Is it legal to use emulators if you use/own the original game disc?

Discussion in 'General Gaming Discussion' started by Saiyan Lusitano, Jun 1, 2017.

  1. Saiyan Lusitano
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    Saiyan Lusitano GBAtemp Guru

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    Well, I suppose it's more a grey matter issue than really 100% legal.

    If it were legal then we'd see emulators on PC supported by Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft (the Original Xbox emulator plays Halo, at least.. I think)
     


  2. Seliph

    Seliph Scion of Light/Orphan

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    Is it morally fine? Yeah. Is it legally okay? As far as my knowledge goes, no.
    Back when emulators were still new and came on install-able disks there was a company that made a really good ps1 emulator that made it so you had to use the disk of your original game. Sony still got on their ass because they wanted people to buy their console.


    I was wrong lol
     
    Last edited by Seliph, Jun 1, 2017
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  3. fedehda

    fedehda GBAtemp Regular

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    I think it's legal. Even now that there are new laws over there. So, technically, yes
     
  4. Seliph

    Seliph Scion of Light/Orphan

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    Uhhh lemme revise what I said because I was wrong.
    Yes, it is legal. However, video game companies will do anything in their power to stop the production of emulators, even if the emulator requires an original game disk to play the game. A famous example of this was back when emulators came on disks and this company made a playstation emulator required you to use the original game disk to play it. Sony still got on their ass about it and not only ended up making them stop the production of the emulator but they also led the business's eventual bankruptcy.
     
  5. WeedZ

    WeedZ Possibly an enlightened being

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    Idk about the rest of the world, but according to US copyright laws, you are entitled to make backups of any digital media that was properly purchased or licensed.
     
  6. ut2k4master

    ut2k4master Lord Tourettes

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    its obviously different in different countries, but just owning the original game doesnt allow you to play a rom of it. youd have to make a backup yourself (in some countries even that is illegal if you circumvent a copy protection in the process), downloading them is just as illegal as downloading a cracked pc game for example. the same goes for emulators that require a bios file, like ps2 emulators
     
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  7. the_randomizer

    the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    In the court rulings of Sony V. Connectix Game Station, Sony V. Bleem! and Nintendo v. Acclaim, in all instances the supreme court ruled emulators as being labeled as fair use. The reasoning behind this is the fact emulators are reversed engineered, and so long as the don't contain any kind of copyrighted code, they are derivative works. Top that off with the fact hardware under US copyright law, cannot be copyrighted, but the BIOS/firmware can, so if the emulator has no copyrighted BIOS or any of that, they're perfectly legal.

    Summary: Emulators are fair use and are derivative works not in violation of copyright infringement
    http://www.invispress.com/law/copyright/connectix.html
    https://www.law.cornell.edu/copyright/cases/Sony_v_Bleem.htm
     
  8. 59672

    59672 GBAtemp Regular

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    The legality of distributed emulators has nothing to do with why we dont see official emulators on PC, it like always comes down to money. They dont make any from selling old disks so why would they bother.

    Legality is always a bit of a gray area. Of course it varies by country before anything else. Reverse engineering, copyrighted code, defeating DRM are all things with varying legal matters. For example I've seen it in some places where the one reverse engineering it can't be the one programming the replacement solution, of course that's more of an issue in a closed source, commercial setting. Stuff like a completely open source emulator can be legal in places but if they're doing things like distributing files/bios/etc from a system that's a bit more questionable and in many places illegal.
     
    Last edited by 59672, Jun 1, 2017
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  9. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    It depends on the country. The rule of thumb is that it's legal to use emulators so long as you're not circumventing anti-copying protection while you're at it, so it's in a rather grey area as far as legality is concerned.
     
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  10. TVL

    TVL #|

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    Bleem (also Bleemcast). Sony lost in court but still managed to bleed them to death... I think it's the same story with Lik-sang.

    Emulators are not illegal if they do not contain copyrighted material (like a BIOS). Games on the other hand I think are always illegal to download even if you own that game. But who cares?
     
  11. the_randomizer

    the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    I personally see nothing morally wrong with backing up your own games that you legally own, as long as you don't sell them or give your copies to other people.

    Emulators = legal, derivative works/no copyrighted code
    ROMs = Illegal if you don't back up the games yourself, but most people on here don't really care
     
  12. Sliter

    Sliter GBAtemp Psycho!

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    It's illegal because the game was designed to run in that console, not another, the same goes for console piracy, for example
     
  13. RaMon90

    RaMon90 GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Well for android emulators doesn't get removed, I assume it's legal but of course every developer suggest to use legal copies of the game.
    Famous one i have installed is ppsspp.
     
  14. the_randomizer

    the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    Under US copyright laws, emulators aren't illegal at all (no copyrighted/BIOS code, reverse engineering is fair use), but the games, yeah. But then again, most people don't care about illegalities of playing ROMs on systems for which they were never
    intended.
     
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  15. WeedZ

    WeedZ Possibly an enlightened being

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    That's not true
     
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  16. Sliter

    Sliter GBAtemp Psycho!

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    well I heard that if you have an vinyl music disc and rip de music someway to play on your new device, it's considered piracy, I think with games aren't that different... unless the emulator are developed and distribute by the console brand (I think CDi had it? lol

    Don't reverse engineering include messing with the actual bios to learn how it work and stuff? why this is considered fair? ô-o
     
  17. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord

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    That's not the case, that's like saying the option to rip DVDs in Windows is illegal because it's changing the format from physical to digital. It only becomes illegal if you choose to distribute any copies you make
     
  18. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    I have not seen any big lawsuits, or throwaway suits, in recent times and "substantial non infringing uses" would seem to cover the rest. Emulators are up on big sites, discussion is very much public, said companies persuaded ebay, amazon, paypal and co to suspend payments to all sorts of things like flash cart development but any number of them have donate buttons, or things like patreon running.

    Likewise that is a bit of a glossing over of Sony vs Bleem and the others around that time
    maybe watch it at 1.5 speed, not the biggest fan of the video but covers many of the points involved


    As for the matter at hand it is unclear. On the face of it if you are not using the ROM and the cart at the same time; can't pop say a megadrive game in your megadrive and use a dump of said same at the same time such that you are playing two copies of the game, this is more established with rules on how backups should work than emulation but I would look there were I in court and arguing. However then if we are imagining we are in the US for this then the DMCA rears its head and an exemption for bypassing technological protections has not been established so much for game consoles yet (almost everything else like it -- tvs, phones, cars, routers... but game consoles seem to be rather absent) so I don't know what goes there.

    On the question of the OP if I take a more literal reading then emulators are just code and I can use VBA all day long to play my homebrews, even right outside Nintendo's offices. The intent was clear though so I will leave that one.

    Regarding downloading vs making a copy yourself then nobody really ever established harm done. If you are caught torrenting, or using a similar p2p protocol, it then you might be guilty of distribution by virtue of uploading it as part of it all -- there is a reason every torrent case you see will tend to have uploading as the main charge.

    In the end I still don't know but if you own a copy of the game at the time of playing, and the copy of the game is not being used elsewhere, then it is about as close to the line as you can get. I doubt a police officer would arrest you (if it is even a non civil affair) and I doubt a company would risk a court case if it came to pass that the previously mentioned stuff is what you are doing, if for no other reason than it could risk some precedents being set that they are quite happy to have a bit unclear at present (mainly as all logic says it is not likely to end in their favour).
     
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  19. sarkwalvein

    sarkwalvein Professional asshole at GBATemp

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    Look for Sony vs Bleem and Sony vs Connectix cases, they set precedence in the USA.

    Spoiler alert: It is legal.

    :ph34r:
     
  20. DinohScene

    DinohScene Capture the Dino

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    If you dump the games yourself, then yes, it's legal.
     
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