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

Subject: RE: [stella] Are 7800 demos legal???
From: Glenn Saunders <cybpunks@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 28 Nov 1999 09:16:49 -0800
At 02:36 AM 11/24/99 -0800, you wrote:
there is a problem.  Besides, the Stella manual that we all know and love is
based on the same material.  If it's illegal, then everybody who's ever
written a 2600 game is a bootlegger of sorts.  ;-)

In the old days, if you wanted to become a new Atari 3rd party, the only way to avoid a lawsuit was to reverse engineer the 2600 architecture so you could proove that you didn't steal any proprietary knowledge about the system from Atari. That day is long gone. Even in the classic era, regardless of whatever "proof" activision, Imagic, and others used in court, 3rd parties routinely disassembled games to reverse engineer software techniques from others. (They even used to burn unauthorized EPROM copies for the lab.) It's good that they did, too, because otherwise some fancy technique would have been limited to just one company, which probably would have stifled the improvement in 2600 graphics and shortened its lifespan.

We're in this transitional period between these systems being a commodity and being a historical entity. As stated, I believe that the hardware has devalued to zero (although I can see a TV-Boy like thing on the fringes of possibility) and the only remaining value is the ROM images themselves, which I'm sure Hasbro already concedes is impossible to protect from piracy. Activision already admitted this to my face.

I certainly look at the proprietary techniques and information shared in Stella at 20 as falling under fair use (historical research). I put the scans of the TIA chip masks on Stella Gets a New Brain 2 (still cleaning them up, btw) out of a similar fair-use principle. Certainly the stella manual falls under the same category.

Glenn Saunders - Producer - Cyberpunks Entertainment Personal homepage: Cyberpunks Entertainment:

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