Distributing TOS images

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SkylineDave
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Distributing TOS images

Postby SkylineDave » Thu Mar 29, 2007 9:36 am

Ive tried searching for this topic and not had any luck.
What is the general consensus on the licence of the Atari ST TOS image files? Reason I ask is becuase Im thinking about distributing TOS with DBST to make it a little easier to setup (instead of asking the user to locate them on his/her HDD)
is it still a big no-no? is it illegal? is it abandonware? might I get away with it? etc. etc.
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Postby PaulB » Thu Mar 29, 2007 10:45 am

I don't know what the official stance on TOS is but AFAIK no-one who has distributed TOS on their website has had any problems.

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Postby techie_alison » Thu Mar 29, 2007 12:56 pm

My assumption is that the stance is similar to Amstrads regarding the Sinclair ROMS.

In a few words, "You can do what you want with them just don't take the pi??. By allowing people to distribute them it means we don't have to. No profit is to be made on any images."

>> Forum: comp.sys.sinclair
>> Thread: Amstrad ROM permissions
>> Message 1 of 1

Subject: Amstrad ROM permissions
Date: 08/31/1999
Author: Cliff Lawson <clawson>

Hi,

Andrew Owen sent me the following email about the Spectrum ROMs and said it was being discussed on c.s.s but I can't see the
relevant thread (I have a totally crap newsfeed - Psinet - who only carry about half the traffic!!). So, anyway, here's my reply about
these issues:

"I know you have answered the question of Amstrad's policy on the use of the Spectrum ROMs before but the debate has come up
again on comp.sys.sinclair and as much as I tell people what I believe it is, they want a definitive answer. So when you have time here
are the questions. Thanks!

1) What exactly do you have to do to use Sinclair ROMs in an emulator, such as acknowledgements etc?"

Amstrad are happy for emulator writers to include images of our copyrighted code as long as the (c)opyright messages are not altered
and we appreciate it if the program/manual includes a note to the effect that "Amstrad have kindly given their permission for the
redistribution of their copyrighted material but retain that copyright".

"2) Can you charge a shareware fee for an emulator that uses the Sinclair ROMs?"

No. No one should be charging for the ROM code because (as a result of the point above) there are loads of freely available images
anyway. If I ever thought someone was charging for the ROM images then I'd make them available as a free download on the
http://www.amstrad.com web site. Naturally I imagine that some emulator writers want to charge a shareware fee for the code they have
written and we have absolutely no problem with that as long as they aren't, in any sense, charging for the parts of the code that are
(c)Amstrad and (c) Sinclair.

"3) Can you modify the ROMs, for instance to enable tape loading and saving, and if so what are the requirements?"

The ROM code is simply a tool to let the emulator writers make a program that works as close to the original machine as possible. If
they choose to modify the behaviour in any way then that's entirely up to them (I guess you could say that that is exactly what an
emulator IS doing (ie modifying the screen output and keyboard input to go via the PC bits)!!)

"4) Can you distribute modified ROMs?"

If you like (with that (c) proviso).

"5) Does this apply to all ROMs, Interface 1+2, ZX80, ZX81, Spectrum 48, 128,
+2, +2A and +3."

I think Amstrad only bought the rights to Spectrum 48/128 from Sinclair and then produced the + machines ourselves. I do not believe
the (c) for ZXs or IF1/2 has anything to do with Amstrad.

"6) Does Amstrad own the rights to the QL as well?"

Someone asked me this before and I think our lawyer at that time said that we may have had the rights to the QL stuff but then sold it
on to someone else but I haven't a clue who.

"7) What is the legal position with regard to distributing ROMs from legal Spectrum clones such as the Timex 2048?"

Ask Timex. We only hold the copyright for code that was written by Sinclair or Amstrad for the Spectrum machines. I haven't a clue
about the Timex deal as it was done in the days before Amstrad were ever involved.

"8) What is the legal position with regard to distributing ROMs from illegal Spectrum clones such as the Russian Scorpion and
Pentagon machines?"

Anyone pirating hardware/software should be shot.... though that may be to quick a death for them. Perhaps nailing them up by the
testicles using rusty nails would be the best thing to do to them?

"9) Is Amstrad happy for software owned by Sinclair to be distributed in a similar way?"

I think that the majority of software, even that 10/12 game pack bundled with + machines remains the copyrighted property of its
authors (Ocean etc.). Amstrad/Sincliar merely acted as a publishing house but I don't think that gave us the copyright to it, just an
agreed licence to make copies IYSWIM.

"10) What is Amstrad's policy on the distribution of electronic versions of Sinclair documentation?"

The more the merrier. People scanning, OCRing, HTMLing & PDFing any manuals that are genuinely (c)Amstrad are actually doing
us a favour because if someone asks for a copy we can just point them at a URL (please keep me informed!! ;-). So we'd welcome as
many of them to be put online as possible if people can take out the time and trouble to do it.

"I sincerly hope this is the last time you will be bothered with such questions. Thank you again for your time."

Your welcome. It's good to have the opportunity to make our position on this clear and I've cross-posted this to c.s.a.8 because it
applies equally well to all the CPC stuff (though some bits of that are also (c)Locomotive so you need to seek their permission too -
however I don't think there's ever a problem in so doing).

Cliff Lawson,
Amstrad plc


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Postby SkylineDave » Thu Mar 29, 2007 9:14 pm

hmm ok i think I might go ahead with it and bundle the TOSes with DBST. there's no money involved, and if Atari dont want me to do it then I can always remove them. :arrow:
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Postby PaulB » Thu Mar 29, 2007 9:33 pm

Perhaps put a disclaimer somewhere stating that they are believed to be unsupported abandoware and that if anyone objects you will remove them. Just in case.

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Postby techie_alison » Thu Mar 29, 2007 10:32 pm

Or hide them on your distribution site, with a pointer to the URL within your documentation. In other words, make it difficult. If someone has to download X, unzip it, then download Y, and unzip it. Then they're not likely to be someone scouring the net.

Atari being Atari, I do wonder if they would have an issue with it. Almost ALL of the freely available arcade ROMS used with MAME were cleared off the net a few years back. At the end of the 1990's there was every ROM set you could dream of.

I'd be tempted to say provide them only when asked. The TOS roms are still out there if people look hard enough.

Follow the same stance as STEEM maybe. I don't think they distribute. Don't know.

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Postby techie_alison » Sat Mar 31, 2007 4:41 pm

I've found out a little bit on this subject, by chance more than anything.

Atari is owned by Hasbro. Along with many other companies from the 80's.

With the great video game crash underway, Milton Bradley decided to try and cut costs by closing down GCE in January of 1984 and distributing Vectrex itself. They also lowered the price to first $150 and then $100 in hopes of luring people to buy the console. However, they still lost a 18.7 million (a grand total of 31.6 million since '92), and decided to discontinue the Vectrex. By March, sales were discontinued in Europe, and slowly phased out everywhere else during the rest of the year. Milton Bradley was not in good shape overall, and would merge with Hasbro by May of that year. Hasbro, who was notoriously against entering any electronic gaming area, and some speculate that the Vectrex was really killed because of this. It is plausible, because similar events have occured with several other game consoles and companies - Hasbro bought Coleco during it's bankruptcy and reorganization period in 1989, bought Atari from JTS in 1998, and bought out Tiger in the late 90's canceling their Game.com series as well. All together, Hasbro is sitting on the rights of a good many gaming systems and doing nothing with them. But I digress. Some of the stock was bought out and converted to run the Luscher Color/Profiling test, and showed up in malls around the U.S. in the late 80's.


This is from the following page discussing the Vextrex; http://www.old-computers.com/museum/doc.asp?c=1018 . Right down the bottom.

Currently, the Vectrex enjoys a big underground following. In the '90's, WT/SE released much of the Vectrex material for public use, allowing non-commerical reproduction of the overlays and manuals. A number of the game roms have also been released to the public including many of the formally unreleased games.

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Postby SkylineDave » Sat Mar 31, 2007 7:03 pm

thanks for digging that up Alison i didnt realise Hasbro owned Atari, does that make them own the current Atari that develops software on consoles? i think we can say there's been 'reasonable research' into the subject. i'll go with the launch anyway and cross my fingers :)
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Postby christos » Sat Mar 31, 2007 7:28 pm

Actually Atari is bought by Infogrames (Hasbro sold them a few years ago) and I believe it is still in NASDAQ as a separate entity, majority owned by Infogrames. I think you can find out more about this on AtariAge. So the current scheme must be something like (I am not very good at corporate stuff sorry)

Infogrames

Atari Inc - Former GT Interactive
Atari Europe
So the proper way to go for ROMS would be through Atari.
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Postby Desty » Sat Mar 31, 2007 9:35 pm

I sent off an email to someone at Atari just now, but I've no idea who she is or whether she cares. :)
tá'n poc ar buile!

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Postby techie_alison » Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:47 am

Not disputing Infogames mention here. But another pointer to Hasbro;

http://www.sothius.com/hypertxt/welcome ... ition.html It's right down the bottom. A good read too.

Today, Hasbro Interactive holds most of ATARI's rights, using that popular name and trademark to sell actual computer games.

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Postby Sarek » Mon Apr 02, 2007 3:37 pm

Actually Atari is bought by Infogrames (Hasbro sold them a few years ago) and I believe it is still in NASDAQ as a separate entity, majority owned by Infogrames. I think you can find out more about this on AtariAge.


infrogrammes are interested only in the games, so that they can get money for old rope, so to speak. They are not interested in the OS, as far as I know. They do occasionally remake atari games, like they did Monkey Island for the PC a few years ago. I'm sure in these days of portable consoles, there is greater demand now for old-concept arcade games.

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Re: Distributing TOS images

Postby thothy » Wed Apr 04, 2007 9:26 am

SkylineDave wrote:is it still a big no-no? is it illegal? is it abandonware? might I get away with it? etc. etc.


Maybe you should simply ask these questions in the official Atari Retro forum:

http://www.ataricommunity.com/forums/fo ... .php?f=525

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Re: Distributing TOS images

Postby ijor » Tue Apr 10, 2007 6:53 pm

SkylineDave wrote: is the general consensus on the licence of the Atari ST TOS image files?


There is no simple direct answer. By the pure letter of the law, TOS is still copyrighted IP, currently owned by Infogrammes. It is then, again by the the letter of the law, illegal to redistribute TOS without formal authorization.

Furthermore, is this also controversial if using TOS images under emulators (or hardware clones for that matter) is fully legal or not.

If you are a formal company, you certainly care a lot about this. If you are an individual dealing with a non-profict product, then the situation is completely different.

All Atari ST copyright holders (Tramiels, Hasbro, Infogrammes) were always very permissive. They were well aware about their "abandonware" being widely available and they never even issued a single warning. So most people would consider this an implicit blessing.

Apparently Infogrammes put some of the Atari IP in the public domain. But it is not clear exactly which portions, and exactly in which level of formality they did so.

This might change in the future. But even so, it is extremelly unlikely that this would represent an actual legal risk for your past actions. In the worst case you will be asked to stop distributing TOS.

Still, it's everyone decision how exactly handle this.

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Postby SkylineDave » Tue Apr 10, 2007 7:53 pm

thanks for the information Ijor. i will await any complaint from Atari-related companies and act accordingly.
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