[stella] ethics

Subject: [stella] ethics
From: Glenn Saunders <krishna@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 1997 23:57:16 -0700 (PDT)
On Thu, 11 Sep 1997, Nick S Bensema wrote:
> That's why they call them "pirate" web sites?

Stealing from companies with no web presence is one thing.  The usual
rationalization of "they don't care, and they don't even know" are common.

But in my FAQ and elsewhere I have already stressed the point that the
Starpath CD contents remain copyrighted works and are not to be spread
around without the consent of Bridgestone and/or Atari.

Thankfully I haven't seen any more Starpath sites after Bob graciously
took down the WAVs, but it bothers me that Polo is up there given the

Russ went out of his way to clear its release on the CD, and he couldn't
include Wizard, and in return the game is now JUST another pirate .BIN.

Piraters really hurt their own cause by doing this sort of thing.

My hat's off to anyone who attempts to sell a commercial 2600 product.  I
certainly wish you luck that your cart sales don't go down the crapper
because of piracy.

I once though of a software "wrapper" to be used to prevent piracy.  It's
something to think about.  Most shareware requires a registration key to
enable its full features.  If you wrapped your .BIN in a special version
of makewav that contains a decrypter with registration-key encryption,
then you could enable your copy (permanently) and when you double click on
it, it would then automatically load into your Supercharger.  You'd never
get a BIN to copy.  It would also link to your drive so that if you
attempted to copy it it would go dead.  Such a game would, of course, not
be playable on emulators, at least not unless you packed the emulator in
with it, which would be bulky.

Piero should consider going that way if he makes a 6K enhanced version of
Oystron.  The game is commercial quality and I see no reason why he
shouldn't ask to be paid for his hard work.  Noone is going to go bankrupt
from having to keep up with the constant flow of new 2600 software.

> Indeed, some of the source code on my web site was reverse-engineered 
> in-house at Avalon Hill.  Freeway, I think.

I believe in breaking the letter of the law for the greater good of the
community as far as source code is concerned.  That's a different story. 
Few people even know how to recompile source code so it's not really the
same thing as people who just want to play the FN games spreading around
.BINs.  Those who are interested in source code are those who want to
write for the 2600, and that's what's important to me. 

And the fact is that there _ARE_ stock ways to do certain tricks on the
2600 that are not copyrighted by anyone.  Maybe someone is recognized as
the inventor, but others took the ideas and noone was brought to court for
it.  It was acceptable to do this--to a point of course.

The Dragster kernel, for instance, can only work when it is done exactly
as David Crane did it, and after a while it was used a lot throughout the
industry (with some variations, like single line res in Dragonstomper). 
They took code from eachother and they had to, because the 2600 _needed_
these tricks to survive, so if there was only one way to do it, you HAD to
to it that way, and I don't really see that as piracy as much as it is a
"convergent evolution" of programming.  These tricks became the "Ever
updated basic playstation C library files" of their era.

I wouldn't want people to have to reinvent the wheel when they will just
come to the same conclusions.  Learn from the masters when you can, then
come out with something that builds on it and adds something new.

Being able to do a graphical trick is one thing.  Making a game out of it
is another.

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