RISC OS CD Archiving runs into Copyright Hot Water

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Over years, with the first by Archimedes World, then later by Acorn User and other magazines, there have been a series of CDs produced for RISC OS machines. Much of the content was relevant material of the day, with various PD, shareware and other software included, compilations of cover discs or other graphics, collections of Acorn software releases and the like.

Given such a diverse collection of software and the dates (the Archimedes World CD is from 1997), it's hard to judge exactly what is still relevant, but certainly much of it won't be 32-bit or even StrongARM compatible and other items will have much newer versions if they are still of interest. Still, there may be historical value in such CDs, and other content might still be useful such as clip art, fonts or for those resurrecting old machines.

Software from that era tended to have more restricted distribution requirements than RISC OS software does today. For example, software on riscos.info and most of the RISC OS software freely available elsewhere, whilst it certainly has copyright and other implications, doesn't require explicit permission to distribute from the author or developers. This is in contrast to many items on the CDs, for which the CD creator had to obtain permission from each of the authors.

In one apocryphal case, Paul Johnson in 2000 included the archiving tool Spark, a commercial product from David Pilling instead of Sparkplug (the free version which allows unpacking only). From memory, Acorn User paid compensation to David Pilling, although I could not immediately verify that.

I had a complete collection of Acorn User CDs, and almost all of the other similar CDs ever produced, but since it was no longer of interest to me, I sold them all on eBay last year. They were bought by a computer museum in Silicon Valley for a trivial sum, and so are presumably safely archived with them. As such, I couldn't immediately check the contents of such CDs to see what might be of value on them.

Over on iconbar, and starting with a discussion on RISC OS games, and later a thread of its own, there are several attempts to collect all these CDs and distribute them online as ISO files.

The quickly met the wrath of David Holden, who pointed out in an email that copyright of many the CDs belonged to him and various other parties, and asking for immediate removal of the files. Strictly speaking (and not knowing the exact content of APDL CDs) David's statement is bit overbearing, since in general the CDs are collaborations of material and it's unlikely the people who put the CDs together have copyright on every single item. However, they certainly will have (or should have) distribution rights, and various material on the CDs will be their copyright, and as such, the law is very much on their side, regardless of perceived monetary value of the CDs (which really, only David is in a position to judge for his CDs).

So, the question is really, what is there of value on the CDs that might be of general interest, or might permission be obtained for, either explicitly or implicitly. It's certainly possible in some cases, that the CD owners might release permission for the CDs to be distributed like this. For other material, there's nothing stopping someone doing a "remix", extracting all the freely distributable material from the AU CDs and putting it onto a DVD or two. Clearly this is a lot of work, since you'd need to check every item, so it's really a matter of enthusiasm and again, perceived value.

What do you think should happen here?



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  Copy of my post from The Icon Bar forum

F.A.O Jason Togneri, Andrew Hodgson, Graeme Walters & Anyone else distributing copyrighted material!

The ISO images you are distributing are copyrighted. Distributing these without the copyright holders permission is illegal! STOP NOW!!

I posted the information Dave Holden gave me regarding who owns the copyright/distribution rights. Have you obtained their permission to redistribute these files?

So everyone can see for themselves, here is a copy of the Email I received;

I've just seen this item on the Iconbar

http://www.iconbar.co.uk/forums/viewthread.php?threadid=11319&page=3#113064

As you are probably aware these are mainly copyright CDs. Copyright on the
DataFile and Foundation RISC Usewr ones are owned by me, rights to the 
RISC User CD is owned by R-Comp, the Acorn User CDs by John Cartmell and 
the Kosovo CD by Paul Johnson.

You might think that because they contain PD there's no copyright, but 
this isn't the case.

If you apologise and withdraw all this stuff and assure me it won't 
happen again and take steps to stop any further distribution by anyone 
you may have given copies to I may be willing to forget about it. 
If not I'll try to make some sort of estimate as to how many have been
illegally downloaded and, bearing in mind the ones I own are still being 
sold as a current product by me, estimate the possible cost to me and take 
appropriate action to secure some sort of recompense.

Since the FRU DVD alone sells for 29 GBP that's probably going to come 
to some hundreds of pounds at the very least, so I suggest you quickly get 
to work to track them all down and give the the assurance I require.

Of course, I can't speak for the other parties whose material you've  
distributed.....

David

These people are making a living from this software, and some of it is still available for purchase. I ask you to purchase legitimate copies instead of downloading illegal ISOs. Please support the few companies we have left in the RISC OS marketplace.

[Reformatted with Rob's permission - the views remain his and David's, however - Peter]

Edited On 12:30:42 AM - Mon, Feb 1st 2010 by Pnaulls


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Quote:Pnaulls 4:41 31st January 2010

Over years, with the first by Archimedes World, then later by Acorn User and other magazines, there have been a series of CDs produced for RISC OS machines. Much of the content was relevant material of the day, with various PD, shareware and other software included, compilations of cover discs or other graphics, collections of Acorn software releases and the like.

[SNIP]

So, the question is really, what is there of value on the CDs that might be of general interest, or might permission be obtained for, either explicitly or implicitly. It's certainly possible in some cases, that the CD owners might release permission for the CDs to be distributed like this. For other material, there's nothing stopping someone doing a "remix", extracting all the freely distributable material from the AU CDs and putting it onto a DVD or two. Clearly this is a lot of work, since you'd need to check every item, so it's really a matter of enthusiasm and again, perceived value.

What do you think should happen here?


You could perhaps contact the person with control over the magazine that issued the CDs in the first place. The CDs would have been made available officially much earlier but for copyright problems. If anyone can re-issue them it is me and I would be very willing to do that if possible. I have always been willing to respond to individual requests for specific items and welcome suggestions and help to clarify the problems that hinder re-publication.

John Cartmell - editor Qercus (previously Acorn User)
john@qercus.com john@acornuser.com





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Quote:Qercus 10:26 1st February 2010

welcome suggestions and help to clarify the problems that hinder re-publication.


To start the ball rolling ...

If possible we will re-issue the magazine CDs. Perhaps you could contact me if:

you have copyright over any of the contents of the magazine CDs; or
you would be willing to check and/or update any of the software on the CDs

No one has our permission to make the contents of those CDs available free or for sale and anyone doing so should immediately withdraw them AND contact us with details of what has been done. Illegal copying of mainly out of date material will help no-one. Legal issue of checked/updated software, chosen to complement currently available products, will be of most benefit.

John Cartmell








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