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Roms, Are Any Considered Public Domain


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#1 bubbaz3d

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 03:14 AM

I've been in the emulation scene for a while and am wondering which roms are considered public domain. A while back I heard about a "law" or something that said if the company no longer produced and or sold the game / system it was considered public domain. I'm pretty sure it's legal to own the roms of games that you owned, I used to have supermario brothers 3 for nes would it then be considered legal to download, or would I need to create the rom myself? So I also heard that old arcade, atari, intellivision roms are free/public domain, is this true. If you know please help.

So overall what are free/public domain and if I owned the original is it legal to own the rom?

#2 Scoobysnaxx

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 05:03 AM

See pinned topic above "Beginners Guide To Xbox Emulation, New to emulation? Read this first!

QUOTE
Q: Is emulation legal?
A: I can not provide a definite answer to that, because no one knows for sure. Cases are being fought in the courts right now to decide that question. Generally, it is thought that emulators by themselves are perfectly legal. There has not been a company that I know of that has won a court battle over an emulator (yet). ROMs on the other hand are where the trouble is. You are allowed a backup of a ROM image if you own the original cartridge. However, you should not possess a ROM image if you do not own the cartridge. You are breaking the law, and there is no "24 hour rule" (which is used on many web-sites) or anything like that will protect you. But it's a well known fact that not many people follow this rule.


QUOTE
And yes, in the eyes of the law itís still considered piracy even if the game is 10 years old and not for sale anymore.


To be honest I think many people ask these types of questions knowing full well they intend to get the roms anyway, but just want to "hear what makes em feel better"

As for your "used to own" comment - I would like to see that hold up anywhere. Well i used to own that movie/game/software - I just can't seem to find it smile.gif

There are also many topics related to this (this question pops up quite a bit as you can imagine), but you can press the search button as well as I. Happy hunting smile.gif

Edited by Scoobysnaxx, 30 March 2005 - 05:07 AM.


#3 bubbaz3d

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 05:47 AM

I actually searched for "roms legality" and no joy. And I am telling the truth I could take a picture and post it if need be, My old nes system bit the dust years ago so I gave most of my old cart's to my cousins who's nes still works fine but since they already had smb3 then they didnt need it. So used to own was in reference to the system as it was tossed with the garbage, but I still have a few carts and the controllers and "light gun" lol

PS I did read both of those and was actually asking what roms were considered public domain/free as I couldn't find it.

Edited by bubbaz3d, 30 March 2005 - 05:48 AM.


#4 JoeyJoeJo

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 06:13 AM

I'm no lawyer or anything, but I have had a class or two about Intellectual Property law. Anything covered under copyright laws (which I'm pretty sure video games are) are protected for the authors lifetime and 70 years afterwards. This includes books, music, movies, paintings, etc. So if my guess is correct, we have a while to wait for the copyrights to expire. But thats not to say some company won't release their games into the public domain.

If any or all of this is wrong, someone please correct me.

#5 bubbaz3d

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 06:42 AM

I've just been wondering for a real long time as i've seen many claims that older systems circa atari are legal to download roms as it is a way of keeping gaming history alive, but i'm not sure and thats why im asking.

#6 yodanut

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 06:57 AM

Such claims are false. If the copyright has not expired and the copyright owner has not released the intellectual property into public domain, any unauthorized reproduction is piracy. Atari in particular still very much believes in the continued value of their IPs regardless of their age, as displayed by their affiliation with Starroms, to my knowledge the only place where you can legally purchase and download game roms. A handful of previously commercial titles have also been released into the public domain, such as Zero Tolerance for the Genesis or Daikatana for the Game Boy, but these are by and large the exception and not the rule. That said, the fact that large chunk of old games for past consoles are out-of-production, often the product of long-defunct companies who can no longer profit from them, and many times ignored by their current copyright owners certainly makes an argument in favor of the morality of downloading them, but the legality of such an activity remains a more distinct issue.

#7 JACKERL

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 10:00 AM

You might be supprised as to what you will find... The grey area becomes greyer...

www.copyright.gov.htm

On October 28, 2003, the Librarian of Congress, on the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, announced the classes of works subject to the exemption from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. The four classes of works exempted are:

Section 3

(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.

Most roms, like the ones that mame requires fall into this catogory...

Most laws can be interpreted many ways... make of this what you will...

Basically if the system is no longer manufactured, no longer available to buy in the market place, then copyright laws can be manipulated...
Not to say you can start selling roms as this would still be infringment and theft...

Jackerl


#8 GSBS

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 04:53 PM

As well, I think downloading of products you already own is still illegal.

Even if you were allowed personal back-ups (which any company would fight in court), the ROMs distributed online aren't copies of your game. Unless you dump the contents of the ROM yourself, you become part of illegal distribution.

Morally, it's not anything wrong. But, you never know when Nintendo or Atari will re-release one of the their franchise icons, and look to profit.

#9 DolfhinDC

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 04:57 PM

IANAL

But I still don't think you are getting sued for downloading roms perhaps if you host them or sell them but you will be pretty safe by just downloading them.

#10 AkumAPRIME

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 05:35 PM

Jackal - "and which require the original media or hardware as a condition of access". So they define obsolete, and by their def, most of these systems are. But check the first line. The original media or hardware is not required as a condition of access. Or at least, Im pretty sure my xbox and pc arent NESs.

so... even more confusion!!! personally I think its a crime for Nintendo to put out GBA remakes of their games for $20 a piece. So... WE

ehb

#11 VampX

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 05:47 PM

omg i'm linking to r0mz!!!

located there is pretty much the only console rom ever released as freeware by its original creators.

Zero Tolerance (and its unfinished sequel beyond zero tolerance)

all hail tecnopop!

#12 AZImmortal

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 06:47 PM

QUOTE(JACKERL @ Mar 30 2005, 12:06 AM)
You might be supprised as to what you will find... The grey area becomes greyer...

www.copyright.gov.htm

On October 28, 2003, the Librarian of Congress, on the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, announced the classes of works subject to the exemption from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. The four classes of works exempted are:

Section 3

(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.

Most roms, like the ones that mame requires fall into this catogory...

Most laws can be interpreted many ways... make of this what you will...

Basically if the system is no longer manufactured, no longer available to buy in the market place, then copyright laws can be manipulated...
Not to say you can start selling roms as this would still be infringment and theft...

Jackerl

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most roms don't fall into that category because older games get re-released on new platforms all the time, so a game can practically never become obsolete in the sense that there's no hardware to play them on.

QUOTE(DolfhinDC @ Mar 30 2005, 07:03 AM)
IANAL

But I still don't think you are getting sued for downloading roms perhaps if you host them or sell them but you will be pretty safe by just downloading them.

View Post


it's illegal to download any copyrighted item (even if you own the original). the only legal way to own a backup is to make it yourself from the original. whether or not legal action would be taken against you would be up to the copyright holder.

#13 JACKERL

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Posted 31 March 2005 - 10:18 AM

Again as I said these grey area laws are very open to interpretation, how do you think there are sooo many websites offering Rom Burnings for a small charge to cover costs? Would not these have been sued or stopped ages ago for distributing...? I mean you can even pay via paypal for these services which is highly traceable...

Thought there was a big difference between the actual roms from the obsolete arcade machines and the re-released games. For one thing, the re-released games do not run on the original arcade machines, it is illegal to copy and distribute these cos they are re-written for modern day systems that are still reasonably available in the commercial marketplace.

The actual arcade roms that need the original arcade hardware to work which are not still reasonably available in the commercial marketplace, fall into a different category...

Do the re-released games contain the actual rom image or is it completely re-written code? I know the Dragons Lair series actually contain the arcade images, but these are cheep enough to buy off ebay if you want them anyway, but as for the rest...

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.

Note the stored in that format bit. Rewritten games are a different format.

Still, if you feel that you are breaking the law, then don't download or distribute, as itís your own personal conscience...

But still I feel the debate will continue.

Jackerl

Edited by JACKERL, 31 March 2005 - 10:23 AM.


#14 DolfhinDC

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Posted 31 March 2005 - 03:07 PM

QUOTE(AZImmortal @ Mar 30 2005, 06:53 PM)
most roms don't fall into that category because older games get re-released on new platforms all the time, so a game can practically never become obsolete in the sense that there's no hardware to play them on.
it's illegal to download any copyrighted item (even if you own the original).  the only legal way to own a backup is to make it yourself from the original.  whether or not legal action would be taken against you would be up to the copyright holder.

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Yeah I know, i'm just saying that the changes of being sued are small. It's tolerated by the feds they won't send in a swat team to recover your collection of NES roms.
Just like smoking weed, ofcourse it's illegal in most country's but not much of them will arrest you if you smoke a joint on the street (excluding country's with no personal freedom).

#15 JACKERL

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Posted 31 March 2005 - 03:17 PM

www.copyright.gov.htm

I rest my case...

Jackerl




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