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Author Topic: Legal concerns ragarding old consoles and computers rom files  (Read 2422 times)

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Edglaf

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Legal concerns ragarding old consoles and computers rom files
« on: January 19, 2018, 04:56:46 am »
Hi,

I have some tens of original SNES and Megadrive games cartridges, as well as many ZX Spectrum cassettes. Some of then were purchased when I was a child 30 years ago, other were 2nd hand acquired more recently.

I wanted to download all of these in order to play them more confortably emulated in a PC, and as a backup. I live in Europe and the roms are meant for PAL Tv systems (50 Hz). The thing is, for example, in many cases I found that I downloaded roms with the rome region code (US) instead of (EU), that's to say, for NTSC (60 Hz). Obviously there's little problem nowdays in emulating either of them (and I persolanlly prefer to play them at 60 Hz). And here arrives the question: if I have the same game cartridge game, but different region code, am I legally entitled to posess and play that downloaded file, or are they considered different intelectual properties?

Othe particular case with a spectrum casette: I bought "Army Moves" by Dynamic for my 48k spectrum. I downloaded the proper rom  and, to my surprise, the menus are in English, and the music makes use of the Spectrum +2 sound chip. That's why I notice that this is a more recent version programmed for 128 K. I am sure that it did not exist the year I bought it originally. It must have been released some years later for the english markett. Anyway, in such a case, am I illegally possesing that rom 128k-english-versioned game rom?

I know it is trivial question of little or no  importance but I am just curious...


Malenko

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Re: Legal concerns ragarding old consoles and computers rom files
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2018, 08:03:32 am »
It's a grey area with no formal answers. I barely know enough US law, let alone European law.

Arguments can be made for fair use, having a backup,etc.   Regional difference is even MORE vague in terms of the law. There honestly hasn't been a legal precedent set, the only cases I have heard about are people illegally selling the ROMs via download and CD/DVD/HD , not having a handful in their possession for personal use of any kind.

My opinion means dick, but to me, you are using the roms properly.
If you are helping someone and expecting something in return, you are doing business not kindness.

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Re: Legal concerns ragarding old consoles and computers rom files
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2018, 08:32:48 am »
there are plenty of people that play PAL in emulation, as I've seen score tracks at TG, pretty sure.

No one cares at a hobby level what you are doing.

You'll only ever have to worry about anything if you repop and distribute on a national scale something that directly competes with modern NAMCO, Nintendo, Raw Thrills arcade coin op companies.

There is a MASSIVE console emulation world out there, and sites where you can download full packs of roms for whatever your region.
I'd suggest creating an account at twingalaxies.com then message a UK expert named BARTHAX.  He is very helpful and smart in the UK market.

pbj

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Re: Legal concerns ragarding old consoles and computers rom files
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2018, 09:18:05 am »
Do whatever the hell you want.  Nobody cares.  Nobody's been popped for doing anything with ROMs.  In 25 years of this ROM reality, the only guy that came close was facing charges for counterfeiting and selling legit ROM sets and those charges were dropped in favor of an easier conviction on something unrelated.



This forum needs more threads about Arcade 1Up cabinets.

AndyWarne

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Re: Legal concerns ragarding old consoles and computers rom files
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2018, 12:25:01 pm »
Nintendo America used to be quite hot on this. They had a page on their website detailing cases where they had prosecuted people for selling JAMMA multi-game boards with their games.

I am not sure its still there, that was when JAMMA multi-game boards first appeared which was a long time ago.

I did come across someone who exhibited a table top game system with ROMs at a trade show next to the distributors of Taito, Sega etc which was pretty stupid. He was told in no uncertain terms to turn off his machines for the duration of the show. That was so blatant that the official suppliers really didnt have any choice but to react.

Using ROMs at home is of no concern. The only few issues have been in coin-operated usage.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 12:28:16 pm by AndyWarne »

pbj

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Re: Legal concerns ragarding old consoles and computers rom files
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2018, 12:35:51 pm »
Nintendo America used to be quite hot on this. They had a page on their website detailing cases where they had prosecuted people for selling JAMMA multi-game boards with their games.

It had a lot of threats, and language about copyright that was factually incorrect, but I don't remember any cases.  There aren't any cases on it today.

The only thing they successfully pursued was shutting down exactly one vendor of DS flash carts.

Go ahead and e-mail them - you won't get a response and NOTHING will happen.  I just searched "Donkey Kong" on Google shopping and the 4th, 5th, and 8th links are bootleg cabinets.

A lot of society consists of "not worth the effort to stop it."  All the way from paper bags on single tall boys and every flea market selling decals of Calvin peeing on things.
This forum needs more threads about Arcade 1Up cabinets.

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Re: Legal concerns ragarding old consoles and computers rom files
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2018, 03:17:07 pm »
One time I called Warner trying to get some licensing info about Robotron.
Ha ha, that was equivalent of a grade school student calling the white house.

It is a hobby,  just relax and enjoy it.


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Edglaf

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Re: Legal concerns ragarding old consoles and computers rom files
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2018, 09:00:35 am »
Thanks for your responses. I already konw that in practical terms it is an issue of little or no consequences for a users like us. In theory, even artwork imagery relating to the game roms are copyrighted material which belong to their respective owners. Intellectual property limitations to the public use extends  for many decades after owner's death. It is obviously ridiculous to ask owner's for usage permissions for such things (go and find them  ;D). To start with most of them would not exactly know what you are talking about. And if they did to a some extend, would be difficult to quantify economic agreements regarding something that nobody longer benefits from (pontential customer numbers still too low).  Obviously they mind if you manage to profitably sell their material, but rarely is it the case... As iI said I was just curious, how these laws apply when we encounter very similar creations which only differ in a bit of code or formatting, or platform. Surely there must be a legal messss....

jennifer

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Re: Legal concerns ragarding old consoles and computers rom files
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2018, 09:25:26 am »
Do whatever the hell you want.  Nobody cares.  Nobody's been popped for doing anything with ROMs.  In 25 years of this ROM reality, the only guy that came close was facing charges for counterfeiting and selling legit ROM sets and those charges were dropped in favor of an easier conviction on something unrelated.




  I would have to wonder how or where you would be dumping these ROMS from, and what else you download.... Because what PBJ says is true, it may put you on the radar and in a position for an unrelated conviction. https://torrentfreak.com/the-eu-is-working-on-its-own-piracy-watch-list-180124/
« Last Edit: January 27, 2018, 09:42:56 am by jennifer »

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Re: Legal concerns ragarding old consoles and computers rom files
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2018, 10:27:50 am »
In the arcade days when the code meant revenue in public, it was a big problem for games like Space Invaders, Pacman, Galaxian, Donkey Kong, and Defender, especially overseas.  By the summer of 1982 the industry was already beginning to crash and the companies saw the down trend beginning in their sales, the coin-op industry knew they were in trouble in 1983 and in 1984 it fell apart.  As one example of this, you'll find Joust machines that were repainted Robotrons, that's because the sales on Robotron weren't at projection but Joust was hot so they reworked the warehouse stock.

In those post-Space Invaders years up to about 1982 the programmers did add in clever fail safes, checks and even secret button/joystick moves that would bring up messaging which helped them know if the code/hardware was real or bootlegged.  One thing they would do when the code was hacked is to inject a slight oddity rather than a full on crash, like make something not work quite right in the game.  Or it'd trigger the game to add a bunch of free credits which would thwart the bootlegger's public use of the game.

Youtube the Robotron secret code steps to see one example if you are curious.  I'm remembering that Crazy Climber had some code fail safe they discovered but my memory is fuzzy.

jennifer

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Re: Legal concerns ragarding old consoles and computers rom files
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2018, 10:39:57 am »
     That timeline seems quite comprehensive and one might take from it the home console became quite popular about that time (not to mention the first rumblings of the MAME project concept).... Jennifer is quite curious about the joust thing, might have to go scratch some paint. ;)
« Last Edit: January 27, 2018, 10:49:07 am by jennifer »

AndyWarne

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Re: Legal concerns ragarding old consoles and computers rom files
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2018, 12:15:51 pm »
In the early days it was like the wild west, there was bootlegging and copying going on on a huge scale.

Both hardware and software were copied, bootleg PCBs and ROMs abounded.

The most cloned board of all was the Namco Galaxian design. These were churned out by several manufacturers, mostly in Italy. The originators made things easier for the copiers by using the same basic hardware for many games. For example Donkey Kong was based on Galaxian hardware with a different sound generator, so these were extensively bootlegged. They added sub-boards with ROMs addressed by PAL chips which swapped around all the address and data lines but these were quite easy to reverse engineer using a switch box and didnt deter the copiers. Someone modified the DK ROMs so they could even use identical sound to the original Galaxian although it was inferior to the real boards.

There were big lawsuits flying around and some of the originators used an archaic legal construct called an "Anton Piller Order" which is a pretty drastic action. But the cloning really didnt end until the game market itself crashed. I remember one of the biggest players in the cloning market deliberately taunted the largest official game distributors, named Ruffler and Deith by changing the name of a game he cloned to "Rustler and Thief". I forget what the original game was.

Things got to the state whereby producers of bootlegs found their bootlegs were being copied so they tried to apply copy protection to the bootlegs!

One of the main reasons the Namco Galaxian hardware was used for so many games. bth officially and bootlegged was that it was such a clever design, with its hard-wired sprite based graphics. I still have the original schematic I used to use, on one long sheet. The logic which generates the scrolling star background is especially genius and took ages to work out how it works.

« Last Edit: January 27, 2018, 04:28:28 pm by AndyWarne »

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Re: Legal concerns ragarding old consoles and computers rom files
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2018, 12:32:32 pm »
This is turning into a interesting read :)

Edglaf

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Re: Legal concerns ragarding old consoles and computers rom files
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2018, 04:02:41 am »
I remember one of the biggest players in the cloning market deliberately taunted the largest official game distributors, named Ruffler and Deith by changing the name of a game he cloned to "Rustler and Thief". I forget what the original game was.

That reminded me of the different names I'd seen put to the ancient Green Beret arcade game, for those whose memmory still might recall:

Rush 'n Attack
Russian Attack  :D :D

Well, in cold war times it was funnier...