Subliminal Extacy #01
01 января 1995


               PUBLIC DOMAIN & SHAREWARE EXPLAINED              
The end of this section has a free offer to SE readers.         
Welcome to a Prism PD special on the public domain. The         
following article was written by N. Bradshaw for PD POWER #7 -  
June 94, and is updated by M. Sherwood of Prism PD. We tell you 
the legal aspects of PD and Shareware, and who is around in the 
PD world. First, lets find out what the fuss is all about...!   
Public domain software . What is it? Where does it come from?   
What does it eat? Most of these questions will be answered but  
lets delve into history. PD software had its birthplace in the  
American higher education system. Although home computers was   
spawned by Sir Clive with his electronic shoebox called the     
Z80, DIY boffins had been building computers across the states  
for many years. American colleges were soon full of these little
critters, and the decision was made that all software written   
within the education establishment would be 'public domain'.    
Public domain grew in popularity much quicker with the advent of
CP/M - Control Processor for Micro Computers. The CP/M system   
allowed software to be used on different computers (up to a     
point). There is a fair amount of PD software written under     
this operating system i.e. the CPC. If you are a +3 user with   
CP/M, you will have greater access to PD software.              
The whole thing has really snowballed though, and PD covers a   
whole range of material from BASIC type-ins to business software
to demos.                                                       
THE LEGAL ANGLE                                                 
Public Domain has a very specific legal meaning. It means that  
the creator of a work (in this case software), who HAD legal    
ownership of that work, has GIVEN UP ownership and dedicated his
work to the 'PUBLIC DOMAIN'. This fact should be clearly        
understood by everyone including other services!                
Once something is in the public domain, anyone can use it in ANY
WAY THEY CHOOSE! That includes using the software on disc - even
if the authors purpose was for it to be used on tape!! The      
author has no control over its use and CANNOT demand payment    
from it. There is only 1 stipulation: it must not be sold for a 
profit. PD software is FREE, but libraries will make a nominal  
charge to cover copying / admin costs.                          
You can even convert the software into another programming      
The PD scene has also become linked with cheap home grown soft  
ware and is usually sold through certain libraries. This form of
software is termed Licensware, with a small percentage going to 
the author, however the software is NOT public domain.          
WHY WRITE FREE SOFTWARE?                                        
Much of the stuff won't reach commercial standard, but can      
still be very useful. Most authors won't want the hassles of    
distributing their own work, hence the need for libraries. Its  
the perfect way to get your programs into peoples homes and     
your name known.                                                
There are quite a number of people who churn out loads of PD    
programs as a stepping stone to becoming a commercial           
programmer. Others do it as a hobby, while those already        
successful will chuck early incarnations into the public domain.
You can even ALTER the program. But the proper thing to do is to
send the version to the author. However, you must not remove    
any original credits. Authors cannot requst payment from the    
customer as with Shareware. If it's free, IT'S FREE! If a PD    
file is sent to you, i.e. the customer, which contains a read me
file requesting payment to the author - ignore it because it is 
THE LAW IN BRIEF!                                               
When you're copying and distributing stuff, you need to be      
pretty certain you are allowed to. Obviously, programs you've   
written yourself and magazine type-ins are pretty safe, but     
there is the potential for problems with other sources. Here's  
a quick guideline:                                              
Be sure the software you are distributing is genuine public     
domain software. Due to confusion over the meaning of the words,
programs are often described by authors as being "public domain"
when, in fact they are shareware or free copyrighted software.  
To be sure software is public domain there should be a statement
to that effect on screen, or within the listing of BASIC        
programms. Thirdly, a letter from the author with words to that 
effect will also do.                                            
Some PD programs like demos, may be PD, but will contain        
'cracked ' music from commercial titles. You won't know until   
someone tells you, so be wary.                                  
Just because a title has been in another library for a number of
months, is no measure that it is safe - they havn't been caught 
Don't lose any sleep though, as you are not likely to get into  
legal problems. Libraries are usually only requested to remove  
the offending title. Any duplication industry has something     
dodgy around, but 95% will be kosher.                           
ADULT SOFTWARE                                                  
One of the talking points is the availability of adult material 
on 16/32 bit computers. Although this raises anger from         
parents, due to lack of measures for the under 18's, this is    
nothing compared to the very explicit material (PORN) that is   
around, and receiving attention from the police and the         
government. There is talk of legislation to control PD, but     
this material is virtually non-existent on the Spectrum         
For general adult software, the requirement by law is as        
follows. Such software should be clearly classified as with     
tapes, by indicating a certain age group that the software is   
for or just stating 'ADULT'. Provided libraries do that, there  
should be no problem & it is the responsibility of the customer 
to ensure that adult software is not seen by minors.            
SHAREWARE is different to PD. There is confusion over the way it
works, especially by other so called 'experts'. Shareware is    
only similar in 2 ways: (a) the copying fee is purely for the   
libary and (b) Shareware can be freely copied and distributed.  
Here the similarity ends.                                       
Most shareware is as good or better than commercial programs.   
Instructions for the programs are usually stored on disk in     
.DOC or .TXT files. You must read these to see how to install   
or run the program. There will be another .DOC file, which      
contains information on how to register (pay) for your copy     
with the author. You will usually have a maximum of 30 days to  
determine if the program is useful before paying for free       
updates, detailed manuals, etc. Quite often, shareware programs 
have some functions ommitted, but members of the ASP will       
provide full versions. Shareware, is common on the PC, while the
Amiga and Atari is PD orientated.                               
Here is our service round-up.                                   
1. PD POWER:                                                    
This is our 36 page A5 magazine of laser quality as from issue  
11. The magazine contains news pages, techi page by Extacy-3,   
BASIC, +3 column, MICRODRIVE column, +D column from issue 12,   
PD World which we started last July, utility pages, letters     
page, PC & Amiga help pages, SAM reviews, PD reviews, adverts,  
business round up page, and a club page hosted by ex YS editor  
- LINDA BARKER.                                                 
2. FAST DESPATCH:                                               
Contrary to opinion, we have always met deadlines on our        
catalogues. However, since early 1994 we process orders by cash 
or PO in 1-3 days. Orders by cheques in 4-5 days. All orders are
sent back with a receipt, and discs are wrapped in silver foil. 
3. CATALOGUE:                                                   
We are currently working on a brand new & revamped calogue of 8 
pages. Catalogues are available FREE, but please send an SAE. We
cater for tape, +D, +3, Microdrive, DX1, and Disciple Users     
4. SEAL OF APPROVAL: Prism PD is a member of the PSD -          
Professional Standards Of Distribution endorsed by Commodore    
UK. The PSD is well known in Amiga and PC circles. As a member, 
we adhere to high standards and do NOT distort the truth on     
other services.                                                 
5. Prism PD only stocks the best software - NO ADULT TITLES.    
SPECIAL OFFER to S.E. readers. Send 2 C90's or 2 +3 discs, or 2 
+D DD 3.5 discs for software at no charge. We are sorry, but due
to our current 3.5 drive, we can't use HD 3.5 discs. We will    
fill your media with a range of titles. Also, on every order,   
we will send you a free gift + our catalogue, & information     
sheets. No SAE required. Write to: Prism PD, 13 Rodney Close,   
Bilton, Rugby CV22 7HJ.                                          

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