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The Legality of ROMs?

[Reply] #1
10-23-2011 08:00 PM
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Cid
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So, I’ve got a question people of the games section.

Some months ago, a friend of mine was interested building his own MAME cabinet. But he wanted it to be legal, for the most part. I always figured that as long as you owned a copy of the original game that owning the ROMs was completely legal. But according to him, that’s not the case. Apparently some companies (Nintendo included) say that owning a physical copy of the game doesn’t automatically entitle you to a digital copy. Even if ripped from your own personal cartridge/disc.

I searched google, and there doesn’t seem to be any definitive answer. So I turn to the pseudo intellectual and lawyer wannabes of moviecodec for your ever important input.


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[Reply] #2
10-23-2011 08:05 PM
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The Sisko
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i recall it being something along the lines of if you own a copy of the game you can burn it onto a PC or something as long as you don’t share it with other people or attempt to sell it as your own product or something.

most people only play ROMS of older games whether it be from PS1 era to as far back as the NES. companies aren’t exactly going to try legal actions against people getting games that aren’t even available anymore. example? me and my friend went around manhattan looking for a legit copy of megaman X3 since he want’s to build a collection of the series. we never found a copy. assuming he went home and simply downloaded a rom of it, you’d be hardpressed to really see if someone would try to press charges for him downloading a game he can’t even find really ( on EBAY they are expensive as fuck too).


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[Reply] #3
10-23-2011 08:11 PM
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Cid
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The Doctor wrote: i recall it being something along the lines of if you own a copy of the game you can burn it onto a PC or something as long as you don’t share it with other people or attempt to sell it as your own product or something.

most people only play ROMS of older games whether it be from PS1 era to as far back as the NES. companies aren’t exactly going to try legal actions against people getting games that aren’t even available anymore. example? me and my friend went around manhattan looking for a legit copy of megaman X3 since he want’s to build a collection of the series. we never found a copy. assuming he went home and simply downloaded a rom of it, you’d be hardpressed to really see if someone would try to press charges for him downloading a game he can’t even find really ( on EBAY they are expensive as fuck too).



Well, he didn’t think he’d be prosecuted for it, it was mostly for the morality of it. Which is why I’m asking as well. I’ve gone completely legit in my media collection. No burned games, modded consoles, illegally downloaded MP3s, and all that jazz. I want to be able to play my GBA, PS1, and other games on the go... But without having to lug around a handheld. So I found some emulators for my Android phone and downloaded ROMs of games that I’ve bought. (whether it be on Wii Virtual Console, PSN, or actual physical copies) I’m mostly just curious, because I do believe that it should be legal so long as I own a purchased copy.


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[Reply] #4
10-23-2011 08:13 PM
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The Sisko
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meh, when you enter the morality section it’s a pretty subjective area.

if you want to feel good about yourself then yea, if you own the game it should be perfectly fine to get ROMS of them.

there probably isn’t some kind of national or international law regarding this because it isn’t that big of an issue as some people make it out to be.


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[Reply] #5
10-23-2011 08:19 PM
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Cid
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The Doctor wrote: meh, when you enter the morality section it’s a pretty subjective area.

if you want to feel good about yourself then yea, if you own the game it should be perfectly fine to get ROMS of them.

there probably isn’t some kind of national or international law regarding this because it isn’t that big of an issue as some people make it out to be.



I just figured that I’d gather opinions, maybe start a discussion. tounge

But from my understanding, it WAS a big issue at some point. I read somewhere that many years ago some people were actually taken to court. Of course, I think it was in the 90s before piracy actually became common.


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[Reply] #6
10-23-2011 08:27 PM
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FireWolf81
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Owning duplicate copies of the game is leagally wrong if my understandings are correct.

Game companies of late, seek royalties from ex-rental/pre-owned games. This is especially apparent for EA games, wherein you need to purchace a code for a nominal fee, to play online.

Now given the outdated nature of retro games, this isn’t possible. However I do believe that game companies would frown upon you duplicating a game even if you own it. If you want multiple copies of a game, you should buy multiple copies...atleast that is the argument I have heard on the internets from game company reps.

Theres also the issue that by its nmere existance, Roms open the door for illeggal sharing and piracy. After all, piracy is the unauthorised duplication of any material without the owners expressive permision.

Just by owning a rom, you are opening the door to prosecution. When you purchaced the inital item, be it a game, book or movie; you are buyng the right to use that physical copy of the item for personal use. By duplicating that item, you are breaching that original purchase as you now own another copy of the said object with no monetary gain to the original creator.

Also my copying the item, you could theoretically mass produce it, alter it, market it and otherwise sell it without the creators permission, despite whether you intend to do so or not.

Unless it expressivly states on the packaging or in some form or written aggrement that you are authorised to recreate, duplicate or otherise alter the object/work, you have no legal right to do so. You have purchaced the rights to use the object in its intended purpose for personal use only in its natural state.

Copying or otherwise duplicating said object is a breach of the agreement and is illegal.


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[Reply] #7
10-23-2011 08:28 PM
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Marly
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You are legally allowed to make a backup, but the device that makes the backup is illegal according to the DMCA.

I’m pretty sure that’s how it went. The law regarding it is pretty retarded.


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[Reply] #8
10-23-2011 08:37 PM
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FireWolf81
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copy pa’sta

Legal status

ROMs themselves are not illegal per se. This section gives a general discussion of the legal status of ROMs as regards the various uses to which they may be put, though this should not be construed as legal advice.
[edit] Private ownership

In some countries, it is legal for an individual to personally make backup copies of a game they own. Individuals may make backup copies for various reasons, perhaps as insurance against losing the game or as redundancy in the event that the original game’s medium becomes unreadable. See the section on ROMs and Preservation.

However, in the U.S. it has been illegal since 1983 for a user to create their own backups of video game ROMs onto other cartridges. This was decided in the court case of Atari v. JS&A. JS&A manufactured a “game backup” device that allowed users to dump their Atari ROMs onto a blank cartridge. JS&A argued that the archival rule allowed for this. The court disagreed, noting that ROM media was not subject to the same volatility as magnetic media (for which the law was created). Thus, not being so relatively vulnerable, ROMs were not applicable under section 17 USC 117(a)(2).[5]

Chuck Cochems has put forth the argument that copying a legitimate item of software specifically for personal use with an emulator is legally justifiable under principles established by the Sony v. Universal ruling, particularly with regard to personal use being favorable towards justification under the fair use doctrine.[6]

Some games companies, such as Nintendo, print warnings inside their game manuals that they do not allow users to make backup or archival copies. Whether or not these warnings in this specific form can be considered valid contracts is legally questionable. For an overview of relevant issues, see user agreement (EULA), shrink wrap contract, clickwrap, Fair Use, Fair Dealing and DMCA.
[edit] Official licenses

It is, of course, legal to purchase a ROM image which has been licensed to you by the rights holder. For example, Atari once made a number of their original arcade games available in ROM format which is compatible with the MAME emulator through the online ROM retailer Star ROMs. Nintendo provides a service on their 7th generation console, the Wii, that allows players to purchase old games from various systems, such as the NES, which will download a ROM image and emulator upon purchase (see Virtual Console). This is similar to the PlayStation Store re-releases of games for the original PlayStation for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable, and the Xbox Live Arcade’s re-release of many old video games such as the original Sonic the Hedgehog for the Xbox 360.

The vast majority of computer and video games from the history of such games are no longer manufactured. As such, the copyright holders of some games have offered free licenses to those games, often on the condition that they be used for non-commercial purposes only. For example, fourteen of the games emulated in MAME, including Gridlee and Robby Roto, have been made available under such licenses and are distributed by the MAME project.[7]
[edit] Unlicensed ROMs

While some games which no longer make any profit fit into the category above, the vast majority are no longer available in any form. The legality of obtaining such games varies from country to country. Some countries have special exceptions in copyright laws or case law which permit (or discourage less) copying when an item is not available for legal purchase or when the copying is for non-commercial or research purposes, while other countries may make such practices firmly illegal. There is often a distinction drawn between distribution and downloading, with distribution being seen as the greater offence.

Commercial distribution of copyrighted games without the consent of the copyright holder is generally illegal in almost all countries, with those who take part in such activities being liable for both criminal and civil penalties. Online auction sites such as eBay have sometimes been used by sellers to sell unauthorised copies of games which are advertised as legitimate copies. Such sellers, in addition to violating copyright laws, may also be prosecuted for fraud or false advertising.
[edit] Abandonware
Main article: Abandonware

It is often the case that games still under copyright protection are no longer sold or marketed by their copyright holders. This may be due to the perceived lack of demand or for other reasons. Some hobbyists engaged in ROM trading claim that such games should be deemed abandoned by their respective copyright holders so that the games, classed as abandonware, can be freely traded. However, the copyright laws of most countries, including all signatories of the Berne Convention, grant copyright holders the exclusive right to distribute, or not distribute, a work until such time as the copyright expires under law or is granted to the public domain by the copyright holder.
[edit] Legal enforcement

There have been few convictions and lawsuits related to ROM trading. Criminal convictions tend to be related to high-profile warez groups which trade combinations of recent films and computer games. In contrast, the ROM scene tends to concentrate mostly on older games. Given the lack of continuing profit from most older games, the grievances of games companies rarely exceed sending a cease and desist letter which demands that the recipient stop distributing the copyrighted works in question.
[edit] References

^ Conley, James; Andros, Ed; Chinai, Priti; Lipkowitz, Elise; Perez, David (Spring 2004). “Use of a Game Over: Emulation and the Video Game Industry, A White Paper”. Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property 2 (2). Retrieved 2009-05-06. “Fans of classic games argue that emulation preserves video arcade games, many of which would otherwise be approaching extinction."
^ “About MAME”. MAME. 2007-11-30. Retrieved 2009-05-06. “MAME is strictly a non-profit project. Its main purpose is to be a reference to the inner workings of the emulated arcade machines. This is done both for educational purposes and for preservation purposes, in order to prevent many historical games from disappearing forever once the hardware they run on stops working."
^ Hyman, Paul (2004-10-08). “Game over? Not if preservationists have their way”. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2009-05-06. “[T]he archivists feel that the more copyable something is, the more likely it’s going to survive in the long term.“[dead link]
^ CPS2Shock (2001-jan-07) The Future Intent of CPS2shock, accessed 2007-aug-10
^ Sam Pettus (1999). “The EmuFAQ - Appendix B, Important Court Decisions”. World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2 December 2010.
^ Cochems, Chuck (2000-03-11). “EmuFAQ Addendum - The Question of ROMs”. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
^ “MAME-compatible ROM Images”. mamedev.org. MAME Development Team. Retrieved 2008-03-29.


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[Reply] #9
10-23-2011 09:37 PM
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Kinasin
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It’s illegal. Although who doesn’t play roms I mean seriously.


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[Reply] #10
10-24-2011 12:22 AM
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Cid
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I got FF7 running on my Droid X2.

Goddamn, I love this phone.


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The Doom wrote:

Broli wrote:
Getting rid of Cid has become much harder


Cid is evil.

[Reply] #11
10-24-2011 02:15 AM
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Kinasin
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Cid wrote: I got FF7 running on my Droid X2.

Goddamn, I love this phone.



There’s actually some mods for FF7 that makes it look better on pc.


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Edited 10-24-2011 02:15 AM by Kinasin
[Reply] #12
10-24-2011 02:32 AM
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Rorschach
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They aren’t legal and your friend’s a dirty, stinking thief.

[Reply] #13
10-24-2011 12:20 PM
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The Lost and The Damned
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From my understanding, downloading a ROM without it being licensed to you by the owner, is a violation of copyright laws. If you get caught doing that, you can expect to be sued out the ass. It’s only breaking a civil law, so you aren’t going to get any jail time for it though, except if you are sharing the ROM; then you can get some jail time.

I’m a bit rusty on my copyright laws though, so don’t quote me on any of this. If you want a definitive answer, then call a REAL lawyer.


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[Reply] #14
10-24-2011 07:56 PM
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Time and Space
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My personal rule for roms are, if the only way you can legitly buy it is in a way that the profits would not go to the company, then it’s ok to download.


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Edited 10-24-2011 07:56 PM by Time and Space
[Reply] #15
10-24-2011 08:06 PM
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It’s not the case with an individual’s right to duplicate bought possessions, it has something to do with what most people would do: sell copies to their friends. Anyways, almost all major products that I’ve come across in the video game industry have a “no duplication” legal specification usually right on the CD.

[Reply] #16
10-25-2011 06:08 AM
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Is like Torrents IMOO. they are copies ready to be downloaded are Illegal but the World does it, just don’t sell it.
You won’t be caught by the Lazy Fat Police. smiley


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Edited 10-25-2011 06:09 AM by Slade Robison
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