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

Subject: RE: [stella] Are 7800 demos legal???
From: "John Saeger" <john@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1999 14:47:00 -0800
I'm deferring technical questions to Eckhard Stolberg.  All I can say is
that I've seen it work.

Russ Perry Jr wrote:

> You're right -- you have every right to use that code while designing your
> game.  However, posting that part of the source/image, or selling games
> including it would NOT be legal, in my opinion.  Tricky distinction.

I don't know.  I think that in the absence of a license agreement you'd have
to look at what common practice in the industry is, and what a reasonable
expectation of having a development kit is.  If you buy a compiler from
Microsoft and use it to develop programs, the resulting programs typically
have lots of Microsoft copyrighted library code in them.  Microsoft
typically gives you royalty free right to redistribute this stuff as needed.
It's *fair use* of a development kit.  So I think it's reasonable to link in
some code from the dev card and distribute the product.

Publishing source code may be a little trickier.  For sure we can publish
source code to to the original parts.  The other stuff is more of a problem.
One thing we can do is to publish directions on how to combine the legal
demo source code with the object code of the complete demo that we publish
so others can write their own demos.  In fact it would be perfectly legal to
write a program to turn the relevant portions of the object version of our
demo into an include file to use with the source code that we legally

But I can't guarantee that demos written by other people are legal.  At
least not if they assemble them themselves.  But I can't say for sure that
they would be illegal either.  If they publish source code, then for all
practical purposes, we could do the assembly for them.  That would be legal.

But given that effectively anybody could easily end up with the complete
source code anyway, it's seems to be a fairly pointless exercise to jump
through these nit-picking hoops just for a technicality.  I don't think it
really matters.

> Well, as someone else suggested, you never know if they might throw up
> their hands and say "do what thou wilst".

You know Russ, the more I think about it, the more I think maybe this
already happened.  I mean, this stuff used to be *top secret*.  The only way
to get to see it was to sign your life away.  I didn't sign anything.  As
far as I know it was obtained legally in good faith and good money was paid
for it.  How is it possible that something that was so jealously guarded can
now be bought on the open market?  I think the *do what thou wilst* happened
a long time ago at Atari long before Hasbro ever got involved.  If this
stuff was trade secret, and the cat got let out of the bag, then the cat's
out of the bag.

>From a practical standpoint, I don't think Hasbro really cares about this
stuff.  They're more interested in writing a new Pac-Man or something like
that.  So even if they could prove that they still have a proprietary
interest in this stuff, it would not be worth their while to waste any time
on it.

But if we publish a demo, I think we'll put a notice to *use at your own

> There's a problem with that too...  The originator has a
> copyright regardless,
> but they'd have a hell of a time proving it.

Hmmm...  Well if the originator has a copyright regardless, then that would
mean public domain documents are no longer possible.  ;-)  I think lack of
notice used to mean it's public domain.  These days, lack of notice doesn't
mean anything.  It *could* have a copyright.  Or not.  But I think you're
right.  At this point in time, it might be tough to prove one way or the


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