[Blindapple] Legal Issue Concerning the Math Games disk and possibly others

Tony Baechler tony at baechler.net
Thu Nov 7 10:42:32 EST 2013

First, my apologies to Jayson for yet another copyright and legality post.
This has been beaten to death on another list and I'm glad I'm not the
moderator!  I'm replying here, on the list to hopefully avoid this
discussion coming up yet again in the future.

First, you're totally wrong in your conclusions.  You're comparing apples to
oranges, no pun intended.  Music falls under a completely different set of
copyright laws.  Largely, the principle of what you say is correct in that
computer software is still under copyright unless it has been released to
the public domain, but there are some exceptions.  First, if it was
published before March 1, 1988 and does not contain a copyright notice, it's
automatically public domain.  Second, there was a 2004 ammendment to the
copyright law giving an exception for software and firmware which requires a
system to run which is no longer manufactured and easily available.
Finally, the blind now get exceptions when it comes to converting literary
material to an accessible format, although that wouldn't necessarily apply
to computer software.  With MECC disks, I doubt if the copyright can be
enforced since MECC doesn't exist and games like Oregon Trail and Lemonade
Stand have been in circulation for many decades now.

On 9/11/2013 1:24 PM, John Schucker wrote:
> While I agree in principle, understand that you're wrong. Out of print music
> is still copyrighted music, and thus, illegal to download. So you might not
> have problems in the sense that obscure small label which actually went out
> of business isn't going to come and prosecute you, but it's still illegal.
> So if the people doing the list and emulators are trying to stay as legal as
> possible, then they might not want to do that.
> Understand, I've downloaded out of print stuff myself. In fact I found out
> about an artist I really like that way, found his page, and bought stuff
> from him when he started doing reissues. This stuff is on really obscure
> labels that often do limited runs, like 500 copies, or even 50. So if I
> download it and like it, I try to pay attention for reissues, I've gotten
> quite a few things that way, even new stuff that wasn't on blogs and such.
> But in terms of legality and copyright, I still shouldn't be doing that,
> even though the artist in question said nothing when I told him how I'd
> found him, and has been very appreciative of my purchases of his reissues.
> So like I said, if the goal is to be as legal as possible when distributing
> software and such, the fact that you can't get it any other way doesn't
> really mean anything, legally speaking. Sucks, but there you go. If it were
> me, I'd just distribute stuff, I'm with you on that. Oh and in case anybody
> might be interested, here's a sample of the artist in question, a guy named
> Richard Skelton, but he does a bunch of different projects with different
> names.
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NTvcfkPq4Y
> And here's his site, in case anybody wants to buy any of his stuff.
> http://www.corbelstonepress.com/
> On 9/11/2013 13:57, Brent Buswell wrote:
>> Hi Guys,
>> I happened to see that post earlier regarding the Math games disk. I am
>> certain that if you wish to contribute this disk to our collection that
>> there will be no trouble for you. For one thing, it isn't even available
>> for purchase anymore so that automatically makes it fair game. We have
>> issues like this crop up all the time in the music business with
>> recordings that are out-of-print. There is just no other way to get these
>> things unless you download them, or can find a way to get hold of them
>> some other way.
>> Also, if the website that was mentioned seems to have disappeared then
>> that tells me that the company might not even really be in operation
>> anymore. The missing documentation regarding ownership also further
>> validates that this, and other disks like it, can be shared without any
>> worries.
>> If this disk is contributed, that would be really awesome because my
>> little daughter is just about at the age where she could start to work
>> with things like this and it would really help me work with her on her
>> math skills and make it fun too. She is also blind and already shows
>> interest in the old Apple 2ee!
>> Thanks again, and I hope that the Math disk is made available.
>> Brent Buswell
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Have a good day,
Tony Baechler
tony at baechler.net

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