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  3. Which video games are now in the public domain?

User Info: Oliver_Oliver

Oliver_Oliver
5 years ago#1
I was just thinking about this.
Which video games are in the public domain?

I heard the entire Bubsy series (Bubsy, Bubsy 2, Bubsy 3D, and that Bubsy game for Atari Jaguar) are public domain. Is that true?

Speaking of Atari Jaguar, I remember reading how most of the Atari Jaguar games were public domain. So are games like Tempest 2000 and Kasumi Ninja public domain?

Also, I heard that most Commodore 64 games like Last Ninja 2 are public domain (especially since the owners died recently or something) is that true?

Just wondering about this since I was reading up on movies and music which are currently public domain. But what about video games? Which video games are public domain?
My name is Oliver_Oliver and.... the countdown has started.

User Info: Maximothelad

Maximothelad
5 years ago#2
whoever told you that is a moron. No IP is public domain. Some company owns the rights to Bubsy trust me on that. Even if they won't use them ever, it's about collecting and protecting IP's not letting them go public domain.

User Info: ZoqFotPik

ZoqFotPik
5 years ago#3
Define "public domain."

For movies, books, et al, this means their copyrights (IP rights) have expired. For most games, this hasn't happened yet. Namcot still holds licensing for Q*Bert, Nintendo fervently renews Mario, and ATARI (whose IPs were bought by HASBRO) still has a hold over Kasumi Ninja -- though I don't know why they would want it.

There are things that fall under the perpetual copyright umbrella, though I can't remember anything off the top of my head. (Wikipedia lists... the King James Bible and Peter Pan -- I did not expect that.)

And finally, there are games that hit the open-source market: http://wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_open-source_video_games
Nethack, FreeCiv, MUGEN, Sokoban, and KROZ being some of my favorites. (Note that a lot of these games are clones of existing games, such as DOOM or Civilization.)

Keep in mind being open-sourced is different than being freeware. Flight of the Amazon Queen is freeware -- free to distribute -- but closed-sourced (no modding).
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User Info: Hayato Nekketsu

Hayato Nekketsu
5 years ago#4
I think Sony Pictures owns Q*Bert now actually, and all of Accolade's assets (which includes Bubsy) are owned by "Atari" aka Infogrames.

User Info: UD4

UD4
5 years ago#5
It's very rare for a game to be released into the public domain. Other than graphical demos and stuff like Pac-man clones, I've never heard of one.

You might be confusing it with making the game open-source. For example, you can download ZDoom, which is a port of Doom, but you can't download legally doom.wad for free, the file that contains art, sound, maps, etc.
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User Info: Lucius43

Lucius43
5 years ago#6
How does this relate to software referred to as abandonware? I always assumed that meant public domain but now I'm beginning to think it just means the company presumably wouldn't bother to protect their IP anymore?

User Info: more_cow_bell

more_cow_bell
5 years ago#7
the Command & Conquer games up through Tiberian Sun are freewere
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Lucius43 posted...
How does this relate to software referred to as abandonware? I always assumed that meant public domain but now I'm beginning to think it just means the company presumably wouldn't bother to protect their IP anymore?


Abandonware is essentially a term coined to justify pirating a game whose owners probably aren't in any state to prosecute. If a game is actually public domain, it's public domain. (And that's pretty rare.)
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The cranky hermit 5 years ago#9
Games that are truly in the public domain are quite rare. These are the only ways I know of that a work can become public domain:
1: The copyright expired.
2: The owners failed to renew a copyright.
3: The owners declared the work to be in the public domain.
4: Some bizarre circumstance caused the work to be in the public domain.

#1 hasn't happened to any video games yet, and won't for a very long time. Most of us won't live to see the copyright on Donkey Kong expire.

#2 is irrelevant for works published after 1964, which includes every commercial video game.

#3 is quite rare. What's more common is for games to be licensed as freeware, which means the creator still owns the rights to the game, but gives you implicit permission to download and play the game for free with little restriction. The most popular license is probably the GNU GPL. Still, the vast majority of games have NEVER been licensed as freeware. None of your examples have, and generally this only happens with PC games, and only from smaller companies (or a select few big ones).

#4 is also quite rare. I recall reading that a former Soviet Union member published some arcade games, and when the USSR was dissolved, the game became public domain. This sort of thing doesn't happen when a private company is dissolved - what happens then is that the IP's go to the company's creditors.

Abandonware is essentially a term coined to justify pirating a game whose owners probably aren't in any state to prosecute.

It's got nothing to do with the owner's state, and everything to do with the game's availability. Much of the library of LucasArts is considered abandonware, and they're owned by Disney, who has the biggest army of lawyers in the entertainment world.
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User Info: PStrife

PStrife
5 years ago#10
Wisdom Tree's old NES games were made public domain like 15 years ago. Not sure if Super Noah's Ark 3D got put in their, it most likely did.

Zero Tolerence and it's prototype sequel were also made public domain, just ignore how the owner arrogantly calls it the first console FPS on the website. Even though it clearly is far from it.
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