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View Full Version : Is it illegal to download a ROM image of a game you already own?


Prince_of_Light
April 16th, 2010, 03:16 PM
I've been reading some conflicting information about this, so maybe someone here could help me clear this up. I want to download because I have no way of dumping the ROMs from my own copies of the games (dumping your own ROMs from your own hard copy is DEFINITELY legal in the US).

If it's not legal, I think it's absolutely ridiculous that you can't download a digital copy of something that you can prove you own physically. That's like saying you can't download MP3's from a CD you own, but you can rip them all you want. The end result is still the same because you still own the game. It makes no sense.

EDIT: In this case, since my question is solved, let's make this thread a general discussion about the legality and ethical issues pertaining to ROMs. For fun's sake. =P

SIN1488
April 16th, 2010, 03:21 PM
I'll just say this, a ROM image is not a highly monitored thing, illegal or not. So the FBI is not going to break down your door for downloading this type of thing.

I'm not trying to tell you to do something illegal in any way, but I'm just saying if someone did they would not get in trouble for it.

Prince_of_Light
April 16th, 2010, 03:37 PM
I'll just say this, a ROM image is not a highly monitored thing, illegal or not. So the FBI is not going to break down your door for downloading this type of thing.

I'm not trying to tell you to do something illegal in any way, but I'm just saying if someone did they would not get in trouble for it.

I just like being on the right side of the law, lol. But if this is illegal I'd definitely lobby against it.

Team Rocket's Raichu
April 16th, 2010, 03:40 PM
It is still illegal, because you are playing the game under someone else's license to own and play the game. But if you were to make a ROM of your own game, then it wouldn't be illegal since it would be your license you are playing with.

SIN1488
April 16th, 2010, 03:43 PM
There are many stupid things that are illegal. Like for example, If I owned my own property, I couldn't make whatever obscene artwork I wanted, even if it was tucked away where only me or a guest could see it, just because it would be obscene enough to violate certain laws.

Prince_of_Light
April 16th, 2010, 03:53 PM
It is still illegal, because you are playing the game under someone else's license to own and play the game. But if you were to make a ROM of your own game, then it wouldn't be illegal since it would be your license you are playing with.

Thank you, that helps things. Guess I'll have to clear out my ROMs now. =(

There are many stupid things that are illegal. Like for example, If I owned my own property, I couldn't make whatever obscene artwork I wanted, even if it was tucked away where only me or a guest could see it, just because it would be obscene enough to violate certain laws.

LET'S LOBBY! lolz.

In this case, since my question is solved, let's make this thread a general discussion about the legality and ethical issues pertaining to ROMs. For fun's sake. =P

NarutoActor
April 16th, 2010, 07:15 PM
In some states you can't have ice cream in your back pocket.

But seriously it's like downloading music on Limewire. You can have it on a cd, but you still downloaded it.
If it is illegal, who cares? xD

Melody
April 16th, 2010, 07:15 PM
It is still illegal, because you are playing the game under someone else's license to own and play the game. But if you were to make a ROM of your own game, then it wouldn't be illegal since it would be your license you are playing with.

You are incorrect. It is perfectly legal to download a ROM of a game you physically own. Your license applies to the digital copy of the game as well.

However it IS ILLEGAL to SHARE your digital copy. It's not the downloader who is punished, it's the one sharing the ROM file.

Prince_of_Light
April 16th, 2010, 07:38 PM
You are incorrect. It is perfectly legal to download a ROM of a game you physically own. Your license applies to the digital copy of the game as well.

However it IS ILLEGAL to SHARE your digital copy. It's not the downloader who is punished, it's the one sharing the ROM file.

That's not what Nintendo says. lol.

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.

source: http://www.nintendo.com/corp/legal.jsp#download_rom

Chibi-chan
April 16th, 2010, 08:23 PM
All roms are illegal. Just buy the game again.

Prince_of_Light
April 16th, 2010, 08:49 PM
All roms are illegal. Just buy the game again.

My games work for the most part, thankfully. I took good care of my SNES. It's just irritating that you can't have multiple self-created copies of property you've paid for to be used for your own personal use. It's common sense. It's like telling people they can't make photocopies of a book and that you have to use the original book, and then when the book gets ruined since you can't make photocopies you have to go buy another one.

donavannj
April 16th, 2010, 08:52 PM
It's like telling people they can't make photocopies of a book and that you have to use the original book, and then when the book gets ruined you have to go buy another one.

Technically, you can't do this. :\

Prince_of_Light
April 16th, 2010, 08:53 PM
Technically, you can't do this. :\

The world doesn't make sense. DX

What I find strange though is how none of this holds true for music. It's probably because of the nature of digital media though; making copies is necessary for MP3 players to be functional. I found out you can even have a spare burned copy on another CD and an unlimited amount of MP3 copies as long as they're for your own personal use and provided all the copies were made off of the CD/MP3s you own.

However, downloading in all cases is illegal, even if you own the music already. This means if your CD busted and you have no MP3 copies that are made from that CD then you're stuck buying a new CD.

Kinda destroys the spirit of the law if you ask me.

Zet
April 16th, 2010, 10:01 PM
You are incorrect. It is perfectly legal to download a ROM of a game you physically own. Your license applies to the digital copy of the game as well.

However it IS ILLEGAL to SHARE your digital copy. It's not the downloader who is punished, it's the one sharing the ROM file.
I'm afraid you're wrong Mr. Pachy, it is illegal to do anything with roms... even making roms is illegal.

All roms are illegal. Just buy the game again.
Thank you for telling the truth, you shall be rewarded in the afterlife!

twocows
April 16th, 2010, 10:38 PM
It's more or less a legal gray area right now; for the most part, though, it's illegal. Doesn't mean it's wrong, though.

Team Rocket's Raichu
April 18th, 2010, 05:33 PM
I'm afraid you're wrong Mr. Pachy, it is illegal to do anything with roms... even making roms is illegal.

This is such a weird area. They area is such a grey one. In some states it is legal if you make your own. In others they are outright illegal.

The Supreme Court said it is illegal to make a ROM of a game if you put it on another cartridge. Though whether a computer, flash drive, or USB card would be considered is a cartridge is also grey.

They should make this black and white, not gray.

Zet
April 18th, 2010, 05:39 PM
This is such a weird area. They area is such a grey one. In some states it is legal if you make your own. In others they are outright illegal.

The Supreme Court said it is illegal to make a ROM of a game if you put it on another cartridge. Though whether a computer, flash drive, or USB card would be considered is a cartridge is also grey.

They should make this black and white, not gray.
For America maybe, but it is illegal completely outside of the US iirc

Alistair
April 18th, 2010, 07:09 PM
For America maybe, but it is illegal completely outside of the US iirc

Not necessarily. Copyright laws are different in every country. That's why The Pirate Bay was trying to buy an island.

But I would just assume it's illegal, to be honest. It's too up-in-the-air for a definitive answer.

Heart's Soul
April 19th, 2010, 09:08 AM
Well, it depends if you own a prototype game, but nobody will break into your house for downloading ROMs. I only download prototypes and betas and demos. Those are legal.

TheAppleFreak
April 19th, 2010, 03:17 PM
I think it's perfectly legal; that's why I back up all of my DVDs to my computer for safekeeping.

Zet
April 19th, 2010, 04:04 PM
Well, it depends if you own a prototype game, but nobody will break into your house for downloading ROMs. I only download prototypes and betas and demos. Those are legal.

Wouldn't they only be disclosed to a certain group of people and not given away to everyone?

Alistair
April 19th, 2010, 04:47 PM
Fair use on the grounds of preservation purposes would like to say "Hi." But even then, it's still not clearly defined and could go either way.

Heart's Soul
April 21st, 2010, 06:47 PM
Wouldn't they only be disclosed to a certain group of people and not given away to everyone?

I could go into the case of STARFOX2 for Japan which was released as a ROM online, it was legal to download, and we got an English patch.

Yusshin
April 22nd, 2010, 11:19 AM
You can make copies of your game for yourself only as long as you've bought the product already. You can't give the copies to friends, though, and you certainly can't sell'em. If you don't own the product, it's illegal to download it.

Some companies don't even permit back-ups, like Nintendo ($.$); Sony and Microsoft don't really care, as long as you buy the game once.

All Nintendo game handbooks state specifically that back-ups "are not needed". That message is not on Sony or Microsoft games.

JakeyBoy
April 22nd, 2010, 11:32 AM
For all saying you can make your own backups, I've read elsewhere that that isn't even true either. I'll have to find that quote.
Anyway, not encouraging you or anything, but I can't say I've heard of a case where the downloader was prosecuted.

Archer
April 23rd, 2010, 04:34 AM
For all saying you can make your own backups, I've read elsewhere that that isn't even true either. I'll have to find that quote.
Anyway, not encouraging you or anything, but I can't say I've heard of a case where the downloader was prosecuted.
Precedent doesn't mean a whole lot, with ACTA's introduction and the constantly changing state of copyright laws.

As far as I understand, it's legalish to make copies of software where you're paying for the license and the disc is only installation media, such as Windows. With games, consoles in particular, you're paying for both the media and the license to use it. In which case, it's illegal to make backups, especially considering, unlike the tape-driven media that probably gave birth the need for backups has died out. Unless you are careless, CDs and cartridges won't perish over time, so they're the same as any other product. You can't photocopy a book incase it gets trashed.

Play it safe.

Alistair
April 23rd, 2010, 04:46 AM
Actually, all physical media deteriorates over time. It's usually a long process, but it does happen. This is one reason why I back up all my programs on my computer.

But JakeBoy, it would be nice to provide a link.

Heart's Soul
April 24th, 2010, 08:27 AM
Well, I'm a member on a site where informing about downloading ROMs is illegal and this is an interesting quote, to say the least.

So, what exactly do we consider "piracy talk"?

1) Discussing "rom files" and "specific dumps". "Roms" (while technically correct) has a nasty connectation to it. When you say "I'm trying to get Pokemon Platinum roms to work" that has a much different implied meaning than "I dumped my Pokemon Platinum cart using NDS Backup and I can't get it to save properly". The former says "I used Google to find an illegal rom image of the game and I can't get it to work" .. the latter says "I'm using CycloDS in a legal manner to run my own backups". When you say "I'm using the (E) dump" (or even spelling it out completely) that says "I'm not using my own dump" - which again, implies piracy. Have you noticed that flash cart developers never refer to games by their names? Always by "scene release" number? There is a reason. Referring to a game as "3142" is a lot better than referencing the full name.

2) Discussing games that have not yet hit street date. GTA and Pokemon Platinum are examples of games that "leaked" before street date. And the former had issues with all flash carts. This lead to "massive" piracy talk on the TC forums which surely attracted the attention of Rockstar AND Nintendo. Saying you can't get "Game X" to run - and the game isn't even out yet - is akin to putting on a pirate hat, a peg leg AND hoisting a jolly roger flag into the air. There is NO OTHER WAY to take this discussion other than BLATENT PIRACY. The GTA "discussion" took it further; people pointed to cracks, patched roms and even BLATENT posts on how to crack certain copies of the game. 100% intolerable. Several bans were issued, several infractions were issued and threads were locked and/or deleted.

3) Discussion that APPEARS TO and SMELLS LIKE piracy. Yes, this is a very GRAY area and as such, we mods tend to take a more gentle hand than with people posting links to roms, etc. Let me give you an example.

"i just downloaded gta from a good site and it doesnt work"

Ok, that might be a little blatent - but you get the idea. This is better:

"Game 3123 gives two black screens when hitting AUTOSAVE"

See how there is NO reference to downloading, piracy sites there? As a bonus, the name isn't revealed (trust me, the TC team knows what you mean) AND you actually gave some USEFUL information about what doesn't work. Finally, what *I* would like to see:

"I dumped my copy of game 3123 using NDS Backup Wifi, it's untrimmed - and using the latest beta firmware v1.54b4, it two black screens after the autosave".

The team (and those here that want to help you) now have all the information. We know the dump is "legit", we know it's not tainted by "hackz0rs", we know HOW you got it, what beta build you're using AND exactly what happens - and when. We also know that if you dumped it yourself that you aren't using some sort of "beta" or "alpha" that some disgrunted ex-employee of Rockstar stole and released as a retalitory strike.

Now -- all of this sounds great, but I guarentee that 5 minutes after I post this, each and every rule here will be broken. Myself, as a mod, am going to get MUCH MORE involved with moderation here, and I'm going to do my best to enforce these concepts (unless of course, TC tells me different - but I suspect they won't). There are far too many "useless" posts with regards to compatibility issues - and many of the "useless" posts are filled with piracy references. My guess is - if we fix the piracy posts, that "useless" postings will go down too.


This is taken from my flashcartridge's forums. It's an interesting read, to say the least. Full link (http://teamcyclops.com/forum/showthread.php?t=10990)

Yusshin
April 24th, 2010, 09:10 AM
I don't think you need to worry, unless you're in a country like Germany or Switzerland.

In Canada, those laws are really lightly looked on. I download games all of the time - Sims 3 + Expansions, and my Sims 2 + 90% of ITS expansions, Street Fighter IV for Xbox 360, etc. - and nothing happens to me. Just don't sell'em or give away copies. If a game deserves to be bought, though, always buy it.

Xbox 360 nabbed a bunch of people with Assassin's Creed II lol It was burned on a special type of disc that people weren't aware of, and when they inserted it and went online, they got banned for life.

>> Microsoft got lots of threats after that. They banned a few million users.

daabomb101
April 24th, 2010, 11:34 PM
in America, things are only illegal if there are no ramifications

it will be sad when stealing things on the internet is no longer universal

Heart's Soul
April 25th, 2010, 09:39 AM
I don't think you need to worry, unless you're in a country like Germany or Switzerland.

In Canada, those laws are really lightly looked on. I download games all of the time - Sims 3 + Expansions, and my Sims 2 + 90% of ITS expansions, Street Fighter IV for Xbox 360, etc. - and nothing happens to me. Just don't sell'em or give away copies. If a game deserves to be bought, though, always buy it.

Xbox 360 nabbed a bunch of people with Assassin's Creed II lol It was burned on a special type of disc that people weren't aware of, and when they inserted it and went online, they got banned for life.

>> Microsoft got lots of threats after that. They banned a few million users.

Yeah, they installed a new update to XBox Live which analyzes the insides of an XBox360 and now people who modded their console are screwed. But I love this country (Canada) as the laws are rarely forced upon us on downloading material. My dad downloaded huge amounts of information, though. Temporarily, but it's nice to see our laws are light.

PkMnTrainer Yellow
May 1st, 2010, 07:36 AM
All roms are illegal. Just buy the game again.

No they are not. Please, don't lie or submit opinions on what you believe the law is.

My understanding of ROMs says that you have to own the original to be able to own a ROM legally. However, Nintendo appears to have made up their own rule about it, which is unquestionably the correct rule.

It clearly states that the ROM must be made from your own cartridge for it to be legal. This means no you cannot download a ROM. You can however dump a ROM from your own cartridge and use it.

ROMs are no more illegal than a copyrighted MP3, essentially.

I'd like to point out that Nintendo cannot really prove whether it's from your cartridge or not. They don't use keys or any sort of ID that could help them do this at this time.

FreakyLocz14
May 1st, 2010, 11:14 AM
It's legal in the US to back-up YOUR OWN game but it's almost always illegal to get a ROM image elsewhere. This is a federal law so it doesn't vary state to state. Also, when you start sharing your originally legit copy you're breaking the law as well.
I don't know about international laws on this issue though.

Heart's Soul
May 1st, 2010, 05:47 PM
Many countries (like Canada and S.Korea) are very lax on the subject. My friend went to S.Korea and took a few videos. I noticed that 80% of kids had a R4 in their NDS/NDSLite systems. About every 20th kid had a better card or a knock-off.

Australia is now gone from the list (the loser just HAD to say his address when he uploaded New Super Mario Bros. Wii) and Japan is getting tighter.

InMooseWeTrust
May 2nd, 2010, 11:39 AM
If you're familiar with the responses to DRM (Google "09 F9" and the history of The Pirate Bay), the established industries are fighting a losing battle. Whether it's illegal and you believe it's right or not, ROM's are here to stay. That's just it. They're staying, and making the internet totalitarian will not change anything. A certain amount of piracy will always exist.

Prince_of_Light
May 4th, 2010, 07:18 PM
No they are not. Please, don't lie or submit opinions on what you believe the law is.

My understanding of ROMs says that you have to own the original to be able to own a ROM legally. However, Nintendo appears to have made up their own rule about it, which is unquestionably the correct rule.

It clearly states that the ROM must be made from your own cartridge for it to be legal. This means no you cannot download a ROM. You can however dump a ROM from your own cartridge and use it.

ROMs are no more illegal than a copyrighted MP3, essentially.

I'd like to point out that Nintendo cannot really prove whether it's from your cartridge or not. They don't use keys or any sort of ID that could help them do this at this time.

It's legal in the US to back-up YOUR OWN game but it's almost always illegal to get a ROM image elsewhere. This is a federal law so it doesn't vary state to state. Also, when you start sharing your originally legit copy you're breaking the law as well.
I don't know about international laws on this issue though.

I found out that it invalidates your license if you play the game on "unauthorized hardware or software". Which means you can't use an emulator or a PC to play a game designed for another system. The only thing you can do is have a backed up copy of the game in case there is some kind of malfunction or corruption with the memory in the game so that you can replace the data. This doesn't allow you to actually play the rom on your computer.

ANARCHit3cht
May 4th, 2010, 07:22 PM
You can have a back-up, just not play it. But I mean, who is going to know? It isn't like they have radars. Police won't come to your door and kick it in... so honestly.. there isn't much to worry about.

Ricochet Orange
May 4th, 2010, 08:03 PM
Depends on where you live. Where I am I believe that it's legal to download the ROM if you own a legit copy.

Usually I only download ROMS to play Pokemon Hacks. Or really old stuff/stuff that can't be bought new anymore. Like old games.

Innocence
May 4th, 2010, 08:09 PM
Australia is now gone from the list (the loser just HAD to say his address when he uploaded New Super Mario Bros. Wii) and Japan is getting tighter.

I'm pretty sure if that exact scenario had happened in the US, something similar would've happened. It'd be too hard for Nintendo to resist. He was in a vulnerable position in the open, he had uploaded it BEFORE the release date, and he had made his address known.

FreakyLocz14
May 4th, 2010, 09:57 PM
You can have a back-up, just not play it. But I mean, who is going to know? It isn't like they have radars. Police won't come to your door and kick it in... so honestly.. there isn't much to worry about.

It's highly unlikely but it could happen. The local police don't worry themeselves with these issues its the Feds you have to worry about but if they do just kick your door in they've violated several of your constitutional rights.

I found out that it invalidates your license if you play the game on "unauthorized hardware or software". Which means you can't use an emulator or a PC to play a game designed for another system. The only thing you can do is have a backed up copy of the game in case there is some kind of malfunction or corruption with the memory in the game so that you can replace the data. This doesn't allow you to actually play the rom on your computer.

I know it's only suppose to be for back-up purposes. Reminds me of that South Park episode where the stars were so hurt by illegal music downloading that they had to settle for $10 million mansions instead of $15 million mansions. Oh, the humanity! (sarcasm)