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Wireless Racer

Current Ring Stats:
Active members: 49
Sites updated today: 6
Suspended sites: 5
Frequently Asked Questions

THE ABANDONWARE FAQ v6 (written 1997, revised 2020)

  1. What abandonware is
    1. The definition of abandonware
    2. Why abandonware is technically software piracy
    3. Why abandonware should not be software piracy
    4. What is NOT abandonware
    5. How something ceases to be abandonware
    6. The history of abandonware
    7. Articles on abandonware
  2. The Abandonware Ring
    1. What the Abandonware Ring is
    2. Benefits of joining the Abandonware Ring
    3. How to join the Abandonware Ring
What abandonware is
  1. The definition of abandonware

    Abandonware is a product, typically software, ignored by its owner and manufacturer, and for which no official support is available. Although such software is usually still under copyright, the owner may not be tracking copyright violations.

    Within an intellectual rights contextual background, abandonware is a software (or hardware) sub-case of the general concept of orphan works. Museums and various organizations, dedicated to preserving this software, continue to provide legal access.

    In the United States, copyright protection was 50 years; that subsequently changed to life of the author plus 50 years.

    Definitions of "abandoned" vary, but in general it is like any item that is abandoned – it is ignored by the owner, and as such product support and possibly copyright enforcement are also "abandoned". Source
  2. Why abandonware is technically software piracy

    According to U.S. Law and International Treaties, a copyright belongs to the author of a software product for 50 years beyond the life of the author or 95 years after the copyright date if the work is done by a corporation or anonymous source. Before that time expires, nobody (except the author) has the right to copy that piece of software.

  3. Why abandonware should not be considered piracy by Walt Crawford

    When the U.S. was young a copyright lasted 14 years, renewable only once if the author was still living. Between the nation's founding and 1909, only one term extension took place. In 1909 the term was doubled to 28 years. However corporations still felt it was too short. So in 1976 Congress changed the copyright to a remarkably long and unpredictable term: Life of the author plus 50 years - and, for works made for hire (corporation) a generous 75 years.

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

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

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

  4. What is NOT abandonware

    Software that is either:
    1. Less than four years old
    2. Still sold and/or supported by a company

  5. How something ceases to be abandonware

    When a software company decides that they are going to start selling or supporting the title again. Fortuantely, this has been happening often over the last few years. We have seen arcade, and console re-releases coming from Activision, Atari, Midway, Namco, Nintendo, and Sega just to name a few. In 2005 the online game "rental" service GameTap started and is offering an ever increasing library of classic games for a low monthly fee.

  6. The history of abandonware

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

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

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

    Make Use Of | What Is Abandonware and Is It Legal?
    MobyGames | Abandonware In A Nutshell: Why Nobody Wins
    The New York Times | New Front in the Copyright Wars: Out-of-Print Computer Games
    The Adventure Collective | Abandonwarez: the pros outweigh the cons
    MuyComputer | Abandonware, el placer de revivir los juegos clasicos (spanish)
    bit-tech | Abandonware: The Ethics and Essentials
    TV Tropes | Abandonware
The Abandonware Ring
  1. What the Abandonware Ring is
    The Abandonware Ring is a group of WWW sites that are devoted to distributing and supporting Abandonware. Abandonware Ring sites are known because they have one of our Abandonware Ring buttons on them.
  2. Benefits of joining the Abandonware Ring
    1. You will receive a lot of hits to your site since we are all linked together.
    2. You will receive access to private resources for Abandonware Ring members.
  3. How to join the Abandonware Ring
    Just check out our webmasters page and fill in the information.
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