"Abandonware" and copyright [was Re: WinWorld]

Mouse mouse at Rodents-Montreal.ORG
Wed Mar 30 12:17:53 CDT 2016

> They define "abandonware" as:
> "In order for a piece of software to be abandonware, it must, as a
> general guideline:
> Be over 7 years old.
> Be out of support by the manufacturer.
> Be mostly out of use by the general populace (abandoned)"

That's...yes, a peculiar definition, I would say.

As I understand the term, the rights owner has to be nonexistent or to
have proved unidentifiable or uncontactable (re which see below).  The
case where the owner clearly exists but demonstrably does not care
about the software is, to my mind, a grey area.

> Copyright law does NOT [...].

There is no single "copyright law".  Not even the Berne convention is
worldwide; practically everything about copyright is
jurisdiction-specific, and I would be surprised if there weren't at
least a few jurisdictions that did this (or didn't support copyright
for software at all).

That said, what you say is true in almost all jursidictions today.

> Q: To what extent are they making a "good faith" effort to contact
> the "prior" (actually current) owners of the intellectual property
> rights?

Yes.  That.

To my mind, this is the most critical missing piece of information.
Since their definition does not mention it, I would be inclined to
assume they haven't bothered; if so, I consider their abandonware
definition to be sophistry, rigged in an attempt to make what they
happen to feel like doing sound a bit less unjustified.

Of course, what relation any of this bears to what _should_ be is a
question for philosophy and much disagreement and has - or at least
should have! - little-to-nothing with how people handle any software.

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