Today saw the appearance of an article about the ZX Spectrum Bluetooth Keyboard in the Grauniad technology blog, courtesy of @alexhern.

While I have slight concerns over the title (the Kickstarter was not stalled, and in fact was successfully funded), the article contains an interesting angle on the issue of older games, and brings up the topic of “abandonware”.

When Alex pinged me for some quotes for his article, he asked me about abandonware, and my comments are contained in the article and excerpted here:

AH: While many gamers may think that software as old as that shipped by Elite Systems is somehow in the public domain, the truth is that games are covered by copyright in just the same way – and for just the same time – as other creative works.

“Older games are sometimes treated as ‘abandonware’”, says Wetherill, “which is an invented term used to justify the copying of games.

“I think people sometimes have the sense of, ‘I bought that game in 1985, why should I pay for it again’, but in that respect I think games are not really much different to other media – you can’t play your old vinyl records on a CD player, you have to buy the CD. On the whole though, in this case most feedback seems sympathetic.”

Some have taken exception to my definition of abandonware, but my point really is that if official versions of older titles are available commercially (through an emulator, say), and if you lose your original copy or if you can’t use it any more (in this case, because the good old Sinclair Speccy is obsolete), then it seems reasonable to expect players to cough up a couple of bucks for the supported version.

Posted by Steve Wetherill

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