[Coco] Hot CoCo Rights (was: Duplicating Copy-Protected Games)

John Donaldson johnadonaldson at sbcglobal.net
Sun Jan 20 21:31:30 EST 2008

I remember back when I belonged to a very large COCO club in the 80's. 
Over 300 members BTW. The club was a regeristered non-profect club 
(corporation). This club would buy every COCO program, cassette, 
diskette, and magizine on the market. Thus we have a huge library of 
stuff. The club officers did some legal checking and as result came up 
with the policy that a club member could check out a program, load it 
and run it on their COCO. Then delete and return the program back to the 
club. The club was sued once, but the court ruled that the company could 
only sue the club corporation, but could not sue the individuals. The 
company that sued deciede to drop the suit because the club was a 
non-profit and was NOT making any money. Thus they were NOT hurting 
their income from the program. It could not be proven that any copies 
were made either. Yes, this was a Grey Aera operation, because it stated 
right in the Charter that no member was allowed to make copies for 
themselves of any program or software that the club owned.

Frank Swygert wrote:

> I have to agree with Erik in principal, but with a caveat. All of us 
> like to think we are good law abiding citizens, and for the most part 
> we are. But don't tell me you never INTENTIONALLY drive over the speed 
> limit, don't use turn signals every time you turn/change lanes, drive 
> in the left lane on the interstate (by law it's a PASSING LANE, NOT A 
> "FAST" LANE!), run the occasional red/yellow light when you should 
> have stopped, or do "California stops" at low risk stop signs. Traffic 
> violations are the most common, that's why I mention them. I'm sure 
> you've removed tags/labels that say "don't remove by law" from various 
> items too.
> On that note, I have no problem copying something that is otherwise 
> unavailable and unsupported by the copyright owner. The "Hot CoCo" 
> case is a prime example. If the publisher said "we'll make back issues 
> available", they would have good reason for not making them public. 
> The only reason for not doing it LEGALLY (from the publisher's 
> perspective) is to not set a precedent. They have a need to protect 
> their assets that do bring in income, and releasing something might 
> interfere with protecting products they currently have on the market. 
> In a case like "Hot CoCo" it's not likley, but they don't have the 
> time to go through every issue and make sure. So they make a blanket 
> policy instead.
> Note that on the "abandonware" site there are even a few copies of 
> MS-DOS (3.x versions). Microsoft is real protective of their software, 
> but hasn't said a thing. I'm reasonably sure they monitor such items 
> -- they have aggressively done so in the past. If it were a newer 
> version, say 5.x or 6.x, they probably would raise a stink about it, 
> as I believe small portions of that code is still in Windows (though 
> maybe not with Vista). DrDOS 6.0 is on there, but Digital Research 
> went out a long time ago. I thought Windows 3.1 was on there, but if 
> it was it's been removed (may have been another site -- I saw it 
> somewhere on a site shortly after XP came out). I know, this is no 
> justification, and MS could send these guys a "cease and desist" 
> letter, but it does indicate that just maybe someone over there is 
> turning a blind eye to it because there's no reason to be too 
> aggressive with copy protection. The fact that they aren't officially 
> releasing the software still give them the righ
> t to send that C&D letter at any time, even if it could be proven they 
> knew it was there for an extended period. Well, it might not hold up 
> in court if it could be proven they knew it was there, but they have 
> deep lawyer pockets, the site owners don't!
> I have gone over this issue (abandoned software and magazine articles 
> as well as photos) with a copyright lawyer before. While technically 
> it's illegal, the probability of getting sued over it is almost zero. 
> First, the company has to PROVE loss of revenue in order to get a 
> settlement. Even to get the infringer fined they have to spend a good 
> deal of money to take the issue to court, and they can't sue for court 
> costs and don't get any of the fine. The process has to start with a 
> "cease and desist" letter. After that, if the infringer continues, 
> they can go to more drastic means. Now it's possible that some company 
> might be aggressive enough to file charges right after the letter 
> (they don't have to wait and see what you'll do -- could send the 
> letter right along with a court summons!), but that's a lot of expense 
> just to prove a point. His professional opinion was something that's 
> obviously been abandoned was virtually free from risk, especially if 
> it was distributed in a no
> t-for-profit situation (just charging for printing/copying and 
> handling costs) to a small, relatively closed group (such as the CoCo 
> community, or in my particular case a small segment of the auto hobby).
> There is a risk, and it's illegal -- just like exceeding the speed limit.
> Do note that this is my personal opinion. I would never violate the 
> rights of someone active in the community (like Steve Bjork) even if 
> they didn't make the software available for purchase legally. Viewing 
> it as a "grey area" of the law (which is basically what I'm doing) is 
> one thing, but when someone with a legal right steps forth and 
> complains it's "less grey". It doesn't reflect on them very well if 
> they complain and then won't make legal copies available, but that's 
> their business.
> As far as "Hot CoCo" and "Rainbow" -- archive your collections on CD. 
> I see nothing wrong with sharing your own collection with others since 
> there's no way to get them.  So a group got together and archived 
> their collective collection for their own purposes -- that fits right 
> in with the latest copyright exception. The "grey area" is say I only 
> contributed two issues to the total archive, or just did the scanning 
> work and had no issues to contribute, but got a full collection for my 
> efforts. I still think that's within the intent of the exception, even 
> if it isn't spelled out. 
> Some will still think it's a morality issue. I agree. "Two wrong's 
> don't make a right", but the publishers are in some cases being overly 
> greedy/protective of something that is of no commercial use to them at 
> all, and is never likely to be. In other words, they don't care about 
> any past consumers. Is that moral? They overlook the "good will" such 
> a small gesture as allowing a group to copy the issues, even if for a 
> token sum as Lonnie did, does for them. It's not much -- I doubt 
> anyone here buys more than the occasional magazine published by IDG -- 
> I don't know what titles they put out, but I'm sure I don't subscribe 
> to any, though I may have bought one on rare occasion.
> ------------
> Date: Sat, 19 Jan 2008 07:03:29 -0800 (PST)
> From: Jim Hickle <jlhickle at yahoo.com>
> The existence of those websites isn't proof that what they do is legal 
> or ethical. In the FAQ at the-underdogs.info it states that 
> distributing "abandonware" is illegal.  The law is the law, and you 
> don't have a right to break it just because it makes you sad.
> Erik Ames <eternyl_bliss at yahoo.com> wrote:
> There is a thing called 'Abandoned Warez' and for a classic example: 
> http://www.the-underdogs.info/ This place has been around for many 
> years and provide old pc games that have a copywrite and some have 
> been cracked. For more information on their input about copywrite laws 
> please view the following link: http://www.the-underdogs.info/faq.php#a5.


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