The Online Community Of Christian Geek Central


    Is Game Emulation A Sin?

    Share

    Paeter
    Admin

    Posts : 3509
    Activity : 5053
    Geek-Cred : 50
    Join date : 2010-02-17
    Age : 38
    Location : Mesa, AZ

    Is Game Emulation A Sin?

    Post  Paeter on June 26th 2013, 3:39 pm

    Ever since the first Summer Of Free I've wanted to do a segment on the show about the moral aspects of game emulation. There are a range of different views out there and I'd be interested to tackle the subject from both a legal and biblical perspective. But I think I'd need some help to do it.

    I'd like to have as much hard data (with references) regarding the legal aspects of emulation, since there is quite a bit of "he said she said" going on among the emulation communities.

    Would anyone care to help out by doing a little googling and posting your findings here? More than one person helping with this would be great, too!





    _________________
    -Seek The Truth!

    www.spiritblade.com

    ComiKate

    Posts : 288
    Activity : 366
    Geek-Cred : 21
    Join date : 2012-07-01
    Location : Netherlands

    Re: Is Game Emulation A Sin?

    Post  ComiKate on June 27th 2013, 7:18 am

    Forgive me my no doubt somewhat silly question, but what exactly is game emulation?

    WhiteBoy
    Moderator

    Posts : 688
    Activity : 805
    Geek-Cred : 12
    Join date : 2010-06-29
    Age : 43
    Location : Arkansas

    Re: Is Game Emulation A Sin?

    Post  WhiteBoy on June 27th 2013, 1:50 pm

    ComiKate wrote:Forgive me my no doubt somewhat silly question, but what exactly is game emulation?

    There is software you can load on your computer that will emulate a game console or arcade.  Say, for example, I want to play the old arcade Centipede.  I don't want a game *like* Centipede, but I want to play the real, original game.  I can either hit eBay or Craig's List and find the original arcade or I can download what's called a "ROM" of the game.  (ROM stands for Read-Only Memory and you can think of it as the "hard drive" of the old arcades.  They would burn the game into this memory or a cartridge for consoles and that's where the actual program would live.)  So you can download actual ROM's of the old video games and the emulation software "tricks" the program into thinking it's running on the appropriate hardware.  So with this combination you are able to play the actual code of the original game in all it's glory...not some cheap knock-off.

    People go to great lengths sometimes and build wooden cabinets similar to the old arcades, and house a PC inside it with a monitor facing up so it looks and feels very much like the old arcades.  On that single machine you can play all the games you wanted.

    There are emulators for arcades and pretty much all the old consoles.

    From what I understand, the legality is kinda grey for a couple reasons.  I am going from past knowledge and am not able to provide any links right now.  But generally speaking you have to have legally bought the game -- so you actually own a copy of the game -- in order to use a ROM.  The web sites that provide the ROMs of course have no way to verify that you actually own the game so you could in actuality download all the ROMs and not own any of them.

    Some say that 1) these are all old games so the producers have already made all their money, 2) they're not going to care, or 3) they're not going to be able to catch you. While these may address that you may not get *caught*, they don't really address is it right or not.  In my mind, it's the same thing as speeding: as Christians we should do what's lawful regardless of whether we will get caught or not. And going 36 in a 35 zone is just as illegal as going 60 in a 35 zone.

    The copyright laws require for something to be really old before it's public domain and freely available.  The limit is something like 90 years so it doesn't apply to even the oldest games yet.  The grey area comes in that in some cases the companies are not around any more for you to be *able* to purchase the game.  Sometimes the company was bought by another company, but sometimes it just doesn't exist any more.  IMHO, these would be OK to emulate -- again not having any link to back that up.  But my thinking is because the intent of the law is to protect the rights of the producers of the game.  If those producers are no longer around, I don't see whom we are protecting by restricting it.

    I know that's not exactly what you are looking for, Paeter, but there's my opinion and I think it's a fairly well informed one based on back in the day when I used to be into this.  I was doing it quite a bit, but stopped once I looked into the legal stuff.


    _________________

    Paeter
    Admin

    Posts : 3509
    Activity : 5053
    Geek-Cred : 50
    Join date : 2010-02-17
    Age : 38
    Location : Mesa, AZ

    Re: Is Game Emulation A Sin?

    Post  Paeter on June 27th 2013, 7:07 pm

    Sorry for not giving more info, ComiKate. And thanks for laying the groundwork for the thread, Whiteboy! I think that gives us a starting point and some direction for an investigation of the issue. Much appreciated.

    If you or anyone else comes across a site that deals with the subject a little more closely to the legal side of things, links would be welcome.

    Thanks again!


    _________________
    -Seek The Truth!

    www.spiritblade.com

    UKSteve

    Posts : 178
    Activity : 238
    Geek-Cred : 8
    Join date : 2010-07-09
    Location : England

    Re: Is Game Emulation A Sin?

    Post  UKSteve on July 4th 2013, 5:16 am

    Oooh, retro computing is something I totally geek out over, so I have to share what I know (although that's not much):

    Downloading emulators = completely legal.
    Downloading games = completely illegal, unless they have specifically been released into the public domain.

    For context purposes, I use emulators when I get the itch to play an old Spectrum or Amiga game I enjoyed in my youth, because (sadly) I don't have the time or space to set up the actual computer systems.

    These are games that I either own already, can't get hold of original copies of, or most often both. (Even if I could get hold of an original copy of the game in question, it will be over a decade old even for a late Amiga game, and me buying a used copy on ebay isn't going to benefit the copyright holder any more than downloading it for an emulator.)

    That's my justification anyway; obviously, emulating a 20 year old system to enjoy some abandonware is a little different to getting hold of a GBA emulator before the actual console was released (which apparently happened; I guess that might explain Nintendo's clear dislike of emulators).

    And let's not forget that there was plenty of good Amiga software released into the public domain back in the day - admittedly you can probably play better looking games for nothing on your smartphone now, but that would be a way to get a retro fix without any legal grey areas.

    Also, programmers making new Sinclair games often make free downloads available for emulators - so I would have to say (to answer the original question), that emulation is not necessarily a sin, although it can be used in ways which would be.

    Here's a short piece of the subject by a UK lawyer and retro gaming fan - it's not definitive by any means (emphasises that there are grey areas as much as anything!) but might be helpful.

    Paeter
    Admin

    Posts : 3509
    Activity : 5053
    Geek-Cred : 50
    Join date : 2010-02-17
    Age : 38
    Location : Mesa, AZ

    Re: Is Game Emulation A Sin?

    Post  Paeter on July 15th 2013, 8:39 pm

    Interesting stuff! Thanks UKSteve! The article at the link was an interesting read.

    I feel like we're getting warmer. What I'd love is an article or audio/video interview somewhere with quotes from a copyright/IP lawyer. Anyone ever come across something like that or try some creative google searching to find something along those lines?


    _________________
    -Seek The Truth!

    www.spiritblade.com

    Paeter
    Admin

    Posts : 3509
    Activity : 5053
    Geek-Cred : 50
    Join date : 2010-02-17
    Age : 38
    Location : Mesa, AZ

    Re: Is Game Emulation A Sin?

    Post  Paeter on July 15th 2013, 8:48 pm

    The link to Nintendo's thoughts on the issue, provided the the article linked to above, had some interesting thoughts. You can find the content here: http://www.nintendo.com/corp/legal.jsp#download_rom

    What caught my attention was:

    "Can I Download a Nintendo 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. 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 of the authentic. Therefore, whether you have an authentic game or not, or whether you have possession of a Nintendo ROM for a limited amount of time, i.e. 24 hours, it is illegal to download and play a Nintendo ROM from the Internet. "


    I don't know where they are getting "therefore". It sounds like they are assuming that users with ROMs of games they own cartridges for are still obviously breaking the law. But I don't understand how the are making what seems to be a leap to me.

    I'm sure there are Nintendo lawyers behind the scenes of the composition of this article somewhere, but the law, as they've vaguely described it here, does not seem to prohibit owning ROMs of games you have physical copies of.

    The best argument against emulation I've seen so far is that referring to the illegality of BIOS reproduction. But again, I haven't read/heard this aspect of the law referred to by a lawyer, just second hand sources.

    The quest continues...


    _________________
    -Seek The Truth!

    www.spiritblade.com

    Sponsored content

    Re: Is Game Emulation A Sin?

    Post  Sponsored content Today at 5:15 pm


      Current date/time is December 10th 2016, 5:15 pm