To Al Kossow at bitsavers
Mark J. Blair
nf6x at nf6x.net
Sat Nov 14 22:49:21 CST 2015
> On Nov 14, 2015, at 20:25, Ian Finder <ian.finder at gmail.com> wrote:
> I find the mindset of considering all abandonware scenarios "theft" to be pedantic, toxic, shortsighted, and counterproductive- as well as logically and legally baseless.
I entirely agree. It's my understanding that Archive.org does archive items that are not publicly available on its external servers, for the sole purpose of preserving them until such time that they might be again needed. I see this as laudable, and harmless to present rights-holders (when they can even be identified, which is not always the case).
If one preserves the only known copy of some old piece of software before the bits rot, and the proper rights-holder later emerges and takes exception to that, then there's potential recourse by apologizing at the simplest, or paying damages in the worst case. But if one doesn't archive that last copy before the media becomes unreadable, then the data is just gone.
In the specific case of RT-11, it doesn't appear to me to be true abandonware since one or more potential rights holders are identified. The issue seems from the outside to be that none of them can be bothered to figure out who owns what. I certainly hope that all of the software in question will be archived by *somebody* while it still exists, even if it's kept off of public servers out of respect for the rights-holders (or at least, out of concern about being sued by them).
I don't accept the argument that the concept of abandonware is nothing more than a ploy to steal food from the mouths of others. I've heard more than one tale of the legitimate rights holders of pieces of software ceasing to exist, with any successors being unidentifiable, unaware that the software in question exists, and/or simply not caring. In such a case, I believe that preservation of the software for future generations trumps any pedantic adherence to arbitrary rules stating that since a clearly identifiable owner has never formally released the software, it must simple be allowed to vanish forever.
Preserve the data and software while it's still possible! If an owner comes forward later who gets pissed off about it, we can deal with that as it comes up.
Mark J. Blair, NF6X <nf6x at nf6x.net>
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