'80s Sierra source code, get it while it's hot!

“I backed everything up, because I knew that Sierra didn’t.”

They’re a touch expensive for me. :slight_smile:




This moment seems giffable. :stuck_out_tongue:


Here’s a caption to frustrate @PiecesOfKate and I.


Screenshot_2018-12-03_11-43-43 Screenshot_2018-12-03_11-43-56

They just keep 'em coming.



“Wait… I’m on Earth?!”


Is there no owner of the copyright any more, or is Al Lowe the owner, or how can that offer be legal?

A German company owns most or possibly all of the copyright. It probably depends on the specifics of the contract, how long certain clauses even retain legal validity, and then there are the copyright exceptions for the preservation of digital files on legacy media.

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He mentions it in the auction and in the video.

Realize that, while you’ll have my data as of the day of Larry 1’s creation, you will not own the intellectual property rights to the game, the code, the art, or anything else. Nor do I. The I. P. rights were sold over and over again, until they are now owned by a German game company.

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Well, I guess, if Sierra had licensed him back then to take the code home and sell it at a later time, it’s probably legal, regardless of who does own the rights to the code nowadays.

By the way, it seems as if that German company only owns the IP, without any rights to the previous games, because, according to GOG, the publisher of the older games is Codemasters.

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The front of the package says that this game requires 48KB of RAM. If you have less than that, please don’t bid! Otherwise, “bid early,bid often!”


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It’s fairly unlikely that anyone owns anything other than the IP (Trademark and Copyright) on the software. Al is only selling the disks, not the rights. That’s no different from selling a previously owned copy.

That said, it’s very rare for companies even as late as the 1990’s to have kept the source code to their applications and games around because up until the internet became widely available, there was no incentive to ever sell the same old game again especially when the new hardware couldn’t play it. With the advent of software emulators in the late 90’s (we’ve really only been able to emulate a 6502 system (Apple II/C64/NES) since the 1990’s, and it involves a lot of inaccuracies) it’s become not entirely unreasonable to sell these old games a second time with an open-source emulator.

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The source code never had been published by Sierra, so we most probably have to consider it to be an internal document from the company. Though, it’s usually forbidden to take a company’s documents home.
Of course, I don’t think that Al Lowe would to this, if it was illegal. If I remember correctly, Ron owns the source code of some of his earlier games as well. I just think that Lowe’s explanation above does not exactly tell us why this auction is legal. Especially, seeing the fact that he claims not to own the IP to the code.

Are you sure he would care? I wouldn’t be so sure.

Btw., just for clarification: We are talking about the game scripts only, he explicitly states he doesn’t have engine code.

We’re not talking about his moral stance regarding copyright and patent law, but about opening yourself up to copyright lawsuits. Why wouldn’t he care about that?

I don’t know, what are they going to do?
Except pissing Larry fans of as the owner of that very same IP, not a smart move.

Btw. the actual copyright delict (when he took this stuff with him) was 30 years or so ago. Would this mean selling it now is ‘handling of stolen goods’?

Copyright infringement isn’t theft as I’m sure you’re well aware. :wink:

Like I already said above, I think there’s more than a fair chance he’d be in the clear:

It probably depends on the specifics of the contract, how long certain clauses even retain legal validity, and then there are the copyright exceptions for the preservation of digital files on legacy media.

I also assume that he thinks he’s good, or he wouldn’t just put it up for sale. And of course the first step of the copyright owner would or should be to just tell him to cease what he’s doing, at least under our European jurisdictions. In America they seem to have the occasional judicial blunder, where completely disproportional punishment is used to set an example in cases where it seems rather debatable whether it’s even a felony at all.

Well the auctions were taken down by Al, so I’m going to assume that Activision probably told him to stop.

My opinion still stands, regardless if the disks work or not, it’s like the case of the PSX prototype. Nobody took any steps to preserve the old software or hardware, so it’s a curiosity. Nobody is going to be able to compile any of it into a working game, so at best someone could write a new stand-alone game engine (there have been plenty of AGI re-implementations, not including ScummVM) but the real value lies in reading the comments of the games. LSL1 was an AGI game, but LSL2 and later were SCI games, and even today nobody actually knows how to re-implement SCI properly in a way that someone could write a game from scratch for it. Getting access to any game’s original source code, would likely unlock a few secrets of how the game was put together, but it’s still not going to allow someone to re-create it.

One of the comments Al actually said during the video is that he had the original game assets on those disks, that would be more valuable to see what the input data was before it was put into the game.

If Activation really did send a C&D, it’s probably in the greater community’s best interests since it may allow someone to use Al’s disks to print the game script and comments and omit the API function names just to sanitize it.

Really? Well that’s sad.
But we don’t know the reason, maybe he checked the floppies and they just didn’t work anymore :man_shrugging: (I know, it’s unlikely).

I also support archiving hardware and software. Including new ones, which is the easiest way to do it! And this is one big reason I detest DRM.

Also let me plug quickly the yearly fund raising of Internet Archive (which is currently matched 2-to-1 by another supporter).


Is this really so? I can imagine the engine source plus tools would be very interesting for this purpose. I don’t know much about AGI and SCI but based on my SCUMM knowledge I wouldn’t have assumed the original game assets would have helped a lot.

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Speaking of which, I was surprised to find how many people commented they wouldn’t expect the floppies to work at all because none of theirs worked anymore after a decade or so.

I literally went through dozens of 20+ year old floppies (roughly from '93-'98) a few years ago, before I retired my last motherboard with a floppy drive header. I could still hook it up into a working system, and combined with my new GPU it could even still play modern games as long as they’re not too heavy on the CPU.

Anyway, I realize there’s at least another added decade more for these floppies, but if they were quite so volatile you’d think I’d have had at least one failure.

Also, I just noticed they’re selling the Imation disks I have for $40? Anyone interested in some new old stock? I’ve got what, 3 packs, maybe more still wrapped in plastic. :wink: But not the 25 pack. Just 10.