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Software and Copyright Law
FAQ's and Posting Guidelines

There has been a huge amount of discussion recently generated about software copyright law and related matters. GameBoomers has decided to put out some information that may help answer basic questions that have come up, such as: What can I do with the software that I own? What does the law really prohibit? Does copying of software really matter? What about old games?

We are also announcing a clarification of the existing posting guidelines that we believe will better support the gaming industry and prevent use of these forums to violate existing laws.

Q. What exactly does the law say about copying software?

A. The law says that it is illegal to make or distribute copies of copyrighted material, including software, without authorization. If you do so, this is piracy, and you may face not only a civil suit, but also fines of up to $150,000 and jail terms of up to 5 years. The law applies equally to schools, businesses, non-profits and individuals making and/or distributing software and content.

Q. So I'm never allowed to copy software for any reason?

A. If a backup copy was not included in the box with your original diskettes or if the software instructs you to make backup copies when you turn on a new computer, you are permitted to make one copy in order to have both a working copy and a backup copy of the program. Copyright law prohibits you from making additional copies of the software for any other reason without the permission of the software company. If the publisher has authorized any exceptions to the copyright law, they will be stated in the license agreements that accompany all software products.

Q. But how come I can copy movies and that isn't illegal. Isn't it the same thing?

A. The Court decision that expanded on the fair use portion of the copyright law that applies to video recordings is a very narrow exception to copyright law and is strictly limited to video recordings made from broadcasts. By copying an aired version of a movie/show you are not copying the tape itself. So there is no copyright involvement. It is still absolutely illegal to copy the tape itself. This exception was one of the key counter arguments put forth in the Napster case and they were rejected. In other words the courts refused to enlarge the exception created for video recordings to include sound recordings. It has also refused to extend that exception in preliminary rulings involving warez.

Q. I'll bet most of the people who copy software don't even know that they're breaking the law.

A. Because the software industry is relatively new and because copying software is so easy, many people are either unaware of the laws governing software use or choose to ignore them.

Q. So what harm does it do if I make just one copy for a friend?

A. Perhaps on an isolated basis none, but this occurs over and over again among thousands of users worldwide and the toll on the industry is undeniable. Although it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to go after a consumer or a burned copy of a game distributed to a few friends, there are other reasons to be wary. For one - there is no software support for illegal copies. Secondly, there is a real epidemic of virus transfer through infected CD's and even attached to cracked game downloads. Finally, it's just wrong and does cut deeply on a multiplied basis into game profits. No profits - or even no break even - it's simple - NO MORE GAMES.

Q. So where does GameBoomers stand on all this?

In the membership agreement that we all agreed to when we registered, there's an area where we all said we would not post material that violated any laws. Yes, we know no one really reads those things, but it's there already and a great place to start. So GameBoomers now has an expressed policy of deleting posts that advocate, solicit or are by their content a violation of existing software copywrite laws. Please don't post a request for a copy of a disc that seems to be missing from your game box. Don't advertise that you have a copy of that hot new (but expensive game) and to be nice, who would like it. It's simple - burning copies, downloads of a game are illegal, except for some software that allows backups. We have never seen a game that in it's licensing agreement allowed back ups. Almost all are also copyprotected. If you have to pick the lock - it's theft...period. So GameBoomers will not be able to allow such posts to stay on the board, not only for liability reasons, but out of respect for the many game developers who post and read the forums at GameBoomers.

GameBoomers believes it has the best members on the web - and hopes that you will understand and support these small changes.

 


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