Re: [stella] Re: 2600's TIA & the TV Boy

Subject: Re: [stella] Re: 2600's TIA & the TV Boy
From: Chad Schell <gamer@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001 10:46:26 -0700

Hmmm. Dunno. Would it still be piracy even though the end result was of a totally different design than the original? i.e. HDL vs. NMOS transistor layout? Or does it count because the design is based off the original work?

Most likely, yes it would piracy. I looked into a lot of this with the Cuttle Cart. It's copyright that will kill you. The DMCA has made everything horrible, throwing out many of the former restrictions on what could be copyrighted, etc. Basically the stance on reverse engineering is that if you have had access to the original product, then it's assumed you've stolen information rather than doing a ground up recreation. Everything now requires clean room reverse engineering, where one team breaks something down, then provides a flow chart of the operation that another team recreates everything from - having never had access to the original.

It's actually reached the point where any reverse engineering is likely illegal in the US. That's why companies are now doing that work over in Europe, then having people in the US recreate things based on the findings of the European team.

Since you've done so much with the TIA, and are about to receive chip masks / schematics for the chip, you wouldn't have much defense. I know there used to be special rules governing chip masks specifically, and that there are no valid patents on the VCS because the Coleco case established that fact, but I don't know how well you'd fare in the copyright arena.

It's definitely something to consider, especially if you had any commercial ventures in mind, like a portable VCS, etc.

Chad Schell
Like the Atari 2600?  Check out the Cuttle Cart.

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