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Nintendo shuts down 249

Alex W. Jackson writes "According to this email by Jerremy Koot of the SNES9x project,'s server has pulled the plug after receiving an email from Nintendo to the effect that "Emulators are illegal." The email from Nintendo was not made available, but it apparently makes references to this so-called Legal FAQ. Someone with a legal background wanna take a stab at poking some holes in this thing? "
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Nintendo shuts down

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  • Talk about bringing on the big FUD!
    "Does Nintendo Believe the UltraHLE Violates its Intellectual Property Rights?

    Well they can believe anything they want, but they hafe to prove it too.
    The feeling I get when reading this legal mumbo-jumbo, is that this so-called FAQ is only to intimitade potential emulator user/writer.
    They hint that the emulators could possible cost thousands of jobs.
    "Such emulators have the potential to significantly damage a worldwide entertainment software industry which generates over $15 billion annually, and tens of thousands of jobs."
    As if Nintendo would hesitate to close down some poor Malasyan sweatshop, if they could possible gain a few dollars for them.
    That does it, I have no pity for greedy, intimidating corporations, we have seen lot of them. I will be boycotting Nintendo products, and use every chance to persuase my friends, famliy and co-workers to do the same. And I will tell Nintendo about it. They even left a email address for me ( to write to. Sony, here I come! (Although I doubt that Sony is any better!)
    Jón tired-of-greedy-corps Ragnarsson
  • > Haven't the Copyrights for Old Games Expired? > U.S. copyright laws state that copyrights owned > by corporations are valid for 75 years from the > date of first publication. Because video games > have been around for less than three decades, > the copyrights of all video games will not > expire for many decades to come. 75 YEARS?? Books written by individuals only get 50 after the death of the last surviving writer! Anyway, I think we should E-MAIL, Mail, and Petition congress until they ACKNOWLEDGE that Video Games are a more Tidal medium and because they change so much and so fast, this should be shortened to say 5 years for Video Games. Computer Games may also be placed under this, but we may want to increase the number for Computer Games since you can still play really old games like Maniac Mansion without having an old computer.
  • 1. I never said "We believe" was anything other then their opinion. Not legal fact. Not able to stand in court, etc. But I'm sick of people hear twisting their words around.

    2. When you say that you will resist going into reverse engineering practices and the like, you're admitting that you use RE to "figure out" the Nintendo consoles. This means you're not creating an emulator in a clean room, and the emulator would be illegal.

    There is a major problem here that everyone seems to be forgetting when comparing Nintendo to Sony and the like. Nintendo uses cartridges, not CD's. So what if someone does come out with a clean-room emulator for N64? How many people could legitimately buy and use it? These people would need to have their own ROM extractor, and they would have to own the game cartridge. Any other use of an emulator would be illegal, because it is illegal to distribute a copyrighted work without the permission of the author or owner, Nintendo.
  • Should the person who sells you a piece of land be rosponsible for a murder that happens on that piece of land? I don't think so!

    Unless of course they had known it was haunted, that the people would become insane and kill each other and used this as a scheme to make money because the title deed could be taken away from a house if the people in were dead especially by their own acts...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    We had an experience that is relevant here, Some of our older staff are hooked on a text editor called PE which was written on stone tablets by IBM. They were able to make a business case for it based on it's column editing abilities. The problem was that we were unable to buy it anywere, including from IBM. We then discovered that under Australian copyright law, if the publisher won't sell you a work, you may make copies of it. Hey presto problem solved. Has anyone actually tried to purchase old games from nintendo?
  • "We believe..." is just a way Nintendo tries to jump through legal loopholes. "We believe..." I like saying "This is the way it is from our viewpoint, but we don't know enough of the law to say that this is how the world works."
    I'll resist going into reverse engineering practices and the like. However, I will say that Nintendo game consoles are fairly simple to figure out :). If Nintendo wants to have a part of the American market, it must be willing to co-exist with products that perform or even outperform the same functions.
  • It is a piece of programming that happens to interface correctly with SNES roms to produce an exact copy of the game. Since they programmed snes9x by themselves, in all truth it is their property and not illegal. Simply because it does the exact same thing as a console does not mean that it is illegal. Since one could make a rom from scratch, run it through this program, and have it work, that means that its only use is not for snes rom's. In other words, their ISP kicked them off for no good reason. I wonder if they have jurisdiction to do that.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you want to really confuse things, then
    try to answer the question 'what isn't emulation?'

    All your pentiums etc. emulate the x86
    architecure -- they don't do it natively
    (the PII doesn't execute x86 instructions
    internally, and doesn't even have the same
    registers as the 'x86' chip that it emulates'

    All MIPS chips emulate the MIPS architecture.
    The architecture is an abstract definition, not
    a piece of silicon...

    A Nintendo 64, at software level, emulates the
    N64 software architecture (which, agaain, is an
    abstract theoretical thing)

    You need (have) to use patents to protect the
    architecture, since copyright of one
    implementation of the architecture doesn't
    extend to all possible implementations.

  • by Fict ( 475 ) on Saturday May 22, 1999 @07:48AM (#1883153)
    Here's what's at the botom of the 'legal faq':

    How Do I Report Sites that are Offering Illegal Software or Other Illegal Video Game Products?

    Please either call and report that information to Nintendo of America Inc. at 1-800-633-3236 or e-mail us at

    please note the 1-800-633-3236... Yup, a toll free way to complain, and make your opinion heard. Whee

  • Yeah...that's right! By golly ...the fact that you found that .1% of ROMS out there are legal totally invalidates this whole thing.

    Silly Nintendo...what were they thinking? People who use these ROMS *always* have purchased a legal copy. Yesirree...nothing illegal going on here.

  • same scenario with the playstation consoles
    the old companies such as nintendo, who still uses technology such as cartridges, despite CDs and DVDs clearly being much more practical and having much larger capacities, think they can continue to practice this negligence of time. If they don't keep up with the times, they will be left behind. (Microsoft come to mind?) It may take time to get through to people, but once something is known, it cannot be stopped. Things like Linux and Copyleft are gradually becoming more popular. But, i'm afraid this dance between companies will continue, but eventually a superior standard will emerge, only to be toppled and another standard emerge... it is an endless circle, until we all die. But i've never owned a console, and never plan to. I was introduced early to computers with my first 486/33, and have since remained loyal to them. I shun any console system with their limted abilities, barely comparable to that of a PC. Some argue the price, but eventually they will become even, as console gamers demand the features of a PC (ex. PSX2 has a modem). So, forgive my rambling, as i must be off.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I already sent my boycott notice to them.
    I suggest everyone does that, with only a fraction of the slashdot community a point could be clearly made to them. Namely, that their customers will not accept this kind of behaviour.
    I think their general questions email adress is sufficient for delivering this opinion unto them:
  • yes, but emulation doesn't deal about code copying, when you do a emulator you don't copy any source code.
  • by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) on Saturday May 22, 1999 @06:28AM (#1883164) Homepage Journal
    Sure, the reason people write emulators could be to figure out how their processors work, or just to see if they can, or just because they're there, or any of a dozen other reasons that have nothing to do with playing pirated games.

    But I would hazard to guess that at least 90%, and probably closer to 99%, of the people who download them do so because they want to play pirated games. Take me, for example--I'm not a programmer; I don't even own a Nintendo, much less the necessary hardware to make ROM copies--what else could I do with them?

    While I do like emulators, and support having them freely available, I have to be honest and admit that the ground on which I do so is legally, if not morally, shaky. I can definitely understand the company's point of view.
  • Nintendo's FAQ says:
    Are all ROMS on the Internet Illegal?
    Yes. All ROMs available on the Internet are unauthorized and infringing copies of copyrighted works

    That's incorrect. I have several legal ROMs, such as the pong demo written for the n64, and several original n64 and snes games available either as freeware or public domain software. These ROMs are not illegal.
  • You see, the only reason that Nintendo beat Atari in court was because Nintendo and Tengen both released a console version of Tetris, but only Nintendo's was legit. That's the only thing that the court ruled. You've obviously never seen any of the Color Dreams, Wisdom Tree, or any of the other non-licenced games that came out for the NES. Nintendo tried to block these, but failed miserably.

    Remember the Game Genie? Remember all the crap that Nintendo did to block it? Remember how nintendo got laughed out of court?

    if Gary, Jeremy, and Telekawaru (of Snes9x) learn of this, tehy can get a MAJOR lawsuit out of this one. Hell, the ACLU would love to have a case like this, just to put their name in the headlines.

  • Gauntlet vs Gnome Hack.
    Diablo owes its existence to Rogue type games.

    As I said before any fool with some discipline can make a game. The emulators cut costs on development (if I have a game developed for an emulator I can be reasonably sure my ROM can written to a cartridge) just as mp3s and CD-Burners and the Internet cut distribution, recording, and advertising costs.

    As for emulation... Hello I've seen a ton of demos of games that came out precisely for the emulators.

  • "Rock stars also let you tape to a DAT! Get a grip."

    Let you tape WHAT to a DAT? A live concert? A CD you already own? You're comparing apples to oranges. Why should you be able to download a game for free that Nintendo licenses or has created, and means to sell in the stores? Just because you don't have the money, or don't feel like paying for it doesn't make it right or legal.

    Let's not confuse being righteous with being illegal.

    As for your last paragraph, you seem to be hinting that people use Emulators to play games written by people outside of the console business... people like you and me. It sounds like you need to get real. How many of these types of games do you play (or have you ever seen)? People download emulators to play games copied from cartridges... usually ones they don't own.

  • I'm not sure if this is what you were referring to, but Amstrad released a 386/Mega Drive machine a few years was a decent spec box for the time; only problem was, due to the proprietary nature of the machine there was practically no upgrade options whatsoever...
  • I would love to see Nintendo try to make a legal case that would stand up in a court of law procing that ROM copies were illegal. When you pay 60-70$ for a cartidge you're paying for royalties, licencing, the media itself, and a single copy of the software. But you can backup the software onto a different form of media legally. The law nowhere states where you have to store that archival copy. If you happen to store it on a remote server which happens to have FTP or HTTP access and someone downloads your archived file that is not illegal. If you intentionally sold a copy of the software to someone that would be illegal. If Nintendo's ROMs had a form of encryption that allowed the media ONLY to be read by an N64 yet you cracked the encryption and archived the ROM it still would not be illegal because Nintendo doesnt own the patent on the encryption. Why is Mario mad? Because he didn't get a big fat license fee for the download of a ROM. Nintendo also cannot say that an emulator is illegal because it uses their bytecode. They use old R4000 MIPS chips as their main processors. The R4000 is made by our friends at SGI (with the new crappy logo). They also dont own the actual ROM manufacturing process or the semiconductor memory inside their machines. Nintendo is only a licensing and development company. Their patents are on SOFTWARE not hardware. If you managed to hex edit one of their binaries that they fully owned the right to they MIGHT be able to take legal action, but copying a ROM and making a bytecode emulation program is NOT illegal.

  • Such emulators have the potential to significantly damage a worldwide entertainment software industry

    Don't they mean that "such emulators have the potential to take away from our bottom line"? The emulators are part of this "worldwide entertainment software industry" and only help provide a means to expand it.

    The art of flying is throwing yourself at the ground...
    ... and missing.
  • Although NOA could not win a suit against him, he certantly has a strong case against them.

    There is *NO* legal presidence that 'emulators are illegial' and according to US law, ISPs are common carriers (if reged with the FCC) and are imune to illegial use by their coustomers). Emulators certantly do have legimate uses, NOA is full of it..

    It's rather ammusing.. If my local law enforcement wanted to go after this guy for something, they would be powerless (because he's in another country), but if NOA flexes some power they could probably ruin this guy's life.
  • "The right to pursue happiness in not granted in the Constitution; it is stated in the Declaration of Independence..."

    My faux paus... but my point does not change.

    I am not arguing about copyright law, or whether it's right or wrong. I'm talking about companies that own copyrights to games, and those games are being illegaly copied and distributed. This hurts the companies, and the programmers that wrote the games. Yet these same people who are chanting that they want to have the freedom to do this are infringing on another person's freedom to make money from their hard work.

  • Email [mailto] and let them know what you think of this.

    While you're at it, you might want to point out the inaccuracies in their legal FAQ.
  • Nintendo has good reasoning behind why they did it. Then again, maybe not. The only way I can see emulators as illegal is if they infringe upon the copyright holder.
    That is, "SNES9x, a fully fledged Super Nintendo Entertainment System" without permission from Nintendo to use their name or even a blurb about "SNES(tm) is a respective trademark of Nintendo..."
    What if you shelled out 50 bucks back in the day for Super Punchout! and your dog knocked over a 40 of Mickey's into your SNES cartridge collection and ruined them all? Does this mean you should never play those games again? Even though you shelled out, say, 10 x $50 = $500 for those games? That's bullshit. Same applies for people getting on my back for copying my CDs. I have my entire 250+ CD collection stored as mp3s on my computer. Every single song. If I can't play or rip a song from a CD, I download it. I'm not going to spend another 12 bucks for a CD I already own...
    So essentially Nintendo is saying that if you never played a vintage game and don't know a friend who has the original system, you're screwed.
    Sorry, but that doesn't jive with me. I LOVE classic games, yet I don't have the time nor energy to search through every rummage/garage sale finding these classic beauties. And Nintendo DOESN'T EVEN MAKE THEM ANYMORE. So I'm just supposed to forget about those games and should be led to believe that they no longer exist? Yeah right. And considering Nintendo's software warranty is something ridiculously low like 90 days. Spend 70 bucks on a N64 game, and on the off chance that it does fuck up, you have to plop down another 70 bucks? Hell no.
    Nintendo can kiss my ass. Then they can raid my safety deposit box with every NES/SNES/GB backed up on CDR. Dolts.
  • From the FAQ:
    How Does Nintendo Feel About the Emergence of Video Game Emulators?
    As is the case with any business or industry, when its products become available for free, the revenue stream supporting that industry is threatened.
    Does this remind anyone else of Microsoft releasing IE for free (that is, BEFORE the legal stickiness of integrating it into the operating system) to undermine Netscape? If a big company like Microsoft can release competing products for free, why can't people release co-existing products for free? After all, emulators are cool, but they are not the best replacement for the original system--you still end up going back to the console or coin-op.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Someone else asked "Does UltraHLE actually have any Nintendo code in it". If it (and others like SNES9x etc) dont, then they are NOT illegal, no matter WHAT way you slice it. It doesn't matter that they're used to play illegal games. Look at computers, they're often used to hold all sorts of illegal material. That doesn't result in the government seeking to ban them.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't emulators designed from the ground up to resemble the operating behaviour of the actual console itself. By this rationale, Linux would be illegal because it unfairly resembles Unix, and companies selling Unixes could order all Linux sites shut down (yeah there are differences, but its similar enough for me =P)

  • Emulation can occur with clean rooming. There's no need to reverse engineer anything. I think you're just being sloppy with your terms.
  • His point is that the FAQ says every emulator is illegal, and "the only purpose of an emulator is to play illegal roms copied off the internet". Super Game Boy is an emulator, so by NOA point of view it's illegal too.

  • by dwlemon ( 11672 )
    I think it would be nice if somebody would also create development tools for a console as well as the emulator. I'd do it myself, but I'm still studying C... I think there is an assembler for nes roms, but that's all I've seen.

    It just might make an emulator more legit if people were developing and playing original games on it.

    The argument that it is a hobby -- and that people merely have an interest in the architecture -- is weak. There are a few dozen people with an interest in the architecture (enough interest to write an emulator), the other several thousand people involved are just playing/ditributing free games.

    P.S. I used to have dozens of NES roms that I'd play, but then I went out and bought a few of the games (3-5 bucks each nowadays) and discovered that playing them on the console itself is much better than emulation.
  • by Aleatoric ( 10021 ) on Saturday May 22, 1999 @09:08AM (#1883194)
    In a way, this is very much the same argument made by the RIAA about mp3 players. The contention that the availability of some mechanism that allows someone to play an mp3 (or a rom game) automatically constitutes an illegal act is based on a flawed assumption.

    Since it is legal to make copies of music or games that you already own, and to use those copies if you wish, it is also legal to use whatever mechanism you like to play them.

    In a way, you could compare it to having a gun. Target practice, for example, is legal, killing someone is not. To automatically label the gun as illegal completely misses the issue, as it is the one who uses the gun that is responsible.

    In exactly the same fashion, if someone uses a game emulator to play a game they already own, they are behaving legally, and if they do not own the game, they are breaking the law. It is therefore the individual breaking the law that is responsible, and not the mechanism that they use to break it.

  • Posted by _DogShu_:

    Just as many people will use emulators and ROMs whether or not they are illegal. Nintendo is just going to spread the knowledge around that you don't need a console to play console games, and cause even more people to use emulators and ROMs.
    The more people that use them, the harder it will be to find all the web sites for downloading them, and the problem will get even worse (for Nintendo).
  • I can do more than confirm it.

    Do it. Show me a link to a reputable, third party organization that makes a case. Even better, something written by a reputable member of the judicial community. Listing yourself as 'Anonymous Coward' doesn't help me in getting convinced.

    As floppies are unreliable, and CD-ROMs are sensitive to damage, hard drives are built to fail. I cannot allow items that I install to die without having a backup. And because I have the installation materials of saftware, that doesn't mean I am going to put up with starting from scratch.

    Don't forget that companies that sell tape backup materials suggest three tapes in a weekly backup cycle.

    Even if you can make a reasonable case that the consumer doesn't have a right to make personal backups, it will be ignored because things fail.

  • I tried to summarize some of the points posted and mailed to Nintendo.

    Subject: Nintendo Boycott!
    Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 01:15:12 +0200
    From: Hroi Sigurdsson
    To: [mailto]

    For your actions against and your general attitude expressed in, I have no option but to boycott your products and warn future potential Nintendo customers about Nintendo's barbaric business practices.

    Your statements in are for the most part bogus and do not enlighten readers of legal facts but only goes to show how Nintendo thwarts truth, common right and sense in the name of commerce. Stating that emulators are illegal is an outright lie! If an emulator is a cleanroom product it is perfectly legal. You can only patent mechanisms, but not concepts and no Nintendo code (=mechanisms) were used in the emulator (implementation of concept of running a specific instruction set).

    And stating that linking to ROMS from a homepage is a legal offence, is completely bogus. (Try suing Yahoo/Infoseek etc. for linking to illegal ROMS).

    Your scare campaign is only scaring off customers. And I will do what I can to scare your customers away from you (and I do know a few Nintendo users).

    Scrapping his SNES,

    Hroi Sigurdsson

  • by Coretti ( 17558 ) on Saturday May 22, 1999 @07:33AM (#1883200) Homepage
    From Nintendo's FAQ:

    "An emulator is a software program that is designed to allow game play on a platform that it was not created for."

    You may recall that a few years back, Nintendo released a device called the Super Game Boy. This plugged into your SNES and emulated a Gameboy. It was a hardware/software program that is/was designed to allow game play on a platform that it was not created for.

    I'm sure many of you are confused over this like I am - is Nintendo really selling an illegal product? I recommend you write to them at [mailto] if you are as confused as I. ;)

  • From the Legal FAQ:

    The only purpose of video game emulators are to play illegal copied games from the Internet.

    It can be disputed whether the game are illegal, it can also be disputed if the only purpose of emulators is play these games, I'm sure developers of emulators have other reasons.


  • I think you might be missing the point here. Sure many will not care whether emulators are illegal or not, the way they use them right now is clearly illegal anyway.
    The problem is for the developer of the emulator. I think that most of those who write emulators do it not to make it possible to play pirated roms, but that they do it to learn more about programming and the system they are emulating.
    That Nintendo want emulators to be illegal makes it harder for the developers of emulators to cooperate with others, and to get feedback from the users.

    Software piracy should not be supported the way you seem to think, and Nintendo is probably correct when they say that copying of rom images is piracy.
    However, emulators should not be illegal. I can understand that companies such as Nintendo do not like them, but they should be going after the roms instead.

  • You people that want your precious freedoms better read the constitution again. It gives you the right to pursue happiness, so long as you don't start infringing on other people's rights to do the same.

    Perhaps you should do a little reading yourself. The right to pursue happiness in not granted in the Constitution; it is stated in the Declaration of Independence that you have this right by virtue of being born.

    As to the issue at hand, the Constitution gives Congress the power "to promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive rights to their respective writings and discoveries." A law that extends this protection to more than double the lifetime of most authors and inventors is obviously not what was meant by this passage. A little more reading will also inform you that copyright came within a hair's breadth of being outlawed altogether in this country.

  • Nintendo Site:"
    "Can I Download a ROM from the Internet if I Already Own the Authentic Game? "
    blah blah blah ... i.e. NO

    The point is is that they are saying that there is no legal way to play a game under a emulator.

    It is probably legal for a game vendor to do this...

    _However_ There are many game vendors. As a customer I will buy from one produces good games and who cares for their customers. eg.

    As a paying customer (i.e. someone who has paid for a legal copy of the game), I am entitled to whinge if I feel I am not getting my money's worth. If Nintendo does not want me to play their games the way I may want to, that is fine, I just won't buy them. No skin off my nose.

    >none of you will do this, since it's much easier >to leach off of others (and spend the remainder >of your time making up flawed justifications for >your illegal actions), then it is to create.

    _I_ _do_ _not_ _intend_ _to_ _play_ _any_ _Nintendo_ _Games_, as long as they think they can treat their customers like this. I have bought Authentic software, and intend to buy Civ: CTP from Lokigames seems to care about Customers, it is actively helping customers to use software on non-standard platforms.

    Also due to free speech etc. etc. I am perfectly entitled to warn other potential customers that Nintendo does not seem to care about the wishes of paying customers.
  • Does the UltraHLE (or any other emulator) actually include any Nintendo code? If not, it can't violate the copyright.

    That's not quite correct--you've overlooked the possibility of contributory infringement. If Nintendo is right that the archival exception of section 117 of the Copyright Act does not apply to games in ROM (there is legislative history and some case law to support this, but I think they are going a little overboard when they state this is well established), then the end user who uses the emulator is violating copyright. In that case, those how provide the tools (in this case, the emulator) can be help vicariously liable for that infringement.

    Whether this happens or not depends on what kind of uses there are for the emulator that do not involve infringing copyright.

  • by anative ( 16846 ) on Saturday May 22, 1999 @07:54AM (#1883213) Homepage
    In the late 80's Atari made a number of carts under the tengen name. NOA took them to court on the basis that in order to play on their system (the NESat that time) the carts had to validate via some secret code and that code was copyright or patented by Nintendo. The court upheld and Atari was on the slippery slope to hell. Atari is now dead, don't even talk about the arcade machines that belongs to williams. Anyway This upheld the yakuza business model that ALL the japanese game companies work under. You must be an official licensee in order to develop for Nintendo/Sega/Sony. You Pay to be a licensee, the license states they have the right allow or deny you publishing your software based on their approval or disapproval. (This was all held up in OUR courts folks!)

    They also get a royalty based on carts/cd produced not on those sold! TI tried a similar route with their home PC but no one would develop for it. Imagine Apple, Dell etc creating a bit of validation code and any software produced having to pay a fee to use the validation and Apple etc. having rufusal rights to any software developed for the platform. (or even worse M$ using the same argument to protect their OS)

    This was deemed legal by the courts as they ruled that consoles are not cumputers! This happened when the license for tetris sued nintendo over tetris and lost on the basis that a console is not a computer and nintendo owned the license for consoles. I was there I worked with the guys. This all happened over ten years ago and I don't think that it has been argued since.

    I beleive the entire console industry is based on an illegal standard that was held up in court because the court did not understand that consoles are and were computing devices. This has outraged me for many years and I beleive stifled the console software market. Look at the diversity in computer based software compared to console games. Since the console industry detirmines what can be published on their systems we end up with the drivel that they allow. Basically all the games look and play the same, and we all eat it up. Anyway this is thepart of the laws that should be attacked. Anyone with the desire should be allowed to create software for the platform without paying OR approval of the platform creator.

  • "I wonder if they have jurisdiction to do that"

    Of course they do...I guarantee somewhere in the contract the snes9x people signed with their ISP it has a semi-elastic clause that allows them to terminate service at any point without prior notification. I bet it's in yours, the terms of service of geocities or your ISP.

  • I'm aware that distribution of ROM images of copyrighted ROMs is illegal. I was just pointing out that their statement that "all ROMs are illegal" is incorrect. "All illegal ROMs are illegal" is really the only statement you can make about this. It depends on the copyright and licensing status of each individual ROM.
  • Don't you guys ever try to look at things from the other side?

    Emulators ARE providing a way for people to play games without buying the games. Nintendo, even though it is a mega-corp, IS losing revenue.

    Now, emulators themselves shouldn't be illegal, because they are just another string of 1's and 0's. However, they are contributing to an amount of piracy.

    "Hold on", I hear you saying. "I own the games, in cartridge form. Possessing and running the affiliated ROMs with an emulator shouldn't be illegal". Yup, you're right. In a way, this does infringe on your own personal freedoms. But let's just say that Nintendo wasn't such a big game vendor, but just a programmer somewhere who makes mighty good console games. Does he deserve to be protected? Does his protection exceed your right to run his games? (is this a bad analogy? Does size really make that big a difference? Before you say "yes", think about this: should big companies be attacked more fiercely just because they're big?)

    This argument is identical to the MP3 debates...sure, you have a right to do whatever you want on your computer...but there are winners and losers in both battles. Who deserves to win, and who deserves to lose?

    I think a there is the largest concentration of above average intelligent people on the internet here on slashdot. But every time I see a "screw the RIAA" or "screw Nintendo" without providing solutions that will appease both parties, I wonder where these people all disappeared to.

    Before you flame, note that I'm playing devil's advocate more than defending the bad guys...the issues aren't as clear cut as you guys think it is. I think there's such thing as a possible win-win solution for these issues. If the solution is found, I'm sure it'll have something to do with /.

  • by Anonymous Coward


    Software NEVER passes into the public domain unless it's given there by the author/controlling body of the copyright.

    Just because something's obsolete doesn't mean that it's yours. That's like saying we should just go get Commodore 64's for free cause they aren't being made anymore. While they are WORTH ZIP, they are NOT public domain.

  • Nintendo, sony, IDSA, Euro-NAzi-IDSA need to be sued for libel, constitutional infringements, and judges need to see that protectionism, paranoia, FUD, and demonizing are an artifact of the middle ages. This needs to stop.!!!!
  • by ShadowWalk ( 46565 ) on Saturday May 22, 1999 @05:31AM (#1883222)
    The "legal" faq is mostly bunk: Are all ROMS on the Internet Illegal?
    Yes. All ROMs available on the Internet are unauthorized and infringing copies of copyrighted works

    Sure, in practice most ROM's on the internet are going to be downloaded and used illegaly. The problem being, there is NO law in existence today that prevents users from placing backups of any software anywhere. Sure, its a stupid loophole in the law, but Nintendo's trying to stretch things a bit.

    Can I Download a ROM from the Internet if I Already Own the Authentic Game?
    There is a good deal of misinformation on the Internet regarding the backup/archival copy exception. It is not a "second copy" rule and is often mistakenly cited for the proposition that if you have one lawful copy of a copyrighted work, you are entitled to have a second copy of the copyrighted work even if that second copy is an infringing copy. That is utterly ridiculous and legally unsupported. Therefore, whether you have the authentic game or not, or whether you have possession of the ROM for a limited amount of time (24 hours), it is illegal and infringing of a copyright to download and play a ROM from the Internet.
    The backup/archival copy exception is a very narrow limitation relating to a copy being made by the rightful owner of an authentic game to ensure he or she has one in the event of damage or destruction to the authentic. It is well established by judicial decisions in the United States that this limited exception does not apply to game data contained in ROM semiconductor chips in video game cartridges.

    When pray tell was this decision made? Further, I'd be very curious to see anyone prove that a backup of software was made by anyone other than the user!

    What is Nintendo's Position on the N64 Emulator, the UltraHLE?
    The UltraHLE is illegal. The N64 emulator infringes Nintendo's intellectual property rights, including copyrights, and circumvents Nintendo's anti-piracy security system.
    I'm afraid this point is just blatantly false, as Sony's case with Connectix and Bleam has shown. As for Nintendo's "anti-piracy" system, this has been called legally suspect by many observers.

    Does Nintendo Believe the UltraHLE Violates its Intellectual Property Rights?

    I believe I'm still as in shape as I was in high school. Believing it doesn't make it true.

    Does Nintendo Think Emulation Companies Promote Piracy? Why?
    Yes. The only purpose of video game emulators are to play illegal copied games from the Internet

    What a profound argument. That'll hold up in court.

    Are "Game Copying Devices" such as the Dr.V64, Z64 and Others, Illegal?
    Yes. Game copiers enable users to illegally copy video game software onto floppy disks, writeable compact disks or the hard drive of a personal computer. They enable the user to make, play and distribute illegal copies of video game software which violates Nintendo's copyrights and trademarks. These devices also allow for the uploading and downloading of ROMs to and from the Internet. Based upon the functions of these devices, they are illegal.

    Huh? By that logic, my diskdrive is illegal because I can copy programs and "upload" them to the Internet!

    The only thing even remotely on target was the comment about copyright law. Sure ISP's could be held liable if anything could be proven, but Nintendo's going to need a MUCH better argument than this(I suggest they look at the fact that Sony made the exact same arguments and lost twice).

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ... except for the small but inconvenient fact that when I buy something, it's mine to do with what I choose, provided I don't violate anyone's rights.

    The problem is that you only paid a license fee that allowed you to use the software for a limited amount of time. You do not own anything! Software companies can typically demand that you return the software at any time.
  • Silhouette was someone's hack of an existing version of snes9x, in all likelyhood. Both games produced the same sorts of errors when fed the same sorts of data, and both had the same gamegenie scheme (and tell me, why would a nintendo programming environment include a gamegenie scheme?). It was a good program, and it was ahead of snes9x for a few months, but if you believe any of the x-files crap in the docs, then you're quite naive.
  • I really had the same view like you, but with NINTENDO and SONY harassing people for products they no longer sell or support I've changed my mind. Also while NINTENDO has a right to be pissed, people has a right to code as they like, and while this my be a perjudice to nintendo, IT's not illegal per se, also if NINTENDO was smart enough they'll get a fair benefit selling their games in cd's along with the cartidges. If they don't think that, that's their problem, they have the opportunity of broading their market and they're breaking it down, also they're getting a really bad reputation on the retrogamming circles.
  • "What is Nintendo's Position on the N64 Emulator, the UltraHLE?

    The UltraHLE is illegal. The N64 emulator infringes Nintendo's intellectual property rights, including copyrights, and circumvents Nintendo's anti-piracy security system. "

    Well it is Nintendo position. It's their right to consider it illegal. The other side of the question is if any court of law in any country has ruled in favour of Nintendo.

    I've have saw of some cases of "supposed" copyright infrigements here in Russia. But unfortunately most of them do not run away from a few harsh notes through E-mail. Besides it has to be noted that in some situations the "victim" seems to break the law in some serious points. Recently this could be seen on Macromedia vs Ivanopolo E-mail exchange. Sincerly Macromedia risked the fact that Ivanopolo could sue them for threat of extortion.

    Let's face a fact. A product can be illegal if a court of law has ruled against it. The problem is that under such rulings the author of any emulator could face some consequences, so most of them drop their ventures before going to court. But, in fact, until then, there are no reasons to fetch emulators the label "illegal" before a ruling is made. See the similar Diamond's case with RIO player.

    Until then, emulators are pure legal guess. So let's guess. Frankly I'm doing some points out of our reality here in Russia. So someway they may not fit other countries.

    If I write a program on my own then the thing is my copyright. I can only violate Nintendo's rights if I _insert_ Nintendo's code (source, binary) inside of my program and distribute it together. Whereas Nintendo and my program live away from each other I am not violating Nintendo's rights. Apart from the fact that they fit each other.

    Emulators are a huge thing in software. While no one "copies" property code to implement the emulation, these emulators have a right to live.

    Meanwhile emulation is an universal conception. Why Nintendo claims to be an exception to the rules? If we think that emulators are illegal then Nintendo is itself in trouble. If it takes a careful look around they will find a whole world of emulators running even on the most simple PC. This might look a little bit philosophical but it is a fact. And even if Nintendo produced toasters they did not have the right to cry against emulation of toasted bread.

    Besides there is a serious caveat in Nintendo's claims. They claim illegality of a program because it uses software _ALREADY_ pirated! Why the illegality of one presumes the illegality of the other? Is a lockpick illegal because there are a lot of lockpicked doors around? It's nonsense.

    The best argument of Nintendo is the fact that one of these emulators "circumvents" their security. Sorry people. Beyond this you have to prove that exactly this circumvention allows to _distribute_ the product of your work and not the use. And that this distribution affects your profits. In Russia copyright laws only begin to act when the copy/distribution process directly affects the revenue of the copyrightowner. I can make a million copies of Windows CD and fill the walls of my house with them. Microsoft has no right to sniff through my door for this. If Bill tries to step the door of my house without courtruling he surely would get everything out of an AK/47. And I'm in my right to do it. Even if I would keep illegally the weapon. But that would be another case.

  • ok, since you didnt leave an e-mail address, i hope you read this.

    The way that i understood the page was that, if you used a "device" for cheating on a game or playing ROMs you didnt make will void the warrenty. But, if you make a copy of a game that is illegal, since (i belive) cause the author never gave consent (i may be wrong, dont flame me).

    i know that it may sound a bit contradictory, but you gotta clear your mind and read carefully to understand.

    Loop holes are a bitch arent they ?
  • It is true that the FAQ could be claiming that UltraHLE may be violating the Nintendo copyright on Mario and Zelda via contributory infringement, not the Nintendo copyright on N64 system code by direct infringment. Of course, it's such a poorly written FAQ...

    Well, it's high time somebody started writing development software for these emulators so they have a legitimate use, isn't it? Where did I leave that "Teach Yourself C in 21 days", anyway?

  • Methinks you'd be singing a different tune if you had royalties coming in off of a console game you labored 12 months to create.

    You people that want your precious freedoms better read the constitution again. It gives you the right to pursue happiness, so long as you don't start infringing on other people's rights to do the same.

    So you can boycott Nintendo all you want, but you better do it for real, and throw away all your Nintendo EMU's and ROM's.
  • Assuming David Sheff had his facts straight in Game Over, part of Atari's problem in the Tengen case was that they illegally tricked the copyright office into parting with the 'secret plans' for Ninendo's copy-protection scheme by claiming it was part of a court action. It was NOT a clean-room job at all.

    Working on the same assumption about Game Over though, Nintendos business practices over the years have been highly suspect. Maybe it's something about that Redmond air?
  • Square and new FF games for example. >$80 right off the bat.

    Umm...I bought FF7 for my PSX for $40us, brand new, the day it was released. I've never even seen a Square game for $80, what country do you live in?
  • Richmond != Redmond

    'nuff said :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 22, 1999 @09:45AM (#1883235)
    Another AC about to be annhiliated by the TRUTH...

    ---BEGIN QUOTE---

    USC, Title 17 Sec. 117.

    Limitations on exclusive rights: Computer

    Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an
    infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to
    make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of
    that computer program provided:

    (1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an
    essential step in the utilization of the computer program
    in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no
    other manner,


    (2) that such new copy or adaptation is for archival
    purposes only and that all archival copies are destroyed
    in the event that continued possession of the computer
    program should cease to be rightful. Any exact copies
    prepared in accordance with the provisions of this
    section may be leased, sold, or otherwise transferred,
    along with the copy from which such copies were
    prepared, only as part of the lease, sale, or other
    transfer of all rights in the program. Adaptations so
    prepared may be transferred only with the authorization
    of the copyright owner.

    ----END QUOTE----

    Looks legal to me, and absolutely NO MENTION OF "durable media" so
    this dispels heresay that you can backup floppies but not roms or CDs.
    Note also, there's NO MENTION OF licensed sw, only the "owner of
    a copy of the program". I did not buy the program. I am not the
    owner of the program. I am the OWNER OF THE COPY of the program.
    I bought a shiny silvery disc. I own the media. I own the copy,
    but not what's on it. I CAN make a backup copy and the software
    publishers cannot stop me unless we have a signed contract bearing
    real signatures between us that prohibits this. Shrinkwrap licenses
    are meaningless. If fact, the law specifically allows copying
    licensed software since it says that copies must be transferred
    to the new owner/licensee or destroyed if the LICENSE is transferred
    terminated as well as sold. Only "adaptations" require permission
    of the copyright owner, NOT MAKING ARCHIVAL COPIES. And adaptations
    are not what we're talking about here.
  • Here is one of the interesting things which is why the article by Moglen, "Anarchism Triumphant". If the architecture of the PSX is covered by a patent, then even if connectix was able to implement the same thing through different methods, they still are in violation of the patent. So thus it would be illegal. Thus why I don't like patents. But I'm not clear on what happened in the legalities of the SCEA vs Connectix case.

    I'd assume the same would hold true for the N64 (I'm sure there are patents in there). So with that being true, why haven't they bothered to go after dextrose []? As I'm sure most of the stuff there isn't licensed to use the patent. This brings me up to another question, if you need to have a license to make N64 (and I would assume PSX games) what about if you own a Yarooze system (blue playstation). Does that come with a license?

  • the recent disposition of a EEUU tribunal declaring software as a language and thus protected by the free speech amend of the constitution takes down avery other legal argument.

    The court ruling didn't say that source code/software is free to be copied by anyone and everyone. It only said that source code can't be prevented from export if the legal owners want it to be exported.

  • The thing is that nintendo is using this web page to legally threaten individuals. They are passing off "we believe" quasi-legal statements as real law in an attempt to shut down compitition. This is wrong. This is evil. This should be illegal.
  • So if I invent a better sausage machine, from thin air, without looking at existing (patented) sausage machines, the fact that it produces a sausage is an infringement of SausageCo's patent?

    Who decides whether a salami is different from a pork sausage?

    Aren't patents the protection of a mechanism (or it's electronic equivalent), rather than the protection against 'all things that cause effect X or procuce output X'?
  • (Sorry if I accidentally posted part of this message earlier, I hit "enter" too soon)

    Thanks to the new "Digital Millennium Copyright Act," (ISP owners everywhere have Clinton to thank for this) ISPs can be held responsible for their users' copyright violations. The ISP becomes responsible only after the copyright owner has notified the ISP of the violations and given them a period of time to deal with it.

    There are ways to avoid this though, George Lucas told ISPs that bootleg Star Wars MPEGs are illegal before the movie even came out, so now if anyone distributes Star Wars the ISPs can be held responsible since they've already been notified.
  • I have a big problem with emulating current systems, except the PSX (which, if only the stupid blind idiots at Sony would take a look, actually increases their bottom line with every sale). The reason: piracy does happen on emulators. A lot (I do believe it would happen less if there were an easy way to get a cartridge into a computer; since there isn't most of us must rely on ROM's). And I think it isn't fair to do that to a current system.

    Past systems for which games are no longer made? That's another subject entirely. There, my views mesh with those of most retrogamers.

    I do have trouble with UltraHLE, therefore, and I think Nintendo does have a right to get pissed off over that one. They can't do anything about it, true, but in any case UltraHLE should never have been made, at least not until Dolphin was out and kicking.
  • (1) clear laws (or court decisions) eliminating software patents and upholding emulation and reverse-engineering

    This would be difficult to do (especially since IP laws can vary widely from country to country), but this would definitely be a very positive step forward. Perhaps not upholding emulation itself (commercial emulators of current system created by reverse engineering should not be protected, IMO), but protecting free emulators (developed for "educational" purposes), provided that they make their source freely available (the only reasonable "educational" purpose) should be a priority.

    My personal favorite patented software algorithm is Sega's patent on the use of 3D cameras (i.e. any game or application making use of realtime 3D cameras. Basically this allows them to collect royalties for any game that uses a 3D camera (i.e. Final Fantasy VII, Quake, massive etc.). Thankfully, since Sega is an acceptable company, they haven't bothered to invoke this (just check out their support of emulation with the use of KGen98 in their recent "classics" release!). Even though Sega hasn't used this ridiculous patent, things like this should not be patentable in case certain other companies were to start invoking their rights.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's sort of scary, but it's pretty clear that if Microsoft made consoles and someone came up with an emulator, Microsoft would go buy the emulator from them, package whatever is necessary to play authentic games (ie. cartridges), and start selling it. Embrace and extend, Nintendo.

    They could even use a bit of public key cryptography to make sure that the cartridge adapter was a genuine Nintendo one (it might raise the price a bit, but not enough to make the price unattractive to consumers), and patent the damn adapter so no one else could make one. If it was reasonably priced, consumers would buy it, and would thank Nintendo for such a cool product.

    I guess they really f***ed this one up.
  • My point is, do you play these games written solely for the EMU's? Are they any good? Can they compete with the commercial games that people are illegally distributing?

    Do you own illegal copies of ROM's? If so, why?

    There's no arguing that it's cheaper to distribute games electronically... but that doesn't give anyone the right to illegally distribute commercial games. How would id Software respond if you started distributing the full version of one of their games?

    "As I said before any fool with some discipline can make a game."

    They might be able to make something that can loosely be called a game... but how many games do you own and love to play that were written by fools?
  • Does 'the problem will get even worse' mean that Nintendo will begin to lose real money to pirates?
    Just imagine, all that is needed for the last game to be enjoyed by all the Net is buying ONE copy, then perhaps waiting one week to circumvent the last anti-piracy trick. Do you think they could stay in business like that? Well, maybe they wouldn't have to close, they'd just have to lay some people off, most likely not the CEO. How cool, almost 3l33t...
  • Actually, for a long time Nintendo did force third party game makers into an exclusivity license. Something to the effect that you had to release your games only for the NES for a period of 2 years. I believe they stopped this practice after/during their antitrust case with the government..

    For a very long time Nintendo did have a complete lock on the console market. It finally broke with the Genesis which was a great deal more powerful than the NES and still took quite a bit of time to get going. The master system was more powerful than the NES and it still failed.
  • Anyone with a legal background mind sifting throught through the drivel at
    Nazi-tendo did a great job of creating the ugliest, most opiniated article I've personally seen in a page of "Legal Information".
  • by Rahga ( 13479 ) on Saturday May 22, 1999 @06:35AM (#1883260) Journal
    Neither buisnesses nor the federal government can enforce laws preventing software from being developed or distributed unless it uses code or other software components that were protected under copyright. Like it or not, Nintendo couldn't even prevent another game company from making a nintendo "clone" if it used nothing but unprotected or independently developed resources. This is a competitive marketplace, and Nintendo, like it or not, can't say "You may not develop an emulator for our games", just like they can't say "You may not sell plain-text cheat books about our games" "You may not develop a console that can run our cartidges" or "You may not release games for the nintendo that do not get our seal of approval." If they wish to do that, they can not sell their product in the United States. We have laws and rights that encourage competition, and that is really all snes9x is. Competition. At least Nintendo should take the Microsoft point of view and BUY them out, there's much more honor and legal backing there.
    Nintendo, emulators are not illegal. Emulation is not illegal either. Distributing copyrighted material is. If you don't get that straight right now, ya'll will probably regret it later. IP lawyers really love this stuff. Bottom line: Only two types of software is illegal. Pirated software and software that illegaly uses copyrighted code. snes9x was neither of those.
    Saying "Emulators are illegal." is like Betty Crocker saying "Cookbooks that we don't make are illegal." You can not kill a product just because it can or may cut into profits, just like Microsoft can't kill Linux for the same reasons.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 22, 1999 @08:57AM (#1883262)
    EmuHQ [] has this FAQ commented for a while. It's here [].
  • I never endorsed piracy in the first place. Let's be honest people, how many of you have ever seen a ROM image for an emulator that wasn't pirate? Ripping off the console makers is not a solution. But neither is supporting them.
  • I find it funny how just matter-of-factly say, "All Roms on the Internet are illegal"
    Yes, 99.9% ARE, but what if someone made an original rom or something, like some of the demos I've seen. They are not illegal...
  • Seems as though nintendo corp is afraid of MAKING even MORE money. If THEY offered their OWN emulator, for a VERY modest price, say 30Bucks, that someone could actually Attatch to their computer, IE, a two part system. One half software, the otherhalf Hardware to interface the game cartridge with the computer, what would the big deal be? How can Nintendo stand in the face of change, the internet, and all the community stands for and say that we are actually HURTING their business. They got their 200bucks outta me for Zelda and the NES. So what are they complaining about.

    Ooh..and one more thing...How does intellectual property have anything to do with emulation???
  • In the late 80's Atari made a number of carts under the tengen name. NOA took them to court on the basis that in order to play on their system (the NESat that time) the carts had to validate via some secret code and that code was copyright or patented by Nintendo.

    Are you sure? IIRC, a U.S. court ruled that Atari had the right to go so far as to acid-strip the chips in the NES console in order to get enough information to produce NES-compatible games (although they could not then use the information to produce a competing console, of course).

  • Posted by Kevin Seghetti:

    It is fairly likely your dictionary posting is a copyright violation ;-)
    Notice that defintion 3 doesn't resemble the other 2 (which are really the same) in any way. Also notice definition 3 is less than 20 years old, where the others a little older. (If you used a dictionary old enough to avoid violating copyright by posting its defintion, it would not contain the third definition.)
  • I don't think it's the ROMS per se that are illegal, but how people are getting them. Ever wonder what the "Official Seal of Approval" is on your Nintendo games? Is it some seal of quality that Nintendo assigns to game packs? Nope. It's the sign that Nintendo got some royalties off of the sale of that cart. That's why Nintendo fought Tengen and Camerica (not sure if this came up on the SNES.) So Big 'N' doesn't make a dime off of your download. I'm sure we'd hear the same thing from Atari for all their emulators, if Atari was in any recognizable form nowadays.
  • by SEE ( 7681 ) on Saturday May 22, 1999 @06:14AM (#1883276) Homepage
    What is Nintendo's Position on the N64 Emulator, the UltraHLE?

    The UltraHLE is illegal. The N64 emulator infringes Nintendo's intellectual property rights, including copyrights, and circumvents Nintendo's anti-piracy security system

    Does the UltraHLE (or any other emulator) actually include any Nintendo code? If not, it can't violate the copyright.

    And Nintendo doesn't have an anti-piracy security system -- because the security system does not prevent illegal copies of the games from being made, or even played on an N64 (if you have the ability to manufacture cartriges). The so-called "anti-piracy security system" just prevents both legal and illegal copies from being executed on non-Nintendo machines.

    On the other hand, imagine for a moment that one of the hardware cartridge copiers is adapted slightly to only load the code into your PC's RAM, where it is then executed by an emulator. This does not violate the Nintendo or cartridge copyrights at any point unless I've included actual Nintendo code in the emulator or copy the cartridge other than into RAM for execution, which I havent done. But the Nintendo "anti-piracy system" would prevent legal execution of the game -- unless my emulator circumvents it.

    Accordingly, the "anti-piracy system" is not copy protection, so tools to circumvent it do not violate even the new U.S. copyright laws. So Nintendo can stuff it.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If software became public domain after two years, rest assured that the best parts of any GPLed software released more than two years ago would right now be snugly (and legally) fitted into Windows NT.

    You also have a severe misunderstanding of "public domain". If something is in the public domain you can do anything with it. That definitely includes using it without giving credit to anyone. If there is even a single string attached, it ain't PD.

  • That's fine for you people who have constitutionally protected rights. Us poor colonials (Australians) have to put up with government that can limit our freedom in any way they choose. Many fire-arms are illegal here. In my state it is illegal to own a flak-jacket (who is that a danger to I ask?). The government also wants ISP's to filter material from the Internet that is offensive to their subscribers.
    I believe that emulators are not only a Good Thing, but also an inevitability (as mentioned elsewhere in this thread). However, if governments decide to outlaw them because they harm big businesses then we are all SOL. Governments have been brown-nosing the wealthy since the Magna Carta was signed.

  • AFAIK, when the Nintendo 64 came out games for it required a one year exclusive contract with Nintendo to not release the game in any other format. I don't think they still have that given that some games have been released on the 64, PC and Playstation at the same time.
  • ... except for the small but inconvenient fact that when I buy something, it's mine to do with what I choose, provided I don't violate anyone's rights.

    It's certainly my right to protect my investment by making a backup of it. I bought the software (or if you like, the license to use the software) and I don't plan on letting something stupid like the degradation of the original media interfere with my right to use it!
  • by gavinhall ( 33 ) on Saturday May 22, 1999 @05:35AM (#1883282)
    Posted by Forrest J. Cavalier III:

    1. Since the N legal FAQ was obviously not written by a lawyer, and IANAL, I feel qualified to respond.

    2. If someone could point me to a law which says copying devices are illegal to own/build, cable TV descramblers are illegal to own/build, I'd appreciate it. Truthfully, I don't have either, but as far as I know, it is illegal to use those devices to commit illegal acts of copyright infringement, but not illegal to have them. Will M$ start arguing that computers are illegal because they can be used to pirate their stuff? Didn't the motion picture industry try to use the same argument against VCRs?

    As I understand the copyright laws, it would be perfectly legal for someone to buy a legit copy of a game, and then use the device to make a copy.

    3. Emulators developed without containing the copyrightable elements of a product, are not copyright infringement. Copyrights do not protect from duplicating designs or functionality. Patents do. (If a lawyer had written their FAQ, they would have not tried to use a copyright argument to explain why emulators are illegal. Well, maybe it was a bad lawyer.)

    But one thing is true, if it weren't for copyright infringement, there wouldn't be much point in having an emulator. There would be so little to run on it.

    Forrest J. Cavalier III, Mib Software Voice 570-992-8824
    The Reuse RocKeT [] Efficient awareness for software reuse: Free WWW site
    lists over 6000 of the most popular open source libraries, functions, and applications.

  • To make this short and sweet: THIS PISSES ME OFF
    I love nintendo, and have always loved their games, and in fact, I was one of those people out at 5 in the morning to get in line to buy a Nintendo 64 the day it came out, but this makes me want to reconsider them as a company.
    the 16 bit Super Nintendo hasnt come out with a new game in over a year as far as I know, and highly doubt that nintendo relies on or even makes ANY profit off the system for its money. This is why I dont see any reasoning behind their attack on SNES9X besides to be bastards. I think Nintendo needs to back off and let us have our fun, Connectix got a commercial emulator for the still widely popular PSX, why cant we have a free emulator for a system which would be long forgotten if it wasnt for emulation?

    End of Rant.
  • About ten years ago I saw an article in Compute! magazine about a computer (a 286, I believe) that could play Nintendo games. This computer actually had a slot for cartridges and even the same processors as a normal Nintendo (so it wasn't an emulator). It did, unfortunately, require a reboot to play the games, but on a non-multitasking platform this wasn't really a big deal anyway.

    Now I'm sure some bright individual could have figured a way to use such a machine to copy ROMs and distribute them. But no one did. The machine was no threat to Nintendo's well-being. And this type of machine is the key to my proposal.

    Today, with the N64, we have all sorts of piracy. It's not the emulators that are hurting Nintendo; it's the Internet itself. Even if Nintendo got rid of the emulators, we would still have piracy, but in a different form. Some minor modifications to the N64 hardware to take it's ROMs from a different location (a SCSI port on a computer perhaps?) and you've got an easy way to download games and play them illegally.

    But the same cannot be said of Sony. They made the right move when they decided to put their games on CDs. Sure, there are people out there who pirate Playstation CDs, but I see very few Playstation CDs on the search engines. It's much easier to download a 16Meg ROM than it is to download a 650Meg CD.

    You don't actually think that Microsoft's products have bloated just because they are bad programmers, do you? C'mon, given how much they are paid, these guys are some of the best coders in the industry. But small, neat code is easy to pirate, and large, though optimized code is much more difficult to copy.

    It's for this reason that Nintendo should have gone CD. So the only people who can really effectively pirate games are those who are wealthy enough to afford a CD writer and/or a cablemodem. In a year perhaps this may not be quite so true, as bandwidth increases. So make the next generation of systesms DVD-based and you've bought yourself some time against the pirates out there.

    But remember that one of Nintendo's competitors is not Sony or Sega, but the PC itself! Games like Quake, Halflife, Sin, and Unreal run beautifully on the PC with not much extra hardware. And a PC can do wordprocessing too. Try to do that on your N64!

    In fact, many people are buying PC's just to play games. Wouldn't it stand to reason, if these people who play games on their PC's, if they could buy a cheap $50 device that connects to their computer would be likely to buy such a device to play ROM-based games? And if it has a mechanism that makes piracy difficult (yes, I know the technical difficulties with this), then all the better. So Nintendo would stand to make money both off the device and off the games they would sell to people who wouldn't normally buy N64 games anyway (like me), because they don't have an N64.

    Consider for a moment an operating system that could run applications from any other operating system. Wouldn't such an operating system be extraordinarily useful? And if it worked well (i.e. fast and stable), it would be even better. That's what emulation is about. Why do we need ten systems to do the job of what one can do just fine? I say that's all the more reason to develop emulators. And see if you can get my PC to make coffee/hot chocolate as well (where's that heat from the CPU going, anyway?)

  • People here have put forth many (good) arguments explaining why emulators can, in fact, be legal. But here's the scary thing: it doesn't matter. The mere threat is enough. (Witness Nintendo's success in shutting down SNES9x.)

    Free software authors, unlike a company such as Connectix, [] can't afford to defend themselves in court even against spurious copyright charges like this. With patents (even bad ones), it's even harder to prove innocence.

    This sort of thing is a huge threat to free software in general. The only solutions I can think of don't seem likely to happen any time soon: (1) clear laws (or court decisions) eliminating software patents and upholding emulation and reverse-engineering and (2) a legal defense fund for free software (only a partial solution).

  • by pridkett ( 2666 ) on Saturday May 22, 1999 @05:17AM (#1883302) Homepage Journal

    From a corporate view, this seems to make some sense. Corporations wish to protect all of their assets, and the technology of their video games is an asset, but here is what interests me from the reading of this FAQ.

    Does Nintendo Think Emulation Companies Promote Piracy? Why?

    Yes. The only purpose of video game emulators are to play illegal copied games from the Internet.

    This is not true. Most of the time the emulator is started by an author who wishes not nescessairly to play "illegal copied games from the internet" but to figure out how the CPU works. I can speak from experience that if I had source code to a fully working N64 emulator my last CPU I had to design for class would have been easier; we had to implement a MIPS cpu with bonus points for new instructions, I only wish I knew what new instructions to add. Its also interesting because I never remember having to agree to a licensing agreement saying I wouldn't reverse engineer my N64 or any of my games.

    Haven't the Copyrights for Old Games Expired?

    U.S. copyright laws state that copyrights owned by corporations are valid for 75 years from the date of first publication. Because video games have been around for less than three decades, the copyrights of all video games will not expire for many decades to come.

    Nintendo may want to check on this, there was a small caveat made in I believe 1993 for software that DOES deal with its commercial exploitability. I realize that most roms sites think the rule is the holy grail (which it isn't) but it does affect this situation. Unfortunately I don't have a link to it right now.

    Can Websites and/or Internet Service Providers (ISPs) be Held Liable for Violation of Intellectual Property Rights if they are Only Providing Links to Illegal Software and/or Other Illegal Devices?

    Yes. The websites and/or ISPs for sites which link to ROMs, emulators and/or illegal copying devices can be held liable for copyright and trademark violations, regardless of whether the illegal software and/or devices are on their site or whether they are linking to the sites where the illegal items are found.

    Nintendo may want to check on this. A person with a web page can be held responsible. But I don't believe that an ISP can nescessarily be held responsible, after all we still have GeoCitites don't we and lord knows how many roms they house (aside: wouldn't it be fun just to browse their hard drive and see all the fun files?)

    it might also be worth some time for people to review the article "anarchism triumphant" [] by Eben Moglen, as some of its principles can be applied to thinking about this area.

  • by ldemon ( 28332 ) on Saturday May 22, 1999 @08:04AM (#1883310) Homepage
    Does Nintendo actually produce the SNES machine anymore?

    If not ... then why not, as surely the only way we can now play these games (legally, i.e. not using a 'fake' piece of SNES hardware) is to use an emulator.

    Surely Nintendo should be looking into controlling these ROM images and possibly distribute them in a 'legal' manner. Instead they bitch about us using a replacement to hardware they no longer provide.

    And that 'Legal' document isn't legal. It's just an outline of somebodies idea of how they think the legal system works around Nintendo. I'd take it all with a pinch of salt.

  • The problem is that Nintendo, et al considers an old game worthless to them as soon as they can't charge $50 for it in cartridge form. But they still feel the need to enforce their "rights" against piracy, etc.

    You can buy SNES and Sega Genesis games at a flea market or a place like FuncoLand for between $1 and $5 a pop, so the games obviously do have some comercial value. Plus people obviously are enjoying the games on the emulator scene.

    The easist way for Nintendo to stop 90% of the piracy is to sell ROMS for the old games themselves at $.50 to $1 a pop. Everyone wins: Nintendo gets to make money on their otherwise worthless back catalog and gets essentially free advertising, emulator users can enjoy the games legally, and most ROM Warez sites would probably disappear because their services wouldn't be needed (although if you enjoy piracy, there would be nothing stopping you.)

    The only thing that's missing is some sort of Debit system so you wouldn't need to make a credit card transaction for each 50 cent game.

  • I have very little legal background, but I'll comment anyway. :-)

    The overall information contained in this document is the _position_ of Nintendo; while they do present some facts other information there is just their opinion: ROM images are illegal, Emulators are illegal, ROM burners are illegal. N could not possibly know the copyright status of every piece of information ever burned on a ROM. Burners and readers are standard industry tools, just owning one is not illegal. Emulators, in my mind, are an open debate for many reasons; Like ROMs, N could not possibly know the IP status of everything emulatable; but more importantly, hardware is covered by patent not copyright--I question whether software, an emulator, capable of producing a similar effect as a patented hardware is an infringement. This is almost a look-and-feel issue.

    Make the whole debate moot. Write free software games for open standard architecture. Then Nintendo will beg you to use their products!
  • by webslacker ( 15723 ) on Saturday May 22, 1999 @09:22AM (#1883331)
    For now here is Jerremy's (owner of comment on the situation:

    'I just wanted to let everybody know what has happend to Snes9X.COM. According to my host they have shutdown the site because it has illegal content, after contacting my host, they have answered that they have taken offline my site because they have gotten an email from nintendo stating that emulators are illegal.

    They are not allowing me access to the site, so until a new host is found, the site is offline ! What Nintendo has mailed to my host is unknown. The only thing I know is that Nintendo was referring to the following page: Where they clearly state that their policy is that emulators are illegal, and thus Snes9x is illegal. They probably won't sue me directly since I live in The Netherlands and chances are that they would never be able to win the case !

    Jerremy Koot'
  • EmuHQ may have violated copyright law if they did not get Nintendo's permission for lifting almost the entire FAQ verbatim.

    EmuHQ would have if it were not for the concept on copyright law that allows ``fair use'' of copyrighted works for such uses as review, criticism, or parody.

  • by scrytch ( 9198 ) <> on Saturday May 22, 1999 @05:23AM (#1883338)
    You know, the one that extends copyright so long you won't ever see a classic become public domain within your great grandchildren's lifetime, the one that makes a thoughtcrime out of possessing software that could make other illegal-to-possess programs. Anything that could be used to reverse engineer precious intellectual property..

    The monkey cage goes into a fit screeching at Microsoft for their attempts at lock-in but don't give a second thought to buying proprietary hardware to buy proprietary games. This is vertical lock-in, folks, what are you going to do if one company does create the ultimate console and the others dry up and blow away? Will anyone ever get back into this market when you feed at the trough of the this console maker, who demands that all games made for it be licensed only to it? Maybe not now, maybe not in a couple years... How about 5? How many new Sega titles do you see now?

    Don't just boycott Nintendo, boycott consoles.

  • I'm surprised nobody seems to have mentioned this so far: With an emulator, I may be able to illegally play pirated games... But I am also able to legally play games which I have purchased, even though I don't own the console system they were designed for.

    This is something Nintendo wants to stop, every bit as much as software piracy. It probably hurts their revenues just as much (how many people would pay $200 for a console system that only plays games the $2000 computer they own plays better?), and since it's a completely legitimate practice they can't attack it. I don't own an N64, but if I could get my hands on UltraHLE I'd be happy to borrow a friends Zelda64 cart, download the ROM, and play through it on my computer, deleting the ROM when I'm done. I bet it would look better on a Voodoo 2 than a low-res TV set, too.

    The only thing Nintendo can do is change the subject - pretend that because emulators can be used to pirate games, they must only be used to pirate games. Claim that the data on a game cart is somehow an integral part of the cart, not software to be used as the legal owner sees fit. Even claim that their consoles aren't legally computers, and aren't subject to the same rules restricting software licenses.

    If I transfer the contents of my hard drive to a faster model, then throw the old drive in the garage, I'm not violating any software licenses. If my old hard drive crashed irreparably and I get copies of my own software from a friend, again I'm doing nothing immoral.

    And if I buy a N64 cart, then decide to play it on a quality 3d card/monitor rather than on an N64/grainy TV, even if I never buy an N64 in the first place, that's OK with me. I'm doing nothing wrong, the emulator authors didn't do anything wrong.

    The only people in this scenario doing anything close to wrong is the N64 manufacturer attempting to boost sales by artificially maintaining a software lockin.
  • There is tons of proprietary technology you could learn lots from but is legally protected from being made public.

    I'm curious as to how you've arrived at this conclusion. There are two primary protections for proprietary technology - patent and trade secret.

    Trade secret means I don't tell anybody what I'm doing. The protection comes from a)keeping my stuff under wraps and b)forbidding anyone who learns it from me from distributing that knowledge. If somebody reverse engineers my tech, unless I can show they used knowledge they got from me to do it they're in the free and clear and they can make it as public as they want, as well as use it as they see fit.

    Patent protection requires the technology to be made public in order to be granted the patent; the whole point of the patent system is (supposed) to be to get the technological advances into the public purview as quickly as possible.

  • by Rahga ( 13479 ) on Saturday May 22, 1999 @07:00AM (#1883361) Journal
    Xerox Copiers are not illegal.
    Copiers are used for the sole purpose of creating an exact copy of another peice of paper.
    You can say that Xerox copier encourage piracy of copyrighted material.
    However, you can't say that copiers are illegal because of whatever purpose they may be used for. "Possible Intent" has no bearing on the legality of any product......
  • by William Wallace ( 18863 ) on Saturday May 22, 1999 @07:29AM (#1883374)
    It's not so open and shut as "emulators are legal, period."

    Where did Nintendo say they were illegal? I read the same FAQ you did, and I don't see that anywhere. They did say they believe UltraHLE was illegal, and I remember this was because they said they had reason to believe the authors referred to the N64 software to create their EMU.

    You're right, emulators are perfectly legal... but only if they are designed in a clean room, where none of the authors have seen the code for the software they are emulating. Some emulator authors have worked in clean room situations. Did the UltraHLE authors do this? I don't know, but Nintendo does not believe so. Have they proved it in a court of law yet? I don't think so.

  • Your statement is totally illogical. Why should a game maker invest MILLIONS of dollars in research and development on a game, and then release it for free? How would they pay their bills? I defy you to explain this.I fail to see why a game release for the GNU/Linux platform would neccessarily have to be released for free. A defy you to explain how you conjured such a notion. ;P


"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM