Well, it`s not black and white; just a potential legal argument. And Bambauer is quick to admit that it`s not perfect. A common argument online is that extracting a ROM from a cartridge you own is completely legal, but downloading a ROM from the Internet is a crime. Devices like the $60 Retrode allow anyone to extract a Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis game via USB and cite their legality to downloads as a major selling point. After all, ripping a CD you own using iTunes or other software is generally considered legal, at least in the United States. Developers have developed excellent emulators that, in some cases, work better than officially licensed emulators. Mesen is widely regarded as one of the most accurate NES emulators on the market. The program is available in two variants: Vanilla Mesen for NES games and Mesen-S for SNES, Game Boy and Game Boy Color titles. In addition, Mesen is compatible with more than 290 titles. «If you are the rightful owner of a computer program, you may sell or transfer that legal copy with a legally created backup copy of the Software, but you may not sell the backup copy alone. Such activity not only constitutes a violation of the right of exclusive distribution, but is also likely to constitute a violation of the terms of the software license. You should be wary of websites that offer to sell you a backup copy. And if you buy an illegal backup copy, you will commit copyright infringement if you download that illegal copy to your computer… Things are starting to get dark as companies ship handhelds with tons of PRE-installed ROMs.
It`s not legal, although that doesn`t seem to stop many handheld manufacturers from doing it anyway. «On the one hand, there is no amount of money that allows me to get a legal copy of this game,» Bambauer said. «On the other side of the argument, there`s what Disney is doing.» Disney`s strategy is to put classic movies «in the safe» for a long period of time. Instead of constantly leaving movies on the market, they republish them regularly, which increases demand and increases sales when that release actually arrives. Because of these different design philosophies, some emulators are better than others. Even those who try to emulate titles as «simple» as some of the best NES games will find that there is a pretty drastic difference between a good NES emulator and a single one that doesn`t work technically. Since this is the case, here are the best emulators for anyone who is in the mood for some NES games. But why wait for companies to re-release these games when ROMs and emulators are available, when you`ve already purchased the game on a previous system and want to play it on a new console or PC? There are a lot of grey areas. If you physically own a game, you will probably emulate or own a ROM of the game. However, there is no precedent in the United States for saying it is illegal. There is no lawsuit about a company going to court about emulators or ROMs and their use. That being said, not everyone has the setup to create their own ROMs and emulators for all the games they already own, and that`s where third-party download sites come in.
However, keep in mind that while you can defend your right to own and use emulators and ROMs for games you already own, it may be illegal to distribute them in your country (in this case, download or offer to download them for others to download). Check your local laws before downloading the software. What is actually illegal is downloading the games themselves, not the emulators. As long as you use legitimate copies with some of the many emulators freely available on the internet, you are legally clear. One interesting thing to note is that you are quite within your right to save your games digitally. As long as you do not redistribute or sell the files in a digital or physical capacity and the files are copied for personal use only, you are always clear. To find out, we asked Derek E. Bambauer, who teaches Internet law and intellectual property at the University of Arizona School of Law.