During the 1990s, after 10 years of
successful activity as a Commodore/Amiga software
developer, Cloanto found itself in a market that was rapidly collapsing after the demise of Commodore.
The difficult decision
was thus taken to venture into new fields (e.g.
business software and services), while
remaining passionately active to preserve
and support all things Commodore and Amiga. This meant not only
embracing emulation and support of the aging hardware,
but also researching the related legal
requirements, including the copyrights over
the ROM and operating system (OS) files,
trademarks, and patents.
this experience, this is an attempt to
clarify some points, without providing legal advice.
If you need legal advice, please consult a lawyer.
Amiga Forever Background
Amiga Forever contains both
multiple emulations of the original hardware, and multiple operating systems
that can run on top of this hardware. These operating systems do include
different versions of the ROM and operating system files as originally
published by the Commodore/Amiga companies.
Amiga Forever Classic Support
media options are further available to run the same operating systems on "real"
Cloanto, being the publishers of
the Amiga Forever product series and contributor to
the operating system,
obtained multiple licenses over different versions and
components of these original ROM and operating system files, as well as over
components designed to provide binary compatibility with the
original operating system. This licensing process began before the
initial publication of Amiga Forever in 1997. The first
operating system distribution licenses date back to before the 1994 Commodore
liquidation, by which time Cloanto already was both a co-author and a license
holder. Licensing efforts continued for
more than 15 years, also resulting in multiple licenses covering
the same items. We felt that this was necessary because of a
perceived lack of clarity over some transactions which involved
the ROM and operating system files, and which at times resulted in
controversies (which however never affected Amiga Forever).
C64 Forever Background
Forever was released shortly after Amiga
Forever, and aims to preserve and celebrate
the 8-bit systems originally released by
Commodore before the "Amiga years". Unlike
the Amiga, which includes both ROM and disk-based OS
components, most 8-bit configurations only
include ROM-based system code.
Licensing the System Components
CBM/Amiga files, including Amiga OS files ("Kickstart", "Workbench",
bootblock code, etc.) and the older 8-bit system ROMs (PET/CBM, C64, etc.), are
copyrighted and can only be used or distributed under license.
Just like Cloanto initially licensed the ROM and operating system items, and add-on components that required independent
licensing, other parties licensed similar
items, e.g. for limited use on specific magazine cover disks
(e.g. CU Amiga in 1993, PC Intern in 1999, Amiga Plus and PC Magazin in 2000), or with game collections (e.g.
the Amiga operating system up to
2.0x as licensed by the German company Epic Marketing, not to be
confused with a British company having the same name), or for
publishing the Amiga operating system (e.g. Village Tronic Marketing GmbH for
"Amiga OS 3.1", Haage & Partner Computer GmbH for "Amiga OS 3.5", Hyperion Entertainment
CVBA for AmigaOS 4), or for
manufacturing entire systems (e.g. Escom AG, MS MacroSystem
Computer GmbH now MacroSystem Digital Video AG, Tianjin Family used
Multimedia Co., Newstar Electronic Corporation, Rightiming
Electronics Corporation, Regent Electronics Corp., Lotus Pacific
At the end of 2009, in a settlement
agreement between Amiga, Inc. and
Hyperion Entertainment CVBA, the following
licensees were listed: Cloanto IT srl,
Haage & Partner Computer GmbH, Data Storage
Advisors AG, eGames, Inc., On Broadband
Networks, LLC, Envizions, Inc., and
Ironstone Partners (until 2015).
licenses were reconfirmed in a 2011
agreement between Cloanto and
Amiga, Inc. These include the
right to sublicense, and are not limited to
emulation purposes. On the trademark side,
it was clarified that "Amiga Forever" and
"Workbench" would be owned by Cloanto.
For maximum public clarity, deposits of
works by Cloanto and assignments of Commodore-Amiga copyrights
to Cloanto up to Amiga
ROM and OS version 3.x were also made at the
US Copyright Office in 2007-2009, 2011, 2012
and 2016-2018. This was in
addition to the pre-existing licenses, which remain in effect (even without an
additional, explicit copyright assignment).
Operating Systems from Original Amiga Systems
One way of licensing a (single) copy of the Amiga ROM and
software is acquiring an Amiga computer. This ownership in
itself does not grant any right to reproduce the ROM or
and/or use them on other computers, unless this is expressly
authorized in the license agreement and/or by law.
In many jurisdictions, it is allowed to make a backup copy of
software. One interpretation is that making available such
software over the internet, or using it on another computer does
not constitute a "backup". The transfer and use of
one's own ROM and operating system files from an original Amiga to an emulated
Amiga hardware environment on another computer may or may not be
considered a "backup", depending on different interpretations.
Additionally, local laws and precedents, as well as a license
agreement (EULA) that may have been included with the computer
or operating system, may indicate whether it is allowed to use the ROM and/or
operating system on a system other than the one with which they were obtained.
A transfer "from one computer to another over a network" was
expressly prohibited by the "Program License Agreement" included by
Commodore-Amiga with the Amiga computers. Even lacking an explicit license
agreement, one interpretation is that this is not possible. For example,
Apple Computer, Inc., successfully opposed the use of original
Mac ROMs on boards designed to be mounted inside an Amiga
computer for emulation purposes (i.e. to run Mac software on an
Vice versa, the Amiga Forever EULA allows the
use of ROM and OS files
that are included in Amiga Forever as a
backup to restore damaged
original components of a Classic Amiga computer.
Redistribution on Websites
The proliferation of unlicensed Amiga ROM and operating
system files over
the internet was one of the reasons for the official endorsement
that Amiga Forever received in 1997 by Gateway and Amiga
International, two owners of certain Amiga-related intellectual
property assets, including (at the time) Amiga-related patents. Still, it remains a common question as to
whether Amiga ROM and operating system files may be placed online for
unrestricted public download.
The fact that software can technically be reproduced in
unlimited copies at a cost tending towards zero is certainly a
fascinating concept, however the technical "can do" is
independent of the legal "can do", and this topic is not open
for debate on a website that has to respect legality, and aims
to promote and maintain it in the context of Amiga emulation.
For this reason, we have to consider other aspects, which
- The fact that multiple licensees, ranging from computer
magazines to software publishers to computer manufacturers
are able to legally redistribute the Amiga ROM and operating
not mean the the ROM and operating system are "free", but rather that they
can be licensed
- The fact that it may be possible to make a backup copy
of one's own ROM and operating system files does not mean that the same
can be placed online for public access by others
- Notices such as "You are only authorized to download the
file if you also own the original" or "You must delete the
files within X hours from the download" have little
legal value because they are in contrast with the fact that
files are made available to anybody without verification,
and are based on an incorrect assumption, because only the
license that comes with a ROM, and/or applicable laws can
validly state what can be done and what cannot be done
If you obtained a license for doing so, we see no reason why
you would not be able to offer ROM and operating system files for download.
However, without a license, we are not aware of any reason
why you would be able to do so, at least until the expiration of
the various copyrights (the original Amiga-related patents have
already expired), which is expected sometime during the 2080s,
or until at least one of the licensees makes his rights
available for this purpose. This is already the case, for
example, for the Amiga-compatible AROS operating system.
So, the answer to the question "Can I put Amiga ROM and
files on my website?" is that like for everything which is
not your own work you need a proper permission (license) before you redistribute
it. These items include any
that may be owned or licensed by Amiga Corporation, and numerous other items which are the property of
Cloanto and of other third-party developers, authors and publishers, and
which in general would
require similar licensing.
We like to believe that Amiga
emulation has in general been well-accepted also because, thanks to Amiga Forever, it
licensed and supported. If that were not the case, the situation of Amiga
emulation in 1997 or 1998 could have been similar to what happened to other systems:
police raids, legal actions, court battles, etc. Under such
circumstances, many programmers, as they have stated, would not create any Amiga
emulation software, or any
new versions thereof, and there may be little left of the
Amiga emulation scene. Instead, Amiga emulation evolved and
Our long-term goals include the
preservation of the Commodore/Amiga legacy
(software, printed publications, videos and
other works) under a nonprofit and/or
foundation organization. The possibility of
an open source version of the Amiga OS has
also been discussed several times. While
progress can be measured year after year,
the path remains ridden with legal and
technical challenges. We still rely on other
projects and on the generous support of
Amiga Forever and C64 Forever customers to
fund these expensive and time-consuming
efforts. While our work includes the release
of free versions, we also have to ask for
respect for the fact that Amiga Forever and
C64 Forever remain commercial packages. This
is an important part of what allows us to
keep working in our preservation mission.
Because we are licensees of multiple components from different parties, we are part of a chain of
responsibilities, both contractual and determined by local
jurisdictions, when it comes to information about unlicensed ROM
and operating system files, or copies of Amiga Forever. When we receive reports about websites which are
claimed to provide such files, we are obliged by law and by
contract to take some action. This could be a friendly email
to the webmaster, which usually concludes the matter in an
amicable and constructive way for all parties, or, more
regrettably, it could escalate all the way to the ISP and to
local computer crime authorities. When this happens, we consider this a
failure, and we too feel bad about this.
We've also experienced a few unfortunate episodes of
confusing Amiga Forever "homepages" using our graphics, texts, descriptions and
even HTML keywords and tags. These had to be removed. Similarly, eBay listings
occasionally had to be removed,
sometimes with the help of third
Forever by Cloanto is listed in eBay's
program page). We don't like doing this, and we most certainly would
prefer to prevent such episodes from happening in the first
place, which is one of the reasons why this page exists.
Emulation and Piracy
Cloanto publicly stands for legal Amiga emulation since 1997. As supporters of
since the beginning and publishers of Amiga Forever and C64
Forever, we are
in the difficult position of having to answer to issues of actual software
piracy, but also to the
prejudice that emulation encourages piracy.
For example, we repeatedly asked IDSA to
reconsider some of its public statements and positions about emulation. We
like to believe that also as a direct result of our efforts, which they
graciously acknowledged, their FAQ pages, among others, have been modified
in a way that we see as a positive development towards the acceptance of
emulation. Similarly, we have been communicating with mobile
device manufacturers to improve the perception of classic emulation software in
their marketplaces, also where it originally was not even allowed.
We believe that ROM and operating system piracy hurt the cause of emulation
just as officially licensed or free solutions help it. Please consider what happened to so many emulators
for other systems, and help us keep the current oasis of emulation peace and prosperity. We need all the support we can get in doing things
in a legally strong and recognized way, also in new mobile app marketplaces, and
challenge the misconception that emulation equals piracy.
Sooner or later the situation will inevitably change (due to the expiration
or special exemption status of some copyrights, or because of the quality and diffusion of
compatible alternatives, or for other
factors), but until then we need your help to preserve the integrity of
Commodore/Amiga emulation. Please make sure that any floppy disk images of games and
other programs that you may make available through your website have been
released for such distribution by the publishers. It does not cost much to
ask, and many former software companies have already given their
consent to this. Please also include information to this respect on your
site, to make other people understand and appreciate this (e.g. "The disk
images on this site have been released by the original publishers for free
online distribution"), and include appropriate copyright and trademark
notices for each file.
The Amiga Forever
Downloads page contains links to some of the sites which have been most
successful in obtaining proper rights to offer old Amiga game titles
for download. While some of the sites are funded by advertising,
the downloads are free.
In addition to the original ROM and operating system files, open source
projects such as AROS provide
some compatibility with the original system. AROS
is both free and easy to license, and includes a 68K build (a
project sponsored by Cloanto) with
binary compatibility option.
Links to the Amiga Forever and C64 Forever homepages (www.amigaforever.com,
are of course always very appreciated. There is also an
affiliate program, if you would like to
get more actively involved with supporting our projects. Thank you!