Question for a noob about laws and that stuff....

Discussions about UT99
Posts: 449
Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2008 10:24 pm

Question for a noob about laws and that stuff....

Post by darksonny »

Hi all

With UT series (including ut4 alpha) in the trash of the Epic's story and they having felt to people fooled about a renewed ut3 (later discarded silently, thanks Tim, what a guy) and we all trying to revive or trying to keep them alive (mainly ut goty), i have serious (is here any law's expert that can be more than welcome, or this could be "grrreat") doubts about that abandonware word. What you cannot do with ut and their stuff and what you can do with them?

Obviously these things are forbidden/not allowed as:
1) Make them profit (IP things)
2) Do not use symbols and trademarks ("unreal tournament" "u" logo symbol)
User avatar
Posts: 5489
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2008 6:24 pm
Personal rank: Work In Progress
Location: Liandri

Re: Question for a noob about laws and that stuff....

Post by Feralidragon »

Not a lawyer myself, nor a law expert, but there are some things I do know about this subject.

The short version is: even if the game was "abandoned" by a studio, it changes nothing concerning how the game is protected in terms of intellectual property, copyright and trademark.
In other words, whether it has been abandoned or not is not at all a factor on what you can do with it, from the law standpoint it's still treated as if the game was actively supported by the company.

The concept of "abandonware" is not a legally recognized term, in any law of any country in the world (as far as I know).

However, there have been a few efforts over the past years in some countries (I think including the US and EU as well) in order to define new laws around exactly that, and to allow an abandoned project to be public domain, although it's not a very strong movement and so it might never really pass into law, ever, so don't hold your breath for this one.

So, unless Epic decides to release the game under a permissive license that essentially allows it to be treated as "abandonware", then you cannot really do anything with it other than what they have already been allowing you to do when the game was actively supported by them.

One other way for the game to become public domain is if the company itself ceases to exist, without being acquired by another, at which point the copyright ceases to exist, because there's no entity to associate the copyright with anymore (or at least that's how it works in most places, as far as I know, but take this with a grain of salt), but that's of course unlikely to happen with Epic anytime soon.

Therefore, nothing is changed really, they have every right on killing their game without ever losing their legal hold over it.
It sucks, but that's the way it is.