Following an interesting discussion in the thread about adding new spells to Dungeon Master, I thought I would comment further on some of the issues raised. I would be interested to hear other's views.
PaulH:"As for the 'legality' of this, I am not sure where the owner of this site stands as regards to the right to allow the download of original work."
Well, It seems fairly clear what Mr. Fontanel's views on this are considering the site contains almost every possible DM game available for download... but to be fair, it's done with the knowledge (but not necessarily the agreement) of ex-FTL members.
PaulH:"But if you do have an original copy you are free to do what the heck you like with it as far as altering it goes (dungeon.dat files etc). And I believe that you can 'share' these files as long as each person who receives a file has an original copy too (as they must to be able to play the thing). Having it on a web page is a different matter though!"
This is simply not true; it's no different how you obtain modified files, it's theft, and I draw your attention to the Software Copyright notice in the front of the DM manual. Let me ask you this: if there were as much chance of being caught downloading games off the net as there is in stealing games from your local computer shop, would you still do it?
We are all guilty of theft in using materials from this site, but we justify it by saying "Well, DM is so old and you can't buy it anymore, and the internet makes it so easy, so who cares?". Even Wayne Holder knows about this site and appears to feel the same way--he asked Christophe to add disclaimers that the materials are copyright FTL, but he didn't ask for them to be removed.
So I think we're all more-or-less singing the same tune--we know it's ethically wrong that Christophe has the stuff for download, we know it's wrong that we modify it and make it available. But we also know that we get enjoyment from it, and given the game now has "abandonware" status (a stupid term if ever I heard one), we feel it's OK. We turn a blind eye because it's easy, and the original creators/owners turn a blind eye because it simply is not worth their while to enforce their copyrights on unavailable products. Even if FTL asked Christophe to remove all the downloads, they would only spring up somewhere else on a warez site.
From my poit of view, I am not saying that I am holier than thou, but I can reasonably justify downloading and playing the games because I own most, if not all versions, as originals. But things like disseminating source code go much further than that, and that's where I think things get messy...