Why History Needs Software Piracy

How copy protection and app stores could deny future generations their cultural legacy.

By  |  Monday, January 23, 2012 at 1:12 am

Likewise, we can measure mankind’s recent potential by looking at his software tools. Future historians may ponder how people achieved a surreal vocal effect in music or created the CGI animated films of today. They may wonder at what point a certain tool allowed fantastic, photorealistic image manipulations that now dominate advertising. Without knowledge of and experimental access to various versions of Auto-Tune, Pixar RenderMan, and Adobe Photoshop, they’ll have a difficult time finding accurate answers to those questions.

Software is also entertainment. It is culture. Like books, music, and films before it, the art form expressed in software entertainment programs–usually games–has both reflected and influenced the cultural behavior of multiple generations around the globe.

Is there an American alive between the ages of 15 and 35 that doesn’t know who Mario is? (I’m sure you can find someone who has not heard of Mario, but he was locked in a basement from 1980 to 1999.)

Thanks to the work of preservationists that flout the law, future historians will be able to more fully consider Mario’s cultural impact and answer deeper, ancillary questions like “Why did people wear T-shirts with pixelated mushroom people on them?” and “What games, exactly, did Mario appear in and why?”

It’s possible that Nintendo will be around 200 years from now, but it is unlikely to provide all the answers. The company will only convey the history that is in their best commercial interest to show you (i.e. Super Mario Bros. 3, over and over). Historians will show you everything without restraint — even Hotel Mario, Mario Roulette, and I Am A Teacher: Super Mario Sweater. None of those games will survive 200 years without piracy, because Nintendo would rather see those embarrassingly low-quality titles rot away in a tomb sealed by copyright law.

We Have Everything To Lose

It would be nice if the problem of disappearing software was limited to the past, but there’s a disturbing parallel at work in the current software marketplace. App stores and other digital distribution methods–which often inextricably link purchased software to a unique licensee, sometimes on a unique machine–threaten to deprive us of even more software in the very near future.

Thanks to widespread adoption of aggressive digital rights management (DRM) and a single-source model of distribution, most digitally distributed software will vanish from the historical record when those stores shut down. And believe me, they will shut down some day. If this doesn’t scare you, then you need an allegorical history lesson. Here it is:

Imagine if a publisher of 500,000 different printed book titles suddenly ceased operation and magically rendered all sold copies of its books unreadable. Poof. The information contained in them simply vanished. It would represent a cultural catastrophe on the order of the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria in 48 B.C. In that fire, a majority of the Western world’s cultural history up to that point turned to ash.

Now take a look at the iTunes App Store, a 500,000 app repository of digital culture. It’s controlled by a single company, and when it closes some day (or it stops supporting older apps, like Apple already did with the classic iPod), legal access to those apps will vanish. Purchased apps locked on iDevices will meet their doom when those gadgets stop working, as they are prone to do. Even before then, older apps will fade away as developers decline to pay the $100 a year required to keep their wares listed in the store.

From a historical perspective, we can only hope that hackers and pirates have been quietly making archives of as much as they can grab from download services like the iTunes App Store, the PlayStation Store, the Wii Shop Channel, Xbox Live Arcade, and other online app stores.

And what about cloud software? If all of our software tools become centralized and run over the Internet, it will be hard to pirate them, which also means they won’t get preserved. That’s bad for history.

When paleoanthropologists wonder if a 13,000 year-old Clovis point can take down a Bison, they tie one to a spear and let it fly. If spear points had been automatically cloud updated over the course of their development, however, we would only know of the most recent iteration in the design process. Clovis points wouldn’t exist today, and we’d be wondering how ancient Native Americans managed to hunt game with uranium-tipped bullets.

With that in mind, think about this: What did Gmail’s interface look like just one year ago? How did Google Maps work before it added Street View? Lacking experimental access to older versions of cloud-based software tools, future historians will have to depend on screenshots and personal testimony to work out exactly what the tools were capable of at any time, if they still exist.

But if future historians retain access to old versions of non-cloud software, they will be able use the tools, as they would with a Clovis point, to experimentally duplicate the activities of people in the past. For example, they could run the AtariWriter word processing program on an Atari 800 emulator to reproduce a document from the 1980s in a way that would explain its format.

A complete reliance on cloud gaming (think OnLive) is also a very bad idea. Looking to OnLive to preserve game software would be like expecting your local movie theater to preserve film history. They only show what is commercially viable to show at the time, and they discard the rest. That is how cloud gaming will work as well.

The new Great Library is already burning, and we are only just beginning to smell the smoke.

When Corporations Own History, They Change It

The DRM found in digital app stores today poses a significant threat to our future understanding of history. Sure, the companies that create this software own the rights to these products now, but once a work becomes consumed and embedded into mass culture, it belongs to the ages. It assumes a role larger than that of a mere commercial product, and copies of the work should be protected and preserved as cultural treasures.

It’s hard to protect and preserve that which is liable to change or disappear at any time. If VHS tapes worked like app stores, George Lucas could force all of us to upgrade our purchased Star Wars films to the Special Edition versions (to maintain compatibility with LucasOS, of course), overwriting the old ones in the process. Heck, one day he could decide he doesn’t like the movies at all and replace them with copies of Willow. It would be within his legal rights, but it would also be cultural robbery.

It bugs me that iOS software today updates at a galloping pace that deletes previous versions unless you’ve taken pains to archive them. It is convenient and wonderful functionality in many ways, but the practice also rewrites history with every download. What if Photoshop had been updated that way throughout the 1990s? Would anyone have a copy of the first version that could work with layers? Such a historically important piece of software would be lost. Similarly, if we move to a completely controlled, single-source, automatic update scheme for all PC applications–it’s almost here with Windows 8, by the way–we will be destroying digital artifacts with a fervor heretofore unseen.

By accepting restrictive DRM into our lives, we are giving not only software publishers, but all media publishers the power to erase, control, or manipulate digital cultural history if they choose. That is why DRM feels fundamentally wrong from a humanistic standpoint: it conspires, in conjunction with time, to deprive humanity of its rightfully earned cultural artifacts.

To be sure, every creator of software should be rewarded appropriately with exclusive rights of reproduction for a certain period of time, as they are now, but only in a soft legal sense, not with a virtual lock and key that stymies the preservation of history.

Let’s not repeat what happened 2000 years ago in Alexandria. The only scrolls that survived the burning of the Great Library were those that had been copied and distributed, likely without the permission of their authors. (Unfortunately, library officials strictly limited library access to prevent this, so very few texts escaped destruction.) If we don’t open the doors to the legal preservation of all software, civilizations thousands of years from now will only possess copies of programs that pirates illegally duplicated and distributed while the works were still officially available.

The cultural impact of software easily equals that of any other creative work. It is time to legitimately preserve this digital art form in libraries alongside books and films. Setting up such a library, however, is a very difficult proposition.

The Plight of the Digital Librarian

If you wanted to study the history of our culture up to the present, you’d probably turn to a library. There you can find comprehensive collections of analog data to study for free. If you want to study software in the same way, you’re out of luck: operating a practical, comprehensive software library is currently illegal in the United States.

Don’t get me wrong: it is possible to create a legal software library, but its implementation would make it nearly useless. The best a library can hope to do, within its legal limits, is to stock physical copies of officially duplicated software media on physical shelves. That means that all the problems with decaying and obsolete media come along with it. There’d be plenty of bulk and very little guarantee that you’d be able to access what is sitting in the stacks.



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53 Comments For This Post

  1. Bob Says:

    You should run for office. You'd fit right in. Your's is the new logic that suckers people into submission through rhetorical verbosity.

  2. bobtoo Says:

    "..suckers people into submission through rhetorical verbosity."

    You should run too. Unfortunately you'd probably win because you're the master of the ill informed sound bite

  3. Alsobob Says:

    Hey, you guys are Bob? That's so cool!

  4. Yetanotherbob Says:

    Whoda thunk we'd all meet up here? Small world huh?

  5. David Lohnes Says:

    It sounds to me like you're the one bringing "rhetorical verbosity" to the table.

    If you're going to fault his logic, fault the logic. Make an argument. Don't just use fancy words to name call.

  6. @crccomputer Says:

    Excellent Topic

  7. The_Heraclitus Says:

    "Libraries everywhere would be devoid of Homer, Beowulf, and even The Bible without unauthorized duplication."

    You are conflating data with programs in this article. The examples above are thus, bogus.

  8. Benj Edwards Says:

    Programs are information too, stored on a data-bearing medium just like Beowulf. Both need to be duplicated to survive.

  9. Exec Says:

    Um, no. A program is NOT like the story of Beowulf. A story can exist in any info medium. A program is entirely different. The data stored in a spreadsheet is different than the program. There is no meaningful cultural legacy to Lotus 1-2-3. It is simply an obsolete program. Do you even know what Beowulf is about? Apparently not if you are comparing that to a defunct computer game…

  10. Benj Edwards Says:

    I am not comparing the literary content of Beowulf to software. The content is irrelevant in this particular analogy. The exact medium is also irrelevant. Both are stored as information on mediums that decay over time, requiring duplication to preserve them.

    Don't confuse the computer science definitions of "data" vs. "programs" with the storage of raw information on a medium. The information is there regardless and it needs to be copied to survive.

    Re: "There is no meaningful cultural legacy to Lotus 1-2-3. It is simply an obsolete program." That kind of attitude is why software is disappearing, and why its legacy is in jeopardy. In the piece, I argue precisely why obsolete programs are important to our understanding of history. You should read it some time.

  11. Exec Says:

    Yes, you DID compare the two. Reread your article. Also, I'm not the one confusing data with pgms. YOU are.

  12. VoiceOfReason Says:

    You are an a-hole…and NO I'm not confusing that with data.

  13. Benj Edwards Says:

    If I'm an a-hole, then you're a b-hole. Perhaps even a c- or d-hole.

  14. David Lemon Says:

    As I'm sure Benj knows, "Homer, Beowulf, and …[the early books of] the Bible" were created as oral tradition, and survived that way for a long time before being written down. And it's misleading to suggest that their written form survived due to unauthorized copying. In the absence of an author to give or withhold permission, virtually all copies were made with the consent of (and generally at the request of) the book's owner.

  15. Benj Edwards Says:

    Whether they began as oral traditions or not, the books were written down, and then they were copied without the author's permission. Those copies were essential for the work's survival, and so it is with software. As I mentioned in the paragraph below my Beowulf reference, unauthorized copies as such today are illegal because of the shorter period of time involved with software — say, 10 years from date of creation rather than hundreds of years as with Homer, etc.

  16. MichaelKnight Says:

    I will grant you that coping the work preserved it for the future, but there is no "author" for Beowulf. you are not helping your case by continuing to push this point.

  17. Stephen Says:

    "There is no meaningful cultural legacy to Lotus 1-2-3. It is simply an obsolete program."

    This is a chilling statement to me. Should we discard all the stone arrowheads we find? Aren't they obsolete? Or how about all those lame Roman artifacts? Gosh darn it, those chariots are completely obsolete as well. Chuck 'em!

    Obsolescence has absolutely *no* bearing on cultural legacy.

    I applaud this article for both its perspective and its help in popularizing the notion that large forces are actively preventing the preservation of the artifacts that continue to transform the world on a scale like no other in human history.

  18. Phil Says:

    Ok, fine, let's say that a "program" is different from data like Beowulf. What about current works of data that are also getting locked under piracy laws? Films, games, e-books, music…all these are data, and they too are being prevented from being copied because of piracy laws, therefore they too run the risk of vanishing from history, even after people have legitimately purchased a physical copy. I agree with the article, even a hard drive has a limted life span, the best way to preserve these things is to continue to copy them. Imagine if oral traditions had copyright laws: only the person who came up or lived the story could narrate it. The reality is that the only good reason for copyright laws is so that the maker can receive more money. While I agree our atrists need support, it's also fundamentally greed.

  19. bkw Says:

    Proof that knowing $5 words like conflate doesn't mean a thing.

  20. Nathanael Says:

    By the way, even programs start out as files… The files are compiled into executable binaries the computer can run. In fact it would be nicer if the source code was archived.

  21. Steve Lovelace Says:

    Amazing article, Benj. the scary thing is, this no longer applies to just software. Imagine the same with ebooks. A whole generation of movies, music, books and software could be lost to obsolescence.

  22. Perc Says:

    This is the best argument I've yet seen in favor of digital piracy. It also provides more support for the argument that such piracy does not constitute theft, because it adds rather than subtracts.

    Would any gamer argue today that "Super Mario Bros." and the original "Final Fantasy" are just "obsolete software?" I suspect not, and yet that is exactly what they were considered in, say, 1994, when you could buy copies of them for pennies on the dollar. The cultural relevance of any media, software or otherwise, is not necessarily apparent during its commercial lifespan. History requires taking a long view and a detached perspective, and I think you've argued these points very eloquently in this article, Benj.

  23. bkw Says:

    Wikipedia "Dr Who missing episodes" The BBC discarded most of the originals as they were not valued at the time. Later they became wildly valued and many of the relatively few remaining episodes only exist at all today because someone somewhere illegally made a copy or failed to return a copy. A guy buys a bootleg 16mm at a flea market and it ends up being the only copy of that episode to exist anywhere today. Thank god for that awful pirate! We are still missing a whopping 106 of 253 episodes thanks to how well the originals were protected. It's exactly the same for software.

  24. DFYX Says:

    Exactly what I had in mind and would have posted if you hadn't been faster than me. People (like me) who like the new Dr. Who seasons and want to watch all the old ones will probably never be able to do so. And remember guys, we're not talking about something that was in produced in ancient history. This is a series that is still running today.

    Same problem with the Star Wars Holiday Special. The only copies available today originate from some illegal bootlegs someone made with a video recorder. There might be a master copy left at the Skywalker Ranch but there's almost no chance that there will ever be official copies of the unedited material as it was aired in 1978.

  25. litbrarian Says:

    Benj, this is a great article and a subject that really needs to be addressed. The current copyright laws are ridiculously long (especially if you count a company as a legal person, add on the 70 years, and THEN find out that public domain works can be re-copyrighted…) and it's unfortunate that the very thing that has made the technology great (iteration at a rapid pace) is also working against its preservation because, as Exec mentioned above, nobody seems to think things that will in aggregate prove historically significant down the road, are worth saving right now.

    I'm an archivist who has been seriously thinking about getting into digital preservation (whether game/software preservation or personal digital preservation) and right now there's preservation efforts, but archivists and librarians often lack the resources and skills necessary (not to mention the obvious legal concerns) to do what needs to be done. I can't program an emulator and I'd be hard pressed to find an archivist who could.

    But back on point, thanks for writing a post on the subject. I'll definitely be following your blog.


  26. heath Says:

    With all due respect to the care with which this article was written, its premise is unsound. Software that has real value is becomes more widely used and is further developed, evolving over time into something different, and, sometimes, something new. Its use and continuing development are what protect its existence. Software that has low to nil value fades away because there are thing that do what it does, only better.

  27. bt9629 Says:

    That's like saying that all classic cars and all info about them should just disappear entirely because they aren't driven. It's not about the usefulness of software or programs. Its about historically recording that they existed. Besides the article focuses not on software programs, but raw information itself. Doesn't really matter the medium its stored on except for the part where digital storage is important in this age. The point he's trying to make is that information needs to be copied and redistributed to stay alive and be recorded in a historical context. It's the exact same reason we back our own stuff up. He's also not really focusing on software and programs anyway, but including them with movies, books, games, stories, info in general etc. His premise is perfectly sound.

  28. bt9629 Says:

    edit: my bad, he focuses on software; but not just programs like office or something. the point, as I said is preservation of any and all information with digital storage (software) being the relevant medium of today. Particularly since there is so much information that is only in a digital form.

    "It's use and continuing development are what protect its existence". Not true, this is what protects its commercial value. It's existence is protected by it being copied, redistributed, and recorded in history, much like the Bible, which has virtually no commercial value (can usually get it for free).

  29. Sosarian Says:

    The problem with that logic is that new software often only has limited compatibility (if any) with the old stuff, hardware becomes completely incompatible & the storage medium unreliable.

    For example, none of the diary files from my first computer (an Apple IIgs) can be read at all by modern software, and the system itself is failing; projects I worked on in Windows 3.1 are either in the same category or can only be semi-converted (i.e. I end up losing all formatting, notes, etc. or other components). The only option in both cases boils down to emulation.

    FWIW, people upgrade a lot of software primarily because the new version is either what was installed on their new computer, or because they needed to work with files they/others created other systems using the new version. "New" doesn't always equal "better", unfortunately.

  30. pman Says:

    spear points and bullets, spear points and bullets

  31. Shprunk Says:

    are you honestly saying the Bullets are "better" than spear points. Think long and hard on how the world would be today if gunpowder was never invented. It would be a much cleaner planet for one, as well as no massive world wars threatening to destroy the planet. Of course, it works both ways. Without the invention of gunpowder, a lot of other inventions leading up to the tech age would also not be invented. I guess it's all in your view of things.

  32. Shprunk Says:

    how does "there are things that do what it does, only better" act as a reason to forget about all the soft-wares and developments that led to those "better" soft-wares.
    That's just like saying the Nintendo Entertainment System is useless because the SNES or Nintendo 64 came out. The Snes and N64 "do what the NES does, only better" yet there are still people in 2012 spending lots of money to purchase NES systems.

  33. Judith Haemmerle Says:

    heath, I respectfully disagree. Many excellent games never achieve wide distribution, mostly due to lack of marketing. Indy developers are notoriously poor at bringing their games to public notice. Some of these developers go on to work for larger studios, where their work becomes an important part of history. If we ignore the human stories and the people in the industry, then it doesn't matter. But as the director of a game museum, the stories of the people, a record of their growth in the industry, and the "Oh, look what they did first!" stories are important for the preservation of our cultural history, Consider the vast amounts of material lost to both the movie and TV industries because the studios didn't think it was important. And now historians are mining old, illegal VCR tapes even for the ad content that was preserved. We have no way of knowing what will be important to save, and I am sad to note that in many cases, pirated copies will be all we have of some things. And the history of piracy is, in and of itself, an important part of the culture which will no doubt be studied in the future, if it isn't already.

  34. Commodore Z Says:

    Fantastic article! Software piracy is even more necessary than I had expect, and for enumerating the reasons why that is, I applaud you.

    I can think of many instances where legacy specialty software preservation has been a concern of mine. The most memorable was when I was attempting to view the source code to an open source program that I was studying for a college course. It required the use of an outdated variant of Delphi (an Integrated Development Environment for Object Pascal) to even view the source code, which in turn required some searching to even locate on the web. The company in control of the program changed hands, making it even more questionable as to where that version of Delphi could be found. Thanks to archivists, with means that are denounced by many, I was able to successfully work on the project. I owe them for the A that I earned in that course.

  35. Groulx Says:

    Insightful. And overall true.

    But perhaps software piracy in itself isn't as necessary as much as a "library of congress" for all published software creations. A sanctioned repository. Once a copyright has expired, then the public could access the works in the "library".

    But then again, this would not account for the continued need to inspire hackers to continuously develop more advanced security-defeating techniques which in turns drives the technology industry forward in a very positive and profitable way.

    This is all a flash-in-pan discussion, folks. What has happened in terms of worldwide creative contribution in the past 50 years completely trumps the summation of tens of thousands of years of human history. It's incredible. I look at my VIC-20 cartridge the way I look at a dinosaur fossil. The cartridge is literally millions of years old. But it was from 1981. Explain this paradox.

  36. ziply Says:

    Your comment completely rocks. Good idea, good analysis, and funny finish.

  37. Timmy Says:

    A great article. You made clear why cultural heritage should be easily preserved, and why the current copyright laws are out of proportion.

    There are some other points I’d like to address:

    The truth is, software is already being preserved. In countries with sensible copyright laws. Whether it needs to be preserved in the US is another question. Perhaps they don’t deserve “cultural rights”.

    Secondly, the DMCA currently gives librarians a great opportunity to preserve software. You could say it’s rather limited, but that’s by their own request. The librarians could have asked for a lot more exemptions, but they chose not to.

    My final point is that your suggestion (I hope I’m wrong here, but anyways it’s important enough to mention it again) to make librarians exempt from copyright laws will only create a new Library of Alexandria. That is, when this new Library collapses, all your cultural heritage is lost again. If you really want your cultural heritage to survive, you’d need to make sure there are enough copies of it available in more than one place. Exemptions for librarians only will not do.

    PS. My personal opinion is that, when media companies think their stuff should not be preserved, then it deserves not to be preserved. My own games have much a very simple license, no drm, and it’s copied and being used in many countries, and I don’t mind. Even if no librarians would even consider archiving them, I know they will survive.

  38. rhade Says:

    Another example is the early TV series where copying was difficult and the tapes they were recorded on decay – early Doctor Who for instance and many, many Plays for Today commissioned by the BBC from the now major 20thC playwrights. They were often done live and using unknown actors like Michael Caine. And are gone. Forever.

    Every so often someone digs through an attic or warehouse and discovers a new treasure, and fortunately the tech hasn't changed so much it can't be played and stored in other formats. But these only exist because someone chose to copy or keep the original.

    Shakespeare wrote more plays than were printed but theatre was an oral tradition serving a substantially illiterate audience. That many of his plays survive is due not to him but to 'pirates': a couple of actors who managed to get together enough to produce the First Folio and printers' agents who memorised plays as they were performed and wrote them down afterwards to produce cheap Quarto editions.

    Great piece BTW

    Oh and one final thought: the current music industry owes great thanks to the pirate Radio Caroline playing all the rock non of the land-based stations would touch.

  39. CrimsonDX Says:

    I had never thought about things in this way. This was an incredible article.

  40. Till Lindemann Says:

    This was a very insightful article; you've made me see things I had not even considered.

    Thank you.

  41. Jayme Says:

    I find that I support you, even if I don’t support piracy. I understand why companies fight piracy tooth and nail, but some record should be held somewhere.
    Although, I don’t necessarily agree that every iteration needs to be, or even could be archived though. Major revisions most definitely, but honestly certain programs can get updated daily, with no functional difference. The equivalent would be a first printing of a book that had some typos and later printings where the typos were discovered and fixed one by one. While different, the books would be functionally the same.

  42. magiar Says:

    Remember all those reader's code published on magazines. Lots of games supposed to be transcribed to the computer by magazine's readers.

  43. Monique Says:

    That's a very unusual approach, thank you for the new opinion. I loved the floppy discs libraries and loss of data part most of all 🙂

  44. Picky Says:

    Great article. not long ago I binned a copy of windows 2 assuming ms would have a copy… Maybe they don’t? Also a good site for historical webpages is thewaybackmachine – check it out!

  45. Phil Says:

    Well said. People don't realise the digital age has exploded because of how quickly and accurately digital information apreads. At the end of the day, the best arguement for copyrighting boils down to money. That in itself should tell people it isn't the way forward.

  46. I am the Bob Says:

    Great article. I really enjoyed the read and it made me think about the significance of these old programs

  47. David Lohnes Says:

    There's another option worth considering. Companies can be urged to simply release software they no longer support (or that operates on platforms that are no longer supported like classic Mac OS) into the public domain.

    Bethesda and Bungie, two of the most successful game developers of all time, have taken that approach with the early Elder Scrolls games and with the Marathon trilogy (the precursor to Halo). This approach gains all the benefits of open, crowd-sourced preservation (versus a digital Library of Alexandria) and clears away at one fell swoop all the legal tangles of the whole problem.

    Then there's Electronic Arts, who sends letters of legal threat against websites for hosting games published in 1986. Booooooo.

  48. AC Says:

    One of the requirements for copyright protection for software should be the availability of the full source code for the software.

    No source code available = no copyright protection.

  49. GamerFromJump Says:

    Like everything else, there's a TVTropes pages for this: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/KeepCi

    A very good example of the author's point would be the TV show NOVA. It's been on for over 30 years, and would thus serve as a good insight into science and the public understanding thereof. Except, problem, only a few dozen episodes have been preserved. Oops. Hope some "pirate" set the VCR.

  50. GamerFromJump Says:

    Like everything else, there's a TVTropes pages for this: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/KeepCi

    A very good example of the author's point would be the TV show NOVA. It's been on for over 30 years, and would thus serve as a good insight into science and the public understanding thereof. Except, problem, only a few dozen episodes have been preserved. Oops. Hope some "pirate" set the VCR.

  51. John Henry Says:

    Some software piracy I endorse, like old or import games that will never be on sale again or translated, but otherwise people just want free stuff. Even those that can afford to buy what they steal.

  52. Bulk Dried Fruits Says:

    I completely agree with what you wrote in your article. I always take predictions of this sort with a pinch of salt, which in this case is definitely a good thing. To make such bold prediction – even down to a decimal point – for a date three years in the future, and with a past history being wrong, is just sheer idiocy.

  53. michaelknight Says:

    all this historical relevance is beautiful, but even the makers of these "obsolete games" were there to make a profit. If you deny current game developers the opportunity to protect their work, it will in turn become not profitable. Major games of today cost exorbitant amounts of money to produce and you cannot justify piracy based on old floppy disk games. sorry. I will agree that we could have a better system in place, but piracy is an actual problem.