Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 8th Jul 2017 10:31 UTC
Games

The people who make enhanced editions of old role-playing games like Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment want to do the same thing for Icewind Dale II. There's just one problem: nobody knows where to find the code.

It's hard to believe that things like this happen - Icewind Dale II was released about 15 years ago, developed and published by big, popular companies. You'd think the source code would be properly protected and stored.

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RE: mandatory archiving
by james_gnz on Sun 9th Jul 2017 11:03 UTC in reply to "mandatory archiving"
james_gnz
Member since:
2006-02-16

It should be mandatory for commercial software to be archived by organisations such as the the Library of Congress. It should also be mandatory for all source code to be released to the public after 30 years.


I'm not sure it would be worthwhile archiving all commercial software. It would be a big undertaking.

I'm also unsure about requiring the release of source code. I used to think it would be a good idea, but I now wonder about potential problems. As grandmasterphp has pointed out, sometimes getting a project to build can be a dark art. It may depend on particular versions of particular tools, so while the binary might not run on newer systems, the source might not compile on newer systems either.

If software was popular, then the odds are that someone's got a copy somewhere. It could probably be reverse engineered, if there was enough interest, if only it was legal to do so. Perhaps that would be enough.

Besides, I think a bigger issue is probably software that runs on (or depends on) a server. When the server closes down, there are no binaries to run on emulators or reverse engineer.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: mandatory archiving
by ssokolow on Sun 9th Jul 2017 14:02 in reply to "RE: mandatory archiving"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

If software was popular, then the odds are that someone's got a copy somewhere. It could probably be reverse engineered, if there was enough interest, if only it was legal to do so. Perhaps that would be enough.


Yes, but that's much harder than renovating an existing codebase, no matter how arcane.

For example, the highest-quality and fastest-matured backends in ScummVM resulted from cases where the copyright holders donated the original engine source, so it was much easier to verify that all of the little corner cases in the engine's behaviour were preserved.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: mandatory archiving
by james_gnz on Wed 12th Jul 2017 04:50 in reply to "RE[2]: mandatory archiving"
james_gnz Member since:
2006-02-16

It could probably be reverse engineered, if there was enough interest, if only it was legal to do so.

Yes, but that's much harder than renovating an existing codebase, no matter how arcane.

I get that, but again, I think a bigger issue is probably software that runs on (or depends on) a server.

Software that runs on a server can not be reverse engineered from the binary, because no binary is distributed. There will never be a time when the binary can be copied, legally or otherwise. Software companies can completely monitor and control everything that users do with it, and all the data they use and produce with it. Running software on a server allows software companies to do everything they have ever wanted to do with copyright law, the DCMA, TPM/DRM, or what have you, and more.

The battle is shifting. It is becoming less about "the desktop", and more about "the cloud".

Trying to address problems on "the desktop", by fixing copyright law, now risks just shifting problems to "the cloud", where they will be even worse.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: mandatory archiving
by unclefester on Mon 10th Jul 2017 03:10 in reply to "RE: mandatory archiving"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

A few years ago I met a man in his 80s poring over a thick wad of bifold printouts at my local library. It was the only hard copy of a very important Fortran scientific programme he had written in the 1970s. The original media had been lost or was unreadable and he had been recalled from retirement to resurrect it because nobody else properly understood the code.

Reply Parent Score: 2