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Old 25 June 2008, 12:40   #1
Kinetic
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Lems and the Law

Hi all!

I'm working on a project that is based on (or should I say, is a derivative of) the original Amiga version of Lemmings. Now, given that I would like to make the finished product available for download, this raises a couple of questions:

Both Psygnosis and DMA Design are now dissolved / bought out / whatever, and even if they weren't, I reckon Lemmings' earning potential has long ago expired and passed into the realms of historical curiosity. In light of this (and seeing as how copies of the ubiquitous Skid Row cracked version are so widely available on the intertubes anyway!), is anyone be likely to bothered if I distribute a game derived in part from an 18-year-old copyrighted piece of software?

If so, I did have a secondary plan: to distribute a package which doesn't contain any original data, and requires the user to provide a copy of the original disks. How they then choose to come by that data is their own business. :-) However, that raises a further problem, namely that the original disks are Copylocked, so my data-extractor would either have to break the protection or expect pre-cracked ADFs, both of which are less than legal!

So what's generally the deal with the legal side of emulation/retrogaming? I suspect it's "technically illegal but tolerated in practice"... If anyone has any input it'd be much appreciated :-D

Cheers,

--K
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Old 25 June 2008, 12:42   #2
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Lemmings is now owned by Sony Computer Entertainment. Psygnosis didn't disolve, their European operations were absorbed by Sony, and the US operations were sold off.

If you tried to do Lemmings, I would expect Sony to get litigitious on your ass.
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Old 25 June 2008, 13:00   #3
Kinetic
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Uh-huh. I suppose it would depend on what is meant by "do" in this case. I certainly don't intend to widely publicise or attempt to sell anything thus created. I'm doing this mostly for my own entertainment, and for my own love of the original game; however, I figure there might well be other people out there who would appreciate what essentially amounts to a new expansion pack. Sort of in the same vein as the level packs which are already available, except more... complete. :-) People on this forum and similar sites seem to share a lot of cracked games and related info, and don't seem to have too much trouble with the law, so just wondered how careful I need to be.

In case I do need to go down the data-extraction route, it'd be awesome if someone on here could give me a few pointers on the copy protection... ;-)

--K
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Old 25 June 2008, 13:02   #4
Zetr0
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@Kinetic...

in a word my fellow developer..... "lemmings-esque"

Welcome to the EAB, there plenty of mischief to get up to around here so wheren you get some time, kick back, relax and enjoy the retr0-coated yummyness that this fair board provides

Now legally standing As long as you don't use any of the original art, music, source code, maps, theres nothing that they can do.... the truth is lemmings is a ripoff of a couple of games i cant be bothered to rack my brains over on the CBM64..

so yeah... lemmings-ish is a better way to look at it....

personally i HATE lemmings, but if you add some funny cut scenes (like worms on the psx) and 2 player action then maybe i would be up for it....
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Old 25 June 2008, 13:05   #5
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Well regarding earning potential, I think Sony still see one since there is a PSP version of lemmings.

On the other hand, as far as I know, there have been no complaint about the Lemmings DS project (open source) ( http://www.mrdictionary.net/lemmings/ ).

So things may depend on the platform your project is for and wether it is commercial or not.
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Old 25 June 2008, 13:13   #6
Zetr0
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinetic View Post
Uh-huh. I suppose it would depend on what is meant by "do" in this case. I certainly don't intend to widely publicise or attempt to sell anything thus created. I'm doing this mostly for my own entertainment, and for my own love of the original game; however, I figure there might well be other people out there who would appreciate what essentially amounts to a new expansion pack. Sort of in the same vein as the level packs which are already available, except more... complete. :-) People on this forum and similar sites seem to share a lot of cracked games and related info, and don't seem to have too much trouble with the law, so just wondered how careful I need to be.

In case I do need to go down the data-extraction route, it'd be awesome if someone on here could give me a few pointers on the copy protection... ;-)

--K
In the UK as far as software is concerned you are legally allowed to modify any programming code if it is to facilitate any new or required features for your use.

that being said, I am unsure on the legality of disseminating it. arguably as long as it did not contain ANY copyright data its fully legal.

copyrighted data would be any code as it stands at the moment, including art / music / level design

so if you made a bunch of new levels, that used data from the existing exe, as a standalone game then distributing this would be technically illegal, however if its on the Amiga a no longer supported platform i doubt Sony would come after you.

you could always ASK them

If however you released just a patch that contained only YOUR code and the code to add the levels / modifications to the original executable then that would be perfectly legal.
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Old 25 June 2008, 13:16   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinetic View Post

In case I do need to go down the data-extraction route, it'd be awesome if someone on here could give me a few pointers on the copy protection... ;-)

--K

Not 100% sure here but I don't think Lemmings used a custom disk format so you can just rip the files and don't have to care about the copy protection. Data files usually don't care much about any Rob Northen Copylock. If memory serves me right, Lemmings has a filetable on the first track with all the offsets/lengths of the files stored. Should be very easy to extract the data.
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Old 25 June 2008, 13:26   #8
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@StingRay: Yeah, I know all about the disk format, and already have my own ripper/rebuilder. I'm a lot further down the development process than that ;-)

However, I was only able to do this because I was working on the non-protected Skid Row cracked disks; the originals are protected. The reason I asked was, if I was going to need to require users to supply original disks to satisfy legal requirements, then I might have to require them to supply original protected ones... but looking at the replies I've had so far, it looks like I might be alright.
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Old 25 June 2008, 13:30   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinetic View Post
@StingRay: Yeah, I know all about the disk format, and already have my own ripper/rebuilder. I'm a lot further down the development process than that ;-)

However, I was only able to do this because I was working on the non-protected Skid Row cracked disks; the originals are protected. The reason I asked was, if I was going to need to require users to supply original disks to satisfy legal requirements, then I might have to require them to supply original protected ones... but looking at the replies I've had so far, it looks like I might be alright.

So the original Lemmings does use a custom disk format then I suppose? If so, you'd have to code your own trackloader (I assume you don't want to use ANY of the original Lemmings data/code in your own ripper ;D) which is able to read the Lemmings disks. Shouldn't be too hard to do, disassemble the original Lemmings loader and draw your own conclusions.
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Old 25 June 2008, 13:31   #10
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Arguably

Copy protection is illegal in the UK. as it is your right to back up any media that you own. any company or entity denying a right that is granted by law is illegal.
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Old 25 June 2008, 13:37   #11
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OK, I think I need to clarify a couple of things! The project is a mostly-total add-on pack for Lemmings 1, including new graphics, music and levels. However, most of the code from the original game will be intact (I'm patching it here and there to suit my purposes, but I don't want to change any of the original game mechanics. That would be blasphemy ;-) )

So I intend to use /some/ of the original data. That's why I would potentially require users to supply their original disks - to extract the bits I need, and combine them with the new stuff to produce the finished ADFs.

And yes, I said ADFs - this is intended as a modification of the original Amiga game, to be run on the Amiga, for the benefit of Amiga emulation fans :-)
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Old 25 June 2008, 13:45   #12
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Quote:
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So I intend to use /some/ of the original data. That's why I would potentially require users to supply their original disks - to extract the bits I need
I understood that, what I meant was this: You don't want to use any ripped code/data from Lemmings in your installer/data ripper, right? As otherwise you could just incorporate the original Lemmings loader in your ripper and your problem would be solved.
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Old 25 June 2008, 13:53   #13
Kinetic
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Originally Posted by StingRay View Post
I understood that, what I meant was this: You don't want to use any ripped code/data from Lemmings in your installer/data ripper, right? As otherwise you could just incorporate the original Lemmings loader in your ripper and your problem would be solved.
Oh, I see, sorry. Yeah, you're right - it would kind of defeat the point if I had to include original code to avoid including original code! However, so far all the conversion/editing tools I've written have been for Linux, and a hypothetical ADF-builder probably would be, too.

Either way, if the Lemmings DS guys can get away with blatantly including original level/graphics data without legal threats, I should probably be able to get away with either including original code, or else ripping from cracked disks (which are much easier to come by on the net anyhow).
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Old 25 June 2008, 13:58   #14
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Is this an Amiga or PC project?
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Old 25 June 2008, 14:01   #15
Kinetic
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Is this an Amiga or PC project?
Developed on PCs (OK, PCs running Linux), but runs on the Amiga. Basically it's just the original game with a patched executable and new gfx/level/music data.
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Old 25 June 2008, 14:06   #16
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Originally Posted by Kinetic View Post
Either way, if the Lemmings DS guys can get away with blatantly including original level/graphics data without legal threats, I should probably be able to get away with either including original code, or else ripping from cracked disks (which are much easier to come by on the net anyhow).

Well, I'd better go for the "better safe than sorry" approach. After all, I don't think you like to be sued by Sony or whoever owns the Lemmings copyright now. Also, if you only support the cracked version in your loader, what about the people who own the original?
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Old 25 June 2008, 14:13   #17
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Hi stingray, yes lemmings original version is using custom format. But the main problem is the copylock protection....
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Old 25 June 2008, 14:22   #18
Kinetic
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Yeah, that's the problem I've found. I have two physical copies of Lemmings from back in the day - a pair of original disks, and a pair of cracked ones. I also have two types of disk image from the net - cracked ones in ADF format, and originals in IPF format (which also encodes the copylockedness, somehow!).

I am unable to read from the original copies (either the physical ones using the Amiga, or IPF ones using WinUAE) due to copylock.
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Old 25 June 2008, 14:32   #19
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Hi stingray, yes lemmings original version is using custom format. But the main problem is the copylock protection....
Yup, I know now as written above.

Edit: and for what Kinetic wants to do, the Copylock is irrelevant
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Old 25 June 2008, 14:34   #20
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I am unable to read from the original copies (either the physical ones using the Amiga, or IPF ones using WinUAE) due to copylock.

The problem is not related to the Copylock protection. Lemmings doesn't use standard disk format thus you can't read it without using the original custom loader. So again: Rip/Disassemble the loader from the game and you can read the disks/files. After all, the game needs to read its own files so there must a be a loader able to handle it somewhere in the game.
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