welshy
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EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:41 pm

Having posted Treads on various Emulators (And reading others posting “misinformation” about the subject) I would like to establish the Following regarding their use and LEGAL ramifications of such use -

IS EMULATION ILLEGAL?
No. Emulating another platform, in itself, is perfectly legal. This is established US case law from the Sony v. Connectix and Sony v. bleem! Cases

ISN'T COPYING ROMS A LEGAL GREY AREA?
No, it's not. You are not permitted to make copies of software without the copyright owner's permission. This is a black & white issue

BUT ISN'T IT OK TO DOWNLOAD AND "TRY" ROMS FOR 24 HOURS?
This is an urban legend that was made up by people who put ROMs up for download on their sites, in order to justify the fact that they were breaking the law. There is nothing like this in any copyright law

CAN'T GAME ROMS BE CONSIDERED ABANDONWARE?
No. Even the companies that went under had their assets purchased by somebody, and that person is the copyright owner

These quotes are taken from the MAME FAQ but apply to ANY Emulator and/or ROMS/BIOS Files/CHD’s/ISO’s/Bin & Cue Files etc!

However, now this is established, I would just like to make the following points before any user thinks they are now “Demonised” as some sort of CRIMINAL/PIRATE by their use of Emulators/Roms, by examining “Copyright” Law in respect to “Other” Digital Media -

1. iTunes - Have you used iTunes to “Rip” CD’s for your Library? If so, THIS IS ILLEGAL you are committing a criminal offence~! Furthermore, ANY file purchase from iTunes (Unlike physical Media) is, in effect, a “Rental” agreement (I BET you didn’t know that! That will teach you to read the Legal Disclaimers!), YOU don’t own the copyright (In relation to personal use), APPLE retain it*!
2. Media Centres - Where did the media you are using on this software originate? Owning the Original Title be it a CD/DVD/Blue Ray (Or an iTunes Download), gives the user NO LEGAL RIGHT to copy this to other Formats (i.e “Ripping” it to a Digital File or removing DRM (Digital rights management encription)). If you are using files attained in such a manner, THIS IS ILLEGAL you are committing a criminal offence!
3. Ownership of the Original Software (ROM) - Owning the original software DOES NOT give the user permission under Copyright Law to “Rip” the image for personal use^. THIS IS ILLEGAL you are committing a criminal offence!
4. Public Domain - SOME Software (MAME for instance and MOST emulators) is classified as “Public Domain”#, that is, NOBODY owns the Copyright/Intellectual Property. You are free to use/copy and distribute these files, however, you are NOT permitted to profit from this! (i.e. SELL THEM!). Another case is The Vectrex Console, the original developer/manufacturer made ALL its original Software and BIOS files “Public Domain”

~ The Recording Industry Association of America is at this time, with use of a threatened legal case, using this issue to force Apple to give them a larger slice of the profits made from Download Sales (Apple currently retain the LARGEST SHARE)

*There is currently a Legal action in the USA fronted by Bruce Willis (Yes, THAT 1!). The basic premise of argument being, currently on DEATH these files cannot be “bequeathed” to another person as you DO NOT OWN THEM! Apple are currently Legally within their rights to retain/remove them from any device they are installed on!

#Universal vs Nintendo
Due to Donkey Kong’s massive success (i.e. Revenue!), Universal Studios noting a similarity to King Kong, filed a lawsuit claiming “Trademark Infringement” against Coleco (Who had licensed Donkey Kong for their forthcoming console the Colecovison) and Nintendo for 3% of ALL related revenue (Including merchandise). Whereas Coleco capitulated, Nintendo decided to go to court and WON, because Universal had, in a previously case against RKO (Who produced the 1933 Original), claimed King Kong was now, in effect, “Public Domain” (So they could distribute a 1976 Remake!)

^ This is currently the case in the UK, the USA however, under the “Digital Millennium Copyright Act”, in some cases, permits this

As can be seen above, the Laws on Copyright are ANTIQUATED, that being, they were written into statute long ago and, as such, have NO relevance/interpretation/legal definition for modern methods of storing/distribution like “Digital Media”. Some countries (The USA in particular) have modern legislation the “Digital Millennium Copyright Act” for instance, to address this. Others, China and Large Parts of Asia, take no notice of Western Laws regarding the issue of Copyright, Intellectual Property Rights or Patent Law anyway so it is of NO ISSUE to them!
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mrunderhill
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Wed Jan 16, 2013 4:17 pm

You may find this interesting if you live in the UK

"In response to a consultation earlier this year, the Government will make changes to:

Private copying - to permit people to copy digital content they have bought onto any medium or device that they own, but strictly for their own personal use such as transferring their music collection or eBooks to their tablet, phone or to a private cloud;"

see the following for the full press release:-
http://www.ipo.gov.uk/about/press/press ... 121220.htm

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abishur
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:05 pm

Actually in the USA, it is legal to for you to make a copy (rom) of a game you physically own, but it if you sell/loose/throw away the game you must also get rid of the rom otherwise that copy becomes illegal. It is, however, illegal to download a copy that someone else made of a game you own. Please see Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 section 50A point one
(1)It is not an infringement of copyright for a lawful user of a copy of a computer program to make any back up copy of it which it is necessary for him to have for the purposes of his lawful use.
Also from Nintendo themselves
http://www.nintendo.com/corp/legal.jsp#download_rom
Nintendo wrote: 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.
It is also noteworthy that the DMC Acts you mentioned makes it illegal to remove the copy protect on said media. Which is quite the catch 22 since it is legal to make the backup, but it is illegal to remove the protection that would allow you make said backup.

[Edit: The rest of what you said seems to be spot on though ;-) This is very much the reason we do not allow posting of links to ROMs sites on the forum nor links to a web based emulator with built in roms. If any such links are posted and we do not remove them, please report the post immediately to a moderator]
Dear forum: Play nice ;-)

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MattHawkinsUK
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:00 pm

"*There is currently a Legal action in the USA fronted by Bruce Willis"
No there isn't.
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welshy
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:32 pm

abishur
Agreed, although I did actually state that in the USA that a “personal” copy (OF a ROM) was legal (Unlike the UK). However, I perhaps didn’t explain fully the use of the stipulation “Personal Use”, that being, (By implication), NOT uploading/downloading ROM Images which is classed as “distribution” and therefore, illegal. My real aim was to point out (And make clear) some of the legalities surrounding Emulators (To me they seem to have an unjust Image so far as the “Legal” issue is concerned), whereas, SOME users who decry their use as “Piracy” DON’T REALISE they are actually complicit in a similar “CRIME” simply by using iTunes to “Rip” CD’s they actually OWN! It’s a HUGE Legal/Moral issue (Far too Big to address in a post here) and the Law eventually catches up with perception of what is “Acceptable” (Or NOT!) in due course
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redhawk
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:41 pm

My understand regarding ROMs is if you owned physical copies of games then you're not breaking copyright law by downloading them to your computer.
Unfortunately websites like http://cia.c64.org hosting such material are breaking copyright law since there are no checks or controls over who downloads what.

Richard S.

welshy
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:12 pm

MattHawkinsUK
Sorry I missed "Pending" court case (In which Bruce Willis has now denied any involvement) -
http://www.lawdit.co.uk/reading_room/ro ... -Apple.htm
But the statement regarding “iTunes Downloads” is STILL CORRECT!

Instagram (A Photo Sharing Website owned by Facebook) was also recently in the news regarding "Ownership" of copyrighted material Posted on its Site -
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20767537
Again Facebook later denied this (Though no doubt due to the adverse publicity regarding the publication of its intention)

Like I said, “That will teach people to read the Legal Disclaimers!” before clicking "I Agree"
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abishur
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:12 pm

redhawk wrote:My understand regarding ROMs is if you owned physical copies of games then you're not breaking copyright law by downloading them to your computer.
Unfortunately websites like http://cia.c64.org hosting such material are breaking copyright law since there are no checks or controls over who downloads what.

Richard S.
Unfortunately, in the USA at any rate, this is not correct. Please see the link I posted (Re-posted here for your convenience) taken directly from Nintendo themselves

http://www.nintendo.com/corp/legal.jsp#download_rom

The important bit at the end states
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.
Dear forum: Play nice ;-)

Aza-Industries
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:22 am

While I found this a very interesting read don't think people care they are breaking the law and are probably already aware of it..

Heck I don't care about downloading certain products that cost twice as much here in AUS for DIGITAL COPIES than the rest of the world. That's a load of poo.

I reckon there are two types of pirates.. ones that NEVER pay for anything and are cheap bastards, and ones that don't mind pirating the low quality movies they would otherwise never buy or pay to see. (not that I agree with this, but it's a valid argument against the whole "lost sale thing" which is a another load of poo.)

Everything I download I've owned a physical copy of at one point or another and the media has been damaged or lost. (not sold or given away)
For instance, I downloaded a Spryo the dragon ROM. While I know its illegal I just don't care. I owned it and my sisters cat chewed it up.

Um yeah.. Just some of my views on this stuff. Not too well thought or written out but I'm half asleep.

EDIT: And big monopolizing corporations SUCK! I'm sick of the high level of capitalism and greed our society runs on. I heard someone say America is moving away from capitalism and into corporationism, they may just be on to something. lol
Sorry I ramble...

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rurwin
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:53 am

While it is theoretically illegal to download a ROM from the internet instead of reading the physical ROM you already own, I doubt that any courts would give you more than a slap on the wrist.

Since I am not a lawyer, and not a US citizen, I will refrain from arguing with Nintendo, but it seems to me "legal use" is wider than "archival purposes".

I am surprised to hear that MAME is in the public domain, and it is patently untrue that public domain works cannot be sold for profit. Otherwise you couldn't buy a copy of Homer or Shakespeare. I think you mean that MAME is Free/Libre or Open-Source. That is totally different from being public domain; there is still a copyright owner and in using the software you are acting under a license from that person.

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Davespice
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:57 pm

Hi Folks! I’m not here to dispute what anyone is saying, it’s clear the law governing all this could use a comprehensive review though. Maybe we should start one of those downing street petitions? I wouldn’t be surprised if a few existed already.

Anyway, I just want to point out a few things people haven’t mentioned yet. There are a couple of truths that should be acknowledged;

One is the original reason why we bother with emulation. Degradation of data on original media over time (otherwise known as byte rot). Once this was identified as a problem people began making backup copies of cartridges to prevent games from being lost forever. Some games had to be restored from reading multiple cartridges and then pieced together to make one image that would play. We must acknowledge that preventing the permanent loss of this kind of media is a noble effort, regardless of legality.

Secondly the copyright holders no longer stand to make money out of game sales (in most cases). Most emulators are for platforms that are no longer commercially available, such as the SNK Neo Geo. SNK stopped selling games for it in 2004 and, as of 2007, no longer support the console or do any repairs. Therefore SNK don’t stand to make a loss by someone downloading a ROM – that does not directly translate into a sale that they have lost (especially since they are not selling the ROMs digitally either). I appreciate that copyright law applies irrespective of this but we must acknowledge the fact that the copyright holder is not being financially hurt by this kind of behaviour.

Thirdly these games are part of our gaming culture and I would argue that to deny people access to them (given the above two points) is hugely mean spirited. If you’re part of my generation you’ll have a huge amount of reverence for games like Gauntlet, Bubble Bobble, Street Fighter 2 and so on. We all foster fond memories and occasionally it’s fun to take a trip down memory lane. That is the root motivation for emulation, nostalgia. We must agree that the vast majority of people are not trying to profit from it, it’s just blokes in sheds building retro cabinets and people in their bedrooms enjoying a bit of reminiscence.

With that I would like to leave you with the urban dictionary definition of stickler;

stickler
one whose only goal is to ruin the fun... often the reason for why cops show up at a party
A person who ALWAYS goes by the rules in ANY situation

welshy
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:16 pm

Aza-Industries
Agreed, as stipulated further in the Post, I was NOT trying to evaluate the “Moral” implications of Piracy (Which is FAR too complex an issue to discuss on the Forum#). My aim was (As an avid user and poster of Emulator “Guides” here), to explain CORRECTLY the Legal ramifications of Emulation use at a basic level and, for those who think they are doing something illegal/immoral (Thus, choosing not to partake in their usage) referencing the point that even using iTunes to “RIP” CD’s to your playlist is actually a breach of copyright Law, i.e. NO DIFFERENT than downloading a ROM*! This is why “Copyright” Law is being redrafted (Or new Legislation being introduced) in so many Countries to cover “Digital Media”. Personally I think the Law should be amended so any “Piece” of “Media” you buy, be it a Film/Song/Game/Book etc, you have the right to Transfer/Copy or back it up to “Any Device or Medium” for “Personal Use”. Also, the time a work is under Copyright (So Royalties are Paid), which is usually 50-70 years depending on the Country, until it is deemed “Public Domain” should be different for Game ROMS/IMAGES than other works (Music/Film/Books) due to the fast paced/ever changing nature of the industry

#I will just add to a point you addressed, the Music/Film industry count the “PRICE” of piracy by estimating the peer to peer downloads, calculating the monetary value then declare its costing us “£XXX”. This is an erroneous argument! They FAIL to factor in the obvious FACT than MANY of these people WOULD NEVER have purchased the Song/Film had they not had access to the Download, so in that case they have lost NO REVENUE!

*OK, it’s “Distribution” Not “Personal Use” but it’s still a BREACH of Copyright Law!

But, we are now getting considerably distant from the original point of the post (Sorry Moderators!). I will however, continue to post Emulator “Guides” for users who are interested (As always, WITHOUT Links to ROM Download Sites!)
"The list of things I have heard now contains everything!"

Aza-Industries
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:26 pm

Yeah sorry I was just rambling about stuff...
But what you originally posted was a really interesting read, thanks.

welshy
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:09 pm

rurwin
Fair point, MAME is NOT “Public Domain”. However, I was trying to keep thing simplified (Never easy when you are dealing with LAW!). MAME (Like MOST Emulators) is in fact, registered under a “GNU General Public License” -

“The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or GPL) is the most widely used software license, which guarantees end users (individuals, organizations, companies) the freedoms to use, study, share (copy), and modify the software. Software that ensures that these rights are retained is called free software. The license was originally written by Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) for the GNU project.”

I assume one of the reasons this became an issue (So necessitating the GNU into Statute) is when “Adventure” (Will Crowther & Don Woods, PDP-1, 1976), which was they released into “Public Domain”, was appropriated, packaged and SOLD by Microsoft in 1981. Microsoft then profited from sales of “Adventure” (Precisely the antithesis of the programmers intentions when making it PD!) with NO PAYMENT requirements to the original authors!
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abishur
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:56 pm

Guys please don't post here telling us you do illegal things. We don't want to know ;-) As someone said above it's not about *moral* questions (which can vary greatly and without a common baseline such as belief in the law or a shared religion is ultimately undebatable), it's about what is the literal definition of the law (in America at any rate)

For those interested in how the copyright laws became some unfriendly, you might be interested in this informative and quite humorous youtube video called "Copyright: Forever Less One Day"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tk862BbjWx4
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rurwin
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:01 pm

The GPL is not Statute, it is a License. Please do not use sloppy terms when you are trying to make something clear and accurate.

There is no requirement in the GPL not to charge for executable code.

The requirement is, (paraphrased,) if anyone has legitimately acquired the executable code, you have to let them have the source code at (approximately) zero cost. If you have legitimately acquired the binaries then you can pass them on in any way you see fit.

Aza-Industries
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:40 am

Has anyone had any actions taken against them for downloading a ROM?
I'm just curious has it ever happened?
And if so was the action successful?

I know that people downloading movies get cease and desist letters all the time.

P.S. I'm a noob when it comes to official terms, I just never learned about it.

toxibunny
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:15 am

I just don't understand the problem regarding talking about ROMS. Fair enough, don't talk about where you get them (although if anyone wants to know, I get mine from www.google.com), but just *talking* about using them being taboo? Pure paranoia.
note: I may or may not know what I'm talking about...

Aza-Industries
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Fri Jan 18, 2013 6:47 am

toxibunny wrote:I just don't understand the problem regarding talking about ROMS. Fair enough, don't talk about where you get them (although if anyone wants to know, I get mine from http://www.google.com), but just *talking* about using them being taboo? Pure paranoia.
yeah TBH I don't understand that either...
I even had a friend over facebook tell me he didn't want to hear about 'my shady side'. I thought it was an interesting discussion and couldn't see the problem.

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Jessie
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:11 am

toxibunny wrote:I just don't understand the problem regarding talking about ROMS. Fair enough, don't talk about where you get them (although if anyone wants to know, I get mine from http://www.google.com), but just *talking* about using them being taboo? Pure paranoia.
It's just a liability issue. Not taboo. I could personally care less if you guys are violating the law in regaurds to these roms. We don't want to see the foundation sue'd for any reason that can be easily prevented. It's called due dillegence. Like I have said in many other threads if you want roms use google they are everywhere and not hard to find but keep it out of here. There is a damn good reason why many emulation forums just out right ban anyone asking for roms... because no one seems to get the message and it just gets anoying at some point.

As for what Abisur has said from Nintendo. The RIAA and MPAA beleave the same garbage. It is my personal stance that not allowing the user to copy something they have purchased a physical copy of a violation of the fair use act.

Has anyone been sue'd over ROMs? I haven't heard of anyone, that dosn't mean it hasn't happened. The video game industry just isn't as organized when it comes to litigation yet. Game developers and pubishers just haven't banded togather like the music and movie industries have.

Aza-Industries
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:31 am

So if someone tells you something without you asking you're liable?
:shock:

I guess I can understand if someone is leaving instructions on how to perform illegal acts, but if someone is just saying illegal stuff they have done isn't it all just talk?

welshy
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Fri Jan 18, 2013 12:11 pm

I would just like to correct an error in my original Post. MAME is NOT in fact “Public Domain” software, or a GNU License, it is in FACT a BSD-derivative copyleft license

MAME (Copyright (c) 1997-2005, Nicola Salmoria and the MAME team)
All rights reserved.
“Its software license is a BSD-derivative copyleft license in that redistributions of modified versions (derivative works) must include the complete corresponding source code. However, the license states that "redistributions may not be sold, nor may they be used in a commercial product or activity"

However, Checking the License of Another Emulator -

Supermodel (A Sega Model 3 Emulator) -
A Sega Model 3 Arcade Emulator (Copyright 2011 Bart Trzynadlowski, Nik Henson)
GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE Version 3, 29 June 2007
Each contributor grants you a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free
patent license under the contributor's essential patent claims, to
make, use, sell, offer for sale, import and otherwise run, modify and
propagate the contents of its contributor version

The error occurred when I looked at Supermodel and checked the License (Which as you can see states it is a GNU and contains the FULL Legal Document (I just extracted the relevant stipulations)) then looked at the MAME Licence (Which is just an “Abridged” statement,not including the FULL License Agreement (I found the quote elsewhere)). On first glance they looked similar!
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jamesh
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Fri Jan 18, 2013 1:21 pm

Aza-Industries wrote:So if someone tells you something without you asking you're liable?
:shock:

I guess I can understand if someone is leaving instructions on how to perform illegal acts, but if someone is just saying illegal stuff they have done isn't it all just talk?
If someone posts on here the directions to something illegal/breaks copyright, then there is a possibility that the Foundation could be held liable if they don't remove the offending link. Same with libellous comments.

However, talking about ROMS is not a problem, as shown by the fact we are talking about them. Link to them, or telling people where to go, MIGHT be a problem, so to be on the safe side, we don't allow it.
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abishur
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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:39 pm

jamesh wrote:
Aza-Industries wrote:So if someone tells you something without you asking you're liable?
:shock:

I guess I can understand if someone is leaving instructions on how to perform illegal acts, but if someone is just saying illegal stuff they have done isn't it all just talk?
If someone posts on here the directions to something illegal/breaks copyright, then there is a possibility that the Foundation could be held liable if they don't remove the offending link. Same with libellous comments.

However, talking about ROMS is not a problem, as shown by the fact we are talking about them. Link to them, or telling people where to go, MIGHT be a problem, so to be on the safe side, we don't allow it.
Just to tack onto that, I personally request that you don't say things like "I myself do X" when x is stated to be illegal. America is an overly litigious society and while I admit it is slightly on the paranoid side, a decade ago I would have said that using ip hiders to download torrents was being paranoid. That there was no way your ISP would ever give away such confidential information. Or that it was being paranoid to think that anyone would ever sue Napster because its users abused the software by sharing copyrighted material. (Okay the Napster one might be more of a decade and a half time range :P )

So if you want to discuss the validity of the law, or the impact of the law, or even the stupidity of the law, well last I check The President hadn't signed any executive orders removing freedom of speech in America :lol: Just please be careful about statements saying you personally break the law ;-)
Dear forum: Play nice ;-)

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Re: EMULATORS/ROMS AND COPYRIGHT LAW, THE FACTS!

Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:42 pm

Omg check out the latest front-page post! :O


;)
note: I may or may not know what I'm talking about...

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