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A clone is a piece of software or hardware mostly identical to another. The best way to determine whether something is a clone, it to check and see if the original product was licensed to the manufacturer, producer and/or developer of the item in question. For example, the Bell & Howell II is a licensed copy of the Apple II, however the VTech Laser 128 is unlicensed.

There are three types of clones:

Licensed Edit

As these are legal, they don't need to be called clones. These can include software sent to a different group for localization or a computer relabelled for distrubation in a country were the distrubator has to be local, such as Brazil was in the 1980's and 1990's.

Unlicensed Edit

Most of these clones are made without the legal blessing of the original company or its successor(s). These are generally illegal, but can be legalized through court battles. The two major instances of this occuring are Apple v Video Technology and Nintendo v Gametech. The courts found the clones legal for technical reasons in the first case. Early non-IBM PCs are sort of an example of this type, but because they used off the shelf parts, and did not always use IBM's ROMs.

Pirated Edit

Although these are always unlicensed products, most pirated clones of hardware and software look cheap. Pirated hardware tends to come in shells designed to look like a current system, but generally is not a current system. Pirated hardware can be up to standard, as is the case with some of the early pirated Apple II clones, in which case, the pirates just steal the system software from the original and try to make modifications to prove its theirs, not the original manufacturers. For software, this type of piracy generally makes a product look like a broken version of a popular game or application. Unlike Software piracy, this doesn't necessary involve breaking existing software and redistributing it, but can be actual cloning. Both types are mostly found in Southeast Asia these days, notably China.

Cloning vs. Porting Edit

Porting is the act of converting a piece of software to run on a different platform. Porting is legal. Unlike cloning, porting is generally done with the original source code.

Cloning vs. Revising Edit

Revising hardware or software by the original party isn't cloning either.

Examples Edit

Examples of hardware clones Edit

  • Apple II - The Franklin Ace is an illegal unlicensed clone ( technically the BIOS is pirated from Apple).
  • Sega Master System - Master System Girl is a licensed clone by TecToc ( actually probably not a clone at all as Sega has no hardware division as of 2004.

Examples of software clones Edit

  • Frogger had several
  • OpenOffice.org and Star Office?

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