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The Icon Bar: News and features: RISC OS emulators - a clarification...?
 

RISC OS emulators - a clarification...?

Posted by Richard Goodwin on 10:17, 11/1/2002 | , , , , ,
 
It's a long one folks...

After posting about the Virtual Acorn VirtualA5000 emulator, based on Red Squirrel, word came that Paul Middleton had said that RISC OS emulators were in fact breaking copyright. This has caused much speculation, on the newsgroups and here on our news boards. Having now got a copy of the Foundation newsletter in question, and having asked Aaron Timbrell (who is marketing VirtualA5000) for his opinion, here's what I can gather...

Dated December 17th, the full VirtualA5000 message came like this...
Virtual Acorn is the new brand name for commercial versions of the exceptionally popular Red Squirrel Acorn emulator. The first commercial RISC OS emulator for Windows, called VirtualA5000, emulates an Acorn A5000 computer with up to 16Mb of RAM.

This allows a user with a Windows PC to run RISC OS on it, and hence run RISC OS programs. Following our agreement with Pace, the copyright holders for RISC OS, VirtualA5000 will be supplied complete with RISC OS 3.11, the universal !Boot sequence and a host of applications (full details to be announced). Projected price is £29 (plus carriage).

VirtualA5000 will get its first public release at the BETT 2002 show in early January. For more details please visit the VirtualAcorn website at http://www.VirtualAcorn.co.uk

The Foundation newsletter, dated 8th January, had this to say (with our emphasis added)...
RISC OS emulators
There has been much discussion on newsgroups recently about programs designed to emulate an ARM based computer running on Wintel based PC's.

Until recently these programs have been released as shareware and were only capable of running RISC OS 3 based software.

However recent releases have been promoted as being capable of running RISC OS 4 and even RISC OS Select.

These programs raise serious questions regarding RISC OS licencing as all current ROM versions of RISC OS are only licenced for use on one machine and there is no allowance for RISC OS being copied out of ROM from one machine for use on another computer.

(The RISC OS Select Scheme is different as it allows use on multiple machines owned by one person which have RISC OS 4 installed in ROM on each machine.)

RISCOS Ltd has the worldwide licence to the RISC OS Operating System for use in the Desktop Computer Market and I have to report that no-one has a written licence to distribute any version of RISC OS for use with PC based emulators.

Any unlicenced sales of any version RISC OS means that the income from those sales only goes to those who are pirating RISC OS and does not go into further developments of RISC OS.

If you have bought an emulator in the expectation of running RISC OS on it then there is no product which is legally licenced to do that at present. RISC OS 3.11 in particular has not been placed into the public domain and Pace as copyright holders of RISC OS have made it quite clear that they reserve all rights to take action against anyone who abuses the RISC OS rights by illegal distribution of unlicenced copies of RISC OS.

If you have paid for any form of Acorn emulator which includes any version of the RISC OS Operating System then we strongly suggest that you return the product to the supplier for a full refund until such time as legally licenced copies of RISC OS are available from RISCOS Ltd for use with such emulators.
Now, given the disparity in the dates - three weeks in fact - it seems unlikely that Paul was unaware of the VirtualA5000 posting. Also note in our emphasis that he talks about paid for emulators - how many other paid-for RISC OS emulators are there out there? Red Squirrel isn't Shareware, it's completely free; the only other RISC OS emulator currently available is Archie, which is also a free download and seems to have gone into "hibernation" in February 2001. So, this posting seems aimed specifically at VirtualA5000, rather than just the PD emulators. It also seems a pity that the concept of "fair use" doesn't seem to come into play either, that is, is making a copy of your own legitimate software (i.e. the OS in ROM) really breaking copyright as Paul insists?

Aaron responded to both myself and Paul Vigay's request for a quote, and basically he's adamant that he's licensed RISC OS 3.1 from Pace, who are the copyright holders. As he says, he wouldn't be "advertising the product, promoting it, attending the BETT show, and sending sample versions to Pace without an agreement". And given that Paul M says himself that Pace hold the copyright, it would seem that Aaron is completely in the right here.

So, just a case of bad timing in the release of the two messages? Was Paul Middleton misinformed? Didn't bother to check the facts? Or a bit of FUD to stop people buying a copy of RISC OS he's not in control of? He, alas, has not been quite so forthcoming via email, so perhaps there will have to be yet another followup to this saga.
 
  RISC OS emulators - a clarification...?
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Guest Message #89799, posted at 10:42, 11/1/2002
Unregistered user Complete and utter FUD.

Paul Middleton is completely incorrect. It is absolutely pathetic that he is running scared of 'virtual A5000s'. Does he think that his products are that bad?!

IMPORTANT TECHNICAL POINT: Red Squirrel and Virtual A5000 are *NOT* 'RISC OS emulators'. They are Acorn hardware emulators. You can use them to run ARM Linux, Arthur, or RISC iX. They are not tightly-linked to RISC OS.
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Richard Goodwin Message #89800, posted at 10:46, 11/1/2002, in reply to message #89799
Unregistered user Heh, good point - I get so used to s/Acorn/RISC OS/ that I never thought about that ;)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Guest Message #89801, posted at 12:05, 11/1/2002, in reply to message #89800
Unregistered user If you want to install Red Squirrel with RISC OS 4 on a PC is it legal if you buy an extra set of RISC OS 4 ROMs? So you don't put them into a RISC OS computer.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Guest Message #89802, posted at 13:39, 11/1/2002, in reply to message #89801
Unregistered user It's worth clarifying that there is a 3rd hardware emulator besides Archie and RS et al., ArcEm. With versions that work in RISC OS, Unix and Windows.

http://arcem.sourceforge.net/

Peter

  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Richard Goodwin Message #89803, posted at 13:47, 11/1/2002, in reply to message #89802
Unregistered user (previous poster) Then how would you save out the ROM image? :)

Seriously though I see what you mean, you'd have basically bought another license, but according to Paul M (IIRC from what I read on the archive mailling list) you've only licensed it for Acorn/ARM/RISC OS hardware, not for use on a PC. To be fair it might have something to do with the terms of getting the rights to ship RISC OS 4 from Pace, but it seems a little short sighted to me.
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Richard Goodwin Message #89804, posted at 13:50, 11/1/2002, in reply to message #89803
Unregistered user Gah, Peter, will you slow down, I've only just found the download for OpenSSH!

Okay, it appears that since September 30th there's now *three* emulators, but still, none of them appear to be shareware. Also, ArcEm isn't strictly speaking available as there is no download (unless the sourceforge file list is wrong).
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Andrew Jackson Message #89805, posted at 14:19, 11/1/2002, in reply to message #89804
Unregistered user Just checked out arcem.sourceforge.net. There are indeed no official releases to download, but there is a whole host of stuff in the CVS repository. On the licensing issue, it looks to me like RISC OS Ltd haven't been kept informed properly by Pace. Either way, I guess ArcEm is technically unusable unless you're in on the Select scheme.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Peter Naulls Message #89806, posted at 14:43, 11/1/2002, in reply to message #89805
Unregistered user The lack of content on the ArcEm page is largley my fault.

To futher clarify:

There is a RISC OS release of ArcEm along with the rest of my Unix ports.

There's a Windows versoin on the eQRD homepage, which I hope to roll into the main sources.

ArcEm only emulates A4x0 series machines, so like Archie, its use with RISC OS 4 remains academic.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Andrew P Harmsworth Message #89807, posted at 16:04, 11/1/2002, in reply to message #89806
Unregistered user Think I'd better buy a copy of Virtual A5000 then!
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Guest Message #89808, posted at 17:13, 11/1/2002, in reply to message #89807
Unregistered user [...that is, is making a copy of your own legitimate software (i.e. the OS in ROM) really breaking copyright as Paul insists?]

Yes! You need to purchase a licence for each machine you want to use it on. If you have two machines, for most pieces of software you have to buy 2 licences if you want to use it on both machines.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Richard Goodwin Message #89809, posted at 17:16, 11/1/2002, in reply to message #89808
Unregistered user But if I already have an A5000 that doesn't work (i.e. the one I have that has no CPU and a dodgy memory interface), but has a perfectly good set of ROMs, I can't then use that "copy" of RISC OS on another machine? I'm still only using it on one machine.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Richard Goodwin Message #89810, posted at 17:27, 11/1/2002, in reply to message #89809
Unregistered user (p.s. Microsoft also operate a policy whereby you can take one office copy of Windows and install it on one home machine).
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
mark quint Message #89811, posted at 17:53, 11/1/2002, in reply to message #89810
Unregistered user from what I interpret, if you have bought RiscOS as part of a RiscOS machine or from ROL at some point as an upgrade, then the license specifies that you can only run it on 'acorn' hardware, so if you were to use it on RedSquirrel then you'd be as bad as those kiddies & napster ;)
If you buy VirtualA5000 then seeing as they have obtained the license from Pace then you perfectly entitled to run it on your PC - i wonder if you're allowed to run the image on an acorn machine? :)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Richard Goodwin Message #89812, posted at 19:06, 11/1/2002, in reply to message #89811
Unregistered user Yes, it's sad when Microsoft are running a more enlightened policy than RISC OS ;)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Guest Message #89813, posted at 11:18, 12/1/2002, in reply to message #89812
Unregistered user Although I can't remember the exact details, there was a certian point where by if you had a certain version of a product, you were also licenced to use all previous versions to help companies migrate etc. I'm sure the company I work for use a similar trick because Win2K licences are so hard to come by these days, so they just buy WinXP and install 2K.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Guest Message #89814, posted at 19:52, 13/1/2002, in reply to message #89813
Unregistered user Does this not strike anyone else as ROL wasting a great opportunity to bring more people, RISC OS sales and revenue to the market?
Surely they'd be much better off working in partnership with the Virtual Acorn folks, rather than suggesting (apparently incorrectly) that it's illegal.

Robert
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Guest Message #89815, posted at 10:14, 14/1/2002, in reply to message #89814
Unregistered user Mark, I like that one:
Buy an RO4 image from ROL and you may only use it on ARM kit.
Buy the same image from Virtual Acorn and you may only use it on x86 kit.
Hey, I'm gonna swap them round and break both licenses at once! How will anybody ever know, heh, heh, cackle ...
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Alasdair Bailey Message #89816, posted at 10:15, 14/1/2002, in reply to message #89815
Unregistered user Hi,

I can sympathise with RISCOS Ltd. on this one. From the postings Rich quotes in the news story, it would appear that nobody at Pace told them that they were allowing Aaron to produce this emulator and use the RISC OS 3.11 ROMs. Now they're probably concerned that people will emulate RISC OS on their PCs rather than buying new Micos, RiscStations and whatever Castle are doing at the moment.

Further, if they were to successfully stop emulators being sold, I don't think they would be missing much of an opportunity. Okay, so maybe a couple of hundred people will shell out the 30quid for an emulator to run all the games and utilities they've not managed to find alternatives of for the PC. However, they aren't going to buy this emulator and then think "I know, I'll buy some RISC OS software to run on this". Also, I can't imagine it will encourage anyone to buy the hardware either. The fact that the emulator only runs RO3 will only remind people of how much better XP/ME is in comparison.

I have bought a copy of VirtualA5000 and I'll pop a review into computer shopper's what's new? section if the editor doesn't complain. He is an ex-acorn fan himself though so it should be okay.

Cheers,
a
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Richard Goodwin Message #89817, posted at 11:20, 14/1/2002, in reply to message #89816
Unregistered user Alib - the only problem with the above is that Aaron had been in touch with Riscstation, Microdigital and Castle because their logos appear on the Virtual Acorn website. The actual makers of RISC OS hardware seem fine with VA5000, and have said that it won't affect sales; this is /purely/ PM stating his opinion in a company publication. I presume therefore that this makes it the official stance of the company that makes the OS - but almost certainly /not/ the hardware manufacturers.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Guest Message #89818, posted at 13:34, 14/1/2002, in reply to message #89817
Unregistered user It's true, VirtualA5000 is in no way a competitor to new machines, its more like the way PC software vendors give away old versions to lure you into the fold - in itself it's good for ROL.

It's only a competitor to the secondhand market. I saw real A5000's going at the midland show for a tenner (or was it a fiver?) apiece. Virtual A5000 is actually more expensive (if you discount the monitor etc).

The real worry for ROL is whether VirtualRiscPC is on the cards.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Guest Message #89819, posted at 13:39, 14/1/2002, in reply to message #89818
Unregistered user If RISCOS Ltd. are frightened by Virtual A5000 or Virtual Risc PC, then perhaps they should pulled their heads out of their arses a long time ago? If we were all using fully-fledged SA-110 or XScale systems, our real hardware would be WAY faster than the emulator.

Sadly, because we have CRAP hardware, the emulator is considered to be a 'real threat'.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Guest Message #89820, posted at 13:48, 14/1/2002, in reply to message #89819
Unregistered user I suspect the real problem is who gets the licence fee ROL or Pace.

PM states that ROL has the (exclusive?) worldwide licence for RISC OS for the Desktop Computer Market, in which he classes the emulator, and so ROL should do the licencing and get the fee.

AT states that RISC OS has been licenced from Pace, so Pace get the licence fee. So it would appear that Pace do NOT think that the emulator falls into the Desktop Computer Market.

ROL exists to promote RISC OS as a computing platform, so my opinion is that RISC OS should be licenced from ROL, so that ROL get the licence fee.

As a former Acorn owner, I am interested in VA5000 so that I can run TechWriter at work and at home instead of the mess that is Word!

Keith Harris.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Mr Jake Monkeyson Message #89821, posted at 14:00, 14/1/2002, in reply to message #89820
Unregistered user I thought RISCOS Ltd had a license to distribute RISC OS 4 (and derivatives) for desktop computers. VA is 3.1.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
John Hoare Message #89822, posted at 14:09, 14/1/2002, in reply to message #89821
Unregistered user You're right Mr.Monkeyson - ROL don't have access to anything but the RISC OS 4 source either. It looks like a grey area...
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Mr Jake Monkeyson Message #89823, posted at 14:20, 14/1/2002, in reply to message #89822
Unregistered user Do Pace own the rights to Arthur?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
John Hoare Message #89824, posted at 14:26, 14/1/2002, in reply to message #89823
Unregistered user Yep, they own the rights to OS 0.1 if I remember correctly!
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Guest Message #89825, posted at 14:26, 14/1/2002, in reply to message #89824
Unregistered user RISC OS Ltd. may claim various things, but their interpretation has been questioned. Therefore, the argument that "VirtualA5000 licensing revenues ought to go to RISC OS Ltd." should itself be more robust!

It's all very well suggesting how things "ought to be", but I don't see how RISC OS Ltd. should necessarily benefit from the licensing of RISC OS 3.1. I tend to agree with the contributor who suggests that RISC OS Ltd. are only acting up because emulators really do threaten the "native" RISC OS scene, mostly due to the lack of progress in that scene over the past five years.

Consequently the revenue sources of RISC OS Ltd. are under threat and they have no certain way of putting that threat down.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Mr Jake Monkeyson Message #89826, posted at 14:29, 14/1/2002, in reply to message #89825
Unregistered user Has anyone read their mission statement recently?

http://www.riscos.com/faqs/mission.htm

Have they managed to achieve any of those points?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Guest Message #89827, posted at 14:40, 14/1/2002, in reply to message #89826
Unregistered user Surely ROL shouldn't be too concerned - IIRC RO3.1 was launched in 1991 - that's 11 years ago! If RO4/Select is such an improvement, noone in their right minds would want to use RO3.1 in preference.

PM should probably spend more time working on improving the current version of RO4/Select (still waiting for my CD PM...!) than worrying about what is likely to be a very small amount of people buying an emulator for a defunct piece of Acorn antiquity running an obsolete 11 year old OS.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Guest Message #89828, posted at 14:43, 14/1/2002, in reply to message #89827
Unregistered user To put the above in context - what was the comparable Windows product 11 years ago? How much has Windows improved since then? I know it's still crap, but usability, functionality and stability have definitely improved!
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
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The Icon Bar: News and features: RISC OS emulators - a clarification...?