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Rereleased for Free

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When the rights are expiring, you might as well.
Sometimes, the people who own the copyright for a certain commercial product decide to re-release said product to the general audience as a free product.

Reasons for doing so vary. Sometimes, the product is not doing well, and the people who own the rights don't want the product's community to die out and/or want to keep the product from falling into Keep Circulating the Tapes. Other times, it's being given out as a celebration of some event.

A variation is when the product is only released for a certain amount of time before it stops being commercial.

Another variation is when something becomes free only for a limited amount of time before it stops being free.

May result in said product becoming either an Allegedly Free Game or Freemium. Compare Abandonware.



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    Anime & Manga 

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: The official YouTube channel has uploaded Seasons 1-3, Seasons 10-14, and the second movie for free viewing. Now the Season 10 and 11 episodes are unfortunately region-blocked outside of China and the playlist containing the episodes were removed.
  • Indian series Lamput was originally on the pay channel Cartoon Network before it was officially uploaded for free on YouTube.
  • Motu Patlu, which airs on Nickelodeon India, has all of its episodes uploaded to series producer Cosmos-Maya's official YouTube channel, Wow Kidz. The spin-off Inspector Chingum, which originally premiered on Prime Video India, also got released on the Wow Kidz YouTube channel.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Quite a few movies/shows originally costed money to watch before they were put up for free on Youku, iQiyi, and other sites. However, this didn't last because they eventually made you pay to watch some seasons.
    • Outside of China, some seasons were available in YouTube for free, and also includes the Bowdlerized version of Great War in the Bizzare World season and episode 341-380. At least, but except the Smart Dodging season episode 34.
    • When the season Dunk for Victories were put on iQiyi, originally the episodes beyond episode 6 were restricted to VIP access, but this was later reversed and the entire season became free to watch for a while. But due to even the factor of dwelling popularity of the season, later the VIP restriction was put up again as Creative Power Entertaining's strategy to Win Back the Crowd and just to earn more money.

    Comic Books 

    Computer Software 
  • gives free software for one day only; after that it goes back to its regular price.
  • macOS X version 10.9, known as Mavericks, became free, whereas previously new versions were paid. You have to have a Mac (or a Hackintosh) to take advantage of this, but still, it's now free and previously was not.
    • Same with Microsoft Windows. Windows 7 and 8 owners, even if their copy is pirated, could get Windows 10 for free on launch... but they had to upgrade within a year of its release. Except it is actually more complicated than Microsoft initially stated. You can download and install an ISO of Windows 10 for free, but to take advantage of features like customization, you'll have to activate it.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live Action 

    Film Studios 

  • Project Gutenberg is a volunteer-based organization with the mission of promoting eBooks. People are encouraged to create eBooks of any works that have fallen within the public domain for their country. This allows them to distribute "every" book for free (where "every" means books that are no longer protected by copyright).
  • American Girl has rereleased a number of books for free online, including a promotion to go along with their diversity and inclusion statement that gave every current book with a black protagonist for free, along with the long-out-of-print Cécile and Marie-Grace series (a split series with one black girl and one white girl) and the pre-compilation Addy books (though not with the original illustrations; those had been replaced beforehand). It unfortunately didn't include early books like Saba: Under the Hyena's Foot and some of the History Mysteries, all of which have been out of print since 2005 or earlier.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Carsey-Werner Television has licensed most of their shows to FilmRise for free streaming on the Tubi TV website.
  • All of Father Ted has been uploaded to YouTube onto the Dead Parrot channel.
  • The entire run of The Red Green Show has been uploaded for free onto the show's official YouTube channel.
  • Every episode of The Joy of Painting is available for free on the official Bob Ross YouTube channel.
  • All episodes of the faith-based children's series May Bukas Pa are available for free streaming on ABS-CBN Entertainment's YouTube channel. This is also the same on some of the network's past television shows, such as 100 Days to Heaven, Ikaw ay Pag-ibig, Honesto, Nathaniel, and many more.
  • Run with Us Productions has uploaded much of RoboCop: The Series onto their official YouTube channel.
  • With the exception of the Netflix-produced Next Class episodes, Degrassi: The Next Generation 's entire run has been uploaded to YouTube officially by Media DHX, available on Tubi TV and has a whole channel on the free Pluto TV app.
  • Sherlock: Starting on April 1, 2022, all four seasons of the series are officially available to view on Crackle.

  • Anathallo's first album, Luminous Luminescence in the Atlas Position, was out of print and completely impossible to buy for a period in the early 2000s. During this time, the band members would give MP3s of the album to any fan who asked them online.
  • Havalina Rail Co.'s album Russian Lullabies went out of print, and the record label that published it went out of business. When fans clamored for a way to get the album, the band responded by putting it on their website as a free download.
  • This trope is the whole point of the Radiohead Public Library, an official online archive of Radiohead's material that allows fans to access all of their works, both old and new, for no monetary payment. The stuff included on the site includes studio and live recordings going all the way back to the Drill EP in 1992, concert videos, music videos (including all of the Kid A blips in 720p), older versions of the band's website, liner notes, promotional flyers, and even the 1998 rockumentary Meeting People is Easy in its entirety.
  • For a given definition of "free," this has become the standard for most major musicians nowadays, with their old backlogs being re-released on freely available streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube; while these services do require users to listen to advertisements every now and then to maintain revenue for both the artists and platforms, nobody has to actually buy copies of these old albums and singles anymore. Of course, there's still the risk of these uploads being taken down either by the artists' own volition or due to legal issues, but for the time they're still up no direct payment is required to access them.
  • In August 2020, Touhou Fan Music circle FELT started gradually uploading its old albums to YouTube.
  • But whatever you do, don't download "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Don't Download This Song", even though he put it up on the internet for free. Even Lars Ulrich knows it's wrong.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In August 2009, a Universal System called the D6 system was rereleased as open source under the SRD. PDF versions of a couple of books (including the base rules) were then released to the general audience for free.

    Video Games 
  • Electronic Arts:
  • have numerous examples of this, due to offering many limited-time giveaways of free games and a permanent "package" of free games that can be downloaded and enjoyed just for opening an account. There's even a community-made list of all the games that have been offered over the history of the service:
    • Beta testers who took part in the GOG Galaxy early tests (simply signing up for the service) received a copy of the 1999 Alien vs. Predator for free to test it with.
    • Beneath a Steel Sky was also released for free.
    • Dungeon Keeper Gold was given away free to all users in mid-February 2014.
    • Due to their rights to the classic Fallout games lapsing, GOG offered Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics to all users shortly before they removed the games in late 2013 (although the rights were re-acquired a year later and the games were put back up — and priced accordingly).
    • Users who took part in GOG surveys and system tests on two occasions in 2012 could obtain the entire Realms of Arkania trilogy for free.
    • Flight of the Amazon Queen was released for free as well.
    • Players who had a GOG Connect account and used it to access the service in early June 2016 could download a copy of System Shock 2 to keep permanently.
    • Tyrian, originally published in 1995, was re-released as freeware in 2004 as a gift to everyone else. It can also be found on GOG as a freeware product.
    • A few of the Ultima games were released for free, including Ultima 0 (a.k.a. Akalabeth: World of Doom), Ultima IV, Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire and its sequel, Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams. All of these can be found on GOG.
    • The Jill of the Jungle trilogy is available for free. (its sibling game Xargon is also free elsewhere)
  • Valve Software have given several of their internally-developed games away for free as part of limited-time promotions or seasonal events, as well as select games from other publishers. These deals are usually offered for a 24-hour period on Steam, and anyone who clicks "Download" on the store page keeps the games permanently.
    • Amnesia: The Dark Descent was given out free in September 2015.
    • The original Killing Floor was distributed for free in 2011.
    • Left 4 Dead 2 was given away for free during the 2013 Steam Holiday Sale.
    • Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee was distributed freely for a 24-hour period in August 2015.
    • In late August 2016, Shadow Warrior (1997) was distributed for free for 24 hours to promote the release of Shadow Warrior 2.
    • In late 2014, Sniper Elite V2 was offered for free for 24 hours, largely to promote the upcoming release of Sniper Elite III.
    • Team Fortress 2 was originally a paid game (notably as part of the retail bundle The Orange Box, which included several other Valve titles), but eventually transitioned to a freemium model supported by Loot Box in 2011. According to Valve's own metrics, moving to a free-to-play model (and giving players the ability to create custom weapons, cosmetic items and hats) increased their revenue by a factor of twelve.
    • In September 2018, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was made free like Team Fortress above, after several months of being free only to play offline and spectate matches. The catch? Servers are now segregated between "Free" and "Prime" (paid) players, and the cost of Prime Access is twice the base price of the game when it was paid.
    • In May 2018, both Steam and the above gave away the original Unreal over a 48-hour period to celebrate the Unreal series' 20th anniversary.
    • Brink was permanently made free on August 2017, Steam version only, without being Freemium, although the DLC which features several new maps and features, still for sale with a price tag.
    • Over the course of the COVID Pandemic, quite a number of games were offered for free on Steam to entice users to play more video games at home instead of going outside. To name a few: Drawful 2, 100% Orange Juice!, Tomb Raider (2013), Pac-Man Championship Edition 2, Total War: Shogun 2, The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game, the first chapter of Higurashi: When They Cry...
  • Likewise, Ubisoft offered games for free on Uplay for a limited time for people stuck at home due to the COVID pandemic, including Assassin's Creed II, Rayman Legends, and Child of Light.
  • Like other online multiplayer games, Age of Conan was re-released for free after its creators discovered the miracle of microtransactions.
  • The original SimCity has been re-released under an open-source licence as "Micropolis".
  • Championship Manager 01/02 was made freeware in December 2008, and partly as a result, it remains arguably the most popular instalment in the franchise despite being twenty years old.
  • Elite:
    • Both the original game and its sequel, Frontier, were re-released as free downloads from Frontier Developments, though some wrangling is needed to get them to run on modern machines.
    • The standalone version of Elite Dangerous' multiplayer mode, Arena, was offered for free by Steam in mid-2016.
    • Elite Dangerous itself would become available for free for one week on Epic's storefront to promote the launch of it's first DLC, Odyssey, in November 2020.
  • An Untitled Story and its soundtrack were originally sold for money before Matt released them as freeware.
  • The Elder Scrolls: Arena and Daggerfall have been released as freeware. Arena on the 10th anniversary of its original release and Daggerfall on the series' 15th anniversary.
  • Grand Theft Auto series:
    • Grand Theft Auto and its sequel were commercially released games. The Windows ports of the first two games were re-released as freeware to encourage people to sign up for the Rockstar Propaganda newsletter and on Steam. Unfortunately, there were delisted on Steam for reasons unknown, although they were made downloadable from Rockstar's own website soon after.
    • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was re-released on PC for free for a limited time to promote Rockstar's own gaming platform/launcher around mid-September 2019.
  • PlayStation Plus members get free games that usually have been around for a year or even more than ten years before. Oftentimes the new run breathes life into the online scene. Some larger games that have been offered free include Borderlands 2 and LittleBigPlanet 2.
  • In 2009, Epic Games released UDK (Unreal Development Kit); an open-source version of Unreal Engine 3 for Windows (and later, iOS) platforms. Although anyone selling a UDK-based game still has to pay Epic royaltiesnote , releasing free UDK based games is... free.
    • That wasn't the first time Epic Games gave away a game for free - in 1999, they rereleased their classic fighter One Must Fall 2097 as freeware as well.
    • Epic would take it Up to Eleven when they launched their own storefront to compete With Steam in 2019. They would give away up to two games weekly (and very rarely, three games). And while usually it would be indie titles up for grabs, Triple-A titles like Grand Theft Auto V and Surviving Mars have come up for grabs in the past.
  • In 2004, the former members of Warzone 2100's defunct developer, Pumpkin Studios, released the game and its source code under the GNU General Public License.
  • The original The Suffering was eventually released for free, with ads embedded.
  • Angry Birds:
    • The original game was originally paid for on iOS devices and PC. However, when it was ported to Android, the developers decided to make it ad-supported freemium. But only the Android version. The other versions are still commercial. Averted for the games released after the original, as they were available as ad-supported freeware for Android from the start.
    • Angry Birds Rio was originally released on March 22, 2011 at the same price as the other Angry Birds games. However, on January 17, 2013, the game was rereleased for free, initially as part of Apple's "Free App of the Week" promotion.
  • Bungie's Marathon series is now downloadable freeware, due to the computer system it was built for no longer being available.
  • While Halo 3 is now a free download for the Xbox One, you need to have an Xbox Live account to download it.
  • Skyroads, a shareware racer from Bluemoon Interactive, has been rereleased as freeware.
  • God of Thunder, a puzzle-platformer by Software Creations, was rereleased as freeware in 2002.
  • For a while, the Mektek mod group were allowed by Microsoft to re-release MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries as a free download with their Mekpaks. However, it was removed after Piranha, the new owner of the Mechwarrior IP, objects. Keep Circulating the Tapes ensues.
  • If you can find them, MechCommander, Mechcommander Gold, and Mechcommander 2 are all free to download—MicroProse is long gone, and the Mechcommander trilogy was made available before their sites shut down.
  • Sega gave away a large number of their classic titles as part of the "Make Love, Not War" promotion, which was set up to publicize a sale the company was holding on Steam in early 2016. Participants who signed up each week through an associated site could get Jet Set Radio, Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit, Golden Axe, Binary Domain, Condemned: Criminal Origins, Streets of Rage II, Gunstar Heroes, Viking: Battle for Asgard and Renegade Ops for free.
  • Toys for Bob, the creators of the Star Control franchise, released the partially ported files for the 3DO port of Star Control 2 to the fans, and it was eventually finished and officially released for free as The Ur-Quan Masters for a variety of platforms here.
  • 3D Classics: Excitebike was free to download for a limited time in June 2011 to promote the launch of the Nintendo 3DS eShop.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's World was taken off Steam due to Scott Cawthon himself admitting that the game was unfinished and had several problems, and an updated version was later released on GameJolt. Scott even offered a refund to everyone who had bought the game at the initial Steam launch, regardless of how long they played.
  • Microsoft temporily made Crackdown free on two occassions to promote the release of Crackdown 3. They would do likewise with Crackdown 2 when the game was added to the Xbox One's backward compatibility program.
  • In support of the restoration effort after the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire on April 15, 2019 and to let players see the game's painstaking recreation of the cathedral, Ubisoft offered Assassin's Creed: Unity for free on Uplay between April 18-25, 2019.
  • To the shock of nearly everybody, in 2019, as part of the final backward compatibility update for the Xbox One, Too Human was reuploaded to the Xbox Store free of charge, despite Silicon Knights being ordered in the past to cease sales of it and destroy any remaining copies. Xbox 360 owners can also take advantage of this offer.
  • When obscure Mac video game creators Storm Impact went out of business in the late 1990s, one of the programmers leaked registration codes for the company's two biggest games, TaskMaker and MacSki, on a newsgroup.
  • The creator of Concealed the Conclusion has uploaded it to his GitHub.
  • StarCraft is available for free for whoever downloads Blizzard's (the remaster and sequels are still paid).
  • In December of 2019, not only was there a limited-time free giveaway of Postal 2 on, the original, non-Redux version of the first Postal game was also made freeware.
  • In December of 2015, an HD remastered version of Shadow Complex was announced and given out for free for a limited time through the Epic Games Store for PC.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Love Joint studio releases a free version each chapter of their work for free. While they never promise when they'll do a free release, they average about 2 to 3 months after the paid version comes out.

    Western Animation