Abandonware is software that its copyright holders have abandoned, either because they cease to exist or have shifted their focus elsewhere. These products have no official support channels and are unavailable for sale legally.

The term abandonware rose and is mostly associated with video games. Before the emergence of online gaming distributors like Steam and GOG, many video games were available for a limited time. It was almost impossible to get retail copies once the purchase window was closed. Fans created abandonware sites to keep the games in circulation.

Despite abandonware being neglected by their owners, they’re still covered by copyright and cannot be distributed without the owner’s permission. However, it’s very rare to witness copyright claims since copyright holders don’t pursue them. In addition, conflicts between developers and publishers hinder the enforcement of copyright claims.