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Ask Slashdot: Where Can I Buy Legal Game ROMs?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the oh-you-might-be-surprised dept.

Piracy 361

PktLoss writes "I'm interested in building an arcade machine, following the footsteps of Cmdr Taco among many others. Not being all that interested in piracy, I need to find somewhere to buy games. StarROMs used to be the kind of thing I was looking for, though with an incredibly short catalog. The MAME people have a few available for free (non-commercial), but this isn't going to sate my needs. There's an entire cottage industry supporting this goal. People are ready to sell me plans, kits, buttons, joy sticks, glass marquees, and entire machines. That's fantastic, but where can I get the games? I refuse to believe that this entire industry is built on piracy."

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The entire industry is built on piracy (3, Interesting)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368868)


Re:The entire industry is built on piracy (5, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369060)

Yeah. Asking a question and ending with "I refuse to believe the truth!" isn't the best way to go.

If these are ancient games, and there is no other way to get them, then they're "abandonware". Just grow a pair and download them. It might be illegal, but I don't see how it's immoral. If the company that made the game is even still around, you could try contacting them for a license as AC suggested.

Re:The entire industry is built on piracy (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369186)

Strictly speaking, some tiny percentage of the industry(the chaps who dumped the ROMs, if nobody else) is in possession of a backup copy of a cartridge that they own, which is arguably legal in some jurisdictions; but other than that it is pretty much all piracy all the time...

Re:The entire industry is built on piracy (-1)

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Re:The entire industry is built on piracy (2)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369310)

The entire system is built on piracy. Might makes right

Pretty much by definition (2)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369360)

The various media industries, when they're being selfish, say "Piracy" to mean "You made a copy when we asked you not to." Generally, the courts force this to only be a crime if you then share it with others. The existence of ROMs at all, even ones you dump yourself, are nevertheless piracy in that definition.

Now look at the logistics of it. At this point, they're not manufacturing these products anymore. Unless they remade games for a new device, there is no product you can buy from them anymore--you can only buy secondhand games and secondhand systems. You say you don't want to pirate, which for games that are currently being sold is marvelous. But when they aren't selling products to you, they aren't losing money if you pirate instead of buying secondhand. Understand, if they ever decided to release ROMs, they would release them along with first-party, copy-protected emulators, and that's an investment of time, manpower, and money in and of itself. (It does happen; the PSP for example emulates PlayStation games, which you can get from their store, if you can stomach going there after the security breach nonsense.)

If you want to support game developers or the industry, buy new products, whether it's games or licensed T-shirts. There's precious little to be found in emulation that could possibly help their bottom line.

Re:The entire industry is built on piracy (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369370)

Or to put it another way, ideally enforced copyright would kill this entire industry.

Re:The entire industry is built on piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369408)

With ideally enforced copyright they could actually sell ROMs, whereas right now why would more than a tiny handful of people go buy what they can easily have for free?

what?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37368872)

contact each vendor for a license...yes, this entire industry is built on piracy..unfortunate, but true. Your mission is fail.

Re:what?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369018)

I agree, some of the biggest pirates are the one who work for the game industry, if you don't care, why should you....

Usenet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37368874)

It'll cost you about $10.

From who? (4, Insightful)

TerminaMorte (729622) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368880)

Who would you be buying it from? In most cases you'd just be buying a shady company for a pirated ROM regardless. Most of the companies that made these games no longer exist. Any IP is going to be owned by a large corp like Nintendo, who will want you to buy their console and not DIY You are saying you do not want to pirate, while at the same time you want to use this content in an un-authorized/un-approved way. Piracy is your only real option if you want to play "popular" game ROMs.

Re:From who? (1)

PktLoss (647983) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369046)

Well, once upon a time StarRoms was that company, and even (appeared) to have licensed the games they were selling. I naively thought they might have been replaced by something I was missing.

Re:From who? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369082)

The most entertaining part of this whole discussion is we're talking about games made in the 80's and 90's.

Whatever happened to the Public Domain? Or have we all forgotten, since there's basically nobody alive who's really experienced works in the public domain, that THE ENTIRE POINT OF COPYRIGHT IS TO ENRICH the public domain?

There are those who argue the age-old publishers cry "we need to protect scientific and cultural advancement" I say, without the public domain, there's no incentive not to reproduce the same things that were in the past, or not to sit on your hides renting technology. Such hypocrisy; to build off the technology of the past in order to monopolize the present. Publishers will never stop arguing "longer longer" and the people, well, they're the only reasonable one in the discussion.

Sony doesn't want you buying FF7 for the same reason Best Buy doesn't want a Sony TV on their shelves that is more than a year old. They don't want to dissuade your dollars from buying the new shiney. Although I do have to ask what kind of market it would be, especially for gaming, if the current cookie cutters had to compete with the old cookie cutters.

  I say, if there's works created in my lifetime will never enter into the public domain, then there is no point in participating in copyright.

Re:From who? (5, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369166)

Thanks to Disney and the corrupt shills that have taken over the government, games made in the 1980s won't "expire copyright" and return to the public domain until sometime after 2100. If there isn't yet ANOTHER "Mickey Mouse Protection Act" copyright extension passed in the meantime.

Part of the problem is that copyright doesn't take into account the life of the medium any more. Imagine what happens when most books are only available on e-readers and most e-readers no longer read the format the book was put out in (not so hard to imagine: think of some of the books that only exist on B&N Nook format and imagine that B&N goes under and nobody bothers to code a translator because "well most of it is on Kindle anyways", followed by B&N's servers shutting down and nobody having a remaining copy of the book anywhere).

The longer copyright terms are, the more information we LOSE to bad circumstances and bitrot. For one of the most famous cases, consider the missing episodes of Dr. Who [wikia.com] - the BBC now has a comparatively huge bounty out for anyone who has them, even if it's a really crappy telecine.

Re:From who? (5, Interesting)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369258)

This raises an interesting legal question. If I have a copy of a missing TV show episode, what claim would the copyright owner have if they don't have a copy? If I distribute it I'm violating the copyright. But I'm not taking anything from the owner because they can't do the same. The whole point of copyright is to preserve the right to distribute for the owners. In particular, it's NOT to prevent old episodes from being watched so that people will watch new episodes. Copyright is only for protecting that work, not other works using the same trademarks or characters.

Re:From who? (1)

swb (14022) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369404)

The right of ownership is to the intellectual property, the ephemeral content that is on every piece of media containing a copy, not any specific copy they might or might not own or have in their possession. It's the ideas, artistic works, etc.

Aren't there plenty of "lost" negatives, master recordings, to movies, TV shows, records, etc? It's not like the people who own the copyright lose their copyright claims simply because they can't account for a copy of the media.

Re:From who? (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369452)

A great example. The BBC chose to copy over old 1/2 inch tapes, and possibly misfiled some episodes or just assumed that once the show was aired, that would be the end of it. Other examples from that era are common - for just two, there's the first Quatermass TV series (now public domain, but with only 2 parts of 6 still in existence, and Tales from Tomorrow, with about 43 of the original 85 episodes still in existence. (Here's a link for a legal download).):

http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=subject%3A%22Tales%20Of%20Tomorrow%22 [archive.org]

What do examples like these prove?
(I've picked examples from both sides of the Atlantic, just so this doesn't appear to somehow be just an English problem, and people don't draw the (in my opinion, unproved) conclusion that the BBC was less rational than US broadcasters).
1. Copyrights had already been extended from early US and British laws by the times that these shows aired, but that didn't give the owners the incentive to hold onto them that was one of the purposes of extending those copyrights.
2. Corporate owners (at least), lost potential profits in the future by their own shortsightedness, which has nothing to do with how much copyright protection they got. Of course, that short sightedness is simply human - who would have predicted all the advances in technology that would create any potential demand for these older works 50 to 60 years later.
4. But this also means that the current crop of rights holders can't predict what the situation will be as they approach 2100 or so. Holding onto a right that you might benefit from in over 100 years is a high odds gamble. If there are any downsides, such as having to pay for archiving old records properly so they will last that long, that gamble now has a downside. This is why some large rights holders have been agitating the US government to pick up the cost of them proceeding in civil courts against copyright violators, and why they are trying to move more and more violations into the criminal law category where the state pays from taxes.

Re:From who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369276)

Sony doesn't want you buying FF7

Hmmm... if that's the case, you'd think they would stop selling it over PSN.

Piracy is not your only option (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369300)

While there may be some gray area debate about 'fair use', but if you want to stick with the moral high ground, i don't see a problem with buying the game on a cart at your local store ( be it new or used ) then copying the data off to use in your emulator. ( im also assuming here you have an old console in the closet, just to be 100% legit )

One step further, since you own the physical cart ( and license to use it ) i don't see a problem with downloading it. It's only 'piracy' if you don't own a license.

ROM Marketplace? (1)

Azadre (632442) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368882)

There is no model for legal roms. The only authorized emulators are built with newer gaming systems (e.g. the 3DS emulating GBA games). There needs to be a model, however.

Re:ROM Marketplace? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37368988)

ROMs don't automatically mean emulator. ROMs aren't illegal. Please, quit this thinking.
And on that topic, emulators aren't illegal either. Not even in the most retarded countries when it comes to IP law.
Companies want you to THINK it is illegal (like the recent Atari who still think they hold control over the Atari trademark), but it isn't.

If you want actual games from companies, you are going to have to go through a strict process with the developers of those games, be it Nintendo or some random company.
You have to get a licence. You get the game, quite literally in ROM modules form sometimes, you plug it in to your hardware that they have to inspect and approve of (or a 3rd party approval process who manages the arcade cabinet industry members), and that is it.
Note the hard, strict, and additionally that you'll likely not be approved if it is for personal use unless you offer to pay out of the ass.

Re:ROM Marketplace? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369268)

Indeed. ROM files can be used to repair a faulty/broken arcade cabinet.

(You think I'm joking, but I know a guy who owns an arcade and business repairing/selling/refurbishing video game cabinets. He keeps a large store of MAME Roms on hand for just that eventuality; never know when you might need to reflash a burned out chip in order to bring an old game's motherboard back to life).

Re:ROM Marketplace? (1)

Lanteran (1883836) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369398)

In some countries It's legal to download roms if you already own the game- which is what I do with my huge cache of vintage games. Easier than dusting off the NES.

Re:ROM Marketplace? (2, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369062)

There is no model for legal roms.

Sure there is. Just buy PCBs for the games you're interested in. Non-working PCBs will do.

Re:ROM Marketplace? (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369118)

Indeed, that's what I do. The trick is getting an appropriate device for dumping the ROMs. I personally use the www.retrode.org, but there are other devices on the market. The great thing is that one doesn't need to worry about being busted, as it's completely legal. Plus, they don't have any way of knowing that one is dumping carts to disk.

Re:ROM Marketplace? (1)

daedae (1089329) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369134)

Ah, glad to see somebody beat me to saying this. One of my buddies in undergrad had the same "I don't want to pirate" mentality, but he wanted to play Super Metroid sometime in that period between a real SNES being readily available and the knockoffs you can buy for $30 being available. His solution, of course, was to get ZSNES and the ROM, but he also went out to a GameStop or something and bought a used copy of the cart.

Re:ROM Marketplace? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369228)

Isn't this based on a lot of unproven assumptions? Do we really still have fair use in this manner? Couldn't the whole thing be collapsed by a DMCA "deritive work" claim?

not going to find it (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368884)

The only real non-pirate way to get a significant number of ROMs is to buy the physical games and the equipment to image a ROM from them.

A few university libraries have started digitally preserving culturally significant games, and that's what they end up doing, because they can't really pirate the ROMs, yet can't buy legitimate digital copies either.

Re:not going to find it (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368928)

You mean copy the ROMs from the hardware without the permission of the copyright holder? No, that's still piracy.

Re:not going to find it (3, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368940)

If you legitimately own a copy on some medium, medium-shifting to another one is legal, just like you can rip your own music CDs to mp3s.

Re:not going to find it (3, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369052)

It depends entirely upon the patch of ground you happen to be standing on and the relative quality of your lawyers as to whether it is or is not "legal".

Re:not going to find it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369084)

If you legitimately own a copy on some medium, medium-shifting to another one is legal, just like you can rip your own music CDs to mp3s.

Do you understand what "legal" means?

Can stand up to a lawsuit, or make it be a fact for a court of law to determine unequivocally.

When that happens, armchair lawyer, let me know.

Re:not going to find it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369168)

You have that backward.

It is legal until there is a court decision stating otherwise. At least in the US.

Innocent until proven guilty (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369380)

Innocent until proven guilty? That's a nice thought. It's fantasy, but a nice thought.

Re:not going to find it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369088)

If you legitimately own a copy on some medium, medium-shifting to another one is legal, just like you can rip your own music CDs to mp3s.

DMCA. Repeat after me, DMCA. The fact arcade games are in proprietary ROMs or even soldered to the mobo, you removing them to "archive" or medium shift, it illegal in the US, EU and down under.

Re:not going to find it (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369138)

I believe that under the DMCA, a copy-protection device has to be deliberately for the purpose of copy protection; not every physical fact that makes copying harder is legally a copy-protection device. There are also a number of safe-harbors that permit circumventing DRM for various purposes, such as interoperability.

In any case, I would be willing to be that if, say, the Entertainment Software Association sued the Stanford Library over its game-preservation program, they would lose. In fact they are almost certainly not going to sue them, in part due to the risk of setting a negative precedent.

Re:not going to find it (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369142)

That's not true. Being soldered onto a proprietary board is not the same thing as copy control, unless you've got some actual case law to base that assertion on. The matter hasn't been litigated and the main reason why the case was settled the way it was back then, was because the equipment necessary to use the carts was still relatively inexpensive and easily obtainable. Getting a console that properly plays some of those old games is getting harder and harder and at this point it's easier to use 3rd party gear.

As for arcade games, that's never been litigated AFAIK, mainly because they've been expensive and hard to get ones hands on.

Re:not going to find it (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369152)

Yeah, you really have no idea what you're talking about do you?

The DMCA and similar laws make it illegal to circumvent copy protection measures, not format shifting. I doubt many arcade games from last century even had copy protection.

Re:not going to find it (1)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369284)

I doubt many arcade games from last century even had copy protection.
Many arcade PCB's had components that were embedded in epoxy to prevent anyone from tampering with them.

Re:not going to find it (1)

Damarkus13 (1000963) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369182)

Nope. The DMCA prohibits unauthorized decryption, but simply dumping unaltered data for backup is not prohibited. Similarly 1:1 backup copies of DVDs are okay, but decrypting the stream to remove previews or compress it to fit on a single layer disc is not.

Re:not going to find it (5, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369200)

DMCA. Repeat after me, DMCA. The fact arcade games are in proprietary ROMs or even soldered to the mobo, you removing them to "archive" or medium shift, it illegal in the US

Except that an Exception [copyright.gov] to the DMCA was made:

37 CFR 201.40 Exemption to prohibition against circumvention [bitlaw.com]

  1. Compilations consisting of lists of Internet locations blocked by commercially marketed filtering software [...]
  2. Computer programs protected by dongles that prevent access due to malfunction or damage and which are obsolete. [...]
  3. Computer programs and video games distributed in formats that have become obsolete and which require the original media or hardware as a condition of access. A format shall be considered obsolete if the machine or system necessary to render perceptible a work stored in that format is no longer manufactured or is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace.
  4. Literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing ebook editions of the work (including digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent the enabling of the ebook's read-aloud function and that prevent the enabling of screen readers to render the text into a specialized format.

Re:not going to find it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369234)

That's not at all true.

In Denmark it's quite explicitly legal:


Re:not going to find it (2)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369126)

If you legitimately own a copy on some medium, medium-shifting to another one is legal, just like you can rip your own music CDs to mp3s.

Yes... but is it legal to buy the CD and then download the MP3 version of the same thing from someone else who doesn't have a right to upload that MP3 to you?

Seems like buying a legitimate copy of the media and then obtaining the ROM from someone not authorized to give it to you would be similar. Unless you are going to, er, try and dump the rom yourself from your own media....

Re:not going to find it (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369218)

Usual I'm not a lawyer etc but yes downloading something you already have the rights to is legal. You may need to show you owned a copy before the time you downloaded it to a judge though. The uploading you often do as part of downloading is not though (in the US).

Re:not going to find it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37368960)

No it isn't. You are legally protected to make back-up copies of any software you own.

Re:not going to find it (2)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368982)

You don't have to buy the entire game, You can generally find the boards that were removed from the cabinets when the cabinets were upgraded to some other game. Prices range from $20 to several hundred dollars depending on the popularity of the game.

The legal status of copying those roms on to modern hardware is in doubt. The moral status is more clear: of course you can put the board in the closet and do the minimum it takes to run the software on modern hardware.

Buy a regular cabinet instead. (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368894)

Piracy is inevitable with MAME, unless you dump your own ROMs. No one offers legit ROMs for sale, and I'm taking it you're not the type who plays modern arcade games like Street Fighter or Blaz Blue.

Just buy a cab and boards instead.

Re:Buy a regular cabinet instead. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369318)

Dumping your own ROMs is "piracy" too, most places. The US does have the Fair Use defence, which barely legalizes it and some (not all) other copyright laws have similar defences or provisions, but these may or may not actually cover this situation. In England, for example, birthplace of copyright as we know it, format shifting (ripping CDs or dumping ROMs) is illegal, and you can thank Queen Anne and the Unionists that the same shit applies in Scotland.

What is this "piracy?" (4, Interesting)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368896)

Keep in mind that every unofficial copy of a protected work isn't necessarily copyright violation. Look up fair use, and consult a lawyer for its application to a given field. You can also ask that the library of Congress put a DMCA exemption on a particular use, IIRC, although that would be more for the field than for your personal use.

http://transformativeworks.org/projects/vidding-press-release-DMCA-EXEMPTION [transformativeworks.org]

Re:What is this "piracy?" (3, Insightful)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368930)

You have to buy a legitimate copy of the ROM, and then you can maybe exercise your fair use rights to format-shift it. However finding a legitimate copy is going to be pretty difficult, and I guess ebay is pretty much the only option.

Re:What is this "piracy?" (4, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368954)

Fair use is a defence. It doesn't come into play until after lawyers are hired and court is attended. A DMCA exemption also doesn't automatically make something legal - it's only an exemption from the DMCA, not plain old-fashioned copyright law.

Re:What is this "piracy?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369120)

Fair use is a defence. It doesn't come into play until after lawyers are hired and court is attended

You can raise a defense as soon as you are questioned about your activity. "Hey, you quoted my movie without permission in that review site where you said that my movie sucked! I"m suing you" is always immediately answered by "fair use, bitch."

Re:What is this "piracy?" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369242)

Fair use is a defence. It doesn't come into play until after lawyers are hired and court is attended.

Actually, the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. Section 107 specifically states:

"...the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright."

Now when the law itself spells out what the permissible actions are, it seems to me you don't need to get to court to determine whether it's legal.

(Captcha: arraigns)

I am not a lawyer, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37368900)

It's my understanding that under certain countries' laws regarding backups, if you purchase the game in one format (say, an actual cartridge) you can legally download the ROM, considering it's technically a backup.

Or you could always buy the cartridges and rip them yourself.

Re:I am not a lawyer, but... (3, Interesting)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368934)

If you are using the backup for something other than as a backup, then it's not a backup.

Depending on which country you are in, however, you might be permitted to format shift. The UK that's not legal, even though everyone (and probably their grandmother) is format shifting their CDs into MP3s these days. The UK government have started looking at this ridiculous position with a view to changing the law. Lets hope they have an attack of sense, and decide that because 90% of the population are doing it, that democracy should prevail and legalise it. Especially considering I've never heard anyone being prosecuted for ripping their CDs, ever.

Re:I am not a lawyer, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369078)

How is it any good as a backup, then? Is it ok to use it only after your cartridge breaks? Or are you saying that the only use for a backed up rom is to create a new, physical rom in case your first breaks?

Re:I am not a lawyer, but... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369164)

It's ridiculous like that in many parts of the world. In the US, it's legal to back up your media, however you're not allowed to break the DRM in order to do it. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out how one can back up something that they're not allowed to make spare copies of.

following the footsteps of Cmdr Taco... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37368914)

A wise word of wisdom and caution; be cautious else you could end up with a penis that's as small as CmdrTacos penis.

I wonder... (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368916)

I wonder if you own an old defunc machine, if you could legally then own a rom on a remake? I mean people used to say you could backup your games to floppy in case the original died. I think some games for c64 even told you to do this.

I also wonder if you can rent digital copies of media over the internet if you own a copy, but are not using it at the time.

Re:I wonder... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368980)

I wonder if you own an old defunc machine, if you could legally then own a rom on a remake?

That used to be the standard disclaimer years ago. People distributing ROMs would say you needed to own the same title's hardware to legally play the ROM; essentially the boards from the cabinet (working or otherwise). Of course few people worried about that.

Now, whether or not that was adequate to claim "ownership" is another matter.

Re:I wonder... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369184)

They also used to say that you were in the clear if you deleted the file with in 24 hours. AFAIK that was never based on any statute or legal precedence, just a way of looking like it was something other than piracy.

At the end of the day, you're much better off just dumping the carts yourself, the equipment these days is often times not hard to get and fairly inexpensive, less than some of the harder to get carts.

You can't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37368922)

The only entities which can legally distribute roms are the publishers themselves (in which case they obviously will not). Rom usage came about from the fact that it's legal (well, grayish legal when you add in things like drm thanks to newer laws) to make a backup of your rom. That means if you want the game legally, you must buy the physical games themselves and perform a rom dump. (Where do you think these rom came from originally?)

Online Auctions (Caveat emptor) (1)

rockclimber (660746) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368936)

Try Ebay. however, most of what you will find are pirated games anyway. (Wouldn't it be nice if electronic works went into public domain after 10 or 15 years, or after the company creating the work folded up?)

Re:Online Auctions (Caveat emptor) (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368978)

It would be nice, and rational. Too bad copyright law is anti-consumer and pretty much only benefits corporations.

Re:Online Auctions (Caveat emptor) (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369198)

Theoretically it's supposed to be balanced by fair use and limited period of protection. In practice it's gotten really out of hand over the last hundred years or so and mostly serves to stifle creation of new cultural items.

Re:Online Auctions (Caveat emptor) (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369240)

Yes, it is unfortunate. It actually causes legal issues for people that want to preserve history. An appropriate example for this article; say I wanted to preserve a collection of vintage games. I expose myself to legal risk by doing so, but to my knowledge there is not a legal repository of these games in existence where a person can access them to learn. Music is similar. Undoubtedly there have been some games, or some music that are no longer in existence because the original media is worn with age.

Virtual Console... (4, Insightful)

Windwraith (932426) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368948)

That's the whole idea behind them, selling you ROMs and a license to use them.

Re:Virtual Console... (1)

giltwist (1313107) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369022)

Yeah, I've actually bought a couple of the old SNES rpg favorites on my Wii's virtual console. I actually owned the old cartridges, once upon a time. However, teenager me said "Pfft, the playstation will make me forget all about the SNES." How wrong I was. I feel legally justified in owning the roms, but its nice having proof for the games I couldn't live without.

You are a pirate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37368952)

You kids today aren't hardcore enough to program your own ROMs? Geez.

To be "legal" you have to own the logic boards, then you are in the grey area of legally owning the game. Downloading the ROMs is still a copyright violation (go figure). There are arcade machine surplus companies that repair/rebuild arcade machines online: DAGS! Craigslist is another source.

You are unfortunately out of luck. (1)

Hott of the World (537284) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368956)

You, a single person, possible a collection of a hundred or so similar people, are

1. Asking dozens of giant corporations to provide legal licenses to use their software on your system, in a way they haven't accounted for.
2. Expecting them to take the time out of their busy schedule to write over a license agreement, a copy of the software (which they don't have, unless they have copied the ROM themselves), and expect you to use the software in accordance with the license agreement (which if you ever sell or give away the arcade machine, would be in violation of the software license)

Understand that aside from the possible liabilities of releasing such software to parties which may not have the best interest of the companies at heart, what can the companies expect in return? You're looking a few hundred dollars for a few lawyers to come up with the agreement for each game, and then another few hundred for the software development time to make sure these "legal" roms aren't bundled in with all the other illegal software currently floating around the internet.

"More trouble than its worth" applies to serving a niche market just as well as it applies to serving a lawsuit against someone emulating.

Re:You are unfortunately out of luck. (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369158)

In attempting to "not be a pirate", you have the chance to confront the complex and contradictory legal realities of the situation and realize how the "piracy" isn't as cut and dried as IP holders make it out to be. There is no way to do what you want to do legally, the option does not exist.

Just by trying to roll your own setup, you are aligning yourself with the lawbreakers from a corporate standpoint. You think of yourself as a non-pirate, but that's not really true. If you want to follow the rules, buy a Wii and enjoy those games Nintendo has seen fit to allow you to emulate.

You want legal DIY, go all the way. (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 3 years ago | (#37368962)

Same way all those things are available, you can also get the kits to extract the data out of an old NES cart.

The legal way is to get the original game, the kit, and rip it yourself.

Other than that: piracy.

Dump your own (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37368968)

With a Retrode [retrode.org] you can dump your own SNES and Genesis ROMs as easily as plugging in a cartridge to a USB mass storage device, and adapters have been made to also dump Atari 2600, N64, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance, Turbo Graphx 16, and Virtual Boy ROMs. Probably as legal as it's going to get if you own the cartridges - the Retrode might not classify as a circumvention device as it simply asks the cartridges for data and the cartridges supply it. The few cartridges with copy protection that don't simply surrender their data (eg. SMRPG) tend to not work.

Given that you mentioned MAME you're probably more interested in arcade ROMs; maybe an EEPROM reader would be more useful to you? Much trickier though.

Re:Dump your own (1)

PktLoss (647983) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369456)

I might just wimp out.

I mentioned i'm interested in Rampage, I have no doubt I'll be able to find the arcade rom for it. eBay is more than happy to sell me a SNES cart of the same game. So I'll balance my ROM downloads with cartridge purchases. No, they're not quite the same, but it's close.

Copyright Term Reduction (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37368996)

Alternatively, think how nice the world would be with a 20 year copyright term (same as patents, and patent holders are still going strong). Every January 1st a large batch of new ROMs would become available free of charge.

Next time you are at any political meeting, just bring up why inventors get 20 years of protection and why this term wouldn't work for everyone else. You can use "Happy Birthday to You" as an example (bonus points if you can let the politician(s) sing it as a 'public performance' first).

Re:Copyright Term Reduction (1)

temcat (873475) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369064)

Not really an answer to the topic starter's question, but very much this.
Modern copyright is retarded, and its terms are outrageous. Nobody should ever feel guilty for copying long unavailable works, just make sure you aren't caught.

Re:Copyright Term Reduction (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369280)

I was also thinking that 20 years would be quite optimal time. On most works, no money is milked any more (and the product not in sale), but the artwork could still provide enjoyment (and historical value).

What the hell (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369014)

I think we're taking this anti piracy thing a little far if it's come to this. This is by far the dumbest question I have ever seen on Slashdor. By definition Mame is used to play illegal roms. That might not be a popular view, but lets be honest here if it wasn't for trading roms for free back and fourth MAME wouldn't exist. And frankly who ever asked this question must be new to the entire internet. Get over yourself.

A noble goal, that (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369024)

There are many titles that were on obsolete systems people would love to play again. Unfortunately the publishers behind those titles don't care about the people who still want to play them. Either you have to ignore the legal ramifications (you could, of course, try to challenge them in court if they actually came after you) or not do it at all. The choices aren't great, but those are about it for you.

factor 5 has some stuff out (2)

infurnus (1897136) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369032)

Bonk/BCKid, Katakis, and R-Type:
http://www.factor5.de/downloads.shtml [factor5.de]

Factor 5s first game as a free download for everybody who loved the Amiga or just plain historical interest – also known in other parts of Europe as Denaris. 50 frames per second of high-adrenaline shooting action very reminiscent of R-Type.
Note: This only works 100% with the UAE emulator .
Katakis, R-Type and BC KID are not provided for the public domain. You are entitled to download and use these games only for non-commercial purposes. All copyrights are retained by their owners. Any distribution of this data through any medium unless specifically permitted by the copyright owners is not allowed.

Re:factor 5 has some stuff out (1)

PktLoss (647983) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369378)

thanks for the heads up!

Fuck legality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369040)

I've downloaded a ton of fullsets from EmuParadise, deal with it.

Easy (1)

springbox (853816) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369042)

1.) Buy the original arcade board 2.) Dump ROMs Of course, you could use your cabinet to play the original games instead of emulating them.

Not happening... (2)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369044)

The only way you're going to get any games is piracy. Even if the original IP holder is still around (which many of them aren't), there isn't enough interest for them to offer a commercial product. They're not gonna be satisfied servicing the desires of a figurative handful of DIY'ers making MAME cabinets, the only way to see these in commercial release is through emulation on a console so they can ensure they get their $10 or whatever out of it. Frankly, the MAME emulation scene just isn't popular enough to ever really see even that come to pass, except for those select few titles like Centipede or Breakout that have stayed relevant in the popular consciousness.

You have to move up to the 8-bit home consoles like the NES and Sega Master System, and beyond, if you're looking for actual legal re-releases, and you will NEVER see that happen in ROM form. If you want a legal way to play old arcade games, go buy some old arcade games. Otherwise, I wouldn't feel too bad about piracy when it comes to this stuff. They have no legal alternative.

You must own it. (1)

inkrypted (1579407) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369098)

You can download the roms from any source as long as you own the games so I suggest you buy the arcade PCB's of any rom that you download. http://www.jammaboards.com/store/arcade-game-boards-and-pcbs/cat_21.html [jammaboards.com] http://www.quarterarcade.com/Browse.aspx?c=All.Parts.Boards [quarterarcade.com] Those are only a couple of the places that you can buy the arcade boards.

sources of info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369102)

For the most part, those ROMs are not protected by the companies. At worse, you will get a letter saying to please stop. They know that those that love the old games (downloading old ROMS) are not the people to worry about and that they are not the ones that taking money out of their pockets. If anything, these hardcore fans are keeping the spirit of old classics alive. And most if not all of htem would pay several hundred dollars to legitemately buy all the games. The thing is, if there are 10,000 people in the US that are in this category, how much money can really be made? Low millions? That is pennies to comapnies liek Nintendo. Just not worth the effort.

With few exceptions (Pac-Man, Donkey Kong), alot of the franchises are dead and unprotected.

My build:

For what it is worth, join the BYOAC forums and ask there or search for topics on the matter. I know it has been discussed in the past.

Is there a PHoF equivalent for arcade video games? (1)

BitterKraut (820348) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369156)

To play vintage pinball machines, there is the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas (is it still there?). Is there a similar place to go for lovers of coin op arcade video game machines?

Umm... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369172)

The almost-entire MAME industry is based on piracy. Most game manufacturers have NOT released the rights to their games.

An actual solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369224)

It's completely legal to own a rom (even a pirated one) if you also own the original game in whatever physical form it came.

This is actually what most of those rom Downloading websites advise

yuo FaAil It (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369260)

resulteD 1n the

You don't (0)

WillyWanker (1502057) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369266)

You don't buy legal ROMs, because they don't exist. Your only way to be 100% legal is to buy every arcade machine, cartridge, or disc of the game you want to play and rip them. Which, as I'm sure you're aware, is not a palatable option.

There is a reason that StarROMS shut down. All these games are still under copyright, and the rights holders don't want you to buy the ROMs and use an emulator; they want to sell you the games for use on consoles, phones, PC, etc. Why sell you 1 ROM when they can sell you 5 versions of the same game, one for each platform? There is also the support/QA aspect to consider. If they sell you a ROM and it doesn't work with your emulator, then what?

So put legality out of your head and download all the illegal ROMs you want and enjoy them. Trust me, you'll sleep just fine at night.

Welcome to Earth (1)

davidbrit2 (775091) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369288)

I refuse to believe that this entire industry is built on piracy.

Please remember to check your idealism at the door.

Berlin (1)

speedlaw (878924) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369290)

At the computer game museum in Berlin there is a great piece of computer art where these roms are randomly tossed together and the resulting mash up is funny and interesting gameplay.

OP's post is proof... (2, Interesting)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369302)

... that copyright laws are fucked up and piracy is the necessary response. The fact that he's trying to submit and "be moral" to a bankrupt system of laws is the first problem. There is no ethical quandary here. Software licensing for unlimited time due to copyright has has always been a scam it prevents old software from being modified/studied/updated as well as preserving older applications. Companies would like to just sit on/throw away or control works for eternity.

The fact is you already live in a tyranny when you need "permission" to do things with things you already own or that should have legitimately become public domain after all these years. I'm not a believer in eternal rights for corporations and 'business people' that's our fundamental problem of this age - everyones sucking corporate capitalist dick and needs to get their heads read.

Did we not learn anything from DRM and stallman's prescient "Right to read"?

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html [gnu.org]

The next time you are thinking of "doing the right thing" by submitting to laws made by lobbyists and corporations and their supporters just remember this video about the secret (at the time) trillion dollar give-aways by the fed reserve to the banks and other corporations who had huge investments:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJqM2tFOxLQ [youtube.com]

These people don't give a shit about anyone but themselves they are greedy bastards.

Virtual Console (2)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369366)

AFAIK the easiest way to be legal about the whole thing would be to get a Nintendo Wii, wire your own arcade controls from a GameCube controller and get games from their Virtual Console service. The selection is extremely small if you compare to just finding ROM files from some place, but at least there's 29 Neo-Geo games and 19 arcade games [wikipedia.org] in the list.

Oddly enough, there's the SEGA Master System and the Turbografx-16 versions of R-Type, but not the original arcade version.

Infinite copyright? (1)

screwdriver (691980) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369372)

The real pirates here are the content producers and lobbyists who seem to think that copyright should be valid 20+ years after the game was created. I do not feel the least bit guilty for pirating a ROM for a game system that doesn't even exist anymore.

Masterbation (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#37369394)

If you have an ethical dillemma contact the rom copyright holders. If they cant be reached dont add the game or do, according to your conscience.

The TL:DR here is: The law is murky, there is no true authority to buy the ROMS, any money you pay will almost certainly not reach anyone truly relevant ot the game or anyone that is empowered to license the game.

Capcom's games were available purchace (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37369428)

Capcom had all of their arcade games available, bundled with one of the arcade style joysticks.

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