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Android Emulation (Games) Google Software

Google Yanks Several Emulators From App Store 190

Posted by timothy
from the quietly-humming-the-dragnet-theme dept.
PC Magazine reports that the "-oid" family of emulators from developer Yong Zhang (better known as yongzh) has been pulled from Google's Android Market. These include Nesoid, Snesoid, and Gameboid. From the article: "So what got Zhang the boot? Or, rather, who? Neither Zhang nor Google have commented on the primary source of the complaints against the developer's emulator apps. While most speculate that one of the Big Three are behind the purge–Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft–there's also speculation that Zhang allegedly violated the open source licenses for projects that parts of his programs were derived from." A piece at Android Police has further mention and some more background on the legal position of emulator software.
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Google Yanks Several Emulators From App Store

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  • sleezeball (Score:5, Informative)

    by deisama (1745478) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @06:41PM (#36282696)

    I don't care what you're position is on emulators or Google. This guy tried to make money off of other people's work, his emulators were just based off of open source projects like snes9x. And he actually had the gall to try and play the sympathy card about how he's lost his primary source of income. You mean he might actually have to work, or come up with something original to earn money? How sad.

    He deserved to get pulled.

    • Re:sleezeball (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@noSPaM.gmail.com> on Sunday May 29, 2011 @07:04PM (#36282818)

      So what you're saying is that OSS is a poisoned chalice that anyone who wants to make money or a career for themselves in software development shouldn't touch with a 12 foot barge pole?

      No, I didn't think so.

      You seem to think that commercial interest and OSS are exclusive to one another. Where do the major OSS licences forbid you making money?

      In this case, if he was using code released specifically under a non-commercial licence then clearly it would explain why his software has been pulled, but your rant smacks of a much broader chip on your shoulder that you think it's immoral to sell OSS software for money, or otherwise generate income from OSS software.

      • Re:sleezeball (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DMiax (915735) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @07:13PM (#36282858)
        reading from other comments it looks like he used something that was under non-commercial license only. Which, ironically makes it non-OSS. So the GP is spot on: the guy is a freeloader and deserves no sympathy.
        • by Jahava (946858)

          reading from other comments it looks like he used something that was under non-commercial license only. Which, ironically makes it non-OSS. So the GP is spot on: the guy is a freeloader and deserves no sympathy.

          Not to be pedantic, but it's still OSS (Open-source Software) ... just not FOSS (Free Open-source Software).

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by icebraining (1313345)

            FOSS isn't "Free Open-source Software", it's "Free and Open-source Software" (as in, the Free Software as defined by the FSF plus the Open Source software as defined by the OSI).

            And according to the Open Source Definition,

            . Free Redistribution
            The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale.

            So, no, it's not OSS.

            • Re:sleezeball (Score:5, Insightful)

              by flowwolf (1824892) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @07:58PM (#36283128)
              The licence of snes9x

              Snes9x homepage: http://www.snes9x.com/ [snes9x.com]

              Permission to use, copy, modify and distribute Snes9x in both binary and source form, for non-commercial purposes, is hereby granted without fee, providing that this license information and copyright notice appear with all copies and any derived work.

              This software is provided 'as-is', without any express or implied warranty. In no event shall the authors be held liable for any damages arising from the use of this software.

              Snes9x is freeware for PERSONAL USE only. Commercial users should seek permission of the copyright holders first. Commercial use includes charging money for Snes9x or software derived from Snes9x.

              The copyright holders request that bug fixes and improvements to the code should be forwarded to them so everyone can benefit from the modifications in future versions.

              Super NES and Super Nintendo Entertainment System are trademarks of Nintendo Co., Limited and its subsidiary companies.

              Those two licences don't apply here.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I think the most immediate thing that goes through many, essentially non-programmers' minds is the idea that;

        "If I release all of the source code to my application, what is to stop somebody else from forking my project, replacing any copyrighted assets with free ones, and distributing a compiled binary to consumers as a competing, free product?"

        If someone could concisely explain why this fear is unfounded in a few sentences, this could become something that people quote to back up FOSS in arguments such as

        • Nothing. That's what FOSS is about.

        • by gomiam (587421)

          "If I fear someone forking my project and competing with me, why should I open the source code?"

          Fixed that for you :P

          Joking aside, if you fear competition you don't give ammunition. Then again, free and open source is about cooperation (and coopetition [wikipedia.org]).

      • Ignoring the fact that the upstream code isn't under a Free or Open Source license, your argument implies that proprietary software is an even worse 'poisoned chalice'. I can't legally make money by selling copies of my OS X DVD, even though I paid Apple for it! Or, to put it another way, if someone took QEMU, bundled a binary-only build of it with a copy of Windows 7, and sold it for $20 in the Google App Store, do you think they would be in more trouble for GPL violation from the QEMU authors or from th
        • by jo_ham (604554)

          I'm not sure that you are understanding my position - it is that OSS is *not* a poisoned chalice, and I was addressing what I saw as the OP's wider rant that profiting from OSS code you didn't personally write was immoral, which I don't necessarily think is true (licences permitting).

      • GP had a very valid point and your comments don't seem to understand them.

        Porting a fully open source base you didn't pay a cent for is not worth much unless someone's paying you to do it. Expecting income from it is just silly. If you do get paid, good for you, but the expectation shouldn't be there.

        • by cdrguru (88047)

          The problem is that outside of Richard Stallman's world there are two very different groups of people. The first group RHS is familiar with and it includes people that can program computers and pick up just about any piece of code in any language and instantly be able to adapt and modify this piece of code. Why would this group of people pay anything for something from open source?

          The second group of people, which RHS claims (implicitly) does not exist, is actually in reality a far larger group. It consi

      • by mmj638 (905944)

        Where do the major OSS licences forbid you making money?

        They don't. You're missing the point. He stole source code from open source applications without attributing it or releasing the source, both of which are required by the license in order to use the source. It was therefore a copyright infringement.

        He then made money out of this code which he stole.

    • by physburn (1095481)
      But its a highly useful app to have, immediately giving buyers access to a lot of old games. Perphaps thats the problem, without the new platform, needing new applications and new games, development dries ups. Originality is hard to find in the modern world, as are places to be original. But conversions, and translations are just as much useful work. I don't see how you can label a programming a sleezeball just for translating from open source projects. One thing open source was definitely not created for w
      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        That sounds like the classic OS/2 problem. For those not old enough to remember back in the days of Windows 2 and 3 IBM marketed OS/2 as "a better Windows than Windows" thanks to its having much of the Windows APIs embedded to use by OS/2.

        The problem was the developers that saw this simply didn't bother writing OS/2 apps which could take advantage of the platform, instead simply marketing their Windows programs to OS/2 users. Since they only had rights to Windows through Windows 3 OS/2 quickly lost the "be

        • by SEE (7681)

          If backwards-compatibility stopped developers from writing software that took advantage of a backwards-compatible platform, then it would have also stopped developers from writing Windows 95 apps.

          No, the reason nobody wrote OS/2 apps because nobody ran OS/2 2.x. Setting aside the various tricks Microsoft used to discourage OS/2 sales and IBM's inept marketing, the reason nobody used OS/2 2.x is because it needed 8 to 12 MB of RAM back when a computer came with your choice of 2 or 4 MB. By the time OS/2 wa

          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            But I would argue that the reason Windows gained so much traction in the first place is that the programs simply were never written for OS/2. I ran OS/2 for awhile back in the days of Win 3.x and frankly even with only 4Mb of RAM it was more like WinXP than Win3.x, as it had multitasking, the ability to play audio and video without crashing or turning into a sideshow, it was frankly awesome!

            So why did I quit and go to win95, even though frankly OS/2 was MUCH nicer than Windows at the time? Simple because th

    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      People have been bitching about this for ages, then finally when his scams get pulled, oh suddenly it's google siding up with the big corporations, give me break, ugh..

  • I mean, is this really anything more than a minor hiccup? It's pretty easy to install apps around the App Store. It's not like iOS (yet)... There's a ton of free emu's out there for Android. Pick a substitute and game on.
    • The free emulators for Android tend to suck. Really. Compare ADosBox with AnDosBox for instance. The former doesn't even use Android's input system, and so is unusuable on any device that doesn't have a physical keyboard. The C64 is a simpler system than the SNES, but all the C64-emulators in the marketplace are ported on a non-commercial basis, and ... they're not very good. Amiga is in the same boat, basically.

      Yong Zhang (and others) have done real work to port emulators to android, that no one else seem

      • by iocat (572367)
        So Yong Zhang deserves to get paid... for putting hard work into violating license agreements and porting other people's emulators which are used for... what exactly? Certainly not playing stolen videogames! Because then you might need to go up the chain a bit and feel bad for the software creators who weren't being paid. But no one ever seems to give a shit about them when something gets in the way of playing stolen games.
  • by byuu (1455609) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @06:54PM (#36282790)
    Which has a strict non-commercial license. The developers do not want their work being sold for profit.
    So in that instance this has nothing to do with the GPL. Not sure about the other two.
    Personally, I'm happy to see this one pulled.
    • by Aug Leopold (1218486) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @07:42PM (#36283032)
      Looks like nesoid is based on FCE Ultra (GNU GPL) and gameboid was based on gpSP (GNU GPL).
      • by Lanteran (1883836)
        Yeah, but the guy was withholding source code too.
      • by Exophase (2212738) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @11:49PM (#36284058)
        yongzh has received a relicense for gpSP by me, the sole copyright holder of the source he forked off of (he isn't using any code from any of the other forks). So Gameboid isn't violating any license agreements. It getting pulled is either at Google's discretion due to complaints against the owner in general or, more likely, Nintendo pressuring him. Remember, Google makes money off of his sales too. I doubt they'd remove emulators that didn't directly correlate to any particular person's specific complaint (nor would they take a complaint from some random non-copyright holder seriously). Nintendo, on the other hand..
        • But what claim does Nintendo have in this case? An emulator doesn't violate Nintendo's right to copy, and the patent for emulation on mobile devices by Nintendo wouldn't be applicable to Google since Google is only distributing software. yongzh might be on the hook for patent infringement, but I dont see how he's violating Nintendo's copyrights nor trademarks.

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          gameboid has a "download roms" link straight from the app(goes to a site with his referrer id attached, so some money there), so did his other emus. he walked a fine line with that.

          what he should have done, to keep the sw alive forever, would have been to publish them off-market, and linking to a sleazy roms website definetely didn't help.

        • Thank you for posting this. Yong claims to have all his "licensing" in order, this seems to back that up. He also claims that it was Sony that caused this takedown and that he'd seen evidence pointing to that. See ZodTTD's homepage [zodttd.com] for more information about how this WASN'T because of licensing abuse/misuse.

          Now to all the Android fans. It's OK to like Android just like it's OK to like Apple. It's OK to like one or the other more. It's NOT OK to delude yourselves that Google is your "open" buddy free from
  • by PocketPick (798123) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @07:04PM (#36282820)

    "While most speculate that one of the Big Three are behind the purge–Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft"

    Why even speculate which of the Big Three it was? The emulators were for:
      - Nintendo SNES
      - Nintendo Gameboy
      - Nintendo NES
      - Nintendo N64

    Call me crazy, but if it wasn't pulled because of licensing issues, shouldn't it be obvious who would of had the beef with this guy?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 29, 2011 @07:19PM (#36282906)

    Thats why i am staying away from evil and sticking to android.

  • A piece at Android Police has further mention and some more background on the legal position of emulator software.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @07:39PM (#36283010) Homepage

    "Computer programs and video games distributed in formats that have become obsolete and that require the original media or hardware as a condition of access, when circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of preservation or archival reproduction of published digital works by a library or archive. 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.

    Exemption to Prohibition on Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems for Access Control Technologies, 71 FR 68472-01"

    I realize this exception is being stated for video games and computer programs, but it rather reminds me of Disney's Dong of the South in laser disc format.

    • by BancBoy (578080)

      " it rather reminds me of Disney's Dong of the South in laser disc format.

      Thanks for that!

    • by julesh (229690)

      [...] formats that have become obsolete and that require the original media or hardware [...] 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

      Interesting, but this doesn't apply to the current discussion. The emulators in question were for Nintendo Gamecube (with which the Wii is backwards compatible), Nintendo Gameboy (with which the Gameboy Advance

      • Nintendo Gameboy (with which the Gameboy Advance is backwards compatible)

        The Game Boy, Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Advance SP, and Game Boy Player are all discontinued. Nintendo no longer makes hardware capable of playing Game Boy Game Paks.

        NES and SNES (for which Nintendo offer emulation on the Wii)

        Except for those games that haven't yet been republished on Virtual Console. Let me know when Earthbound is available.

      • by Lanteran (1883836)
        What? A gamecube emulator on a phone? I knew the hardware was underpowered, but damn!
      • by w_dragon (1802458)
        NES and SNES games are not 100% available in the commercial market. Try getting a copy of the original FF-III, for example. The virtual console only has a small selection of games, compared to what was available.
    • by westlake (615356)

      In this notice, the Librarian of Congress, upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, announces that during the period from the time of this notice through October 27, 2009....

      [Federal Register: November 27, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 227)][Rules and Regulations][Page 68472-68480] [copyright.gov]

      Expired?

      How did the LOC define a library or an archive?

      The general impression I have is that this was an academic/istitutional excemption.

      The LOC on this same ruling rejected circumvention of CSS to allow DVD play under Linux. Rejected circumvention to play region-encoded DVDs.

      There were licensed DVD players for the Linux OS. There were many inexpensive ways to play DVDs from other regions and many st

    • "Computer programs and video games distributed in formats that have become obsolete and that require the original media or hardware as a condition of access, when circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of preservation or archival reproduction of published digital works by a library or archive. 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.

      This would be true if there were no other machines you could purchase which would play these game cartridges. Right now on several online sites...I can buy for about $40-50 US machines with the ability to play NES/SNES cartridges. Since you can find these games used at garage sales...used game stores or numerous other venues...you can purchase a new machine which will allow you to play them...it's an EPIC FAIL using this part of copyright law to prove the point the guy was using code which wasn't his to ma

  • ... so yeah, not really comparable. Even if Google Market had rules as strict as the iTunes store, it would still be fine with me because the user ultimately has control over what is installed. Google is free to provide a "protected space" (whether or not it's a good idea is a different story) if they want to -- users that want to install other apps are free to do so.

    Even AT&T, who used to restrict sideloaded apps, have said they will remove the restrictions via firmware updates. http://www.wired.com/ga [wired.com]

  • Walled Garden (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sasayaki (1096761)

    And once again Apple's knee-jerk restrictionist, bizarre App Store(tm) policy comes around to bite ANOTHER innocent developer who most definitely wasn't engaged in any unethical behaviour at all.

    Shame on you, Apple. Shame on you. This is a prime example of why everyone should buy Android devices, because the bits just want to be free, man. Open your mind! ...

    Internet dickery aside, seriously, these apps deserved to be pulled for a number of reasons and Google did the right thing. But people should be under

  • Just ask people like VMware, or Microsoft or sun.. ( oracle ).

    What you do WITH the emulator may or may not be, but why is that a valid reason to pull something? Most anything can be used in a nefarious way, even bricks..

  • Don't be Evil

    ...for everything else, there is Google.
  • "Zhang allegedly violated the open source licenses for projects that parts of his programs were derived from"

    How ironic that Google would punish a developer for doing that...
  • Did he make sure his emulators use firmware in the right way?

  • by yoyhed (651244)
    I just installed a new ROM on my phone, and I was disappointed to see all the -oid emulators missing from the market. I had assumed Nintendo pressured Google into removing them, but a GPL violation seems just as likely. Anyone know where I can get the .apk's?
  • Strictly from my POV as one of the maintainers of the one of the emulators (Stella), this person asked for permission to release a port of Stella, but without releasing the changes under the GPLv2. Of course we said that was against the license, and he responded that he would figure out another alternative instead. Then a little later, the software was ported and source code not provided. It's almost as if he asked permission, and then when the answer wasn't what he wanted, he went ahead and did it anywa

    • by Tacvek (948259)

      Except that the GameBoy emulator was (apparently) authorized by the copyright holder, if this [slashdot.org] is accurate.

      As for the ones he did not obtain an alternative license for, that is definitely not acceptable. After all he still could have made money by selling the emulators even with source provided, as putting it in the market provides a service some people are willing to pay for (Automatic updates, and not needing to compile it yourself).

  • I realise this guy broke software licenses, but I bought these. Now that they're no longer available is Google going to hand out refunds to all those customers who have lost access to their software?

    I'm actually not really bothered given I bought them ages ago, I just thought it was an interesting question of what happens when Google pulls something.

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