Author Topic: Abandonware  (Read 2026 times)

RickCHodgin

  • Guest
Abandonware
« on: November 30, 2017, 03:33:35 pm »
I've been giving this some thought lately.  I've arrived at a position I would like to see brought forth to my local congressional representatives at the federal level.  I wanted to get people's opinions on this as I'm curious what everyone things about this idea:

Abandonware should automatically fall back into the Public Domain where anyone using abandonware receives legal protection against all lawsuits by the original rights holder.  The cost of maintaining your "intellectual property" is ongoing development, use, and an improvement of the product at a rate commensurate with other efforts similar to your endeavor.

Please advise any thoughts.  I would like to take this issue to my local Senators and Representatives and see if it can't become a U.S. bill introduced to eventually become U.S. law.

Neil Waldhauer

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Thank You
  • -Given: 7
  • -Receive: 25
  • Posts: 420
    • View Profile
    • Blonde Guy
Re: Abandonware
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2017, 03:43:31 pm »
I think a legal definition of "abandonware" is needed.

Software is like a book. If I write software, I should retain the rights (including the right to sell it, or to make it into open source) for a term, and then it reverts to the public domain. If I update the software, that should extend the term. Older versions should become public when the term expires.

If I write software and then walk away without making it open source, how long should it remain mine?

Does it make a difference if the software only runs in the cloud?
Expert consulting for ArcaOS, OS/2 and eComStation
http://www.blondeguy.com

RickCHodgin

  • Guest
Re: Abandonware
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2017, 03:57:34 pm »
I think a legal definition of "abandonware" is needed.

"The cost of maintaining your "intellectual property" is ongoing development and an improvement of the product at a rate commensurate with other efforts similar to your endeavor."

This would include answering inquiries in email, and responding to and implementing requests for bug fixes in ongoing service releases.  If a service release for a particular product is not issued annually, and there have been more than a specified number of bug fix requests, or if there are non-trivial bug fix requests, then it should enter in to a candidate state for becoming abandonware with legal notice being sent to the copyright holders, giving them 90 days to respond.  If there is no response in that time, it becomes legally protected abandonware.

And I think there should be a grandfather clause, indicting that all software previously abandoned by entities for a period of time longer than five years should automatically be included in this legal definition, with all other abandonware efforts subject to the one-year time frame, and if they are between one and five years then they should be notified of the intention that the software will be deemed abandonware in 90 days unless it is actively maintained again.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2017, 07:01:10 pm by Rick C. Hodgin »

Fahrvenugen

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Thank You
  • -Given: 0
  • -Receive: 6
  • Posts: 59
    • View Profile
Re: Abandonware
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2017, 06:16:51 am »
I would not support this.

Going back to the book analogy, if I write a book I expect to own the copyright to that book for the period of time that it is protected.  That generally means that I'll own the rights as long as I am alive, and then my estate / family / etc will continue to own the rights for 50 years after my death.

Whether or not I chose to update or support that book is not relevant.  Whether or not I chose to have the book available in publication that entire time is not relevant.  What is relevant is that I spent the time and effort to write the book, provide the product, and for the duration that it is protected under law it should be up to me (or those to whom the ownership has been passed) to decide on the fate of that work.  If I chose to offer it to the public domain / a free to use  license / a creative commons license / etc - then that should be up to me, not up to some law.

Software should be treated similarly.  Time and effort goes into the development and coding of software and that work should be protected - whether or not the software gets updates, support, etc.  If something becomes abandoned then as long as it is still considered protected then it should be up to the owner of those copyrights to decide its fate.

Dave Yeo

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Thank You
  • -Given: 10
  • -Receive: 138
  • Posts: 1980
    • View Profile
Re: Abandonware
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2017, 07:08:12 am »
Copyright was created to promote learning, at least in common law countries. All or close enough to all copyrighted works are created on top of other works and having a thriving public domain was part of the ecology allowing new works to be created.
Whether someone is writing a book or code, they're building on what has gone before and is therefore a collaboration of a sort and why should someone be able to take something from the commons and tie it up for generations after they die?
I'd favour going back to the original terms, 14 years with one 14 year renewal if the author desires and a copy (of source code in the case of software) deposited in a famous library to prevent it from being lost before it reverts to the public domain where everything originates.

RickCHodgin

  • Guest
Re: Abandonware
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2017, 02:20:52 pm »
I would not support this.

Going back to the book analogy...

I am not referring to books.  But software.

Quote from: Fahrvenugen
Software should be treated similarly.  Time and effort goes into the development and coding of software and that work should be protected - whether or not the software gets updates, support, etc.  If something becomes abandoned then as long as it is still considered protected then it should be up to the owner of those copyrights to decide its fate.

I disagree.  The Bible teaches that men are to be paid for their labor, but not for interest or gain beyond their labor involvement.  As such, the maximum period of exclusivity rights should extend to a recoup of that investment of labor, no matter how much potential gain it has for mankind (a person creates a cure for cancer and it only cost him $40,000, then he should recover that $40K but no more, after that it should enter in to the Public Domain and all people world-wide can then move forward in labor to produce).

But regardless, I'm specifically talking about software, and primarily about those projects who have literally come out and said, "As of such-and-such a date, product x will no longer be supported."  For each of those products, they enter into the legal realm of abandonware and are in the Public Domain.

And in moving forward, for all projects which are not actively being maintained.  I do not believe it is of any benefit to mankind to sit on a product and let it collect dust on a shelf while other people who could benefit from it are restrained due to legal concessions.

This specifically hits me right now with the OS/2 kernel.  But how many projects over the years have I also been unable to advance because of these same legal rights?  It's been dozens if not scores.

People are what matter, not money.  Being able to use what we possess to give others increase is what matters, not personal empires of hoarding.  I think this concept of abandonware is a first step on a long path of flipping the view people hold of what copyrights are for away from money interests and toward people-interests.

I think Richard Stallman got it right with his goal for the GPL and copyleft philosophy, but he tries to do it in an existing legal framework designed to protect money interests.  Where Stallman got it wrong was the whole system needs to be flipped over, and the goal should be to teach people that people are important, and not money.  Our goals are to make other people's lives better with the skills and talents we possess.  This is important, and it is something that is sorely lacking in today's world as money-interests move in a completely different direction.

How many multi-billion annual revenue companies are there?  And how many starving people?  Or people without decent health care of even clean drinking water?

Until these philosophies are reversed, we are perpetuating a money-focused system of greed and that necessarily means we are harming people world-wide by our acceptance of such a system.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2017, 02:28:30 pm by Rick C. Hodgin »

Greg Pringle

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Thank You
  • -Given: 6
  • -Receive: 2
  • Posts: 111
    • View Profile
Re: Abandonware
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2017, 03:53:47 pm »
If something is "abandoned" it would seem that the person or group abandoning it is the owner. Last time I checked you could not leave software on the side of the road or send it to the dump. So there is no real abandon ware. The owner would have to give up rights of ownership through some physical means such as an email or letter. Preferably an open letter to say the product is "abandoned" or more simply free for all.

As a developer I live off my work of writing and maintaining software. I do not do it for free.
I used to do some patches for other peoples work and give them out for free but no lately.

RickCHodgin

  • Guest
Re: Abandonware
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2017, 05:08:37 pm »
If something is "abandoned" it would seem that the person or group abandoning it is the owner. Last time I checked you could not leave software on the side of the road or send it to the dump. So there is no real abandon ware. The owner would have to give up rights of ownership through some physical means such as an email or letter. Preferably an open letter to say the product is "abandoned" or more simply free for all.

As a developer I live off my work of writing and maintaining software. I do not do it for free.
I used to do some patches for other peoples work and give them out for free but no lately.

I want to change the way people view their work.  So long as it's being actively maintained, it remains under copyright.  Once someone walks away for money reasons, it reverts to the Public Domain.  By walking away, they give up all rights to it.

The cost of copyright is ongoing improvement.

I'm sorry you disagree, Greg, but helping people en masse is better than helping ourselves.  It places our perspective on where it should be:  on people, not money, not selfish gain at the expense of others, of their loss.

Note:  I'm talking about software, not books.  Books are designed to be snapshots.  Software is fluid, and if it's not, there is no reason to hoard it because others could make it fluid again.  The goal is to improve all our lives.  Hoarding does not accomplish that at all.  Monopolies always harm advancement, and always have gain at the expense of the many not directly involved on the project.  They are evil toward the people and the gifts God gave them.  They are usurped force applied against the thriving gifts and abilities given to others by God.  They have no place in society.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2017, 05:13:18 pm by Rick C. Hodgin »