I'd be happy to buy all my games legallly and all. But I will resort to shady tricks to get them if necessary, and I won't preach to others that it is bad to pirate games.

I'm not an especially smart guy and I'm not an especially rich guy... and I *am* a huge fan of old video games. There's never, ever been a situation where it's taken more than a little fun searching to find a rare game I need. "The universe is so mean to me!" is just a cheap excuse.
I work in a public library and every day I hear our patrons talk about copying our software, our audio CDs, and our books on CD. In fact they love to come to the Circulation desk and tell us how many CDs they burned the previous evening- "public property," they like to say. I just laugh and shake my head. We are getting ready to convert our entire VHS collection to DVD, so that should provide even more "entertainment."

Question: What about making "back up" copies of floppies, CDs, DVDs, etc? Is that one of those, "If you own it you can copy it as long as you don't give it away" exceptions to the rule, or does that constitute "unauthorized duplication/reproduction?" I'd really like an accurate answer to that one because I rarely hear the same thing twice. Maybe I'll get off my can one day and do the research.....

I've read the many yes-it-is, no-it-isn't threads/posts in this forum, and I have to say that those who follow copyright protection guidelines are never going to find themselves on the wrong side of this discussion. Is there a gray area? I guess that depends an individual's faith in his ability, if taken to task, to circumvent the letter and spirit of the law.
Wow, I wasn't anticipating a Hardwar discussion turning into an ethics debate.

"Abandonware" is a fictional term because of intellectual property laws; in a practial sense, "extinctware" or "USA-onlyware" is probably a more accurate description for such old games. Someone somewhere loved their ideas enough to make a game out of them, just the games weren't loved enough by others to be kept around for the future.

However, I've never read an obsolesence clause in any EULA, so maybe people think they have the right to distribute other people's work when they believe they are the last people on earth to be playing these games. I don't agree with sidestepping the law, but I can understand why so many people want to. I'd be thrilled if I found a Captain Comic out there, but wouldn't feel right about passing around the non-shareware version.
Regarding backup copies - the legal stuff differs between countries. Most western countries seem to have something like this in effect: You ARE allowed to make ONE backup copy of stuff you own. You may not give it away of course. You MAY NOT circumvent the copy protections in place when doing so however.
Sounds contradicting? Sure is...
You ARE allowed to make ONE backup copy of stuff you own.

That's a lie. If you copy a game, a movie, or a CD, or any other copyrighted property, you're breaking the copyright. Of course, if it's for your own personal use then no one really cares. The police going to bust down your doors and haul you off, they'd have to arrest almost entire countries.
It depends on the country, and the terms of the contract/EULA, really. There is no one blanket "yes you can" or "no you can't" that will cover all situations.

In general, though, software EULAs do allow for one backup copy of a program you own, but you can't keep the copy if you get rid of the original. The details are best left to someone with a legal background looking at the individual cases, as few are the same.
At least here (and I think pretty much in all Europe) you can take the EULA and flush it down the toilet. Simply as that. It has no leal meaning AT ALL. If it is presented only inside the installation process it is too late anyway and cannot be enforced. If it is outside the disks it is still not possible to enforce stuff that is against normal copyrigth laws.
And a private backup IS part of copyright law - see fair use...