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At the risk of sounding crass, who cares? If LucasArts cares, they'll send a DMCA to GitHub. Software from 1993 isn't depriving them of any profit and it's being shared for educational reasons. (it's not even the game itself) Preemptively freaking out over copyright is exactly what the MPAA wants you to do: they want you to forget that it's your right to share things. This has a chilling effect that we should avoid lest we enter a cultural black hole where we can only confidently share anything published before 1923.

This is why I wish copyright would expire after 15 years or so instead of forever. Especially for software. Very, very few people are profiting from 15 year old software.

Apparently I'm one of those people. I'm still earning money from Photoshop plugins I first wrote around 2001 / 2002. And the DOS version of Rebel Assault mentioned in this post is still sold through Good Old Games, 20+ years later (though presumably without the accidental copy of Deluxe Paint):


Software products can have a surprisingly long life. (Which can also mean a surprisingly long time of providing customer support, too.)

Of course there are exceptions. But for every piece of software that's still making money 15 years later, there's 99 pieces that are totally abandoned. Often it's difficult to even figure out who owns the rights and how to contact them.

Even the works that are still generating revenue after 15 years, surely most of them have already made 99% of the money they are ever going to make. The people buying rebel assault now are just a few nostalgia seekers. It will add up to a tiny tiny fraction of the total copies sold in it's heyday.

If there were a mechanism whereby it could be extended for a fee, profitable 15yo+ software would still be protected but the community would benefit from everything else.

15 year old software, like Windows XP and MS Office XP?

Yes. Both are abandoned by microsoft — if they weren't protected anymore, people could add their own patches and fixes and distribute them.

People already create and distribute patches for Windows releases: release binary diffs (e.g. "patcher" programs) - which has the added advantage of being much smaller and easier to distribute - and that doesn't even mean you need to violate copyright law anyway.

> Very, very few people are profiting from 15 year old software.

Except the ones (for example Nintendo) who do have a lot of cash, influence groups and lawyers to enforce their rights as long as they want.

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