Free, legal, Sierra Pre-AGI games

General chat related to ScummVM, adventure gaming, and so on.

Moderator: ScummVM Team

einstein95
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2012 9:33 am

Free, legal, Sierra Pre-AGI games

Post by einstein95 »

Al Lowe (creator of Freddy Pharkas and Leisure Suit Larry) has posted a number of pre-AGI games on his website that he had either made, or worked on. The site is [REDACTED]
User avatar
MusicallyInspired
Posts: 1062
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 8:03 am
Location: Manitoba, Canada
Contact:

Post by MusicallyInspired »

Yeah, that doesn't make it legal. And it's also extremely old news. But props for discovering them.
Collector
Posts: 549
Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2005 6:58 pm
Contact:

Post by Collector »

You may want to edit your post to remove the link. Al does not own those games to distribute.
JenniBee
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2010 5:22 am

Post by JenniBee »

One of those is available legally for free though from another site. :) Black Cauldron is available in it's Amiga form from Back to the Roots legally (as all the games on that site were only added after they got permission from the rights holders).

You can extract it with a program like ADF Explorer to play in ScummVM. :)
Collector
Posts: 549
Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2005 6:58 pm
Contact:

Post by Collector »

Abandonware is not legal.
Bobbin
Posts: 65
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2005 10:41 am
Location: Germany

Post by Bobbin »

Collector wrote:Abandonware is not legal.
Back2TheRoots doesn't offer Abandonware. Actually they got permission to host all the games they have on their site. You can read their policy about that.
Collector
Posts: 549
Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2005 6:58 pm
Contact:

Post by Collector »

That page is just an AUP. It looks like something someone with no legal background put up as a disclaimer. Just stating that you should not download anything if it is illegal to do so in your country does not give them rights. Disney holds the rights to The Black Cauldron. Sierra abandoned collaborating on games based on Disney IP as they were difficult to work with and overly protective of their IP. Ken Williams has noted so on his Sierra Gamers site.

That list of companies is fairly small and it does not list Disney. I really doubt they have the rights to distribute it. And just about the only Sierra game that was that was freewared was Mystery House. A few games were made available for free for a limited time, but they were not freewared. Activision now owns most of the rest of the Sierra catalog, but they are generating revenue from several of those titles via the likes of GOG and Steam.

Without spending more time on investigating it than it is worth or unless someone can point out something more conclusive, I would guess that Back to the Roots exists in a legal gray areas that is rarely challenged given the age of the games.
JenniBee
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2010 5:22 am

Post by JenniBee »

Back to the Roots obtains permission for every release they make as stated on their mission page. If they don't have permission to host a game, they don't upload it (which is why you'll see grey unlinked titles in the pages of some companies (Sierra included).

The legality of Back to the Roots has been acknowledged by ScummVM developers in the past.
fuzzie
ScummVM Developer
Posts: 178
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 3:02 pm

Post by fuzzie »

Collector wrote:Just stating that you should not download anything if it is illegal to do so in your country does not give them rights.
"illegal or not licensed in your country" is not the same as "illegal to do so in your country". They do specify (and block based on IP, I believe) which files are not licensed for which countries, generally because the distribution rights were sublicensed to other companies in some regions.

(I don't really know about the legal status of the site, but it's at least clear that they're more careful and informed about it than you're implying.)
User avatar
MusicallyInspired
Posts: 1062
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 8:03 am
Location: Manitoba, Canada
Contact:

Post by MusicallyInspired »

Sounds just like Abandonia to me.
scoriae
Posts: 260
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 3:32 am

Post by scoriae »

Um.. No. Abandonia does not have the rights for every game they post. Back2Roots does. Why is that so hard to grasp? People like collector, who blindly deem everything to be abandonware, create a lot of confusion for those who are looking to take advantage of the numerous games that have been legally released for free by the rights holders.
User avatar
MusicallyInspired
Posts: 1062
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 8:03 am
Location: Manitoba, Canada
Contact:

Post by MusicallyInspired »

I'm sure Back2Roots gets permission from SOMEWHERE. I just don't think it's always from the person who legally is allowed to give it.
Collector
Posts: 549
Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2005 6:58 pm
Contact:

Post by Collector »

MusicallyInspired wrote:I'm sure Back2Roots gets permission from SOMEWHERE. I just don't think it's always from the person who legally is allowed to give it.
Exactly. For example, even though Sierra developed the game and published The Black Cauldron, Activision, who now holds the rights to most of the Sierra IP, does not hold the rights to The Black Cauldron, Disney does. From The Black Cauldron manual:
COPYRIGHT INFORMATION
All Walt Disney personal computer software is protected by copyright. All rights are reserved. Lawful users of this program are hereby licensed only to transfer the program from its medium into the temporary memory of a computer for the purpose of executing this program. It is illegal to reproduce Disney software,ln any form or by any means, including but not limited to mechanical or electronic reproduction, photocopying, recording or placement in any information storage and retrieval system. Copyright infringers are subject to severe civil and/or criminal penalties.
© 1985 Walt Disney Productions
The only thing about Sierra on the copyright page is just for warranty information. I would be very surprised if they have permission from Disney to distribute their IP. Remember, this is the same company that threatened to sue the Oscars for having an act with the performer in a Snow White costume and is one of the primary forces in constantly extending copyright laws.

The site has all of the hallmarks of an abandonware site. Perhaps the site is completely legal, but if so, they should make it more apparent the way Classic DOS Games does on their front page. A brief sentence stuck in the middle of an AUP alluding to the fact that they have some games by permission doesn't distinguish it enough as such. Personally, I don't really care if BTTR is completely above board or not. is is no skin off of my nose and my pride is not tied up in it. Nor is this my site to worry about links to abandonware.
scoriae
Posts: 260
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 3:32 am

Post by scoriae »

If Back2theroots got permission to host it before it was sold, then technically, sierra had no right to sell it to activision as it had already been deemed freeware.

You can't go and deem something to be freeware, then sell the rights to it. By deeming it freeware, you gave up the rights to it in the first place.
fuzzie
ScummVM Developer
Posts: 178
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 3:02 pm

Post by fuzzie »

scoriae wrote:If Back2theroots got permission to host it before it was sold, then technically, sierra had no right to sell it to activision as it had already been deemed freeware.
They do make it very clear that these games are not freeware, and I would assume that any permission probably came with a revocation clause.

(Presumably Sierra provided a sub-license, which would survive sales/acquisitions, and it's definitely not clear that they'd need separate permission from Disney; usually this kind of IP licensing for computer games is a full sub-license for the material used as-is in the approved games.)
Post Reply