Legal Issues Regarding Emulators And Roms


Rocky1980

Still Fresh
Joined
Jun 5, 2007
Messages
13
Age
44
Location
Bonnie Scotland
Website
Visit site
Hi all,


First off I would like to say that I love the gp2x. However with copyright laws becoming tighter and tighter with more and more people getting sued or even sent to jail. I am getting worried and the more googling I do the more worried I am.


First up from what I can tell owning an emulator or having on or your system, but only if the emulator does not use a BIOS file.



ROM’s are another story, first up the 24 hour rule is false, and if you download a rom you are breaking the law. Next up I looked to see if it is ok to download a rom if I own the original, I thought this was ok but according to Nintendo its not

Can I Download a Nintendo ROM from the Internet if I Already Own the Authentic Game?

There is a good deal of misinformation on the Internet regarding the backup/archival copy exception. It is not a "second copy" rule and is often mistakenly cited for the proposition that if you have one lawful copy of a copyrighted work, you are entitled to have a second copy of the copyrighted work even if that second copy is an infringing copy. The backup/archival copy exception is a very narrow limitation relating to a copy being made by the rightful owner of an authentic game to ensure he or she has one in the event of damage or destruction of the authentic. Therefore, whether you have an authentic game or not, or whether you have possession of a Nintendo ROM for a limited amount of time, i.e. 24 hours, it is illegal to download and play a Nintendo ROM from the Internet.

Take a look at Nintendo’s site http://www.nintendo.com/corp/legal.jsp#download_rom


I know some ROMs are 100% legal because there copyrights have been put in the public domain. However 99% of rom’s look to be legal regardless if you own the original or not. I am worried that every time I use my :gp2x I am breaking the law. Does anyone have any more information on this ?
 

skeezix

Internal Development
Joined
Mar 11, 2003
Messages
8,063
Website
www.codejedi.com
FIRST -- Nintendo is not a legal authority. They tell half-truths. FACT. Consider the above.. they've deliberately misled you -- confusing downloading with archival/backup. They are two distinct issues under differeng laws,m yet they are confusing them together. On the one hand, they're covering their rears and its not a legal document so they needn't be precise.. but really, they're just trying to FUD you. Ultimately, they're still right on the point, but they're going about it the wrong way.

SECOND -- it varies _enormously_ by country.

I will append some more..

jeff

THIRD -- almost no one has _dsitribution_ rights which is what you're talking about. The guy offering the download is violating license by distributing without license. Thats illegal for him.

FOURTH -- owning a ROM file .. in most jurisdi ctions, someone would have to prove you don't own the ROM file rights. (Which can be trouble, since there are legal stores where you can just buy ROM files, and there are many ways to just obtain them free, legally, etc.) Still, to be 100% legal, you should own the original carts ripped from, etc.

FIFTH -- it varies by jurisdiction. Really, look it up. Americans should read relevent portions of the DMCA, backup provisions, etc etc, for instance.

SIXTH -- I should write a faq.. I've been answering this question for more than a decade now ;)

SEVENTH -- You can legally obtain roms many ways; there are sometimes stores; StarROMS just went under, but sold Atari ROMS for instance. Nintendo tends not to license out ROMS, since they love to reissue their back catalogue. (This also invalidates the DMCA likely, but I wouldn't know, not being an American.)

EIGHTH -- look for other methods; you can get those game cards for the Gameboy Player, for instance, and then scan them and use a tol to read the ROM right in off them. You can buy them for nothign on ebay or used stores etc. you could buy another emu, for PSX or PC or the like and extract the ROMs from it. There are dozens of ways.

NINTH -- you can rip the rOMs yourself; cost is a couple bills for an eprom reader, and it takes a few mins per cart, but such is life.

So, to be LEGAL you have to own the cart/source. It is _gray_ for you to download from somewhere else, since they're usually btreaking the law, but technically no one will complain if oyu own the original cart anyway.. though legall you shoudl extract the rom yourself from your own cart. Other than extracting roms yourself, it comes down to other ways to obtain it.

Downloading is usually gray at best..

There is ONE RULE to know -- who has the rights to distribute? thats right, no one :)

jeff

I suppose what you're asking is... yes, its gray for you to do, but it is unlikely anyone cares. Few have gone to jail etc. The ones they'd go after are the ones doing the distribution.. I doubt a downloader has ever been gone after, but the uploader he's the one doing the naughty. Still, what you can get away with and what are legal are differing concepts.
 

rokdcasbah

got me a date with botticelli's niece
Joined
Jan 5, 2006
Messages
1,516
Location
up on cripple creek
Nintendo's published stance is always going to be that being in possession of a ROM image will always break their copyright (excepting the Wii Virtual Console I guess). This has nothing to do with actual copyright law, which contains fair use provisions. They even maintain that emulators are illegal, which is absolutely not true.

The *only* way that you are going to get "caught" is participating in a torrent that's listed on one of the high-profile torrent sites, or maybe if you have some P2P app running 24-7 with a bunch of ROMs shared. In either case, what will happen is that your ISP will send you an email telling you to cut the crap because they got a complaint about you.

Unless of course you pirated the new pop album du jour, in which case the RIAA will ship you off to their forced labor camps. Who do you think puts CD jewel cases together?

Edit: What happens in the real world is this: The ESA trolls around the internet, looking for people who are providing certain big name game brands. Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, Metroid. Various famous PC software titles. Companies like Nintendo and Activision get more representation than smaller publishers. Being realists, they only look out for their flagship software, and only for people distributing it, not downloading. Being dicks, they will put you in this class if you are leaving torrents & P2P open for a long time. So turn that encryption on!
 

___

Advanced Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2006
Messages
3,376
rokdcasbah said:
Unless of course you pirated the new pop album du jour, in which case the RIAA will ship you off to their forced labor camps. Who do you think puts CD jewel cases together?
ROFL... I almost laughed my butt off.

I remember when my math tutor got his door kicked in by the cops about 6 years ago back when I was 15. He used to teach me math after school and also some tricks on how to find hardcoded serials, crack cd-protections and get into possession of roms. He also gave a number of neogeo files to me, which was back in those days a real treasure for me (eventhough it was not even half the set).

When they charged him with piracy, they mostly went after his pirated games that he distributed aswell (he was a courier aswell for some warez group, never told me details though). Now in Germany for example, the problem is that they need to find somebody to actually sue you. They will inform the different companies and see if they would like to drag you to court. If they cannot find the copyright owners or the owner doesn't give a shit there will be not much they can do about it, except maybe for some general violations they can charge you with. Soooo... he did not get anything for the roms at all, and he was able to come up with alot of the boxes of the copied games which he collected from friends. He lamely excused all the different serial numbers with "Ah... you know how it goes on a lan party, people's cds get mixed up and all that. Lost quite a couple of the originals aswell, had to burn em.". I think he got away with some 4000 Euros to pay.

This is obviously quite a while ago. Mentality has changed and laws might have too. I am pretty sure noone would get away so easily today, still a nice story.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

foleyjo

Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2007
Messages
550
Im sure the copyright law was changed last year to say that it is legal to download and own "copies of media where the storage and method of playing has become obsolete. (or something like that)

I remember a debate about it on Amiga.org where the were asking if that makes Amiga downlaods legal as you can no longer go into shops and buy an Amiga or games for it.
 

Rocky1980

Still Fresh
Joined
Jun 5, 2007
Messages
13
Age
44
Location
Bonnie Scotland
Website
Visit site
This is part of the problem, no one really knows what the legal stance is on this issue. I know it depends on which part of the world you are in (in would not like to be in the US, if you are in the US take a look at the new copyright laws they are trying to push though). Most of the sites I have been on only deal with US law, arrcording to them its on legal if you own the orginal, rip the rom yourself and use only the rom or the oringal (not both at the same time). I have read some horror storys, for example aa kid downloads a some stuff on torrents and next thing his mum and dad are up in court getting sued for ££££££ this HAS happended in the US,UK, and many more thats what has really put the wind up me. If you a downloading a torrent then since you are uploading at the same time this can be classed as distribution that does not look good in a court of law.


QUOTE
SIXTH -- I should write a faq.. I've been answering this question for more than a decade now


I think that would be a great idea, there must be more people than myself worreied about this .


I have been looking regarding UK law but all the goverment web sites clearly do not fully understand the issue, the best I have found so far is the following

Computer programs
Computer programs and games for games consoles are protected on the same basis as literary works.

Conversion of a program into or between computer languages and codes corresponds to adapting a work. Storing any work in a computer amounts to copying the work. In addition, running a computer program or displaying work on a video display unit (VDU) will usually involve copying and thus require the consent of the copyright owner.


"These are known as literary works. Copyright in a literary work lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years."
 

Orkie

Super Duper Mega GP Mania
Joined
Mar 22, 2006
Messages
2,368
Location
UK
Website
www.gp2x.dev
Rocky1980 said:
I have been looking regarding UK law but all the goverment web sites clearly do not fully understand the issue, the best I have found so far is the following.
UK law works very differently to US law. Our decisions are based on previous ones, not just a set of written rules.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Dunny

Exophase Approved® Forum Troll
Joined
Dec 24, 2006
Messages
1,112
Age
49
Location
Broughton, Brigg, UK
Website
www.zxspin.com
As an emulator author, I get asked this one quite a lot. The simple fact is, as many others have pointed out....

"It depends".

Mostly on the original copyright owner. If one exists, and can be contacted. You may get away with distribution if you can prove beyond all doubt that you have tried to get permission (but even this is unlikely).

However, even getting the IP holder's permission is not often enough - there has been times in the Speccy scene where games have been removed from download even though permission has been given, because some legal technicality has enabled someone to prove they own them.

Fair's fair, and all that.

I'm in the UK, and can state pretty categorically that distributing software in any form where you don't have clear legal ownership will be frowned upon (but not often punished unless you're clearly making megabucks from it).

As for downloading, at least in the UK, you are pretty clear about that - you can download, no problems, but you cannot distribute. This unfortunately makes most p2p apps illegal, as you can rarely download without uploading at the same time.

D.
 

WhizzBang

Grotesque Peasant
Joined
May 9, 2003
Messages
880
Age
49
Location
Last week
Website
Visit site
I have it on good authority (my sister is a solicitor) that downloading ROMS, music files, films, etc is unlawful but NOT illegal.

The difference is unlawful acts are technically against the law but can only be taken to court by the agreived party, while illegal acts are actively pursued by the police.

Unlawful acts include trespassing across someones lawn, videoing a film off the TV, recording off the radio, photocopying a page from a book or downloading a song or a ROM.

However, if you start selling those ROMs or downloaded films etc, then you are now acting illegally and the police will be obliged to prosecute if they find out about it.

As far as internet crime goes the police are more concerned with illegal porn and terrorist web sites than with the distribution of large companies copyright.

Record, film and video games try to scare you into not infringing on their copyright which is understandable but unless Nintendo target you personally for those NES ROMs you are safe.

Laws being different in each country also makes it even more unlikely that Nintendo would bother with the expense and time in doing this for any individual, but a web site with thousands of ROMs is more likely to be targeted. Even then they could probably do little more than shut the site down.

The above stuff is for UK law but is likely to be similar in other countries.
 

moxie

The voice of reason, sense and exasperation
Staff member
Joined
Aug 15, 2006
Messages
2,707
Age
50
Location
South of Sweden
Orkie said:
UK law works very differently to US law.
This can actually be generalised without changing its truth value, into

"UK <something> works very differently to <anywhere> <something>" :lol:

...which is why I love the UK :D
 
Last edited by a moderator:

fishybawb

Hired Geek
Joined
Jul 22, 2005
Messages
1,115
Age
43
Location
York, UK
Website
Visit site
Emulation is very much a grey (or gray, depending on your location) area, as skeezix stated. Basically, if you're not comfortable with it, just don't use emulators. There's plenty of good homebrew to keep you occupied, no matter how unpopular it seems to be in the GP2X scene in comparison to emulators ;)
 

Azalin

What was that? It sounded like a, a sound of some
Joined
Aug 16, 2006
Messages
457
Age
32
Location
British Columbia
Website
www.loremaster.a-host.info
From the Digital Milleniums Copyright Act, addendum november 2006:

QUOTE
Computer programs and video games distributed in formats that have become obsolete and that require the original media or hardware as a condition of access, when circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of preservation or archival reproduction of published digital works by a library or archive. A format shall be considered obsolete if the machine or system necessary to render perceptible a work stored in that format is no longer manufactured or is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace. (A renewed exemption, first approved in 2003.)


Thus, as long as we aren't emulating a PS2, which we aren't, i see a gray area. At least in N.A.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Mille..._Act#Exemptions

The full text, if you wish to read it.
 

saehn

Graphician
Joined
Oct 17, 2006
Messages
579
Age
48
Location
Savannah, GA USA
Website
www.myspace.com
Azalin said:
From the Digital Milleniums Copyright Act, addendum november 2006:

QUOTE
Computer programs and video games distributed in formats that have become obsolete and that require the original media or hardware as a condition of access, when circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of preservation or archival reproduction of published digital works by a library or archive. A format shall be considered obsolete if the machine or system necessary to render perceptible a work stored in that format is no longer manufactured or is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace. (A renewed exemption, first approved in 2003.)
Thus, as long as we aren't emulating a PS2, which we aren't, i see a gray area. At least in N.A.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Mille..._Act#Exemptions

The full text, if you wish to read it.


Those are exemptions for the 'circumvention of access-control technology", not exemptions for copyright. The exemptions section also specifies "noninfringing uses of copyrighted works".
 
Last edited by a moderator:

rokdcasbah

got me a date with botticelli's niece
Joined
Jan 5, 2006
Messages
1,516
Location
up on cripple creek
Orkie said:
Rocky1980 said:
I have been looking regarding UK law but all the goverment web sites clearly do not fully understand the issue, the best I have found so far is the following.
UK law works very differently to US law. Our decisions are based on previous ones, not just a set of written rules.


are you talking about case law? i really don't understand what you're getting at, here.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Miika

Only Amiga makes it possible
Joined
Mar 23, 2007
Messages
664
Age
32
Website
Visit site
rokdcasbah said:
Being dicks, they will put you in this class if you are leaving torrents & P2P open for a long time. So turn that encryption on!
How? :D
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Top