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Is it ethical for Vivendi to withhold access to old software?
Yes, accoring to the law but I agree with Steve on this one. If a company doesn’t support a product with X amount of years and has no future plans for it, it should be free for distribution. Isn’t there a copyright law for that? Is it fifteen years? If not, something should be done about it because now is the time when the first games are becomming old in age, where even if the company doesn’t want to keep those games alive, we, the players of whom the games were originally made for, still do.
Is it ethical for Vivendi to prevent developement of fan sequals to their software if they have no intent to continue the series?
VU has allowed Pheonix Online Studios resume process of KQIX due to a mass of rebellion and petitions. It was http://www.savequix.org that really put a foot in the door. They were allowed to continue as long as they didn’t use the King’s Quest title, which they changed to ‘The Silver Lining.’
I believe it is ethical for a company to stop production of a fan game if it is used for proft.
I believe it is unethical for a company like VU to stop production if the third party has no plans for profit from the fan game, regardless if they use any names, titles, storylines, etc from the original protected content. It is equivalent to writing a fan fiction of any game. It’s for entertainment purposes only, not for profit. VU wronged in that case until they allowed production to resume. KQIX had no intentions of selling their product, therefore they did nothing illegal or unethical.
I believe a third Laura Bow was in the making by a fan group and was halted. By whom, I do not know. I read they were going to charge players only for the cost to box and ship the product, but never to gain profit from the game itself. Anyone can read about it here:
Another thing I’d like to add. Someone on the official Gabriel Knight boards wanted to make a fan game for a GK4 a while ago. He emailed Jane Jensen asking for permission and she told him she didn’t want it made. I wish I still had the link to the conversation but it was deleted along with the old format of the forums. It is still legal for him to create a GK4 fangame if he doesn’t sell it, but in my opinion, I’d rather see a GK4 by Jane and only Jane. There’s something about Jane’s brilliance that can only be seen in her work.