|.||Myths and Misconceptions: The Buck Stops Here.||
After seeing the issue brought up withtin the emulation scene time and time again, I feel need to voice my opinions on a few of the topics I've seen talked about.
The first, and probably least important to most of us, is legality. While it isn't a terribly pressing problem, there are far too many misconceptions, even by some of the 'old folks' of the scene, about how things are. Emulators themselves, to my knowledge, are legal. The only thing that could really be disputed in that respect is the emulation of chips or processes patented, etc, by the game company. When you really get down to it, there's not going to be much, if any controversy on this.
ROMs, on the other hand, are the most frequently misunderstood part of the emulation scene. Every single time I've gotten into, or started a discussion about this, I get the same people telling me the same thing.
"ROMs are legal if you own the original cartridge!"
This, friends, is just outright wrong. Commercial ROMs, unless the company has made them public domain (PD), are illegal. Period. This, of course, also doesn't apply if the company in question has gone out of business, or (I think) hasn't produced said product for a certain amount of time. However, if anyone at all holds legal rights to the game (or whatever you're emulating), and hasn't given permission for it to be reproduced, it's not legal. In my opinion, the reason for this widespread belief of legality is the End User License Agreement (EULA) that most software companies include with their product. The EULA generally states that the user is allowed to make one copy of the software for backup purposes. Well folks, ROMs are software, but they're not covered by an EULA. With that being said, I feel need to comment for a moment on MP3s, because there's a similar problem, and I'd bet that a good part of us use em. ;)
Commercial games and MP3s are covered by a fairly similar copyright. Usually it goes something like this: Unauthorized reproduction, copying, or rental of this recording is prohibited by law.
Yes, I realize that that particular notice will only apply to music. But, note the key parts.. "Unauthorized redprocuction..." - That means ALL reproduction, not that you can copy it for 'backup' purposes. But in reality, of course, there's people like us... people that break the law. We don't see anything wrong with it... we're just listening to a favorite song, or playing a game that we used to love. Illegal emulation and MP3s are really no worse than copying a tape that you like to listen to, or recording a show from TV. Yes, those simple things, too, are illegal. However, illegal doesn't mean enforced, which is why there isn't a big push against this kind of computer crime. MP3 is becoming more mainstream, but emulation is still a somewhat underground movement, which, for us, is good.
On a closing note, I'd like to thank you all for putting up with this stuff... I'm sure a lot of people aren't terribly interested in it. Special thanks to Zophar, for letting me voice my opinions, and for running the best (and pretty well only) site I've used since I was introduced to the scene. And finally, despite how this article may have sounded, I'm all for emulation. It's one of the best things since... well, console systems. :)