Activision has prevented Leisure Suit Larry creator Al Lowe from auctioning off the source code for Leisure Suit Larry 1 and 2 citing that the source code may also include code for games that Activision owns including King's Quest and Space Quest. You may have heard that the creator of classic Sierra Online point-and-click adventure series Leisure Suit Larry, launched a series of auctions to sell off his rare collectables including the source code for many of his games. This announcement was first made through the Metal Jesus Rocks YouTube channel where Al was interviewed:
Together, the auctions for Larry 1 and 2 source code had reached over USD$20,000 in bids before being terminated.
While termination was confirmed by Metal Jesus Rocks in the linked video, a member of the Sierra Gamers Facebook page is stating that Al was contacted who confirmed that Activision was responsible for this termination. The Sierra Gamers Facebook page features many original workers from Sierra OnLine and fans who regularly reach out to Sierra alumni. Here's the quote:
I called Al yesterday to ask him
.He received a letter from an outside law firm hired by Activison that ordered him to take it down. He said in the letter Activison understood they don’t own the IP to LSL but that the source code probably contained shared code to Kings Quest and Space Quest. For that reason they sent him the letter.
Al and I agreed that he was right, but by the time you hire an attorney to prove you’re right, it would have cost more than what he would have got from the auctions.
If I had to take a guess, this is one of those scenarios where Activison is compelled to act. You can’t pick and choose when to enforce IP rights. If they chose not to go after Al and then someone else releases source code that they actually care about, attorneys can point to ALS scenario and say Activison is being partial and selective in their enforcement of their IP rights, which you can’t do under US law.
UK publisher Codemasters currently owns the IP for Leisure Suit Larry.
This brings up many ethical questions surrounding preservation as there is a legal roadblock preventing a game designer from sharing the source code to games he created more than 30 years ago. Piracy is really the only way to keep historical record of this content if the current IP holders have no interest in keeping this record alive.
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