What Does Abandonware Mean?

Abandonware refers to software that is ostensibly still protected by copyright, but is no longer supported or marketed. In many cases, the software may be designed for obsolete systems or produced by companies that have since gone out of business. Abandonware is often copied and shared by people without any compensation being paid to the copyright holders.


Techopedia Explains Abandonware

In most cases, the copyright on abandonware is either unclear, i.e., the company is gone with no records, or not actively defended. This means that people can copy the software as they please with relatively little legal repercussion risk.

Popular abandonware includes classic video games played through freeware emulators, as well as outdated computer games and programs. If a company or the remaining legal entity voluntarily gives up its copyright, the abandonware is moved into the public domain and referred to as freeware from that point.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…