Published in issue 83 of Zzap! 64 (April 1992)
Looking back at this interview now two things spring to mind. The first thing is, "WOW! I was interviewed in Zzap!64!!" At the time it probably didn't seem all that much of a big deal. After all, I was in regular contact with most (or should I say BOTH) of the major "off the shelf" magazines and to be honest, Zzap! was on a downward spiral at that time. The second thing is what a huge WASTED OPPORTUNITY it was! Of all the subjects we could have discussed Ian Osborne seemed to be obsessed with the copyright issues of PD software. The far-too-frequent and totally unfunny bracketed comments from Lucy Hickman (WHO?!?!), the Managing Editor did nothing to enhance the interview. Despite the limited range of questions and the totally "off the top of my head" answers (the interview was conducted over the phone) I'm still mightily pleased to have been interviewed in Zzap!64 when it was still actually CALLED Zzap!64.
One other interesting titbit ... On the same page as the interview was a review of a game I produced with SEUCK called "Galax-i-birds II". This was the UNOFFICIAL follow-up to the "classic" Sensi-Software shoot 'em up game. The reason I decided to make this follow-up was because, A) it was SORT OF coded by Sensible Software (they wrote SEUCK, see!) and, B) It had sprites and graphics ripped from other games (just like the original "Galax-i-birds"!) This was actually my ONLY release made with SEUCK and was really nothing more than me testing out the utility by chucking in some ripped sprites! The game is actually quite good fun, if not a little on the HARD side! Click HERE to download a zipped .D64 image containing "Galax-i-birds II".
Looking for out-of-this-world software at prices that won't cost the Earth? Ian Osborne explains why Public Domain's for you...
The biggest and (according to it's proprietor) bestest PD library currently on the scene is Binary Zone. We get the lowdown from its supremo, Jason 'Kenz' Mackenzie (oh goody goody, it's waffle time - Man Ed).
How long has Binary Zone been up and running?
'Around a year and a half, but it took over a year to set up. Running the library's a full-time job - disk and tape copying from nine till five, compiling new packages in the evening. I also work most weekends.' (Aaaah, shame - Man Ed.)
How many disks are there in the library?
Binary Zone's currently the largest C64 PD library. We stock over 200 demo disks, eight utility disks, several games compilations and a few art and music packages. Most are 100% coded by the programmers, though a few games are put together with utilities. We've very few adventures (hurrah - Man Ed) and no Freescape games at all, which is surprising considering the popularity of programming utilities for these. New packages are being compiled all the time, and because I only stock high quality material, they're always worth a look (naturally - Man Ed).
Which programs are most popular?
The largest demand's for demos. With the games, programmers soom to like writing puzzle games and shoot-'em-ups best. Whether this is because they're easier to program I don't know.
But why do they do it at all if they don't get paid (suckers! - Man Ed)?
Obviously this depends to a very large extent on the individual programmer. Some do it just for fun, some to polish their programming skills, and some to make a name for themselves to the software industry. For example, Ashley Routledge and David Saunders produced some of the best PD demos ever, and went on to convert games suck as St Dragon and Poseidon.
As your material is all PD, what's to stop me copying the lot amd setting myself up in competition?
I'd come round and break both your legs if you did (temper temper - Man Ed)! Seriously, although there's no law against this it's frowned upon on the PD scene. Libraries do share material, and often programmers offer their work to more than one library, but to deal exclusively in other people's titles without contributing to the PD scene yourself is not a good way to run a library. The PD scene's a very close knit community, and anyone who abuses Public Domain material in this way would soon get a bad reputation (sluts! - Man Ed).
What about home copying?
I've no problem with that, I used to do it myself before founding Binary Zone. It's not illegal of course, and I've often had requests for catalogues from people who heard about the library after copying a friends data.
What's to stop someone buying a PD title and copyrighting it to themselves?
Because then the programmer would pop round and break both their legs! Public Domain isn't entirely copyright free, just freely distributable. All rights remain with the programmer. Trying to register copyright on someone else's game would be illegal, as would lifting large sections of coding from a PD program and grafting them onto your own programs. There've also been cases of PD libraries distributing old commercial games - this is definitely illegal! A game doesn't become Public Domain just because it's been deleted - the rights remain with the software company, or the programmers if the software company has gone bust.
Finally, what can Binary Zone PD offer C64 owners?
Some of the best PD available at very low prices. We always send orders by return of post, and all our disks are filled to capacity. I've also introduced a new service for tape users.
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