Atari ST Cubase v2.0 and v3.1 copyright questions

I run an Atari ST-based music studio and am looking to get a copy of Cubase 3.1 and Cubase 2.0.

As the original packs with dongle are so hard to find, I have noticed there are some pirated versions on eBay where the copy protection has been removed, and wondered what the legal standing is with this software.

Are these software titles now classed as abandonware, or does Steinberg still have copyright rights over this very old software, and therefore those re-selling this software without permission are essentially illegally pirating the software for monetary gain?

Generally quite an interesting topic, I think :slight_smile:

I think it is very much dependent on where you live. Those product are designed before Ecodesign Directive (EU). Steinberg does not provide the dongles as spare part and the directive says: repairs should be possible by design and not hindered by software programming.

So, it sounds like the software is not in a position to be supported at all.

I am based in the UK.

I offer a service to transfer and convert Notator and Cubase files to the PC, and sometimes have to convert the format of the files using a variety of Atari ST-based software.

I get asked about Cubase dongles, and when I say they are as rare as hen’s teeth, they ask for copies. There are obviously cracks of Cubase 3.1 floating about, I think these are still pirated/illegal copies, especially if sold for profit.

Needless to say, I do not provide the cracked software but it also means this doesn’t help the community grow/stay active.

It is hard to know what to do.

Certainly not supported and unless you already have a dongle you won’t be able to use sx which can convert arr files. I had quite a few from the Atari I needed to convert.

There definitely were Atari cracked versions and sx but no idea what the legal status is. I wouldn’t use them but since I do have a usb dongle I can get sx

I am no legal expert, but I don’t think that Steinberg loses its copyright on the software, even if it is effectively abandonware.
It’s the same with many of the old game disk images for emulators, if the company or the legal successor still exists, they still hold the copyright and distributing them is technically not legal, afaik.
Whether anyone will really prosecute that is another question.

In the past I’ve used Atari 3.1 with a dongle and the Midex-5 and I even still have the hardware but I upgraded to the PC version 2.0 at the time and switched the Atari dongle for a parallel port PC dongle. So unfortunately I don’t have it anymore.

If you look how their approach is on SE3, SX3 and even VST24/5, in my opinion highly obsolete software today, I don’t think Steinberg doesn’t concider anything as abandonware.

So I suspect they will even consider a cracked version of Atari Cubase 3.1 as a violation of their copyright?

I think the best way to really find out is to contact Steinberg.

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It would be cool from Steinberg to give permission to everybody to use cracks on Atari.
Given the amount of dongles that were eaten by dogs (yes, that was a standard excuse from “customers”) there can’t be many left.

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Yeah, absolutely! :slight_smile:

Yes, I agree but I can’t seem to find a relevant contact. I will try LinkedIn :slight_smile:

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Personally I think a better idea would be for Steinberg to publish the specifications of the old file formats (.ARR, .ALL and .SNG) which would allow the community to create the tools to convert these to an open format such as Standard MIDI Files.

It could be the case that this information is simply no longer available and has been lost.

I suspect you’re correct. The problem I see with declaring Atari “cracks” as now legitimate is the precedent it would set; it’s equivalent to saying “if you commit a crime now, it’s wrong, but if we don’t catch you, after a number of years it’ll be OK”.

That said, there was one Atari version of Cubase called “Cubase Lite” that was declared freeware a long time ago, and thanks to the great work of the late Tim Conrardy this was rescued on his website, “Tim’s Atari MIDI World”, long since gone, but mirrored here (scroll down to the section “ATARI CUBASE FILES”).


I like the idea but you do have the added complication that most Atari ST disks are not readable on a PC for transferring. If I could find the specification of each format, I would write a script. I’ll do some research :slight_smile:

Yes, I think you’re right on the cracks - specific permission must be allowed for each of the titles in question to avoid this.

I am aware of the software and site, very useful :slight_smile:

I know with the version of Atari I had the disks could be read by a pc and is what I used. There was also a utility years ago that allowed the pc to read disks from an Atari as I did have some older ones that it couldn’t read. I remember I updated the rom chips on mine and memory.

All files of Atari could be read on PC, but Cubase versions post SE/SX3 do not recognize the *.arr and *all files. And coming from Atari I thought SE/SX3 would be able to load them. But it would not show any data on the tracks. So another conversion was needed.
I never heard of any ‘tool’ to convert them? So I found out the hard way :frowning_face: and discovered that when I load them into VST32 I could see the track information. I then "saved them as’ to a new *.arr and *all and could then load them into Cubase SE/SX3 to be saved as a *cpr file.

I remember myself sitting down on the floor on my knees looking at a screen on top of the improvised Windows98 midi tower just installed for this purpose shouting Yeahhhhh!

So Atari files (*.arr and *all) first need to be saved with VST24 or VST32. The files can then be loaded into SE/SX3 to be saved as a *cpr file. This file can be read by even today’s versions up to Cubase12.

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Early Atari’s STs didn’t have pc format disks so they couldn’t be read on a pc and did need a utility to be read. Later they did use the same format and worked on a PC.

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I meant the Atari disk formats; 720K MSDOS was dual readable but not custom Atari ST formats such as 10 sectors, 11 sectors, etc.

Really awesome information to know, thank you!!

The solution was to format a 720k disk on a PC and use that for data transfers. Both the PC and the ST could read and write to that format.

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