[Coco] [Color Computer] Re: Legal to put ALL Coco software (and other obsolete micros) up for download?
neilsmorr at gmail.com
Fri Dec 1 15:36:01 EST 2006
What I know and Frank Durda's comments.
Note that Beny Alagem purchased the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel from
entertainer Merv Griffin. The deal was estimated at $130 million. Alagem
continues to invest in real estate and is involved in various
telecommunication ventures. He appears to have no interest in old computers!
My take? No one cares UNLESS they retained rights to their software when
they leased it to Tandy. AFAIK, Bill Gates has lost the source code for the
old Basic and is not agressively pursuing anyone doing anything with those
old versions (or much later ones - see vetusware.com).
So it's almost down to the estate of Lonnie Falk and to Scott Adams who
retains his rights but allows free use of his games. Any others asserting
From: Frank Durda IV (uhclem.feb99 at nemesis.lonestar.org)
Subject: Re: Why Did Tandy stop making computers
All Tandy intellectual property related to its computer products, which
includes designs, software, and related patents, was sold on July 1st, 1993
to AST Research, later renamed AST Computers. AST immediately got in
financial trouble and obtained loans in exchange for company ownership
from Samsung Electronics of South Korea. By 1995, Samsung became the
shareholder due to the increasing loans and in early 1997 finally obtained
all of AST. At this point, these rights transferred to Samsung, as AST
became a division (or more accurately, a marketing name) for Samsung.
In December of 1998, Samsung gave up on AST and sold their AST divisions
name and "intellectual property rights" to a group of investors, headed by
former head of Packard Bell, who plan to sell computer products under the
name. In theory, that means the old Tandy rights passed to "AST Mark II" at
this point, but someone will actually have to ask Samsung whether that stuff
was in the deal.
In late 1996, I had a general agreement from the President of AST to release
the old Tandy material to the public domain, including all software that
didn't use Microsoft Windows. However, AST lawyers got involved and citing
baseless fear of releasing something to the public domain that might cause
them a legal liability, they buried the project when it was only a few days
from being a press release. Shortly after, AST became Samsung, and all
mails on the subject always ended-up in the Samsung/AST legal department.
I got any reply at all, it was a "we still have reservations about this but
will investigate the matter" form letter.
Considering that AST did not ever use any of the patents or technology
from Tandy that was older than 1991 (apart from a few patents used in a TI
AST lawsuit defense that had been used the same way in the TI vs Tandy
a few years earlier), nor did AST attempt any serious search for this sort
of material at the time (I was there and they were more interested in other
trivial things), this stuff is essentially abandoned and the ownership
are not being enforced at all.
Therefore, AST Mark II or Samsung technically do own these Tandy items but
could probably never prove such ownership or even knowledge of ownership in
any court. At last check, you have to know it exists and it is yours to be
able to claim something is yours. You can't draw a big circle and claim
everything inside the circle is yours. USL vs BSDI and UC proved that
argument was very flawed.
AST Mark II (or Samsung) would have to spend way too much money determining
who actually owned a given ball to sue anybody over it.
As to the older ROMs, I can't speak for the CoCo side of the shop (some
contained Microsoft and some contained Microware code), but two of the
Model III ROMs and the Level II Model I ROM contained code acknowledged to
originally be a licensed Microsoft product but there is Tandy-originated
code in there too. The Model III ROMs that came with the Model 4, 4D and
the disk image for the 4P were NOT (I repeat again NOT) a Microsoft product,
and these had a Tandy Copyright. Tandy deliberately reverse-engineered,
modified and released their own version of the ROM and Disk BASIC, due to a
royalty dispute that had been brewing between Tandy and Microsoft for
about two years. This happened prior to me getting into the system software
group, but I was told at the time that the last year or so of Model III
production III systems had this "Microsoft-free" code in them as well.
The key people who worked on that "Microsoft-free" project are now both
deceased (Ron Light - whose name you will find in early Model IV ROMs, see
the string "RON" - and George Robertson). Dave Cozad also worked on the
no-Microsoft code at various times prior to 1983 and I took over work on it
around the fall of 1983, long after Ron and George had moved on to other
For Model IIIs, the "C" ROM was always a pure-Tandy creation. Only the
"B" ROM and part of the "A" ROM were ever something licensed from Microsoft.
All three ROMs (and later two) on the Model 4s were all code that Tandy
claimed full ownership of.
Tandy, in selling the store to AST back in 1993, got the right to continue
support their customers, and that was taken to mean (by Tandy) that Tandy
could make and sell replacement disks for operating systems and things owned
by Tandy. However, Tandy got greedy and started making copies of anything
they had ever sold, regardless of who wrote it and who held the copyright,
including products that Tandy never actually duplicated/manufactured, like
SCO for PCs. Microsoft, Lotus, Borland and lots of other people could have
sued Tandy big-time over the replacement disk program, particularly after
Tandy stopped looking for proof of purchase before selling anybody a $7 copy
of anything, but the rightful owners didn't sue Tandy, at least not yet.
Frank Durda IV
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dennis Bathory-Kitsz" <dennis-iii at maltedmedia.com>
> At 11:20 AM 12/1/06 -0600, L. Curtis Boyle wrote:
>>When it says "other libraries", would some of our preservation websites
>>(for any obsolete computer) be considered as such? The complete text in
>>PDF form is available here:
> That's what I get for reading summaries. It looks like you are right.
> This is effective immediately and runs for only three years (extending
> a previous rule).
> This is a rulemaking decision, essentially modifying this:
> to interpret the US code section 1201:
> Worth reading, by the way -- both the rulemaking and its logic, and the
> original copyright law.
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