago | (#46151147)

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.

Longer and Longer Shelf-Lives (1)

Akratist (1080775) | about 6 months ago | (#46150901)

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, and if given some fresh visuals, could stand against some other things I've played lately. In other words, it's like suggesting that Monopoly is out of date because it used relatively simple artwork. Sure, the weed and CoD crowd might want CoD 15, but there is a lot of good gaming out there when the "sell by" date is a decade or more ago. The one compelling argument that could be made is that since publishers feel the older catalogues compete with the newer stuff, they sometimes take it off the market (try to find some of EA's older titles), which could be a real concern in the digital distribution model.

Re:Longer and Longer Shelf-Lives (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 6 months ago | (#46151089)

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.

But updates qualify for copyright, too. (1)

langelgjm (860756) | about 6 months ago | (#46151109)

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, at which point you simply have a sequel.

BTW, there is a multiplayer mod for Thief II floating around, and it does work... it can be great fun if you have another Thief lover!

See How Serious They Are (0)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about 6 months ago | (#46150957)

Someone should set up a site that reuses all of RPS's content without attribution or permission. See how dedicated they are to media being in the public domain when it's their media.

Re:See How Serious They Are (1)

MtHuurne (602934) | about 6 months ago | (#46151067)

If you want to make it a fair test, only 20 year old content should be included. Unfortunately, despite their "PC Gaming since 1873" slogan, they haven't been around for that long.

Wish more companies woudl do this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46150971)

The sad part is some developers/companies are interested in open sourcing their games (or would be open to it) but they run up against legal/pushlishing issues. Or, in a couple of cases, I have talked with developers who released classic games who said they would be happy to release their source code, but the code was lost N moves/hard drive failures ago. It's too bad. There are some great classics out there (the Sierra adventure series, Star Trek 25th Anniversary, etc) which would still be great games if they got a few minor graphic/interface touch-ups.

It is too bad some companies greedily guard their products long after they have lost the ability to make money from them. I talked with a developer a few years ago and asked for the code for a classic game from the early 90s. They claimed the company was going to touch-up and re-release the game for modern platforms. I was thrilled until they went out of business about a year later. Now, so far as I know, the code is gone for good.

MOO2 (2)

DarthVain (724186) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

All old IP should be in the public domain... (3, Insightful)

Simulant (528590) | about 6 months ago | (#46151007)

...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.

Release da source code (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46151029)

Game developers should be focused on building game communities. This means releasing the source code when you buy the game and letting users run their own servers. Games are infinitely better when they are moddable. Developers can make money by charging people money to play on their superior servers. If Blizzard released the source code for World of Warcraft it would still be difficult to obtain the resources to run new servers so blizzard would still be in business so long as they provide something of value. So screw you blizzard.

Duke Nukem and plagiarism (1)

clickety6 (141178) | about 6 months ago | (#46151171)

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]

The test for public domain status is simple... (2)

lord_mike (567148) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

OT - Identify painting in article. (1)

Xoltri (1052470) | about 6 months ago | (#46151211)

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 (3, Insightful)

sideslash (1865434) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

publishers vs. authors (2)

Tom (822) | about 6 months ago | (#46151265)

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] .

Fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46151337)

Rock, Paper, Lawsuit is my favorite.

Thank you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46151359)

Thank you for your communistic views.

No need for Public Domain (2, Interesting)

tomhath (637240) | about 6 months ago | (#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.
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