Legality of Roms and Piracy of Games.

Adapted from

The ESA or Entertainment Software Association states that the availability of the game in stores has no effect on the validity of a copyright on a video game. They also state that YOU as a person may make a digital backup for the game on your own personal archive, if you own it. However, you make not make another physical copy of the game. So, in terms your digital copy is virtually useless.

Some people think that people making emulators and ROMs are helping publishers by making old games available that are no longer being sold by the copyright owner. They say that this does not hurt anyone and allows gamers to play old favorites. What's the problem?

The problem is that it's illegal to make or distribute software or hardware emulators or ROMs without the copyright or trademark owners' permission. Moreover, copyrights and trademarks of games are corporate assets that are sometimes sold from one company to another. If these titles are available far and wide, it undermines the value of this intellectual property and adversely affects the copyright owner.

In addition, the assumption that the only games involved are vintage or nostalgia games is incorrect. Many popularly available emulators emulate current game systems. In other words, in many cases, emulator/ROM piracy is affecting games that are still on the market.

Finally, in the current highly competitive market, a top quality game costs millions of dollars to develop, and sometimes double or triple its development costs to market. Software publishers must generate a meaningful return on their investments if they are to continue to meet the growing demand for technologically advanced products. The suggestion that some piracy is benign and not harmful undermines respect for the intellectual property rights on which software companies depend in investing millions of dollars in creating and publishing new games. Piracy of any kind on any scale erodes this foundation.

The legality of obtaining such games (Unlicensed Roms) 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.

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  • 2

    Thanks for this :)

    I kinda knew it anyway but its very useful.

    I think this is the loophole that makes flashcards like "R4DS", "R4i" and similar Nintendo DS flash-cards legal. Because you can run homebrew software using these cards, you can also backup any purchased game to your computer using a piece of homebrew software. This means you can legally play a game using an R4DS if you use the ROM from a game which you have purchased and backed up yourself.

    For example: You buy Mario Kart DS (physical copy). You put the software on your R4 and run the software.

    The software copies the ROM and sends it over WiFi to your computer's hard disk.
    You transfer the ROM to the memory card in the R4 and play your backed up copy of Mario Kart.

    Many people would genuinely do this incase they lost the DS or the card.

  • 2

    I might be totally robbing InterActive Visino by refusing to purchase a copy of Garfield - The Search for Pooky.

  • 1

    Yeah.... If i want to play Final Fantasy or something that they stopped producing I'd rather not pay 100 bucks for it on Ebay...... So fuck the police, I'll pirate what i want. Total robbery downloading a game they no longer sell or make money out of.

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