Abandonware site charges for downloads

From: Eric Smith <eric_at_brouhaha.com>
Date: Mon Dec 20 16:38:28 2004

I wrote:
> Everything is still owned by someone, unless it has been explicitly
> placed into the public domain by its last owner.

der Mouse wrote:
> (Or unless sufficient time has passed - last I looked, it was something
> like fifty years after the author's death. Obviously that is not
> relevant to "abandonware", most/all of which is not yet 50 years old.)

In the US, it's currently 95 years after publication or 70 years after
the death of the author. However, the US Congress on average each year
increases the term of copyright by more than one year. In the Eldred
case, the plaintiff attempted to get the latest copyright term
extension overturned on the basis that the powers of Congress section
of the US Constitution only provides for "securing for limited Times to
Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings
and Discoveries"; if Congress keeps increasing the term (including
granting the extension to preexisting works), the duration is effectively
unlimited. The Supreme Court rejected this reasoning. :-(

> When a company dissolves, what happens to its property? Is that
> something that must be specified as part of the dissolution process?

Yes. It always winds up being owned by someone. However, the new
owner may not even *know* about all the things that they own. It's
easy to imagine software (especially older software) going without
Received on Mon Dec 20 2004 - 16:38:28 GMT

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