PC-DOS 3.3

Chuck Guzis cclist at sydex.com
Mon Dec 12 18:25:42 CST 2005

On 12/12/2005 at 5:39 PM Jim Leonard wrote:

>I am not a lawyer, but my father-in-law is, and he summed up Fair Use to
>me as 
>the following:  "If you are not slandering a company or causing them
>harm, you generally don't need to worry."

Well, US Copyright Law and your father-in-law are in substantial
disagreement about Fair Use.  However, if you're certain about your legal
position regarding Fair Use, why not drop a note to Microsoft and get their

If you don't want to read my ranting, you can stop reading right here.  

I confess right now that I've seen products arbitrarily classified as
"abandonware" and distributed over the net without so much as a note to the
owner saying "would it be okay if we did this?"--and it disturbs me
greatly--and in some cases, makes my blood boil.

This question comes up all the time on the music-oriented lists and the
rationalizations are nothing short of amazing.  'Well, it's out of print,
so I can copy it"  Or "It's for use in a school, so it's fair use".  Or
"we're a 501(c)3 nonprofit, so we can copy things freely".  Or (and I've
got the correspondence to prove this one) "We're a church doing the Lord's
work, so we shouldn't have to pay for music we use in worship services."

US Copyright Law defines Fair Use rather narrowly and, contrary to your
father-in-law's legal opinion, does not mandate that a copyright holder
demonstrate financial loss or harm from an infringement as part of a claim.
 Neither does it require a copyright holder to vigorously defend a
copyright. .  

Theft of copyright is a felony in the US, punishable by fine and
imprisonment.  Read all about it here:


It would not surprise me if IBM or MIcrosoft had a few OEM contracts still
in force that enabled the OEM to make a copy of DOS 3.3 for use, provided a
royalty is paid.

What I'm saying here is for works authored after 1978.  Prior to that time,
there were additional requirements regarding registration and publication
and the statement of copyright on the work.  None of that is necessary for
works created after 1978--thus, if you're not sure, it's safest to assume
that a work is copyrighted.

With apology, I'll step off the soapbox now.


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