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Piracy Emulation (Games) Games Your Rights Online

Ask Slashdot: Where Can I Buy Legal Game ROMs? 361 361

PktLoss writes "I'm interested in building an arcade machine, following the footsteps of Cmdr Taco among many others. Not being all that interested in piracy, I need to find somewhere to buy games. StarROMs used to be the kind of thing I was looking for, though with an incredibly short catalog. The MAME people have a few available for free (non-commercial), but this isn't going to sate my needs. There's an entire cottage industry supporting this goal. People are ready to sell me plans, kits, buttons, joy sticks, glass marquees, and entire machines. That's fantastic, but where can I get the games? I refuse to believe that this entire industry is built on piracy."
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Ask Slashdot: Where Can I Buy Legal Game ROMs?

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  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @12:46PM (#37368954)
    Fair use is a defence. It doesn't come into play until after lawyers are hired and court is attended. A DMCA exemption also doesn't automatically make something legal - it's only an exemption from the DMCA, not plain old-fashioned copyright law.
  • Re:ROM Marketplace? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 11, 2011 @12:50PM (#37368988)

    ROMs don't automatically mean emulator. ROMs aren't illegal. Please, quit this thinking.
    And on that topic, emulators aren't illegal either. Not even in the most retarded countries when it comes to IP law.
    Companies want you to THINK it is illegal (like the recent Atari who still think they hold control over the Atari trademark), but it isn't.

    If you want actual games from companies, you are going to have to go through a strict process with the developers of those games, be it Nintendo or some random company.
    You have to get a licence. You get the game, quite literally in ROM modules form sometimes, you plug it in to your hardware that they have to inspect and approve of (or a 3rd party approval process who manages the arcade cabinet industry members), and that is it.
    Note the hard, strict, and additionally that you'll likely not be approved if it is for personal use unless you offer to pay out of the ass.

  • Re:ROM Marketplace? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @01:01PM (#37369062) Homepage

    There is no model for legal roms.

    Sure there is. Just buy PCBs for the games you're interested in. Non-working PCBs will do.

  • by mysidia (191772) * on Sunday September 11, 2011 @01:21PM (#37369200)

    DMCA. Repeat after me, DMCA. The fact arcade games are in proprietary ROMs or even soldered to the mobo, you removing them to "archive" or medium shift, it illegal in the US

    Except that an Exception [copyright.gov] to the DMCA was made:

    37 CFR 201.40 Exemption to prohibition against circumvention [bitlaw.com]

    1. Compilations consisting of lists of Internet locations blocked by commercially marketed filtering software [...]
    2. Computer programs protected by dongles that prevent access due to malfunction or damage and which are obsolete. [...]
    3. Computer programs and video games distributed in formats that have become obsolete and which require the original media or hardware as a condition of access. A format shall be considered obsolete if the machine or system necessary to render perceptible a work stored in that format is no longer manufactured or is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace.
    4. Literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing ebook editions of the work (including digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent the enabling of the ebook's read-aloud function and that prevent the enabling of screen readers to render the text into a specialized format.
  • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @02:03PM (#37369462)

    If you want to support game developers or the industry, buy new products, whether it's games or licensed T-shirts. There's precious little to be found in emulation that could possibly help their bottom line.

    I presume you've never owned a Nintendo Wii then?

    In response to the originally asked question, the only way to have a legal ROM without buying it directly from the publisher (which isn't going to happen) is to make your own ROM. Get something like this: http://hackaday.com/2009/06/19/usb-reader-for-snes-game-carts/ [hackaday.com] and make your own. And don't distribute them.

  • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Sunday September 11, 2011 @03:29PM (#37370076) Homepage

    The reason piracy is the rule here is that it's almost impossible for a single home user to acquire the rights to use these ROMs. There are a few game vendors who have packaged up their ROM files to sell in that form. But those aren't normally aimed at an individual to buy; they're only packaged as a set of raw ROM files ffor resale as part of something else.

    If you buy a fully legitimate arcade console with licensed games, what they will typically do is negotiate licenses to several sets of these packaged games from multiple manufacturers. For example, X-Arcade Machine [xgaming.com] includes 205 licensed games [xgaming.com], for the most part collections such as Namco Muesum and Midway Arcade Treasure's Titles where the manufacturer has gone to the trouble of packaging the game ROMs for distribution--and therefore licensing. (Note that the quality of the joystick and buttons used in the X-Arcade hardware is considered low compared to what most DIY consoles aim for; don't consider the above a recommendation for buying one of them, they're just a good example here)

    Packages such as Namco Muesum are available to buy on a wide variety of platforms [wikipedia.org]. When you buy those, you're not directly given the ROMs though; you just get the right to play them as they are packaged for that platform. What I do to try and keep myself morally clean here is purchase any such collection that's available for the games I play on MAME.

    I buy these collections, I bought all of the games I liked from StarROMs when they were available. But the ROMs I play on MAME, those are coming from the bootleg distributions; like a lot of things, the pirates provide the easiest to use packaging of the software. Until companies like Namco and Atari start selling ROM licenses directly, I don't know that it's possible to be legally clean here, unless you buy one of the packaged cabinets from a manufacturer who is big enough to have negotiated a resale license.

  • by crankyspice (63953) on Sunday September 11, 2011 @04:22PM (#37370444)

    If you legitimately own a copy on some medium, medium-shifting to another one is legal, just like you can rip your own music CDs to mp3s.

    Incorrect, at least under U.S. copyright law. RIAA v. Diamond, 98-56727 (9th Cir., June 15, 1999) (http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1054784.html [findlaw.com]), the seminal case on the issue, found a fair use in "space shifting" music to MP3 players, but did so under the auspices of the Audio Home Recording Act (http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap10.html [copyright.gov]), which carves out specific exemptions applicable to sound recordings. No such provision(s) exist for video game ROMs, in any jurisdiction I'm aware of.

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