Bundling DOSBox with shareware/demo versions?

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Bundling DOSBox with shareware/demo versions?

Postby MrFlibble » 2014-7-24 @ 13:50

I'm sorry if this has been asked before, but I couldn't find a direct answer to this question on my own.

Suppose a website that puts up DOS shareware games and/or demo versions and/or officially legally freeware games for free download (in compliance with the licenses terms under which this software was released) wanted to start bundling each game with a copy of DOSBox for the benefit of the users, similar to what GOG.com does. I have always assumed that in such cases the distribution of the resulting package would be governed by the original licenses of its components, that is by GNU GPL Version 2 for DOSBox and whatever shareware/demo/freeware license there is for the game.

However, in a recent discussion a user in another forum suggested that there is some clause in DOSBox licensing, or a policy by the development team that prohibits exactly this kind of distribution, unless the party that bundles a game owns rights to its distribution (like GOG.com does). Is that so? Would bundling DOSBox with shareware games (e.g. Apogee Software/3D Realms ones) be illegal or not? Maybe a site that wishes to do this needs to obtain some special permission?

Of course I mean websites that only distribute, free of charge, legal software, that is shareware episodes, demo versions and officially freeware games, not "abandonware".
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Re: Bundling DOSBox with shareware/demo versions?

Postby Dominus » 2014-7-24 @ 14:02

there is nothing prohibiting you
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Re: Bundling DOSBox with shareware/demo versions?

Postby Qbix » 2014-7-24 @ 14:13

As long as you stick with the GPL requirements of DOSBox. Similar to what GOG and other companies (have to) do.
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Re: Bundling DOSBox with shareware/demo versions?

Postby kolano » 2014-7-24 @ 15:07

I believe such should be alright, I've been doing so with various eyecandy software over the past year.

You may need to watch out for odd clauses in some shareware/freeware programs though. For instance, many older things had clauses only allowing redistribution of the "original" archives (i.e. not just the unaltered contents of the archive, but the archive itself). Something I've been annoyed with a few times, where the source I got things from was no longer using the original and there seemed to be no remaining source to retrieve it from.
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Re: Bundling DOSBox with shareware/demo versions?

Postby MrFlibble » 2014-7-24 @ 15:14

Thanks for the clarification guys!

kolano wrote:You may need to watch out for odd clauses in some shareware/freeware programs though. For instance, many older things had clauses only allowing redistribution of the "original" archives (i.e. not just the unaltered contents of the archive, but the archive itself). Something I've been annoyed with a few times, where the source I got things from was no longer using the original and there seemed to be no remaining source to retrieve it from.

I din't remember encountering a license that would be that strict, demanding the archive itself to be unaltered. After all some sysops would repackage an archive in an effort to reduce file size, or split up an archive into 3.5" disk-sized parts. But maybe I wasn't reading the licenses carefully.

Even though files were most often stored at FTP sites in the 90s/early 2000s, in some cases the Wayback Machine has preserved the original files which were uploaded at developer or publisher HTTPs.
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