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It's evil to steal a homebrew ROM, but not from Nintendo?

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Everyone who orders the Ultimate SD Cartridge will receive full digital editions of:

 

  • Mario Brothers (128K MEGA-CART Game)
  • Mr. Chin

These are the same games that are currently selling for over $50 each in boxed cartridge form!

 

 

 

========================

 

 

Did you guys downloading this pay Nintendo a royalty for selling their game?

 

 

is there some king of patent that ran out on mario bros that makes it ok?

 

 

school me.

Edited by revolutionika

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You make a valid point, and I think I see where you're going. But I think the difference is in defense. Nintendo isn't asking for royalties on projects like Mario Brothers. The royalties would cost Nintendo more to cash the check than the check was written for. Figure a homebrew may sell, what-- 200 copies on a GREAT title? Royalties at even a $1 a copy (which is high I'd think), come to $200. I don't think Nintendo's accounting department would even know how to deal with *just* a three-digit number-- in units or in dollars. :)

 

However Collectorvision is trying to defend their product, even if it was based on a Nintendo property. They still have significant time and money tied up in their hobby related project that they deserve to get a return on. I'm not suggesting huge profits, but at least get their money back for time and materials. If they don't, then you kill the homebrew scene, and you never see Donkey Kong 3 or Demolition Derby on Colecovision and the system dies with only the currently existing games.

Edited by Murph74
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Everyone who orders the Ultimate SD Cartridge will receive full digital editions of:

 

  • Mario Brothers (128K MEGA-CART Game)
  • Mr. Chin

These are the same games that are currently selling for over $50 each in boxed cartridge form!

Did you guys downloading this pay Nintendo a royalty for selling their game?

 

is there some king of patent that ran out on mario bros that makes it ok?

 

school me.

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.

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Both games are copyrighted right?

 

I don't see a problem if the sellers aren't making any profits out of it.

I think homebrewing is the worst-paying job possible :)

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Is David H. your friend? It seems you live in the same State.

 

 

I partially agree with you. You just forget one point, contrary to your belief Homebrew Developper and publisher does not really make money.

 

The small benefit they do (when they does) is re-invested in material to be able to publish the next title.

 

They have even not enough money to pay promised royalties to developper...

 

It is just an hobby even if the quality of certain production looks really professionnal.

 

So it is really pity that some guy ruins the motivation of others by acting like that.

Edited by youki
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Is David H. your friend? It seems you live in the same State.

 

Me? I have never met him, I do not know him. Never purchased anything from him.

or maybe you were talking about someone else.

 

 

 

On topic: What is more important. Principle or money.

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I think I can sum it up like this:

 

It's only illegal to steal something or matters when a fictional entity (such as a corporation) or otherwise, still cares and is active in suing :lol:

Edited by save2600

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I think I can sum it up like this:

 

It's only illegal to steal something or matters when a fictional entity (such as a corporation) or otherwise, still cares and is active in suing :lol:

 

:thumbsup:

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Is David H. your friend? It seems you live in the same State.

 

Me? I have never met him, I do not know him. Never purchased anything from him.

or maybe you were talking about someone else.

 

 

 

On topic: What is more important. Principle or money.

 

Not you , i answered to jaybird3rd.

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Is David H. your friend? It seems you live in the same State.

No. I didn't even know who he was before today; I'm not a ColecoVision fan and haven't followed the ColecoVision scene closely, so I'm not familiar with any of the people in it.

 

 

I partially agree with you. You just forget one point, contrary to your belief Homebrew Developper and publisher does not really make money.

 

The small benefit they do (when they does) is re-invested in material to be able to publish the next title.

I have two responses to this argument.

 

The first is that homebrew developers aren't entitled to do what they like with someone else's intellectual property just because they aren't making any money in the process, or just because the property owners don't seem interested in suing them over it. The fact that there are no profits involved isn't going to stop Nintendo or anybody else from issuing a cease and desist letter, which they will inevitably do if the community continues to skirt the law so close to the edge. And even if the developers/publishers of ripoff games do re-invest whatever money they make in other projects instead of pocketing it, that's still an economic benefit that they are deriving from someone else's work.

 

Secondly, I have to wonder whether the developers and publishers (especially the publishers) are really coming out of this with no profits whatsoever, as they claim. I've gotten into cartridge production myself recently, having designed a new cartridge board for the Mattel Aquarius and having supplied other cartridge materials for homebrew publishers, and I think I have a pretty good sense of the economic side of that part of the hobby.

 

(EDIT: I originally posted some numbers based on my own experience building/designing cartridges, but I can't claim to know what the publishers' expenses are, so it's all speculation. Without getting into specifics, suffice it to say that at $50 per cartridge, there's plenty of room for at least some profits to be made.)

 

Now, I'm not demonizing the making of profit, but I do have a problem when people make a profit while they claim to be making no profit, and especially when they do it by copying someone else's work. That applies to pirates who sell software they don't own without the owners' permission, but it also applies to developers and publishers who produce blatant ripoffs of other games. I think we all understand by now that this is ethically dubious, if not outright illegal.

 

So it is really pity that some guy ruins the motivation of others by acting like that.

I agree. Whether the games that were pirated were originals or clones of other games, it was wrong to pirate them, and I'd hate to see this result in developers getting discouraged and leaving the scene. That's one reason I've always said that homebrew developers should be producing more original games instead of relying so heavily on ports. There's more artistic integrity in doing original work, and there's much less legal risk. And, if/when they do make any money off of their work, they don't have to hide it for fear of being sued over it; they can take pride in doing so, because they will have legitimately earned it.

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Is David H. your friend? It seems you live in the same State.

No. I didn't even know who he was before today; I'm not a ColecoVision fan and haven't followed the ColecoVision scene closely, so I'm not familiar with any of the people in it.

 

 

I partially agree with you. You just forget one point, contrary to your belief Homebrew Developper and publisher does not really make money.

 

The small benefit they do (when they does) is re-invested in material to be able to publish the next title.

I have two responses to this argument.

 

The first is that homebrew developers aren't entitled to do what they like with someone else's intellectual property just because they aren't making any money in the process, or just because the property owners don't seem interested in suing them over it. The fact that the programmers aren't making a profit isn't going to stop Nintendo or anybody else from issuing a cease and desist letter, which they will inevitably do if the community continues to skirt the law so close to the edge. And even if they do re-invest whatever money they make in other projects instead of pocketing it, that's still an economic benefit that they are deriving from someone else's work.

 

Secondly, I have to wonder whether the developers and publishers (especially the publishers) are really coming out of this with no profit, as they claim. I've gotten into cartridge production myself recently, having designed a new cartridge board for the Mattel Aquarius and having supplied other cartridge materials for homebrew publishers, and I think I have a pretty good sense of the economic side of that part of the hobby.

 

(EDIT: I originally posted some numbers based on my own experience building/designing cartridges, but I can't claim to know what the publishers' expenses are, so it's all speculation. Without getting into specifics, suffice it to say that at $50 per cartridge, there's plenty of room for at least some profits to be made.)

 

Now, I don't have any problem with publishers or developers making money off of their labor, but I do have a problem if they do it while claiming to be making no money, and when they do it by copying someone else's work. That applies to pirates who sell software they don't own without the owners' permission, but it also applies to developers and publishers who produce blatant ripoffs of other games. I think we all understand by now that this is ethically dubious, if not outright illegal.

 

So it is really pity that some guy ruins the motivation of others by acting like that.

I totally agree. Whether the games that were pirated were originals or clones of other games, it was totally wrong to pirate them, and I'd hate to see this result in developers getting discouraged and leaving the scene. That's one reason I've always said that homebrew developers should be producing more original games instead of relying so heavily on ports. There's more artistic integrity in doing original work, and there's much less legal risk.

 

 

Production cost depends heavly on the country and the number of cart produced.

I wanted to publish myself my first game for colecovision Ghost'n Zombie (fyi: it is an original game strongly inspired from Ghost'n goblins... not a port at all ) , i wanted produce 50 carts . If i produced that in my country ONE cartridge (boxed with manual) would cost me about 150 euros (about 195 USD).

Of course if i would produce 10 000 carts the cost would decrease drastically...

 

But i totally agree on legal aspect and that we should do original game. The problem is that doing an original game that "works" (i mean in term of gameplay) it is very difficult. It is lot of easier to get existing gameplay that people like to make a fun game.

 

My next game is totally original , not a port and not "strongly" inspired of something. Except that there is also legal issue due to the theme of the game. But doing that was lot harder than doing my Ghost'n Zombies. no for technical reason. Just because i had to create the gameplay.

 

And for "publisher", i think it is lot of easier to sell something known that something totally new and unknown.

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Production cost depends heavly on the country and the number of cart produced.

I wanted to publish myself my first game for colecovision Ghost'n Zombie (fyi: it is an original game strongly inspired from Ghost'n goblins... not a port at all ) , i wanted produce 50 carts . If i produced that in my country ONE cartridge (boxed with manual) would cost me about 150 euros (about 195 USD).

I'm surprised it's that expensive. Now that there have been new ColecoVision cartridge boards made, I would think that a fully-populated and programmed ColecoVision cartridge (with a shell from an old donor) would only cost a few dollars to put together. Of course, the packaging would add a lot more to that, but I've never had boxes/manuals/labels made before, so I can't speak to those costs.

 

As a slight aside, I sometimes wonder why the producers of homebrew games spend quite as much time and money as they do on fancy packaging. I can certainly appreciate that full-color boxes and labels add an element of professionalism, but they don't really add anything to the gameplay experience, which to me should be the most important part. When the expense of making a fancy box prevents new homebrewers from entering the market, I have to wonder whether it's worth it. In the old days, small publishers got by with plastic bags and black-and-white manuals and labels, and as a consumer, I'd be perfectly happy with that if I enjoyed the game (and if cheaper packaging lowered the price enough to let me buy more games). I'd actually like to see homebrewers experiment more with digital distribution, especially since there is now a significant percentage of the marketplace which is able to play the games through emulation and multi-carts.

 

But i totally agree on legal aspect and that we should do original game. The problem is that doing an original game that "works" (i mean in term of gameplay) it is very difficult. It is lot of easier to get existing gameplay that people like to make a fun game.

 

My next game is totally original , not a port and not "strongly" inspired of something. Except that there is also legal issue due to the theme of the game. But doing that was lot harder than doing my Ghost'n Zombies. no for technical reason. Just because i had to create the gameplay.

 

And for "publisher", i think it is lot of easier to sell something known that something totally new and unknown.

I understand. I certainly didn't mean to imply that your game is a "ripoff," and to be honest, any one of us who sits down to try to design a game from scratch is bound to be at least somewhat influenced by what we've played before, whether we're consciously aware of it or not. One can hardly criticize that. My concern is more about the very non-creative, pixel-perfect recreations, like the ones I linked to earlier. They're bound to invite legal scrutiny, and I think they're actually more likely to be pirated than original games, because they're already so familiar to the kinds of people who go hunting around on warez sites. Those people are looking for games they already know.

 

I certainly recognize that original games are harder to sell, but what should homebrew game development be about? Is it about selling lots of cartridges, or is it about the joy of accomplishing something creative on a platform that we love? Sales are important to help motivate developers to keep on creating, to be sure, but there are so few homebrews being made and the audiences are always so eager to see new product, so I don't think developers should be as afraid of doing original games as they seem to be. There will always be a receptive audience for them. I've gotten lots of positive feedback over the work I've been doing on the Mattel Aquarius, and compared to the ColecoVision, that's as obscure a platform as is possible to imagine.

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I agree in spirit, that if someone were to 'rip off' a title and mass produce it and sell it at retail for a modern system, then yes they'd be a hands down offender.

 

But based on the 1976 Copyright Act, "the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work" must be considered when defining infringement. And I'd be hard pressed to see where Nintendo could make a legal claim that 100 copies of a cartridge on a 28 year old dead system is somehow negatively affecting the Mario franchise's value. And there is certainly no intent to do harm to those who may lay copyright claim.

 

I've said it in another thread, and I'll repeat the thought here. I see the homebrewers not a profiteering entities, but as hobbyist who enjoy the challenge of showing what a system is capable of and pushing it's limits using modern resources. It's like fantasy for classic gamers. The "what-if" of Coleco releasing PMC as we know it today in 1985. The "oh wow!" factor of knowing our system of choice can play a good game of Mario Bros.

 

And just a minor note, based on an earlier quote in this thread (which I happened to be reminded of in the 'other' thread before I read up on this one-- great minds!), I don't think it's "No honor among thieves", I've always understood it to be the exact opposite-- There *is* honor among thieves.... "Thieves are never rogues among themselves". :)

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Is David H. your friend? It seems you live in the same State.

No. I didn't even know who he was before today; I'm not a ColecoVision fan and haven't followed the ColecoVision scene closely, so I'm not familiar with any of the people in it.

 

 

I partially agree with you. You just forget one point, contrary to your belief Homebrew Developper and publisher does not really make money.

 

The small benefit they do (when they does) is re-invested in material to be able to publish the next title.

I have two responses to this argument.

 

The first is that homebrew developers aren't entitled to do what they like with someone else's intellectual property just because they aren't making any money in the process, or just because the property owners don't seem interested in suing them over it. The fact that there are no profits involved isn't going to stop Nintendo or anybody else from issuing a cease and desist letter, which they will inevitably do if the community continues to skirt the law so close to the edge. And even if the developers/publishers of ripoff games do re-invest whatever money they make in other projects instead of pocketing it, that's still an economic benefit that they are deriving from someone else's work.

 

Secondly, I have to wonder whether the developers and publishers (especially the publishers) are really coming out of this with no profits whatsoever, as they claim. I've gotten into cartridge production myself recently, having designed a new cartridge board for the Mattel Aquarius and having supplied other cartridge materials for homebrew publishers, and I think I have a pretty good sense of the economic side of that part of the hobby.

 

(EDIT: I originally posted some numbers based on my own experience building/designing cartridges, but I can't claim to know what the publishers' expenses are, so it's all speculation. Without getting into specifics, suffice it to say that at $50 per cartridge, there's plenty of room for at least some profits to be made.)

 

Now, I'm not demonizing the making of profit, but I do have a problem when people make a profit while they claim to be making no profit, and especially when they do it by copying someone else's work. That applies to pirates who sell software they don't own without the owners' permission, but it also applies to developers and publishers who produce blatant ripoffs of other games. I think we all understand by now that this is ethically dubious, if not outright illegal.

 

So it is really pity that some guy ruins the motivation of others by acting like that.

I totally agree. Whether the games that were pirated were originals or clones of other games, it was totally wrong to pirate them, and I'd hate to see this result in developers getting discouraged and leaving the scene. That's one reason I've always said that homebrew developers should be producing more original games instead of relying so heavily on ports. There's more artistic integrity in doing original work, and there's much less legal risk. And, if/when they do make any money off of their work, they don't have to hide it for fear of being sued over it; they can take pride in doing so, because they will have legitimately earned it.

 

Jay, i agree with everything you have said. i just don't have the patience to type it all out like you have.

 

to the homebrewers: i love the fact that you guys make games that were never out on a certain system. i own some of them,but dont forget that you dont own it either,so you cant really be that mad if someone rips off the game that you ripped off and puts it on an SD card that goes into a multicart that was designed for this exact purpose. (this only applies to ports, not original homebrews of course)

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why is it ok if this person makes a pacman collection for CV. last time i checked namco owned this property.

 

i guess it is ok if they dont make a profit and put it on a dead system....

 

 

My link

 

 

 

ps. i do own this collection for colecovision, i bought it from opcode. so why in the world would i be complaining? i never thought about publishing rights until the colecovision thread.

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I think the bigger picture is being lost. For a minute, forget about the homebrew issue.

 

***** Someone is selling ROMs, scanned manuals, and box art. *****

 

That is, and always has been, a big no no. It doesn't matter if you're in the collector, gamer, or emulation communities, everyone knows that you aren't supposed to do that.

 

None, repeat *none* of that material belongs to the person selling it. It doesn't matter how much time he put into the project, there is no legal justification *ever* for doing that.

 

I don't even know anyone who would admit to thinking that it is OK to sell ROMs, scanned manuals, and box art. That's pretty low, like those guys who used to hang out at gas stations selling VHS screeners of recently released movies.

 

Nitpick over the homebrew issue all you want, but don't loose the bigger picture.

Edited by akator
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If you think companies don't care, I want to bring something to your attention : a few years ago, right there on AtariAge, Atari did complain about using their trademarks sush as Breakout for the homebrew games and asked to fix that in order to publish these new games. a couple of programmers, including myself, had to make a modification in the title of their homebrew games in order to be allowed to publish them. So, we can't predict what could happend in the future and we can't say for sure that companies like Nintendo will never be interested on what is going on in the ColecoVision scene.

 

I don't want the ColecoVision homebrew scene to stop because of discussion regarding copyrighted material. After all these years doing my best to keep going and help other programmers with documentations, answering questions and making a devkit with tools a more, I wish that the Colecovision homebrew scene will stay alive... it's a fun hobby, if we don'T consider the countless number of hours that every projects need to be good.

 

PkK asked for permission to do some projects, and it's a good way to make homebrew games and stay in the legal terms.

 

I think homebrewers are taking a lot of risks to satisfy their own and also fans expectations. I prefer to keep trying to make more original games, even if it's very difficult starting from scratch.

 

And selling someone else work for money is not right.

At the same time, it's not possible to defend the homebrewer position when talking about intellectual property we accuse others to steal for their own benifits... because it's not our intellectual property. Legaly, there is no defense possible; we can just expect to have a good talk with that person and resolve the issue in private... not by doing legal actions like filling a DMCA claim, there is a risk I don't want any of us implied to.

Edited by newcoleco

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For what it's worth, escalating this has no good ending. None.

 

Truth is, the people who put the time into creating the stuff that's in the package being discussed don't want it sold that way.

 

Isn't that enough?

 

It really should be, and that's the whole problem right there.

 

Akator has it right on -->repeat *none* of that material belongs to the person selling it. It doesn't matter how much time he put into the project, there is no legal justification *ever* for doing that.

 

You can't make the package and e-mail it, without somebody somewhere putting down some serious sweat to create the stuff, and so there has got to be some respect for that, or this will end badly for all involved.

 

Why not solve this old school and just try to not fuck each other over, keep this stuff under the radar, and we all have fun, huh?

 

Isn't there a quiet conversation that can happen, where this all just goes away, the right thing gets done, and we all move on? Damn right there is, so please go and do it.

 

Nobody even really has to know. Just go off and do it, and ask Al to help clean up the mess here when it's settled proper. Seriously.

 

Some of us will just put stuff out there, and it's fun and nobody cares. I did that, and I don't care. Others won't, and it's their right, and not something to judge them on. That's just how it is.

 

If this kind of thing is going to get serious --as in noticed, with actual official proceedings, or a big, ugly scene involving money, bad things are going to happen --the kind of bad things that nobody wants. And those bad things impact the scene in general, not just the Coleco part of it.

 

:)

 

IMHO, we could be reading the beginnings of the end of this hobby in this thread. Think long and hard about that. Know that I am. I'm gonna remember who and how it happened too. That's not a threat, nor anything personal. It's just life. Think about it.

 

Somebody who knows somebody else, please go have a nice talk about this stuff. Talk about where the material in that package comes from, and what it means to everyone involved. Talk about how people prefer to be remembered too. That's got to count for something, or what we have now isn't worth anything, and that's a really saddening thought on this Friday evening.

 

There are some really easy ways to fix this, and they all involve just stepping up and doing the right thing. It's not hard, and nobody has to know. Just go do it, off out of the spotlight and fix it. Please.

 

Peace all.

Edited by potatohead
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I think the bigger picture is being lost. For a minute, forget about the homebrew issue.

 

***** Someone is selling ROMs, scanned manuals, and box art. *****

 

That is, and always has been, a big no no. It doesn't matter if you're in the collector, gamer, or emulation communities, everyone knows that you aren't supposed to do that.

 

None, repeat *none* of that material belongs to the person selling it. It doesn't matter how much time he put into the project, there is no legal justification *ever* for doing that.

 

I don't even know anyone who would admit to thinking that it is OK to sell ROMs, scanned manuals, and box art. That's pretty low, like those guys who used to hang out at gas stations selling VHS screeners of recently released movies.

 

Nitpick over the homebrew issue all you want, but don't loose the bigger picture.

 

 

How about this.... Don't look at it as David Harley(or similar guys) selling the actual ROMS. He is providing a service to people like me who have NO CLUE how to download a ROM onto a multi cart or SD card. All you other guys probably know how to do it. I do not.

 

David Harley also sells a Micro SD card for the Intellivision cuttle cart with all the games and homebrews for a price and it includes the SD card as well. I dont think he is making a ton of money for doing this.

Anyway for a guy like me it is worth it.

Edited by revolutionika

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I just noticed that the Pac Man Collection for CV has a Copyright symbol next to Opcode. How did Opcode get permission from Namco to make that?

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Er, and what's the problem? We all know copyrighted works are copyrighted works. Like Mickey Mouse, everything has at least 70 years of protection. We can't mess with Nintendos IP. We can't pirate their games or infringe on their copyrights.

 

Just don't buy the guys product and stay clean kids. Buy a Retrode and legally rip your ROMs. 'Nuff said.

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Er, and what's the problem? We all know copyrighted works are copyrighted works. Like Mickey Mouse, everything has at least 70 years of protection. We can't mess with Nintendos IP. We can't pirate their games or infringe on their copyrights.

 

Just don't buy the guys product and stay clean kids. Buy a Retrode and legally rip your ROMs. 'Nuff said.

 

whats a retrode? so, people only use the retrode to back up their personal copies of games and NEVER use it to make rom copies for other people to download or to make reproductions.

because everyone is so honest. give me a break :roll:

 

 

 

found it:

The Retrode is for you if…

 

  • you like playing legacy video games on your PC, and doing so legally
  • you want to preserve your investment in these games, even after all hardware has expired
  • you want to back up your game progress, e.g. before replacing the cartridge battery
  • you like emulator cheats, but prefer to finish the boss on the real console
  • you simply think it’s cool to plug huge game cartridges into a PDA or cell phone

The Retrode is not for you if… you don’t see the difference between making private backup copies of games that you own, and downloading 10,000 ROMs from the internets

Edited by revolutionika

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I agree in spirit, that if someone were to 'rip off' a title and mass produce it and sell it at retail for a modern system, then yes they'd be a hands down offender.

 

But based on the 1976 Copyright Act, "the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work" must be considered when defining infringement. And I'd be hard pressed to see where Nintendo could make a legal claim that 100 copies of a cartridge on a 28 year old dead system is somehow negatively affecting the Mario franchise's value. And there is certainly no intent to do harm to those who may lay copyright claim.

All of that may be true, but remember ... we can't always predict the consequences of what we do. Sure, making a clone of Mario Brothers and selling it on 100 cartridges may not seem to be a big deal to us, and it may seem like a drop in the bucket to a huge company like Nintendo. But what if the game is dumped and given away online (as is happening now with the multi-cart)? What if people decide to play that version through an emulator instead of buying a version of the original Mario Brothers arcade game from Nintendo? What if Nintendo finds out about this and decides that homebrews are hurting their sales? What difference does it make whether they have hard evidence to support that assertion or not? What if Nintendo just has a bad quarter and somebody inside the company starts looking for a scapegoat and decides to blame the homebrew scene? Do we really want to attract that kind of attention, to ourselves or to our fellow hobbyists?

 

These may be contrived hypotheticals, and we can debate about whether one scenario is more likely than another or whether anyone is intending to hurt Nintendo or not, but I get a little impatient with those arguments because they don't get to the heart of the issue, which is:

 

  1. Homebrew Developer X made a blatant knockoff clone of Mario Brothers.
  2. The Mario Brothers franchise was created by, is owned by, and is being actively marketed by Nintendo.
  3. Homebrew Developer X did not ask Nintendo for permission.

If you're a developer, and if you insist on knowingly infringing on someone else's property, you're in the wrong. Period. You've also crippled your own ability to defend yourself, morally and/or legally, either against the property owners you've infringed upon or against your fellow hobbyists who have decided to rip you off. That's an ugly situation that can do terrible damage to the entire hobby unless it is corrected, and is avoided in the future.

 

How do we go about doing that? My advice to homebrew developers is to stop playing with fire. Don't set out to infringe on someone else's property intentionally, and do everything you can (within reason) to ensure that you don't do it accidentally, either. AtariAge member Cebus Capucinis wrote a short, simple, accessible guide to copyright laws and how to avoid breaking them (the thread in which it was posted, by the way, is an interesting example of how property owners can react to the unauthorized use of their properties in unexpected ways). Read it and follow his guidelines to the letter, and make yourself informed about the laws and legal issues that are involved. And stop worrying about whether there are more potential profits to be made by exploiting a known or established property instead of doing something original. If that's your main concern, you're in the homebrew scene for the wrong reasons, and you should go to work in the marketing department of a big video game publisher instead. Which leads to my next point ...

 

 

I've said it in another thread, and I'll repeat the thought here. I see the homebrewers not a profiteering entities, but as hobbyist who enjoy the challenge of showing what a system is capable of and pushing it's limits using modern resources. It's like fantasy for classic gamers. The "what-if" of Coleco releasing PMC as we know it today in 1985. The "oh wow!" factor of knowing our system of choice can play a good game of Mario Bros.

I don't know exactly when it happened, and I don't know if it started with the people making the games or with the people buying them, but the homebrew development "scene" lost something when it started to be perceived as more of a business than a hobby.

 

Let me clarify a few things before I proceed: I am not a communist. I don't believe the profit motive is evil. I think that creative works belong to their creators and not to "the community." I think producers deserve credit for their work. If they produce something the marketplace wants and is willing to pay for, they are entitled to the compensation they have earned and to do what they wish with the fruits of their labor. Having said all of that, I think that everyone involved in homebrew gaming, from the producers to the consumers, would benefit from a little healthy introspection. There was a thread started by mos6507 late last year about the rut that homebrew gaming has fallen into, and the questions involved deserve further reflection, especially after this recent episode.

 

If you're a homebrew developer, are you primarily concerned with making a few bucks off your fellow hobbyists, or are you mainly interested in having fun by exploring the technology, pushing it farther than anyone has pushed it before, and creating something unique and interesting and different? Is whatever money you might make in the process your ultimate goal, or is it only the means to achieve your ultimate goal? Are you choosing to make the games you make because they are the games you want to create, or because they are the games that you think someone else thinks you should create? Are there opportunities for you to break new ground in some important technical or creative way through your work, and how concerned are you with identifying and pursuing those opportunities?

 

If you're a homebrew consumer or collector, are you only interested in complacently revisiting and rechewing game ideas that are already familiar and comfortable to you, or are you willing to take a chance on something new and unfamiliar? When you think about whether you should support a particular homebrew game with your money, are you concerned to find out whether the game infringes on someone else's property, or is that consideration without significance to your decision as long as it's a game that you want? Have you compensated homebrew developers for those games of theirs that you already have in your possession, both with the money they have asked for and with appropriate expressions of appreciation and enthusiasm for their work (which are often an even more powerful motivator to a developer than money)?

 

The invention of multi-carts and of large and cheap storage media, the creation of new methods of game development and distribution, changes in intellectual property laws, the renewed interest in "retro gaming" as a pop culture phenomenon and as a means of creative expression, the rise of video games as a powerful and lucrative segment of the entertainment industry, the visibility brought about by the Internet, and the increasing awareness of the activities of the user community among content owners and creators, have all drastically changed the classic gaming and computing hobby in recent years. That's especially true of homebrew game development, which is one subset of the hobby that is experiencing some growing pains and that may be in danger of crashing and burning. All of us involved in it need to reconcile ourselves to these changes, and in doing so, take a second look (or perhaps even a first look) at our own values, motives, and rewards.

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Jay, you should write a book. If you already have, please send me a link to where I can purchase a copy. :lol:

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If you're a developer, and if you insist on knowingly infringing on someone else's property, you're in the wrong. Period. You've also crippled your own ability to defend yourself, morally and/or legally, either against the property owners you've infringed upon or against your fellow hobbyists who have decided to rip you off. That's an ugly situation that can do terrible damage to the entire hobby unless it is corrected.

 

I have one question. Don't you think that part of the issue is related to the always growing expectations?

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