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Re: Emulation

Posted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:36 pm
by sumodan
Antiriad2097 wrote:
sumodan wrote:So basically, as it's a grey area, it's neither legal nor illegal?
Its fairly black and white in legal terms.

Emulation is legal, providing that it doesn't use any copyrighted code or the owners of that code have given permission to do so.

A prime example is the Spectrum. Spectrum emulation usually uses a copy of the Spectrum roms (the chips that control it). The copyright on those is owned by Amstrad (or used to be, I've a hunch its passed on to another company now). Amstrad released those files into the public domain as long as they weren't used for profit (so you could give away a Spectrum emulator, but not sell it). This makes the Spectrum one of the clearest cases of a legal emulator. Other emulators may not use copyrighted code, but will replicate it in a similar manner, giving the same end result.

Other emulators may require you to source your own rom files - an obvious example is ePSXe, the Playstation emulator. To use that, you're supposed to copy the files from a real Playstation to a PC. Most people won't actually go to that bother, they'll just download a copy of the file they need from the internet, but this is technically illegal, as they're distributing a copyrighted file. Its unlikely you'd actually be pursued for breaching copyright in these instances, but you should be aware of what you're getting into - ignorance of the law isn't a defence that holds up, so your choice should be an informed one.

Downloading games, as has been mentioned, is much the same. If the copyright holder has given the right to distribute it freely, then you're ok. This is why the Ultimate games aren't available - they were asked, and they said no, so responsible websites don't distribute them.

Inevitably, there are websites that choose to ignore the laws or where the UK/US laws don't apply, so these 'missing' games can usually be found with a little persistence, but again be aware of what you're doing. Just because something is legal in a web host's country needn't make it so where you are, your local laws will apply to your downloads.

As with Sony's rom files, technically its illegal to download a copy of a game you own. You have a right to make a backup of your software, but downloading someone else's backup isn't allowed under these laws.

Suffice to say, most of this is ignored in practical terms. When you're looking at a 20 year old videogame that has no current rerelease and an original copy is nigh on impossible to source (and even then it'll be used, thus providing no income to the copyright owner), then its unlikely to be something you're pursued for. On the other hand, downloading God of War when Sony has a new rerelease for the PS3 has obvious moral and legal issues.
Luckily, I'm only interested in games from around 1985 to 1995!!! I think the whole music piracy thing puts people off emulation a bit, hence my post. I suppose that if a publisher isn't producing the game anymore, then what are they losing? Maybe there should be a law stating that if it is not being produced anymore, then after x number of years, it should be made available for download?

Re: Emulation

Posted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:41 pm
by sscott
The law doesn't make a difference between 1985 and 2005, 2011 whatever. Make your own choice. I'm against piracy of current gen games but that's just me. Do as you wish.

Re: Emulation

Posted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:31 pm
by Antiriad2097
sumodan wrote:Luckily, I'm only interested in games from around 1985 to 1995!!! I think the whole music piracy thing puts people off emulation a bit, hence my post. I suppose that if a publisher isn't producing the game anymore, then what are they losing? Maybe there should be a law stating that if it is not being produced anymore, then after x number of years, it should be made available for download?
Not necessarily. Bear in mind things like the Wii Virtual Console, which for a price will let you play a load of 80s and 90s NES and SNES games legally.

Prior to this, only a small selection would have been rereleased on compilations, but the retro market is wide open now.

There's another thread discussing digital downloads where we go into more detail on things like GoG.com , Steam etc

Re: Emulation

Posted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:52 pm
by Crunchy
sumodan wrote:I suppose that if a publisher isn't producing the game anymore, then what are they losing?
The obvious answer to that is future revenue if they ever decide to release the game again.

Even if they don't release the original game widespread illegal use of roms etc can be seen as having a potentially detrimental effect on sales of a remake or update. Companies are beoming very aware of their old IP's value and they're starting to note the value of nostalgia when it comes to making use of that old brand they've had sitting on the shelf. Nostalgia is a very positive marketing tool. All those fond memories of games you haven't played for years. A great selling hook when you're punting out your Burger Time remake for digital download.

What isn't so great is the amount of people who can illegally download Burger Time and then find out it's actually not as good as they remember it and then tell everybody else not to bother with the game, or even point everybody else to the same romz etc etc. Equally not so great are the number of customers lost because they've slaked their retro thirst for some Burger Time action by using an emulator, thus diluting the publisher's attempt to enhance their modern update with a copy of the classic game in order to reel in the retro boys etc etc.

Re: Emulation

Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:10 am
by F-zero
My perspective is this, if i buy a megadrive,snes game etc from ebay how much money does the original developer receive?
The answer of course is nothing, if i download a rom how much do they receive?
See my point.
I really think its time the developers just let these older games go into the public domain and stop pillaging IP's from 20-30 years ago.

Re: Emulation

Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:45 am
by stvd
Crunchy wrote:What isn't so great .......... find out it's actually not as good as they remember it and then tell everybody else not to bother with the game.
Like a games magazine review?

Re: Emulation

Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:11 pm
by Lord Innit
sumodan wrote:I can't wait to go through this thread again later tonight!!! Loads to go on, so thanks to everyone who has contributed so far.

So basically, as it's a grey area, it's neither legal nor illegal? Seems odd that the software publishers seem happy for the general public to "emulate", but hey-ho, if it saves me money!!!! Don't think my missus will see me for a few months once I've gotten a few games together for a bit of retro overkill!!!

I presume it's all dead easy? Download an emulator and then download the games? Is it that easy? If so, then forgive me for asking, but why doesn't everyone do it??????
Make sure you don't download every game you can find.It's rather pointless.You'll never play them all,and you'll find yourself playing a game for a few minutes then going on to the next one. Curb your enthusiasm and be picky with your choice of games.
I know, I had about 6000 games at one point.It's now down to about 250-300.Now I play each game to its conclusion.

Re: Emulation

Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:12 pm
by retromania
Changing the subject a tad :shock:

I am thinking on getting a netbook would this be any good for emulators
the specs are intel atom 1.6ish ,1gb ram,some sort of intergated graphics(not to sure ram size),250gb HD
I would imagine mame and most 8 bit systems would be ok
what about above and beyond that ie amiga,ms,snes,playstation 1 etc ?

Re: Emulation

Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:40 pm
by The Last Ginja
Can anyone recommend a Speccy emu that runs well on Windows 7?

I've used Spectaculator on my XP machine and love it but £20 for something I rarely use is a bit steep....unless someone can help me with an "unlimited" version of it ;)

Re: Emulation

Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:47 pm
by C=Style
retromania wrote:Changing the subject a tad :shock:

I am thinking on getting a netbook would this be any good for emulators
the specs are intel atom 1.6ish ,1gb ram,some sort of intergated graphics(not to sure ram size),250gb HD
I would imagine mame and most 8 bit systems would be ok
what about above and beyond that ie amiga,ms,snes,playstation 1 etc ?
Yes that would be enough for what you want. Netbooks are great for emulation, plus they're portable! I bought one solely for emulation last year and I love it. :)

Re: Emulation

Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:53 pm
by Antiriad2097
retromania wrote:Changing the subject a tad :shock:

I am thinking on getting a netbook would this be any good for emulators
the specs are intel atom 1.6ish ,1gb ram,some sort of intergated graphics(not to sure ram size),250gb HD
I would imagine mame and most 8 bit systems would be ok
what about above and beyond that ie amiga,ms,snes,playstation 1 etc ?
That's much the same spec as my netbook, its run every emulator I've thrown at it so far with no problems. In the last fortnight I've set up N64 and PS1 emulators and they run fine. Everything prior to that has obviously been equally smooth. I experimented with Amiga emulation on Mrs Ants older netbook and it coped ok so I knew mine would be capable. Its running Win 7 btw.

The Last Ginja wrote:Can anyone recommend a Speccy emu that runs well on Windows 7?
ZXSpin has been doing the job on my netbook.