best practices in data preservation

Sometime long ago, a few years after the turn of the century, an unrelated web search brought me to the homepage of Charles A. Crayne, author of the early-'80s text adventure Castle Elsinore. The page didn’t spill the beans, I had to write him and ask: THE Charles A. Crayne, of Castle Elsinore fame? He thought that was very funny. He told me that he’d been working on a Linux version of his game, and was sitting on an unreleased text adventure named Monster Rally – which, if I’d be kind enough to beta-test for Windows and Linux, he would release.

I said gee whiz, that sounds like an exciting opportunity, couldn’t get anywhere in the game, got distracted by other developments in my life, lost contact with him and in fact lost access to what was at that time my e-mail provider. But while looking for unrelated matters in a Russian doll corner of my hard drive I did find Monster Rally on my hard drive and could confirm that a) it didn’t appear to have ever been released and b) I could find no way of reaching Charles A. Crayne online anymore. I can see that 12 years ago he brought it up in a newsgroup conversation with Paul Panks, but his domain name is now parked and the trail goes cold very quickly.

What kind of due diligence do I owe Charles, supposing he is still around, before sending my what could be only existent copies of Monster Rally to the maintainers of the IF archive?

I am not a professional. At all.

Copy on drop box, copy on Google drive, copy on an external drive, and a copy on an external drive that is not at the same location as your computer should be OK.

EDIT: I just noticed that the copy of Charles’ site actually has a working download of “Monster Rally.” That copy includes the following license information:

So upload away! :slight_smile:

Original post:

It appears that Charles A. Crayne passed away in 2009. If this is the case, the copyright for any unreleased works would most likely have passed to his next-of-kin or a named beneficiary. Legally, you would need to get their permission to release the files. (Though, IANAL.)

As far as tracking them down, you may be in luck! There’s an obituary here that names a number of close associates, including his wife Dian Crayne - a likely next-of-kin otherwise known as the author J.D. Crayne (note that this is on the same webserver account as Charles’ old page). The email address listed points to a dead domain, but googling her turns up this page with her phone number, which appears to belong to “Crayne Consulting” in Willits, California. (The “Crayne Consulting” in Pennsylvania may be a different company.)

J.D. Crayne doesn’t seem to have been active much since 2010-2012, but I wasn’t able to find an obituary, so it’s quite possible you can still reach her. If not, you may be able to get somewhere by reaching out to her publisher. If that email address does not work anymore, the same company/people now run a more active erotica imprint called “Sizzler Editions.”

OK, the "Even if you decide not to register the game, you are welcome to make copies and send them to friends, upload to bulletin boards, etc. " seems to put me in the clear re: mirroring it in the IF Archive, so I will pursue sending it up there… any further contact with his next of kin seems extraneous. Thanks for the sleuth work!

The policy of the Archive is “Please only upload your own stuff, with the understanding that we will keep and mirror copies of it forever.” I said this a few years ago because I wanted to have a policy, and before that there wasn’t one.

Now, we’re not rigid about it. In the early years a free spirit of “preserve everything!” prevailed. (Particularly before the era of explicit open-source licenses!) We still pull in copies of IFDB, the wiki, and this forum, because we figure that’s understood.

In this case, I agree that the author’s terms cover the IF Archive. (I can probably get jscott to declare us an honorary BBS…)

Maybe it’s time to polish the edges of the policy some more, too.