I was going to make my own post here, but I'll just quote jaybird3rd:
People are going to hate me for this, but I'll say it anyway.
This is one reason I'm not quite as sympathetic as I might otherwise be to those homebrew developers who have had their games dumped and resold or posted for free download. An awful lot of those games--and the ones that are apparently being pirated the most--are themselves carbon-copy clones of other games. It's one thing to do a game that is "inspired" by something that came before, as long as you at least try to add something creative and original to your version, but doing a complete ripoff with the exact same name and even the same box art as the original is clearly going over the line.
In my opinion, these homebrew developers don't have much of a leg to stand on, morally speaking. So some software pirate is unjustly making money off of their work. What about the money they are unjustly making off of the original designers' and creators' work? What about the people who own those properties today? Aren't their rights being trampled on, too? I know the standard answer is that those property owners are Big Evil Corporations and that nobody's going to be hurt by a little stealing from The Man. Maybe not, but that doesn't make it right.
I should point out that, if you are a creator of a truly original work that has been pirated, none of this applies to you, and your indignation is entirely justified. But to those who have "made their living" in the homebrew scene by ripping off other people's games, I can only say this: you have my sympathies if you end up losing money on materials and production, but don't expect me to cheer you on when you post an online tantrum about the "evil software pirates" who are "taking money out of your pocket." Perhaps they would be more respectful of your rights if you showed more respect for the rights of others. The language may be too strong, but the phrase "no honor among thieves" comes to mind here.
This applies for Halo 2600, and I couldn't agree more. It's one thing for Ed to make himself a little pseudo-Halo game for giggles, but to actually release it to the public is not OK, and actually charging $$ crosses the line big time.
Well, I figure, that's why you can freely download the ROM. Consider the price you pay for a physical cartridge as being just for expenses in creating the cart, not as an actual royalty to the coder.
It's the same thing for most homebrews, even non-derivative ones. That's because the motivation for someone to make a homebrew isn't really to make money from it. If it turns out the coder can make some money at the end as a bonus, sure that's great, but even when not, the homebrewer is pleased with his game "being out there".
Considering "derivative works" of this kind, there seems to be some kind of "unwritten law" that such things are okay, as long as it's non-profit. Sure, that is not legally true, so if the company which created the original content takes issue with it, it's their right to take legal action, and in fact, such things have happened (Usually it's smarter to ask for permission first). But it seems that more often than not they're okay with it, as long as it is non-profit. After all, it could even increase awareness of their franchise and hence increase their own profits in the long run.
Edited by Herbarius, Thu Aug 5, 2010 9:56 AM.