Sega Dreamcast, Saturn And Mega Drive Hardware Coming From Retro-Bit in 2018

Discussion in 'Everything else' started by Ian J, Dec 19, 2017.

  1. Autechre

    Autechre Member

    Jul 3, 2012
    We (EvilDragon/me) should stop attacking each other then. I also would appreciate if he would retract his previous statements where he is encouraging forum members to call my character into question based on unsubstantiated hitpiece blogs that honestly tell a very slanted story from the perspective of certain shady contractors whom try to engage in victim blaming and basically reverse smearing.

    We don't have to make this a fight, but all the same, it really looks bad to see fledgling people in a retro game community founded around open source (and that is both programmers and hardware creators like this) fling mud at each other like this and have basically less respect for each other vs. some dodgy reseller. That is the part that does not sit well with me at all, that he'd rather side with a Retrobit and some shady dodgy Spanish IT store vs. the team that is making software that is used by millions (and illegally used also by dozens of dodgy resellers, whose products he is selling as well).

    And honestly, I gave this guy my trust two times now, I don't know what more you want out of me, three strikes and you're done rule perhaps? I might be forgiving to a fault but when it becomes a laugh at my expense I don't suffer fools gladly. I feel backstabbed by what went on, maybe it is indeed a case where people are running out of money and they are trying to make money any which way they can, I get it's a hard environment out there, but in doing so you also cause active harm to people who also have legit grievances with all this stuff. In the end it becomes a race to the bottom where nobody wins, and we are like crabs in a barrel here trying to keep each other down. That is what I feel is going on here, and in the end, open source software suffers from this, the well dries up because nobody wants to be around for this kind of exploitation and abuse, and everybody loses ultimately. Fact is, there is a problem here, and EvilDragon is tip-toeing around it in a rather disingenuous way, and he needs to stop it already. And you can say he doesn't, but the fact it can still be bought on his store speaks otherwise. Facts are facts, and in the end, it's only money that matters to salespeople, nothing else matters.

    So by all accounts, whatever he believes or says doesn't matter. As long as he is still selling this, harm is still being done. By doing this, he is actively alienating every single Snes9x developer right now and FBA coder that doesn't want to see their work being commercially exploited. So it's not just me that has an issue with it.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
  2. EvilDragon

    EvilDragon Administrator Staff Member

    Mar 4, 2003
    I'm pretty sure it's a good intent trying to bridge a gap between emulation developers and hardware developers with the goal to offer easy and legal ways to non-techy customers.
    I've never expected it to be easy - but I also didn't expect it to be THAT hard.

    Yeah, right, as if that has anything to do with that :)

    I'm actually doing this for free. I'm not getting anything from RetroBit but have already invested at least 50 - 60 hours regarding that case.
    The wage I get from my company is 692 EUR per month, in case you're interested in that.

    The RetroN5? Yeah, with all the units I sold before I stopped reordering them... it was about 1000 EUR profit alltogether. Time Machine? 150 EUR so far. I can donate that to various emulation developers, if that makes you happy.
    That's not even the monthly rent I pay for the office...

    Can't comment much on that, as it was your own decision keeping me out of the negotiations. So yes, it can very well be I'm not fully in the loop, but that was the last I've heard.

    I've made it pretty clear though to RetroBit that the full sourcecode has to be released, and they acknowledged that.
    Maybe they misunderstood me, I have no idea... but I'll check that back.

    As far as I know, TIVOization is when the hardware is physically locked down so you can't use the free software that is included the way you want.
    That was the change from the TIVO Rev. 1 to the Rev. 2 hence the name.

    Well, the RetroCade is a standard Android box. You can flash any firmware from SD Card by pressing a button combination on a controller.
    It doesn't have a locked bootloader or anything, it's totally open.

    So if the sourcecode is released and the box is not locked down, where is the problem with TIVOization?

    Please, can someone let me know how exactly it doesn't comply the GPLv3 if the box isn't locked down and the sourcecode is being released.
    Maybe I'm missing something here I don't know, but maybe someone here at the boards does know a bit more (as the original poster doesn't want to reply anymore, if I understood correctly).

    Yeah, that's what people were saying about MAME on the GP32 in general before Franxis started to optimize it and squeeze whatever is possible out of it.
    As mentioned: They plan on hiring a developer, so I don't see a reason he can't work on that.

    And yes, all games they have licensed work fine on slower systems (with older versions of MAME though), so in theory, it's possible.
    How feasible it is and how much work is something else.

    Hm? If I remember correctly, it was you who said Genesis GX is in a similar situation like SNES9x, it can't be licensed for commercial usage.
    I forgot whether that was in this thread or via PM, but I think you mentioned that... as that was the reason for me checking its license (and finding github link, btw).

    If that's not the case, I apologize for that, but I was pretty sure about it.

    Well, yes, it's a few years old.
    But it is relevant in my opinion, as the same things (greed, etc.) you are accusing me have been said about you by emulator devs.

    I also didn't give any opinion, I just linked to the website.
    You're trying to badmouth me and make me look bad, but as soon as a link it posted to some IRC logs, it's unfair and nonsens?

    And - once again - I'm being accused of not accepting licenses.
    I've not released a SINGLE product violating any license. I'm just TRYING to help companies which have products I think are interesting to GET things right (even if they already violated).
    I've stopped reordering EVERY single product as soon as I've been told it violates any license (like the RetroN5), I even stopped selling the GP2X for a month until the full sourcecode had been released (no other distributor did that).

    So yeah, it's nice when you're being accused over and over again even though you're just tring to bring companies and developers together.

    While I'm not particularly fond of how the Time Machine is being handled (but they told me different before, way back last year at the Gamescom), it's fully legal.
    As mentioned, I'll provide the details later.

    Well, not that this has ANYTHING to do with the whole case, but I've had a hockey game Friday night, had to repair the PC of my dad on Saturday, have to edit a cooking show until tomorrow, and I'm currently live-mixing another hockey game right now.
    I got about 3 hours of sleep tonight and replied to the post while preparing todays' hockey game AND were chatting to a German contact at the same time.
    I was pretty much in a hurry.

    So yep, you can imagine how much I care about how well my post was written (as long as everyone understood what I was saying).

    BTW: "Hate to burst your people." (that's something you've written above)

    He who throws the first stone...
    I didn't post the above links (which are relevant, as these were discussions between you and emulation authors) before...

    You were constantly attacking and accusing me of various untrue things from the very beginning.
    You claim to know all of my greedy intentions. As I've experienced myself with the RetroPi myself, it's almost impossible doing proper negotiations with you.
    Based on my own experience, it all starts okay, but at some time, you suddenly enrage and feel like you need to attack your negotiation partner for whatever reason - even if it's just a question about a license the partner is unsure with.

    Seriously, I don't think ANY company will ever have a positive experience negotiating with you unless you stop thinking everyone is just trying to rip you off.
    And try to keep reasonable and don't take an aggressive stance in negotiations, as that is not going to help ANYONE.

    And no, this is not meant as an attack, this is an advice. You're a skilled programmer but it seems you're not well suited for negotiations.
    That's okay, as everyone has his strengths and weaknesses, but it won't help in this situation.

    Well, it's not that we received ANY support from you anyways so far, but you received a free Pandora.

    Let me guess: You never planned to port RetroArch - you only wanted to get a free Pandora into your greedy hands (just kidding) :)
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  3. JDTAY

    JDTAY Half Pepperoni, All Cheese

    Sep 15, 2015
    North Carolina, USA
    One thing I should say, it did catch me off guard when ED linked that hitpiece blog on Autechre, because he's usually such a happy-go-lucky guy.

    That's a bad ED, bad! No dragon snack for you today.
    darkborn and PowerGod like this.
  4. xnopasaranx

    xnopasaranx Superbad!

    Jan 31, 2006
    yes and by reacting so harshly and uncompromising, you are not doing all of these people a favor either. Because they have a say in this as well and they would maybe be open to a more step by step approach and communicating about this in a diplomatic way, rather then trying to force business people who have been ripped off also into dumping all of the little money they have invested in the niche console products they have stashed. ED and the other sceners are not amazon/aliexpress etc FFS. They often cannot stop selling the product they already have, because it's not even their main job, but a private investment as a hobbyist who is trying to pursue their personal interest on the side, while actually risking a lot financially. The importers/vendors are also used to harsh treatment and a history of abuse from different sides. Difficulties with imports have ruined fairly solid businesses in the past, like Lik Sang who or similar who were hit by Sony for selling imports and emulation associated products. So the natural reaction is that they expect law suits or some other repercussion and not communicate on a personal level and rather choose not to comment.

    This is sort of a clash between cultures and languages/terminolgy, too.

    EDIT: The times we live in... this is almost like on the neogeo forums.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
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  5. Autechre

    Autechre Member

    Jul 3, 2012
    I don't understand why it's such a big deal either, which is why I'm all the more disappointed that apparently it's used as a justifying reason for calling the whole thing off.

    I don't understand either why they were under the mistaken impression that by giving us a percentage of the sales, that supposedly, the anti-TIVOization clause would no longer apply then. Again, maybe it is ignorance as to what this entails and therefore they're afraid of it even though maybe the entire fear is unwarranted if the box already allows this, maybe it is trying to tempt us to violate our own license and thereby sell our other contributors down the river here in terms of their own rights as granted by the GPLv3 that is the issue here. I can't be sure here. All I know is that it doesn't sound or look good. This is the problem too when you are selling stuff you have no idea of how it works. It kind of gives off the impression they are just doing this for money and as a quick cash-in instead of actually caring how it all fits together.

    What is so unclear about the rules being the rules? It's IMPOSSIBLE to change a license that hundreds of contributors contributed to under a specific license. You can't just shop away parts you don't like because 'insert random predatory business reason here'. It has nothing to do with me being reasonable or not reasonable, it has to do with the license being the license, and its rules being the rules.

    The problem is that what apparently you and others think of as 'negotiation', constitutes 'breaking the license' in actual fact. We cannot do the things you guys want to 'negotiate' on, because it is not up for negotiation. Like I said before, the GPL licenses are not just a completely corporatist-appeasing license where a company can just do whatever they want with it. In exchange for you using the code, you must abide by the terms it sets to ensure the software remains free. Otherwise, other companies could gain an unfair advantage, hold back future improvements, and the combined collective would not benefit then from these changes.

    It's the other side (meaning - the ones thinking that I am not willing to negotiate) that don't want to be reasonable, not the other way around. I'd argue it's those guys rather than me that slams the door shut on doing things the way the license tells you it should be done, and when these entrepreneurial types do talk glowingly of the GPL, it's usually in reference to GPLv2 because they think it has enough loopholes so they don't have to give anything up of any importance. The situation changes as soon as it becomes about GPLv3, suddenly no more easy TIVO loopholes to exploit there. But see, the entire problem is that the intent is not freedom-oriented at all, is not in the spirit of doing what is best for the community, and is only for petty predatory self-gain of some company that did not have a hand in creating any of this software themselves, but only seeks to benefit unfairly from it while offering no compensation. If any of these companies actually bothered to eat their own dog food and walk the walk in addition to talking the talk, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now and everybody would be happy. But you and others are unwilling to see things from my side/perspective. It takes two to tango here.

    We are not going to screw over our contributors who made code contributions under this license just because some up-and-coming startup that sees some potential gravy train wants to corner the market using other people's software that they didn't carefully vet before. I am protecting our project here and the members who contribute code under it. Never mistake that as being 'unwilling to negotiate', take that as a guy not willing to accept BS.

    --- Double Post Merged, Mar 4, 2018, Original Post Date: Mar 4, 2018 ---
    I never said that Ekeeke and Charles McDonald could not be individually approached and sell a license to their work to any party that is willing to pay for it under the terms provided by the authors, just that the original version available on the Internet can obviously not be sold. I don't know about the MAME parts they used in the codebase and whether or not it is permissible for them to sell this as part of the deal, maybe they replaced all that by now but I know it was still there up until maybe half a year ago.

    And you can probably guess just how many of these 'companies' ever approached him for any license - probably can be counted on one hand, if that. Honestly, at this point if you think that anybody is still following good intent here and doing things by the book, I have a bridge to sell you. Hyperkin certainly didn't - they just claimed they went back to some version that was still under the GPL. Anything but to have to actually honor any of the original authors and give them some side money I guess as a thanks for all their time and effort, profiteering off unwilling people is all the rage apparently these days!

    I have never denied him [Eke] or Charles opportunity, and in this specific instance in the thread you referenced, I warned him about the fact that these college kids at this Trump University-style college were likely never going to so much as pay him a single dime, and that they were already bragging about how he gave them the rights to use it even before they got any money. If you read it carefully, you can see him say 'nothing has been decided upon yet', so they already had jumped the gun and stated on their crowdfunding page that they already obtained permission and that this would not be a worry. I know for a fact they never got permission for Snes9x, and they cannot get permission for it either, and to top it all off, they were doing all this with a version of Lakka, which is non-commercial to begin with due to all the bundled cores.

    Not that it matters anyway, their kickstarter got cancelled, but let me tell you something, I know a thing or two about these shady entrepreneurs in the past decade I have dealt with this crap, and their estimation of homebrew authors is, let's just say, less than flattering in terms of the 'business sense' they think we have. If they can see an opportunity to screw somebody over or not pay anything despite a gentleman's agreement or contract being made, they will do it. That is what I was warning Ekeeke about since these college kids in France also tried several underhanded tactics to try to force letter of permits out of us under false notions. You cannot assume good intent there. You can tell me all you want about how I should be more trusting of people, well, even by your own past actions, it shows that I cannot be, sadly enough. I'd wish for that to be the case but people keep pushing the boundaries of acceptability and trying to think of loopholes to justify actions that the authors themselves are not comfortable with.

    I have also defended Ekeeke when some guy I knew was selling his work on a mobile app store back in 2011 and he was very upset about this person making money off his work, I pretty much forced that guy [Halsafar was his name] back then to offer up the product for free. This was before Eke relicensed Genesis Plus GX as non-commercial. So yes, I have always had his back in such cases. I feel it's important to stick up for fellow software creators.

    In the case of Snes9x, this is impossible, yes, due to the number of contributors and the fact that people just don't want it. All the claims that have been made about Garry Henderson and Jerremy Koot apparently signing off on this or that, I have actually asked bearoso about this who is one of the few remaining active members of snes9x, and he says this is probably a lie by these sellers since he talks to Koot and he denied this, and he thinks Garry wouldn't do this either.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
  6. EvilDragon

    EvilDragon Administrator Staff Member

    Mar 4, 2003
    Yes, that definitely is an issue that is not easy to solve.

    In my opinion it's impossible to get the chinese companies stop doing that, they'll always continue.
    So the only proper way is to release products that DO respect the licenses.

    We need to work together with those companies, not against them.

    BTW: My contact at RetroBit (who is doing the negotiations as well) is following this thread here as well.

    I also explicitly asked some questions about what has been posted here.

    Here are some answers:

    So, you are okay releasing the sourcecode of the included GPL-Products if we get everything running properly?

    Yeah, of course.

    Question about the current status of the negotiations.

    Answer (part of the last email RetroBit sento to Autechre):

    "Got it. We will dive a bit deeper on this and see what we can do. I will need around 2 weeks to chop down all the points you have on the list. Will get back to you when that happens as it may not get to a contract point if we have to consider cancelling the project as a whole if we can’t figure out certain parts. We will certainly try though. Thanks again for you and your team’s input"

    That's what RetroBit told me now and this is quite in line with what I've known about the RetroCade:
    We're currently checking what can be done to make it fully legal - but if it's not possible for whatever reason, the whole project will be scrapped instead of being produced without licenses.
    This has NOTHING to do with the anti-TIVOization but rather with the emulators:
    If it's impossible getting fully legal emulators for the most of the games, then the whole product doesn't have any purpose and it doesn't make sense to continue the production.

    That's a pretty good stance, in my opinion. Other companies would've simply said "Oh well, we tried" and continued with the production.

    Also, the software development team for the RetroCade is sitting in China and just came back from Chinese New Year, so of course it will take a few weeks.

    Okay, once again, I'm not sure if I am too stupid to understand the anti-TIVOization or if you misunderstood something RetroBit said. Please correct me where I'm wrong.

    To my knowledge, TIVOization means that an OpenSource product is being used in a hardware-locked hardware, making it impossible to recompile and change the software to your likings even IF the sourcecode is being released.

    Is that correct?

    If yes:
    As mentioned, the RetroCade is NOT hardware-locked. The bootloader is not locked down, you can flash ANY image by pressing a certain button combination when switching on the device.
    The exact same way it works on a normal Android Smartphone.

    So yes, you could install LineageOS or any Linux on it (if someone provides an image for that), the system will allow that.
    With the USB connectors, you could connect a Wifi stick, mouse and keyboard and use it as a desktop PC.

    Also, as RetroBit told me, the sourcecode of the products used will be released following the GPL.
    So you can also recompile the emulators if you like and change them to your likings.

    What else is there required to follow the GPLv3?

    Please let me in what way RetroBit does not want to comply with the GPL.

    To my knowledge, neither version of the GPL has been created to DISALLOW commercial usage of the products.
    ALL of the, are fine with the commercial usage as long as the modified source code is being released. Please correct me if I'm wrong. I did not have the time to fully dive into all details of the licenses.

    The general idea of the GPL is and has always been that everyone is working together to improve the code. Regardless whether it's a hobbyist or a company.
    The requirement for using GPL'ed software is that you release your own modifications as well and that you need to make sure the end user has the freedom to make changes and recompile the software for use with any hardware you sold it with (hence, it can't be hardware locked).

    Has that idea changed?
    Where am I wrong?
    rSl and Silent-Hunter like this.
  7. levi

    levi Still fresh, damnit!

    Oct 6, 2008
    Somewhere off the coast of the EU
    I hope my local supermarket gets some more supplies of popcorn by tomorrow, cos I'm running low already.
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  8. Autechre

    Autechre Member

    Jul 3, 2012
    There is no 'software development team'. All they have seemingly done is take stock RetroArch, bundle it up with emulator cores they did not even write themselves (we wrote them instead). Those are not 'developers'.

    So all this 'China software development team' does is take our combined effort and spent time, and then sell stuff off to other companies [like RetroBit] to which they hold zero rights to be selling to other companies. Great there, sublicensing code out that doesn't belong to you and to which you hold zero rights. The rabbit hole just gets deeper and deeper, and scummier and scummier. Exactly the same situation then as Hyperkin/Cybergadget. Exactly the same bullshit. And just like them, they continue on with these very same 'contractors' as if nothing happened and nothing is wrong. Tired of that shit too.

    And then you sincerely think open source is going to continue to prosper if this becomes the new norm. You have to be absolutely kidding yourself if you think there isn't going to be a huge dropoff when this becomes the norm and people mistreat and disregard the authors behind this software so blatantly.

    To call them a 'software development team' is a sham and an insult to all software developers, more like 'repackers'. And it's frankly a further insult to injury that they are still continuing with these people despite their past transgressions.

    Anyway, I'm tired of this whole exchange, and I'm tired of the roundabout way e-mails are being passed around that are supposed to be between only me and that 'VP' of theirs. That means he is passing information back and forth between you and him that you shouldn't even be privvy to, even after I already said you should not be part of the conversation. None of this crap makes me any money, while it makes money for the likes of Retro-Bit and I assume you as a reseller. So I'm no longer going to partake in anything that is a waste of my time and is just a laugh at my expense.

    Consider this the last post I make here in this thread. Spare yourself the whole explanation about the Time Machine, I don't need to hear the BS and I don't need to hear what some scam artists from Spain told you, and when they last changed their story, etc. I have seen this movie a million times before.
    --- Double Post Merged, Mar 4, 2018, Original Post Date: Mar 4, 2018 ---
    If it's not hardware-locked and there is no TIVOization taking place, then I don't understand why he tried to first ask me if they could evade this restriction and say that them paying us would make it go away. That cast a lot of suspicion, doubt and mistrust.

    Also, this is not just me who is concerned about this, but my fellow teammembers as well. By trying to bring up the possibility of being able to evade it, he communicates all the wrong things with such messaging, and it becomes harder for me to convince them this is a worthwhile venture. And it's already hard enough for me to convince them/sell them on this being a good idea without these kind of shenanigans.

    And again, he really shouldnt'be sending you correspondences like this without proper acknowledgement to me first it is being passed around. I'm done publicly discussing this any further. There is a lack of trust and confidentiality and that already bodes ill in terms of this leading anywhere positive.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
  9. Dark Pulse

    Dark Pulse Retreaux

    Jun 12, 2013
    I feel like I don't have much of a place or a reason to wade into this conversation - I'm just a user, not developer - but I'll try.

    As much as it sucks to say it, the inherent risk of open-source is that it 100% depends on the honor system. This is why a lot of older emulators, especially, are closed-source, like Kega Fusion (which to this day remains closed-source) - precisely so that nobody could take the developers' rights to use them however away from them, as disassembly would be both incomplete/inaccurate as well as grounds for some kind of legal challenge.

    Obviously, in an ideal world, everyone respects the rights of the original developers - they put in the hard work, and they should get the profit from it IF they choose to allow their product to be used commercially.

    Unfortunately, there are a bunch of people that just don't care, and will prioritize making a fast buck and flying by night. And that's where the issues lie.

    To me, both sides are actually getting hurt. The harm for the developers is obvious; if a product is sold without them getting a percentage of the profits they are financially harmed, and if the product is modified in a way they do not agree with/does not have its source code released, then the project as a whole gets harmed.

    For people who resell these devices, unless they are shady companies themselves, generally speaking the onus is on them to make sure the product they're selling is compliant with whatever. But at the same time, things can easily be misrepresented to them, or they could be under false impressions - and going after them is somewhat like shooting the messenger.

    Is it possible that more diligent homework on the licensing could've been done? Perhaps. I'd say the way RetroBit is going, they are looking to go into private development and/or contracted development precisely to avoid these issues - this way they can have their cake and eat it too. They get the emulator they can sell, made for them in terms that will be 100% agreeable to them, that will never have to obey any sort of license or agreement that they don't want to abide by, and as a total bonus they're under zero obligation to have to release any source code if they don't want to.

    Guess who loses in that scenario? EVERYBODY ELSE!

    Open-source basically plays the long game. Early on it's going to be vastly inferior to anything that could be commercially done (especially if commercial means access to dev documents or things like that), but the advantage of it being open is that it can always be optimized by someone else, even if the original authors are long gone.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying "Devs should just bend over and take whatever terms they get," or "Resellers need to be paranoid about what terms the products they have on their shelves have/if they've been misled or lied to by the person who's selling them for them to resell." Basically just that no system of production is perfect - GPLv3 got made because of loopholes in GPLv2, and while most vendors do their due diligence in knowing exactly what they sell, they can only know so much, with their recourse basically being "I'm not going to sell this anymore," which solves the problem for them but not the more fundamental problem between software creator and commercial producer.

    Airing dirty laundry like this out in public isn't going to help anyone believe that either of the people involved are professionals in any sort of the word. The stances of both parties at this point are pretty clear - Autechre wants to make sure his emulator's license isn't getting ripped off, EvilDragon is trying to clarify the licensing of the product that is in question and is saying that if it does violate licenses, once he is aware of it, he does not restock the product in question. That's it. That's where we are now. Nothing can be done other than sit and wait, short of ED pulling all stock of it immediately off his store until then, which, while possible, does mean that he'd have to have reasonable suspicion that licenses are being violated. If he doesn't, conventional wisdom is to keep on selling until proven illicit.

    The one thing he could possibly have done to make this situation better is to be a little more up-front with wanting to know exactly what's in it, what licenses it's under, and if it's open-source, where he can obtain the source code as well as the source code for their version before agreeing to a resale contract (and even then there is zero guarantee he will actually be able to obtain that), but other than that... the argument is just devolving into a rehashing of the exact same points at this point, and some of them are beginning to veer into ad hominem levels from both sides, which again, does wonders for demonstrating your professionalism.

    It's also where Autechre is much more at fault, because if I were considering using his product and saw outbursts like that, I would've crossed his product off the list immediately and gone for something else. No developer, no matter how genius, is worth it if they are not easy to work with, and while I can understand him being angry, the fact that he turned it into an attack on the person is absolutely grossly unprofessional.

    TL;DR: Lessons to be learned from this whole mess:
    1. Developers do get a right to say their product can be used commercially and under what terms.
    2. Resellers do need to do their due diligence as much as possible in ensuring that their product isn't violating terms.
    3. Nobody wins when developers attack resellers, especially if those ones are trying to make it right under the reseller's vastly limited power to be able to do so.
    4. If you can't be professional publicly, maybe you need to keep your communication private - or let someone else who can keep a cooler head do the talking if you can't do it in private, either.
    5. Ad Hominem attacks are just going to make nobody want to bother with you, whether you're a developer or a reseller.
    Am I missing anything here?
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
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  10. Magic Sam

    Magic Sam Forever Homebrew

    Aug 10, 2007
    Innsmouth, MA
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  11. EvilDragon

    EvilDragon Administrator Staff Member

    Mar 4, 2003
    Okay, now onto the Time Machine.

    That's a pretty mixed bag, and as I said, I am not fully happy with it myself - but I've checked it with a lawyer and it is indeed legal.

    Now, back to when it started:

    Last year in August they approached me at the GamesCom (that was before all this discussion here started and before I knew that SNES9x can't be easily licensed).

    They showed the Time Machine to me and asked me whether I want to be the official distributor in Germany.
    This is basically a hand-made wooden Arcade stick with a Raspberry Pi built-in.

    So pretty much the same thing as the Picade (just without a screen) or my own RetroPi (but with an Arcade stick instead of a Retrode2 PCB built-in).

    So far, that's totally legal (of course) and nothing to complain about.

    The problem is the software they supply with it:
    It's an SD Card with the RetroPie-Software preinstalled.

    I've asked them a couple of times about the legality and they said everything has been checked and it's fine.
    I thought they meant they had talked to the devs and everything is fine (as mentioned: I didn't know back then it can't be licensed). However, they didn't talk to the devs but with a lawyer to check the legality of things.

    I also had a quick discussion with a lawyer (one of my customers is one :D) and yes, it indeed is legal.

    Here is a quick info how they did it and why it works:
    • The Time Machine is being delivered fully assembled. An arcade stick with a Raspberry Pi installed.
    • The hardware is unmodified - it's a standard Raspberry Pi, so you can do ANYTHING with it.
    • The SD Card with the preinstalled RetroPie (and their own config files) is included in a sealed bag including the license (also noting about non-commercial usage of some of the included software). Opening the seal, the customer accepts this license.
    There are a few important things here, according to my lawyer:

    1. The Time Machine is no custom locked down machine. It's using a standard, non-modified Raspberry Pi.
    2. The software itself is not being sold. It is included for free on the SD Card. The end user is being notified about the licenses and the non-commercial use claim (so he can't use it, for example, to run an Arcade machine charging money for it).
    Now, what's so important and different here?

    Let's start with 1.:
    The device is NOT custom-made for that purpose like the RetroN5. Seriously, a RetroN5 without software would be totally useless. Similar to the RetroCade.
    However, this is an Arcade Stick with a Raspberry Pi. The SD Card slot and USB Ports are freely accessible. You can boot a normal Debian and use it as desktop PC or play Linux games with the Arcade stick.

    That's a huge difference compared to the other devices.

    Now onto 2.:
    Commercial usage. This is a tricky one, but here is a way it can be seen (as a lawyer told me):

    Hiring someone to install software on your computer for a service fee is totally legal (of course).
    However, this can also be done via the internet (as long as the software used is legal).

    The law has some clear limitations, but here's a quick summary of what's allowed and what not:

    Let's say a company offers to sell SD Cards with unmodified, preinstalled Operating Systems for the Raspberry Pi.
    This is possible, with certain restrictions.

    For free software, you are only allowed to charge a reasonable SERVICE fee for that.
    For example, if the SD Card you use costs around 12 EUR, you can sell it preinstalled with a freely available OS for around 17 EUR. 5 EUR to flash the image is reasonable.

    However, if you charge something higher (like 50 EUR or similar) it's pretty clear that you're charging for the software itself (which is fine, if the software allows that).

    Debian, for examply, can be sold commercially. So it would be fine selling the the preinstalled SD Card for whatever amount you'd like to.

    With RetroPie, that's not possible.
    Why? Because the software license says it can't be used for commercial purposes.
    As soon as you charge anything else except for a reasonable service fee, it's being seen as being sold commercially.

    If you just charge a reasonable fee to install the software as service for the user, without making any profit of the software itself, then it's NOT being sold commercially - only the SD Card and the installation service is commercial.

    Of course, the end user has to accept the license, so he cannot use it to make any money with it.

    I've discussed this with my lawyer in German language (and according to german law), it's more complex than what I posted here, but I hope you get the gist of it.

    Basically, the reason the time machine is legal is:
    • Bundle of standard available hardware (Raspberry Pi + Arcade sticks) that can be run with anything (not limited to the included OS).
    • Freely available, unmodified OS is included SD Card, sealed inside an envelope informing the end user that it can't be used for commercial purposes.
    • What's being sold here is the hardware, NOT the software. That one is provided as a service for free. This is only possible because the software is NOT preinstalled and locked onto the system.
    • The user could easily go to the RetroPie website to download and install the OS himself fully legal within a couple of minutes. This is also important, as it shows that the software itself is not illegal to use for the end user.
    So yes, legally, it's fine, even though I'm not really happy about what they told me and what workaround they used to be legal... especially as I had expected that they actually talked with the devs back then.

    Would I have made the deal if I knew about the SNES9x / legality issue back then?
    Well yes, but without the SD Card. Then it would be a simply Raspberry Pi case anyways, and installing RetroPie is dead easy.

    However, I don't think products like these are the real concern in the whole issue.
    These are just small companies with little demand (I sold 9 Time Machines so far...) and with such a low sales price, you can easily do the maths to find out they're not making a lot of profit either (hand-made device from wood).

    The bigger concern are systems like the RetroN5 and the RetroCade. These are selling in higher numbers than any of these small custom made Raspberry Pi-Bundles, and they are custom made so can basically only be used for that one purpose.

    It's hard to draw a line anyways. Basically, ever article telling you how to turn the Raspberry Pi into a retro machine is increasing the sales of the Raspberry Pi for that purpose, so a lot of Raspberry Pis are simply being sold to run RetroPie... that's commercial as well... oh well.

    It's a really hard issue.
    rSl, rygD, ible and 4 others like this.
  12. Autechre

    Autechre Member

    Jul 3, 2012
    I sticked around for the explanation on the Time Machine and yeah, I pretty much figured it would lead to some kind of vapid loophole that is completely untested in court. I don't even think it's a loophole, I think that would be giving it too much credit. I think it's complete bunkum that doesn't even pass the smell test.

    Not all lawyers agree on everything, and I hope yours at least was one well versed in corporate law at least.

    I very much doubt this would hold up in court, and it seems like deliberate license evasion through some tenuous loophole.

    I'm sorry, but this is one hell of a leap of logic to be making, and there is no way this would hold up in court.

    If RetroPie expressly states that it's non-commercial, it's non-commercial, period. Cannot be sold then either.

    This honestly seems like shopping around for some tepid loophole on their part that they know would not hold up.

    BTW, RetroPie is also powered by a lot of RetroArch/Libretro cores, for the matter.

    I know they are small companies. Problem is, they trying to redefine and get away with the indefensible eggs others on to start doing it as well.

    None of them do. That's the entire issue. And when the premise starts out with a lie, it's hard to believe the rest as well.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
  13. Silent-Hunter

    Silent-Hunter Advanced Member

    May 29, 2010
    Seriously, why don't they just have a script download the cores after the fact? That should solve the problem, right?
    rSl likes this.
  14. troy

    troy Member

    May 2, 2016
    Autechre, it's not EvilDragon's job to defend these companies and I think your personal attacks on ED are unfounded. While I don't necessarily agree that they're operating under the license, they've given their reasoning (apparently approved by a lawyer) and unless it's proven otherwise in a court of law there's really no reason to get upset with ED. Let's keep things civil here, I don't think any of us wish bad against the open-source community.
    rSl likes this.
  15. Autechre

    Autechre Member

    Jul 3, 2012
    > 'apparently approved by a lawyer'

    LOL. A lawyer whose credentials I'd very much put into question if he co-signed on this nonsense and one that might not even be particularly well versed in corporate IT law. Yeah, I'd put a lot of stock into that.

    Anyway, if this is the caliber of business people that EvilDragon wants to do business with, some scrappy company from Spain, a glorified computer repair shop coming up with this kind of nonsense, knock yourself out man. I'm out.

    I disagree with this, at least as far as the mentality of the owners of this forum is concerned. I think at this point it's clear that our opinions and rights as creators of software like RetroArch/libretro apparently doesn't matter, and unless we want to go the litigation route, we are not seen as equals to be taken seriously and treated with respect as long as there is money to be made by shady entrepreneurs, and those guys are ultimately given preference by EvilDragon. That part couldn't be more clear. Anything else around it is just shopping for excuses and weasely reasonings and strawmen fabricated to justify still selling it anyway. In Dutch they have a perfect expression for this that perhaps doesn't lend itself well to the English language, but transliterated literally it would be something like 'the wish is father to the thought'. That is the first thing that comes to mind here.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
  16. levi

    levi Still fresh, damnit!

    Oct 6, 2008
    Somewhere off the coast of the EU
    If you're going to threaten to leave, please follow through with that threat. I had a lot of sympathy for your position when you first explained the facts, but if you're going to disregard the efforts others have gone through to try and adhere to the spirit as well as the words of the license, then I suspect we can do without you all the same.
    rSl and rygD like this.
  17. Autechre

    Autechre Member

    Jul 3, 2012
    Actions speak louder than words. By continuing to sell it, I don't see how anybody is trying to 'adhere to the spirit as well as the words of the license'.

    You can dance and tip toe around this subject all you want, doesn't change reality. 'Oh something is non-commercial but hey if I can come up with some retarded 'service 'angle then I can really sell it but not really sell it'. That's where we are at right now. It's unbelievable the kind of horsedungee that gets manufactured, and I am supposed to pretend like this isn't insane when this kind of crap is uttered with a straight face.

    This kind of crap is exactly the same as 'my one-man company contractor in Hong Kong [who is a known thief and liar] says it's OK, therefore we believe it's fine to sell it'. You are passing the buck and trying to have your cake and eat it, knowing full well the guy who told you that story is completely full of shit (since they lied previously about having talked to the original devs as well). So how many lies are you going to swallow from these guys before you finally want to admit to the fact they are liars? When is enough enough?
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
    darkborn likes this.
  18. ClockworkCoder

    ClockworkCoder Chaotic Neutral

    Jan 21, 2016
    I'm also trying to understand this situation. It seemed at first like you had some valid points, and perhaps you do, but haven't given any rational counter-arguments to EDs replies, other than to question the credibility of his lawyer.

    As a consumer, I'm interested in the legality/ethicality of emulation devices, and it's reassuring to know if licences are suitably respected, as sold. I'm not, yet, at all convinced that ED has done anything wrong here.
    rSl and ible like this.
  19. Autechre

    Autechre Member

    Jul 3, 2012
    None of these guys care about respecting anything, least of all a license. They just want to make (illbegotten) money off Mega Drive/SNES/arcade emulation, no matter whether the cores are noncommercially licensed or not. And that is all there is to it. Any suitable bullshit gets manufactured around that in order to justify the indefensible. And at this point I am tired of having to debunk this utter bunkum that should be plain as day for anybody to see through. There comes a point where the return on investment is no longer there and you have to give up on a lost cause, in this case the audience in here. And the main owner of this site showing this kind of aloof and non-caring attitude sets the stage for everybody to just fall in line with that and just go 'OK, boss man said it was OK, must be OK, then'. I am well familiar with the appeal to authority. Therefore, there is nothing to be gained anymore in terms of furthering this discussion.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
  20. EvilDragon

    EvilDragon Administrator Staff Member

    Mar 4, 2003
    The RetroCade actually uses a custom made UI (it's not a particularly good one... but... oh well, a custom-made one).
    But apart from that, there's no dev-work. true.

    But still, you need a dev team for that :)

    Even the ones actually putting together an OS of existing programs are developers.
    They might not code their own stuff, but it's still something someone needs to do.

    ... says the one who posted an email from RetroBit where they asked for cooperation publically on their website to show the world that they are just ripping off your software.
    See how ironic this is?

    BTW, I've never even seen any email conversation between you and them (if I had, my first reply would've been different).
    He just posted part of the last email he sent to you as a status update. It doesn't contain any private internal data and I've asked him if I may quote this part here at the boards and he agreed.

    So that's all I've seen from your conversation.

    Well, I am part of the team that's trying to fix the issues on the RetroCade.
    I'm officially helping them with part of their products, so yes, of course I know a bit what's going on by talking to them.

    Still, your wish to leave me out of the conversation has been respected, I've never received ANY emails forwarded or know what you discussed (apart from him mentioning to me one time at the beginning that the profit margin you're discussing was very high, but that was weeks ago), except for this last short quote I received so I know about the status.

    Want to know how much money I made so far with RetroBit?
    Well, the Generations was so bad, that I can't even sell the units for the same price I bought them for.
    So it's a loss about 400 - 500 EUR so far.

    Okay, I sold the RetroGen-Adaptors... that's about 7 EUR profit per adaptor and I sold about 40. That doesn't even cover the Generations costs.
    The SuperRetroTrio was better. I made about 700 EUR profit from that, but had to modify all of them manually to add a PAL/NTSC SNES Switch.

    Then I had hours of discussions with you, RetroBit, etc. For free.

    So yes, that's how greedy I am. I'm certainly a rich guy now..

    As far as I am aware, they wanted to support RetroArch because they're using it and hoped for a bit of support as well.
    That's the only reason.

    That the sourcecode need to be released and SNES9x can't be used was pretty much clear before you even started the negotiations.

    So, he's not allowed sending me a two-sentence quote he sent to you when I ask for the status?
    Something that does NOT in the slightest provide any details of what you've been discussing in detail?

    And at the same time you think it was okay posting an email you received from RetroBit in full length on your blog without asking them first?

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