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Games Entertainment

Borrowing ROMs 432

An anonymous reader writes "It looks like Console Classix is trying introduce a new old concept to the world of P2P file sharing, at least as it applies to NES and SNES ROM images. You download their client program, and then you can "borrow" one ROM image at a time from their site, play it, and then release it for someone else to use. There are a finite number of ROM images on the site, each one ostensibly dumped from a legitimate and unique cartridge. I wonder if this will allow an end-run around some of the questionable legality of file-sharing... and I wonder if this could work for MP3s, movies, and other forms of media?" I think its pretty reasonable, but I doubt that the industries will agree.
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Borrowing ROMs

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  • This sounds... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Satai ( 111172 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @02:36PM (#3973038)
    This sounds sort of similar to the MP3 locker program that mp3.com had a few years back, except more stringent. I don't think it'll fly, and if it does, it'll be AFTER legal battles.
    • Re:This sounds... (Score:3, Informative)

      by macrom ( 537566 )
      http://www.consoleclassix.com/legal.htm [consoleclassix.com]

      It looks like NOA hasn't contacted them in over a year regarding the alleged violation. Perhaps that means NOA realized they don't have much of a case against ConsoleClassix.com [consoleclassix.com]. Either that or they've been brewing a legal case for the last 13 months, which doesn't sound all that likely to me.

      Who knows, maybe someone has finally figured out a way to sling stones at the giants and defeat them.
      • Console Classics' legal argument http://www.consoleclassix.com/legal.htm [consoleclassix.com] could as easily be used by a video streaming service to "rent" movies over the internet. Rules:

        - Don't bypass the encryption - digitize a tape or the output of a DVD player rather than using DECSS.

        - Stream it to customers using a client that doesn't make a non-ephemeral local copy and dumps cache if the connection is lost (i.e. Realplay, Microsoft's media player with appropriate flags set, or a client of your own.)

        - Don't have more streams going than you have purchased copies of the original program. (Might also be good to digitize each copy separately.)

        Of course you'd want to rent for a several-day period (like a video rental store) rather than releasing the copy for re-rental as soon as the customer is done with it. Otherwise you'll have a much faster turnaround than a video store and will thus rent more showings per copy. Good for you but bad for the studio, so they're more likely to go after you in court.

        Even with the same rental times you'll probably be slightly more efficient than a video chain, since you'll have ONE virtual store with a single pool of virtual tapes to serve all the customers, rather than having to divide the copies among multiple physical stores and guess the local markets right. But that's small potatoes. Your big profit improvement over a classic rental chain will come from not having to maintain the physical stores.
  • Shareing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by buss_error ( 142273 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @02:36PM (#3973044) Homepage Journal
    Didn't seem to work for MP3.COM, and I thought that MP3.com had a better chance than Napster. After all, MP3.COM wanted to confirm you actually had the CD you were trying to play, and Napster didn't.
  • by Marx_Mrvelous ( 532372 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @02:37PM (#3973047) Homepage
    I like this idea, but because it will hurt business, it'll go away.

    Of course, "fair use" states that you can lend, borrow, and sell used merchandise (CDs, PS2 games, etc) but when it's on such a large scale, businesses will fight back to try to make up for lost sales. If it stays limited to older nintendo and sega ROMs, they might slip under the radar... but I don't know anymore.
    • Yeah, look at the whining by authors about Amazon selling used books. And the whining and pressure by the recording industry about record stores selling used CDs.
      • To be fair:

        For the most part, it's the publishing houses complaining, not the authors themselves.

        Sure some authors have been vocal on the subject, but they are in the minority.

      • "Yeah, look at the whining by authors about Amazon selling used books."

        Yes, but the authors were actively referring people to Amazon, only to have Amazon switch it to a sale that wasn't netting the author a regular royalty. Amazon may be free to sell used books, but authors are also free to pick and choose which book sellers they promote.

    • This is indeed a great idea, but just imagine the outrage that book publishers would have if someone tried to set up a large, public repository where someone could borrow books, read them, and return them! Oh, wait...

      (for the humor impaired: I am always completely serious)
  • by TwitchCHNO ( 469542 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @02:37PM (#3973051) Homepage
    Ok can someone tell me why Nintendo doesn't partner with Gamespot / Fileplanet & let an infinite of roms & mame playing go on with a membership. (With Nintendo collecting a small royalty fee).

    Are there any of the older video game companies offerin thier old games for purchase? (in any format) Or is it pretty much lawers protecting IP that the company no longer uses. If that's the case it seems like a big waste of $ to me.
    • by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @02:51PM (#3973128) Homepage Journal
      The reason is that Nintendo, unlike other game companies, still makes money off of their old games. Notice the three Super Mario Advance games are exact copies of Mario 2, Mario World, and Yoshi's Island? Other companies like Sega do not re-relase their old games, like Sonic 2, in their exactly the same as original forms.
      So while companies like Sega and Sony or Arcade machine makers aren't hurt by roms, Nintendo very much is. If you download Mario 2 for free, that's one less copy of Mario Advance they sell. If you download a copy of Sonic 2, the only one who gets hurt is the used game store in the mall.

      I'm still pissed however that Mario Advance 3 is Yoshi's Island and not Super Mario 3. What's up with that? The last time Mario 3 was put out was Mario All Stars for SNES. I want it for GBA, like now-ish.
      • I want it for GBA, like now-ish.

        Plenty of NES emulators out there for the GBA, you still have your SMB3 cart riiiiight? Dump it to mem card, use emulator, play on GBA, enjoy.

        Ok so it won't get the nifty graphical enhancements of a remake but. . . .

        Oh and yes Nintendo still makes money off of /remaking/ their old games, but letting somebody play a game on the computer for a small fee would hardly negate selling that game for a console system or some such. And in fact they could make tons of money with a console hooked up to the internet that could rent out their older games online, heh. NES games are by far small enough to transmit over even a dial-up connection, so. . . .

        And people would still buy the GBA remakes. ^_^
    • Nintendo has been rereleasing a lot of their old NES and SNES games on the Gameboy Color & Gameboy Advance systems. Most Mario games have been rereleased, or will be soon. They attempted porting the older Zelda games, but the GB screen was too small for it. Zelda 3 will make it to the GBA though.

      Various other old NES games are included within Animal Crossing, which is coming to the GameCube later this year.

      So, the answer is, Nintendo would lose money by getting involved in schemes allowing people to download ROMs.
    • I believe Capcom let out some of their ROMs a few years back. There was company that put out some high-quality PC joysticks called HotRods or something that basically gave the user Street Fighter-style joysticks complete with cherry buttons in a 2x3 configuration. Packaged with the joysticks were copies of MAME and a bunch of legal Capcom ROMs, like 1941, Commando, Strider and UN Squadron. Pretty cool. (Although most of the games ran better on Callus...)

  • by Wizri ( 518731 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @02:38PM (#3973053)
    How long beforce some one figures out how to bypass the locking and keep the ROMs on local machine? My guess 48 hours.
    • Well guess what, I already know how to xerox a book and copy a movie, so whats the diff?
    • I agree, how long until someone cracks the protection and just copies the rom to be played forever? This is why Microsoft want's to develop palladium, so they can disable any software that would provide this "cracking" service. It boils down to, "If you can expierence (view/listen/play) a digital content, you can copy that digital content"

  • good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cr@ckwhore ( 165454 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @02:38PM (#3973054) Homepage
    good idea! Public libraries have been operating like this for centuries.

    • Re:good idea (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Maniakes ( 216039 )
      good idea! Public libraries have been operating like this for centuries.

      Not to mention Blockbuster and Hollywood Video.
      • good idea! Public libraries have been operating like this for centuries.

        Not to mention Blockbuster and Hollywood Video.

        In both of those examples, the content is still embedded in a matrix of protons and neutrons when it is handed over to the renter or patron.

        Lawmakers and courts seem to have decided that this is OK, because it makes the content seem enough like real objects (that you can touch and feel) for them to understand.

        Transmitting the ROM images over the Internet avoids the step of physically transfering the protons and neutrons to the users. Rightly or wrongly, the lawmakers and courts will not be able to relate to this, and it will be judged to be illegal.

        (It doesn't matter that only one user is assigned to the protons and neutrons at a time. The fact that they weren't sent to the user will be the deciding factor. The law may not say this in so many words, but the net effect of any court rulings will be the same.)

        Physically moving around heavy particles along with abstract content seems to set a "threshold of inconvenience" which affirms that your usage of the associated content is fair and morally upstanding.

  • by NoMoreNicksLeft ( 516230 ) <`john.oyler' `at' `comcast.net'> on Monday July 29, 2002 @02:40PM (#3973070) Journal
    I mean, I expect the first corp bot to "check out" all the roms within a few weeks, and never release them.

    Didn't scientology do this court records, at one point?
  • Well put. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by supabeast! ( 84658 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @02:41PM (#3973076)
    "I think its pretty reasonable, but I doubt that the industries will agree."

    Well, I hope these guys have good lawyers, because I doubt that the video game industry is going to just watch this site,and the cops in South Carolina (The apparent home of Jonathan Cooper, the site admin.) aren't among the nation's more liberal police forces. If he's lucky they'll just try piracy charges via some DA unable to comprehend software licensing and such, and not try to sneak in some DMCA violation on top of it.

    Don't drop the soap, John.
    • by pmz ( 462998 )
      South Carolina

      Well, the gaming site will be safe if it looks like a Lottery gambling site instead of a good-for-nothing Video Poker gambling site.
  • if not it won't fly. Everything else is irrelavent...

    "What we can't make money on the net, so let's change it then. What people are using it, SO..."
  • Rental-priced videos (Score:3, Interesting)

    by torinth ( 216077 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @02:47PM (#3973109) Homepage
    Blockbuster pays on the order of 10 times as much for a copy of a video that they can rent as compared to the copy that you can pick up at Target. Not having worked at a rental store or anything, I can't speak definatively, but aren't there special restrictions on rentals that extend beyond fair use? And may not this apply? If not in the case of console roms, at least, perhaps in the case of "other media", as mentioned?

    • Nope they actualy just get normal DVD's etc to use. They tried to make them more expensive in AU that didn't fly and they havent tried it in the states (but I may well be wrong) Physical representations of things like videos DVD's CD's etc historicaly have be property as long as they stay in the same form, that may be the snag that they are moving around digital bits not say overnight mailing you an actual rom. Our US leaders think that for some strange reasont he two things are different and to some extent they are I could rip a NES cart you could to but joe sixpack dosent want to cant (remember this guy cant get his VCR clock programed and is confused by to many desktop icons) as the barrier to pirating roms lowers to cheap harddrive space, broadband Internet and some adware application that joe six pack can get his local computer expert to install companies get a lot more worried about this sort of thing.
    • I know that my local video store once had PC software for rent, but had to pull it. Guy in the department told me it was because the video game suppliers/wholesalers complained that the copies weren't licensed for rental, only sale. He said the companies wouldn't sell them rental licenses for PC titles like they would for playstation(2)/n64 (this was pre-ps3/gamecube), because of piracy problems so rampant on PC's. Thought it was interesting.
    • Blockbuster pays on the order of 10 times as much for a copy of a video that they can rent as compared to the copy that you can pick up at Target.

      I am not an expert on this, but I think there are two reasons why this is true.

      0) Blockbuster will have the video sooner than Target will sell it... and the movie companies jack up the prices on the early sales. First the movies are in the theatres long enough to make money; then the movies are rental-only long enough to make rental money; last they release the movies for sale at Target. Note that Blockbuster can afford to pay big prices for movies since they will make big money on the rentals.

      1) The license for the Target movie is for home showing only. Blockbuster must be getting the movies under a different license.

    • Blockbuster pays on the order of 10 times as much for a copy of a video that they can rent as compared to the copy that you can pick up at Target


      For movies that didn't make it "big" you can often rent the movie before you can buy it widely -- the studios make VHS copies available at "rental pricing" that is around $80-90 per tape. Takes awhile to recoup the cost, but since you can't get it otherwise, they'll probably make the money back on it (note -- you can actually buy these as a consumer, but you have to find a distributor who will sell to the public and you have to be willing to pay the $80-90 for a single movie).

      For big releases, and all DVDs, the movie industry has discovered that they're better off pricing the tapes at prices that consumers would be willing to buy a copy instead of just renting it. Blockbuster and other rental companies simply buy the same movie you can at Target, Best Buy, etc., stick it in their own box, and rent it. They (probably) pay around $5-15 per tape/DVD, which is recouped in 1-3 rentals.

      DVD never got into the chasm between rental and "priced-to-own" dates, and isn't likely to. There have been a few industry movements to change this, but they've failed pretty spectacularly so far.
  • If it doesn't maximize corporate profits, then it is theft.

    What else could you possibly expect, considering what the media companies pay for Premium Legislative Services in the US and the EU. The idea that you do not own what you have bought is absurd, but the bankrolled politicians are turning that hallucination into a scary reality.

    Anybody in north central Florida got a Donkey Kong ROM?

  • Along a similar vein (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hollins ( 83264 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @02:48PM (#3973114) Homepage

    I proposed something very similar for mp3s about a year ago on kuro5hin. There were some good comments on the idea's merits and drawbacks.

    Here [kuro5hin.org] is a link.

  • Commercial rental of copyrighted works is governed by its own set of rules. Libraries and some other institutions are special. Perhaps this would work if it falls under fair use, but then you may not have to worry about "lending" anyway.
  • by anotherone ( 132088 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @02:51PM (#3973129)
    If anyone from Nintendo, Sega, etc are listening, here is how you can either end or severly limit rom trading:

    License a user-built emulator, re-rip every cart for your system, and offer them for sale. Make it cheap- maybe $1 per Rom, or maybe charge per megabyte, or release compilation CDs, or whatever. Don't make it too expensive. Then, advertise it a LOT. Make the emulator easy to use, maybe even have it integrated with the buying system so you can play a demo of the game before you buy it, then you can just enter your CC# into the program and you've got the whole thing.

    I like my Roms, and I could get them free by lurking around a dozen shady P2P networks or download sites with gay porn banners for hours, or I could just pay a few dollars to get the same without any work on my part.

    Sega actually does something close to this already, they've licensed the KGen emulator and sell a couple of the Sonic games for PCs in stores. I know this because I own them all.

    They don't sell any carts anymore, so they've stopped making money from them. With this system, they'll start making money from them again, as well as get an ASSLOAD of publicity.

    • If I were in a position to do it (hell knows I'd love to work for Nintendo...) I'd do pretty much what you just said, but stick to the compilation idea. An emulator, a nice front end for choosing your game, and a couple thousand roms would probably fit nicely onto one of those GameCube discs. Bundle it with an old-school NES controller that's been adapted to plug into the cube, and sell it for $30-$40. Do the same thing on cd or dvd for the pc market, with a usb version of the controller. Hell, if the licensing fees aren't prohibitive, release versions for XBox and PS2. Pay attention Nintendo: THERE IS MONEY TO BE MADE HERE.
      • I think a big question is how much the copyright holder should be receiving for each rom. I am not an industry insider, I have no idea what royalties are for video games, but I doubt each copyright holder would be thrilled about only making a few cents per game- especially if they had any Q&A.

        $40 divided by 1,000 roms is 4 cents each- and would be much less (2-3 cents) when you account for the cost of providing the compilation itself. Is that fair? It's certainly a far cry from the original poster's $1 per game.

        On a side note, I own an infocom text game CD-ROM collection, and it's neat. Really neat. But infocom had long been bankrupt and their assets sold to activision, and text games are far from popular, so they probably didn't have any choice (whereas NES games and newer still have large potential markets)

    • The only issue I can see with this : royalty compensation to the original authors. I've never seen an agreement that developers must sign with NOA (or any of the console manufacturers), so I'm not sure if NOA has the right to redistribute the ROMs for ALL of the carts for ALL of their systems. With the sheer number of carts out there, it would be hard to track down each and every developer (many of them are probably defunct) to send checks for the ROMs purchased.

      But I do agree with the sentiment -- at the bare minimum NOA should do this for their own titles. I for one would pay a few bucks for each ROM, for each Nintendo first-party title.
    • License a user-built emulator, re-rip every cart for your system, and offer them for sale.

      Exactly. That way Nintendo can offer something that is better than free. Now, if the music industry could just find a way...
    • You're ignoring the fact that "free" is infinitely less expensive than "cheap." The same people that won't spend a couple of bucks to snag the actual carts used and cheap are the same ones that wouldn't pay a couple of bucks for a rom dump. Of course there are exceptions, but publishers don't necessarily profit on exceptions.

      Meanwhile, publishers would be forced to support their emulators for actual customers.

      I'm fairly confident that this is the reason why we don't see more emulated Sega PC releases. There's too little reward. Those Smash Pack and Sonic collection CDs for Windows go for pennies in the bargain bin.

      < tofuhead >

  • www.iceradio.ca is the exact same thing for Canadians only though. (Unfortunately not netscape compatible)
  • by jvmatthe ( 116058 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @02:52PM (#3973139) Homepage
    Ok, a little off-topic, perhaps, but bear with me. Suppose we view older videogames as "classics". That is, we consider Pac-man [klov.com] and Space Invaders [klov.com] as the videogame analogue of David Copperfield or Beowulf (pardon my Anglocentrist literary background or whatever). Then this is perhaps a way to make it clear to people that it becomes increasingly difficult to bear the starvation of the public domain.

    Let me take an example close to my own heart: Commodore 64 games. I want to be able to share these games with my kids, much like my old man showed me his Classics Illustrated [nostalgiazone.com] comic books. (They are classic literature in a form that kids could digest more easily as teenagers when he was growing up.) The problem is that I could be in the unfortunate situation of not having hardware that works or even software in a usable medium. Already, I've seen 5.25" diskettes go bad, so I'm left getting things off of c64.com [c64.com] where they have buckets of games in disk or tape image format. But these kinds of things are the things that make game companies cry foul. So I end up using an emulator like VICE [t-online.de] and these images to show off parts of my childhood. So whereas my dad has some slowly deteriorating comic books to show 50 years after his childhood, at the same point in my life I may have to do something that I might otherwise feel is illegal.

    In short, I think our culture will eventually feel the need for a richer public domain and we need a way to get the public on board for getting everlasting copyright extension to stop. I think that pointing out that they may not be able to show their kids the games they grew up on would be one way to explain this to normals that don't follow Slashdot.

    FWIW, I plan on making a case-by-case choice from here on out in my life as to whether I think a company is benefitting unfairly from copyright extensions. If my kid asks for a tape of Steamboat Willie (the first Mickey Mouse cartoon) I might just get a pirate copy and not feel one bit of remorse about it. They bought an illegal extension of copyright and I don't think they deserve it one bit. And in 20 years, I might be feeling the same way about Commodore games and other media I grew up on, provided my borg implant lets me think such thoughts. ;^)

    • I don't think many here will disagree with you feelings on the situation. What you're proposing is illegal, though many of us here also don't believe it should, and that the whole copyright situation has gotten out of hand.

      Bruce Perens planned a public demonstration defying the DMCA. Furthermore, it was carefully defined to defy *only* the DMCA and not the traditional concepts of copyright, and didn't overextend the common ideas of free use.

      He was willing to go to jail for it, and we wished him well. Unfortunately his employer felt differently, and presumably he felt he could be of more service where he was rather than in jail.

      But before coming up with some "copyright protest" action, try to separate the protest from the gimme side of it.

      I'm protesting too, but I've pretty much quit listening to music. I don't buy CDs, neither do I rip. Recently I began learning about Indie Music, and plan to pursue that further as an alternative way to get tunes back into my life. I'm finally deciding that I'm going to get the old turntable running, and rip my old vinyl rather than re-purchase any of my collection on CD. I can't quite take the same action on movies, though my attendence is way down. I also put forth a concerted effort never to see a first-run release in the evening, going for either matinee or second run at the cheap-seats theatre. A bit of a weasly protest, but I *am* denying them a goodly chunk of my revenue. I am not willing to go to jail, so I tailor my protests accordingly. I also write to my Congressional delegation, and Leahy is due for a scorcher.
  • If this was legal, then where is the N64 emulator and N64 roms? And why doesn't NetFlix.com start checking out DVDs in online form... it would reduce tons of overhead as far as shipping goes.

    Ultimately, he does not own the copyright of those games, and making them availiable online would probably count as an unauthorized form of distribution.

    I'm not disputing the chance that this guy owns all of these titles, mind you.... Though I've never heard of "Hogan's Ally", most of the games on that list are common, and the fact that he only has 2 Mega Man ROMs up indicate that he may indeed be late to the game as far as collecting goes.
  • by Restil ( 31903 )
    These roms have no real market value as far as the games themselves go. They're not sold new anymore, and for the most part, they're not sold used either, unless you can find ebay auctions or a garage sale. However, the roms for all of them are available online. They're small, easy to transfer, and players are available on multiple platforms. The cat is out of the bag, and Nintendo and ohers don't have much they can lose from this, but obviously, they'll want their piece of the pie.

    Has anyone tried to work with them on this? About the only thing the games are worth to them is the IP rights to the artisitic content. Of course, from my point of view anyway, that content value would only increase if it had a greater market saturation. Nintendo can reasonably expect $0 from the sale of game cartridges at this point. Therefore, if ANY amount of money is offered in exchange for legitimizing the rom sceme, they might be willing to go for it. Its a steady revenue stream from somewhere that no previous revenue exists, and with no work on their part.
    They might just go along with it, grant permission, and forget about it. Just throw a couple ads on the site, provide nintendo with 100% of the profit (after bandwidth and other expenses) and they might go for it. At least this way there would be no concern about legal battles, assuming they go for it.

    And if they don't go for it, you're no worse off than you are now.

  • need to start selling roms.

    They need to be realistic:
    There is a demand for them.

    If you make it so people don't have to "hunt them down", i'm sure atleast some people will pay you a buck per game.

    Making a buck per game from some people sure beats making no money because the only way to get ROMs is to pirate them.

    Do they actually expect people to keep thier NES hooked up to thier TV for 20 years?

    • >Do they actually expect people to keep thier NES hooked up to thier TV for 20 years?

      Don't laugh, but part of it is that they dont want you playing a franchise from 20 years ago when the Nth franchise game just came out for the PS2.

      They don't want you to remember how good it was; they want you to be forced into buying the latest incarnation of the franchise (and/or the "Classics" collections).
    • Yeah, but your logic defies itself. As soon as an "official" library is placed on the net, it will be raided and reproduced in an equally efficient form.

      IE once someone makes a definitive list, it is much easier to just copy and reproduce that efficient list than it is to try and make your own list from file-sharing programs.
  • I appreciate their usefulness, but what's stopping anyone from going out and picking up old games? Two days ago my roommate bought an atari 2600 and 20 games for 10 bucks. Are people really that lazy that they won't go to a local video game store which sells old games? (of which we have at least two in Champaign). I could understand using roms if you can't get ahold of the cartridge-stuff like Ogre Battle or Chrono Trigger are really, really hard to find. But on the whole, I think getting ROMs is just laziness, and as long as the games are available for purchase if you look hard enough, they shouldn't be downloaded.

    Colin Winters
    • I've spent the last 3 years building up a pretty decent classic cartridge collection. At this point it's up to several hundred or so. Not a single one was purchased at a video game store, as the oldest thing anyone sells here (Canadian city with a population of over 700,000) is Sony Playstation games. The profit just isn't high enough for stores to carry Super Nintendo, let alone Atari games anymore.

      How did I accquire all of this? 3 solid years of hitting several hundred garage sales per month, and visiting the local junk shops at least once a week. That's a hell of a lot of work, and it's a good thing I really enjoy doing it. But there are literally hundreds of games I've always wanted to play, and simply cannot find. I'd much prefer the original, both for the authenticity in playing, and the collecting factor - but in many cases, I simply have no choice but to download the ROM image. Paying some guy on Ebay $200 for a rare Atari game doesn't put one dime more into the pocket of the copyright owner, so who's it hurting?
  • by mo ( 2873 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @02:55PM (#3973155)
    This is just what cost mp3.com 400 million bucks. The problem here is that when you copy the ROM from the chip to disk, you are making a copy of a copyrighted product for commercial use. This is illegal. It doesn't matter what you do with the ROM images on disk, once you make the copy you're screwed. The only way for this to work would be to rent the physical rom chips.
  • The problem can be traced bck to the most basic economic principle: supply and demand. The fact that there are so many people out there who are trying to create the latest flavor of file-sharing only proves that there is still a huge demand for media. Naturally, the industries do whatever they can to make a buck off of that demand, and prevent anyone from taking that market-share away from them.

    Which brings me to the main point of this post. The various media industries view us not as citizens, but consumers. We all know this, and many of us resent that fact. The solution? Stop being a consumer!

    I am not a psychologist, by any stretch, but I would suggest that some people are downright addicted to media. For some, they need to have music playing all the time. Others seek only to collect hunderds of gigabytes of media they may or may not have any intention of viewing/listening to. These are the people the xxAA's want to sink their hooks into, because there is the most money to be made from them.

    So how about this. Cast off your media addiction and go do stuff that shows the various entertainment industries that they and their product are not needed/wanted. Find other hobbies/activities that don't support the monopolistic organizations. Maybe pushing the idea too far here, but maybe take up a sport!

    We will always be considered consumers first as long as we behave like consumers. If we want to show the entertainment industries that we don't like what they're doing, remove yourself from their market pool.

    • by jhines0042 ( 184217 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @03:55PM (#3973582) Journal
      Ideas for things to do in your spare time other than buy stuff from other people.

      1) Learn to cook. Baking cookies and breads for friends can be very theraputic and win you more friends.

      2) Learn to homebrew. Brewing beer, making wine, or even mead can certainly win you friends.

      3) Join a club or other organization. A couple come to mind:
      3a) Society for Creative Anachronism (don't need even electricity for most of their activities, how's THAT for not consuming?)
      3b) NTrak Model Trains
      3c) Pick up Ham Radio
      3d) Open Source Software. Lots of projects out there.

      4) Make your own music. Heck, someone has to make it.

      5) Fly a kite.

      6) Read to your kids/friends/parents.

      7) Play a board game (anything from "Sorry" or "Monopoly" to "Munchkins", "Hackers", or "The Settlers of Catan"

      8) Woodworking. Talk about a hacker heaven... turn trees into anything you want!

      9) Sports. No, not watching them, particiapting. Try Baseball, Soccer, Football, Rugby. Or if you are more of a loner, Cycling, Running, Swimming, Inline Skating. Or possibly even my favorites: Fencing, Volleyball and Rockclimbing.

      10) Art. Paiting, poetry, pottery, photography.

      There, 10 things that anyone can do and do well with a minor bit of practice that do not consume anything from the media giants. Some of them are even healthy and might reduce your waistline. At least one of them can get you drunk!

    • Which brings me to the main point of this post. The various media industries view us not as citizens, but consumers.

      Ummm. The "media industries" are not countries, so why would they ever view you as "citizens" instead of "consumers"?

      The solution? Stop being a consumer!

      So how about this. Cast off your media addiction and go do stuff that shows the various entertainment industries that they and their product are not needed/wanted. Find other hobbies/activities that don't support the monopolistic organizations. Maybe pushing the idea too far here, but maybe take up a sport!

      This is the lamest argument I've seen in a long time. Let's think it through a bit...

      We're not pissed off because the RIAA/MPAA is selling these items to us. We WANT these things. They provide ENTERTAINMENT. (Just like sports provide entertainment.)

      We're pissed off because they are trying to sell us things we want, without giving us full control over those things after we've purchased them.

      However, your idea to abstain from everything is not reasonable. The punishment doesn't fit the crime. In other words, you'll never get enough people to join a boycott like this, because the shit the MPAA/RIAA are pulling is not egregious enough to most people for this boycott to make a dent.

      Another way of thinking about it is: I love Lord of the Rings way more than I hate the RIAA's actions.

      I think a more successful course of action is to practice civil disobedience, whenever possible. In this case, we're not necessarily trying to change any laws (although that would be nice), we are primarily interested in making it more obvious to the RIAA/MPAA that things have changed.

      Share MP3's of your albums with your friends. Crack encryption on products you've purchased, for the purpose of being able to use them without any restrictions. Crack encryption that will be used to limit the usefulness of HDTV or other digital broadcast signals that you've purchased and receive in your home. Break macrovision's and other companies' attempts to prevent you from ripping CD/DVD's to your hard drive. Create programs that make it easy to move television shows from your PVR to your computer, and vice versa. Avoid hardware that uses proprietary media formats whenever possible.

      These are actions which could conceivably work to decimate the MPAA/RIAA's old-school business models that no longer apply in the digital world, and yet give me no moral pause (as sharing my MP3's with the entire world does).

      These are things that don't require EVERYONE to do something in order for them to work -- only one anonymous person is needed to write a decryption program and post it on the internet, for example.

      The MPAA/RIAA will eventually be forced to revise their business model, or die. If they want to survive, they will become digital-friendly. Sell unencumbered digital bundles of music or movies for far less than you're trying to sell physical products. They cost less to produce and distribute, after all.

      If you make it easier for people to buy than to steal, you'll make money hand over fist.

      Civil disobedience is the key. I'm just stating the obvious.
  • Anybody remember the my.mp3.com lawsuit? The court found that making a copy of a copyrighted work is infringement, even if there's a real, honest, copy out there somewhere restricting who gets access to the copy.

    So as far as the law's concerned, it doesn't seem to matter one bit that there's a stack of legal cartridges in the corner. If copies have been made and are downloaded to customers, it's infringement.

    Just another area where common sense and judicial rulings disagree. Of course, my.mp3.com was just one case, and maybe another judge will disagree.

  • by Kakarat ( 595386 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @03:01PM (#3973207)
    It's just more convenient this way. I remember there was a business in town a while back that rented software for the PC: games, applications, antivirus software (you know for those only needing temporary virus protection!). They lasted for many years until they were threatened with a legal suit because the rented software (typically for 3 or 5 days) which promoted piracy. So they shutdown for a few days then came back with a new policy: selling the software at their old rental price and after 5 days, if you haven't returned it (for any reason at all - no questions asked) then they would charge you full price.

    So if they physically have the ROM and can provide a good checkout system, then how could this be any different than renting the game at blockbuster? Even if the ROM could be copied...the same argument could be said about renting the game at a video store. Besides, SNES and NES games are getting to the point that they aren't selling hardly at all.

  • Fat Chance (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vitaflo ( 20507 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @03:02PM (#3973210) Homepage
    I don't think Nintendo would like this one bit [nintendo.com]. They state quite clearly that they are against ROMs, Emulators, and the like. I'm pretty positive Nintendo would come down hard on anyone who would try such a thing. I even know of "underground" ROM sites that don't put up any Nintendo ROMs for download for fear of being shut down by Nintendo. They're highly agressive with their IP.
  • Wow, I suggested this not too long ago on SlashDot:

    "High speed CD brokerage house" [slashdot.org]

    Nice to see someone implementing it.

  • by esme ( 17526 )
    mp3.com tried this, remember -- my.mp3.com. there defense was that they required people to prove they owned the CDs, and then they'd let them listen to the music. That's even more controlled than this, which lets you access stuff you have never bought.

    mp3.com got busted, big time. expect the same here.


  • by anthony_dipierro ( 543308 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @03:19PM (#3973326) Journal
    Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a), unless authorized by the owners of copyright in the sound recording or the owner of copyright in a computer program (including any tape, disk, or other medium embodying such program), and in the case of a sound recording in the musical works embodied therein, neither the owner of a particular phonorecord nor any person in possession of a particular copy of a computer program (including any tape, disk, or other medium embodying such program), may, for the purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage, dispose of, or authorize the disposal of, the possession of that phonorecord or computer program (including any tape, disk, or other medium embodying such program) by rental, lease, or lending, or by any other act or practice in the nature of rental, lease, or lending.
    http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/109.html [cornell.edu]
  • It won't fly, for a very simple reason: "Content producers" will not be able to make as much money as if they sold one cartridge to everyone who borrows one.
  • It didn't work for my.mp3.com, so I don't know why it would work here. As I recall, the judge in that case effectively ruled that even though the company guaranteed that a particular copy of music was directly linked to a real CD, it was still somehow "different" from the original and so they were found to be distributing an illegal copy.

    • It's not that the mp3's were "different" it was that they were "copies". Because mp3.com reproduced, or made copies of the cds in a commercial setting, it was copyright infringement.

      The same would be true if I purchased ever vhs tape in existance, and then burnt dvd's of all of them and rented the dvd's. It doesn't matter if I only burn one dvd per vhs tape, because it's still a copy, which violates copyright.
  • Won't Work (Score:2, Insightful)

    As long as a check-in/check-out model exists, and possession of the intellectual property actually changes hands, there will be people creating software to override the application security to obtain copies. This would probably be one of the main arguments against such as system from the media companies. Perfect example of this is Streamripper for Shoutcast. Shoutcast streams audio through winamp, and Streamripper allows you to rip the Mp3's from the stream.
  • Does anybody remember the SEGA Interactive cable thingy which plugged into your Genesis and let you download games for a period of time? Or am I mis-remembering a vaporware concept - I remember seeing it listed as an option by my cable company, but never saw anybody using it. (My appologies for the double post, I hit the return key prematurely!)
  • by KnowledgeSeeker ( 596995 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @10:30PM (#3975899)
    A lot of posts are citing "fair use," which doesn't apply in this situation - there is no "fair use" doctrine when it comes to commercial purposes. The law states that you may not, either directly, or indirectly, profit from another's copyright without their express permission. This legal stipulation rules out almost any type of rental model of copyrighted material that isn't endorsed by the copyright's owner.

    While the library example is a compelling argument to defend a service like this, libraries aren't restricted by the same laws. Libraries are exempt for two reasons: First, as public institutions, they receive special protection. Second, they aren't charging for their service, and so they aren't profiting from the rental of the material (they don't rent material, but loan it - a small, but important distinction).

    In contrast, Video rental stores (at least all those I'm aware of) do pay a premium on their VHS and DVD purchases to buy what is essentially a rental license. That's why it's legal for them to rent movies, but not for you, who doesn't hold that licence, to do it. Commercial use of someone else's copyright is restricted by law.

    Four years ago I had a grand plan to use a very similar model to distribute music. Before doing extensive research I even thought I could circumvent the stipulation because I wasn't going to charge, but was going to generate my avenue via advertising. Unfortunately, the "directly, or indirectly" clause has been interpreted broadly - far more broadly than advertising.

    Similarly, because of the way the law is worded, I just don't think there's a way to legally distribute ROM's without entering into an agreement with the copyright holders (I looked into this relatively deeply a couple years ago as well). I do, however, hope that someone does manage to successfully enter into an arrangement with these companies - many of those old games are just too good to lose to time.

  • by Bazzargh ( 39195 ) on Tuesday July 30, 2002 @10:06AM (#3977686)
    Back in my day they used to have a scheme where you could play any available videogame for 10p (er, 25c for the yanks?). This whole ROM sharing thing went on too, but was more of a one-way process when the big kids wanted a game.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears