Emulation Good Guys / Bad Guys

From: John Foust <jfoust_at_threedee.com>
Date: Fri Dec 3 08:50:40 1999

At 09:14 PM 12/2/99 EST, Glenatacme_at_aol.com wrote:
>For a look at the IDSA -- who oppose emulation -- check out:

Read this page more closely. This group opposes emulators
on the basis of the rights of the creators of a game, and the
right of that author to restrict how the software is used.
Read the FAQ on the page there, and it says:

> Aren't emulators programs that somebody has
> created and decided to distribute freely? What's
> wrong with that?
> While some emulators are made by hobbyist programmers, that
> does not mean that they are legal. If the sole purpose of an
> emulator is to allow the playing of a console game on a PC, and
> the owner of the copyrights in that console game has not
> authorized the copying, performance, display, or derivative work
> created when a console game is played on a PC, then the
> creation and use of that emulator constitutes an infringement of
> the copyrights in the console game.

The first time I read this, I thought they were opposed to
emulators in general. The second time I read it, I realized they
were stressing the rights of the cart and/or game maker. This
statement makes perfect sense in light of the console industry's
policies and licenses.

As someone pointed out on this list a few messages ago, the
console makers require special agreements with the game makers.
You must abide by their rules if you want to make games for
their system; you pay to become a developer, you pay for tools,
you must give them a royalty on sales, you may be required to
sell your product through their channels and mechanisms and
within their rules. This isn't the PC market where you can
buy a compiler and make and sell your own game without Michael
Dell's or Bill Gates' permission.

I see where this is going, though - it's similar to a shrink-wrap
license. When I buy a Nintendo cart, am I in effect signing a
contract that says I won't run it on an emulator?

Does IDSA oppose a popular generic emulator such as MAME per se?
Probably not. The above argument doesn't necessarily hold.
The maker of "Battlezone" never sold those upright video game
ROMs outside of their structure for arcade systems. They
licensed the concept to PC makers, but that's different.
Ripping off a Battlezone ROM for MAME still violates someone's
copyright. It has nothing to do with the emulator.

To bring this slightly on-topic, many classic computers have
weird restrictions in their operating system software licenses, too.
I'm sure there's someone out there with deep knowledge of the
DEC emulators, for example, to describe how that license works.
- John
Received on Fri Dec 03 1999 - 08:50:40 GMT

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