>> Forum: comp.sys.sinclair
>> Thread: Amstrad ROM permissions
>> Message 1 of 1
Subject: Amstrad ROM permissions
Author: Cliff Lawson <clawson>
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
"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
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).
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.
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.
Today, Hasbro Interactive holds most of ATARI's rights, using that popular name and trademark to sell actual computer games.
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.
SkylineDave wrote:is it still a big no-no? is it illegal? is it abandonware? might I get away with it? etc. etc.
SkylineDave wrote: is the general consensus on the licence of the Atari ST TOS image files?
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