Re: [stella] Are 7800 demos legal???

Subject: Re: [stella] Are 7800 demos legal???
From: slapdash@xxxxxxxxxxxx (Russ Perry Jr)
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 1999 21:24:16 -0600
>As you may have guessed Eckhard Stolberg and myself have been working on
>some 7800 stuff lately.  We'll be publishing more stuff soon, but one thing
>we are wondering about is the 7800 demo that circumvents the 7800
>encryption.  The way it works is to extract a 4KB section of code from the
>Atari Development Card which passes encryption, then use jumps out of the
>code or the original startup and interrupt vectors, but with new demo or
>game code instead of the code in the original Dev Card.
>The question is, is this demo legal [...]?

Sadly, I believe the answer is no.

>Personally, I think it's perfectly legal.  Although it infringes on Atari
>copyright, sometimes copyright infringement is legal.

Copyright infringement is NOT legal; there are provisions for fair use,
but I don't believe this case warrants it.

>I think there is a court case where Sega tried to sue a third party
>developer for infringement, but the game developer only copied the code
>that was required to be compatible with the console.  The judge said this
>is O.K.

I'm pretty sure you're thinking of Sega vs Accolade...  Accolade copied
NO code, but Sega had modified the Genesis to give a Sega copyright on
startup.  This copyright showed up even when you played an Accolade game,
so Sega sued them for copyright infringement.  However, Accolade proved
that the message did NOT come from their code, so they had stolen nothing.
Sega got a black eye over that one.

>I guess otherwise, Atari would be using a monopoly in the console
>manufacturing business to build a monopoly in the game business.

Not at all.  If you can reverse engineer a way around the encryption, or
come up with a legitimate value with copying Atari code, then it would be
legal, but copying their code would be illegal.

>But I'm not a lawyer.  Any thoughts?

The one possible thing that would get you through is that it's only 122
bytes, and if you were unlucky enough to get sued, you might get some
luck that it's to small a piece to be claimed.  However, given the
importance of its function, I doubt many judges would go that route.

>Of course we already know that Hasbro has declared their old consoles to be
>open systems and they really don't care one way or the other.

Actually, we know that they declared the Jaguar an open platform, but
still won't release the encryption keys or method.  Far different thing

>So probably it's a moot point anyway.

Actually, would copying the encryption key be moot anyway?  It was my
understanding that the key was based on the rest of the image, so it
would vary for each game, and copying it would do you no good.  Or did
the dev sys have a more universal key, or some way around that?

>But we wouldn't want to be accidently posting
>things to this list that Glenn considers to be illegal.

Well, the point is, the courts would find it illegal, but Glenn may not
mind.  But if you're really after being legal, you need a way around
the legal issue.

>BTW, does anybody know where to find Hasbro's official policy on old

I don't have a direct link, but go to and look for
an archive of press releases.  Perhaps someone else knows about what date
it was?

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