Emulator and Roms Website: Ilegal?

Who remeber the olds emulators and roms.(Snes,MegaDrive,Nes,Msx and stuff)

Creating a website with that content is ilegal ?

Hosting the files on dreamhoster server.

Thank you!

Since the period of time copyright lasts for extends for anything from 30 years up (usually 70 years), all computer software (games or otherwise) that is not specifically released from copyright will be covered by copyright law. There are exceptions (some stuff is released into the public domain immediately, or permission to copy is freely given), but for the most part I would think that hosting any of this stuff would be illegal. Ultimately, you would need to check on each particular title and ascertain its status before going ahead.

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Most emulators are freeware or open source; those would be legally permissible (since no copyrights have been broken). This would include things such as MAME, MESS, etc.

Dumps of game data and code (often called ROMs), however, if not homebrewn or otherwise in the PD/Freeware, are not. They are copyrighted, even if it has been 20 years since they came out, even if you can’t buy them anymore anywhere, even if you think they should be free. They are still copyrighted, and hosting them would under no circumstance constitute fair use. No disclaimer will help you.
(Some companies have released some of their ancient games into the freeware realm, most have not, and some sell them on compilation disks for other platforms).

Keep it legal. If in doubt, ask a competent lawyer.

Past that Nintendo is still making money off of NES SENS N64 and turbo graphic releases so they may have a greater interest in pursuing offenders. The Wii has a built in emulation abilities and you can buy and download select titles from those systems and play them.

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All of this is inconsequential, though. Even if these titles were not available from Ninendo (and MANY classic aren’t), it would still be a breach of copyright laws. There are also some industry associations (much like the RIAA/MPAA, but for games) pursuing this kind of thing; you’ll find many references to the IDSA (now ESA) in the forums surrounding emulation of classic consoles …

(Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love emulators. I have plenty of the old machines as well, though :slight_smile:

The emulator itself is probably legal. The games and firmware images needed however are not. You can use them legally if you have a copy of the original game but distributing them would be illegal.

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Though obviously not the only emulator, the wikipedia article on MAME is pretty enlightening on the subject of emulators and roms.

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Thank you all for the support!!