The small matt er of le­gal­i­ties

Linux Format - - IN-DEPTH -

Dab­bling with em­u­la­tion and the like can fairly rapidly lead to legally murky wa­ters. In the US copy­rights last for 75 years, so even ROM files of early ar­cade games are off-lim­its. Even if you own an orig­i­nal copy of the game on one plat­form, you’re not en­ti­tled to down­load an­other (get­ting data off Amiga for­mat­ted disks re­quires spe­cial hard­ware, for ex­am­ple) for use on an em­u­la­tor. Just be­cause a ti­tle is no longer avail­able doesn’t en­ti­tle you to down­load it.

How­ever, old PC games are read­ily avail­able for cheap on auc­tion sites, fairs and stoop sales (which is like a yard sale if you live in Brook­lyn). The cen­tury old “first-sale doc­trine” cov­ers this legally. For older ti­tles you’ll need a USB floppy drive, and ap­par­ently com­put­ers now don’t come with op­ti­cal drives ei­ther so you might need one of them, too. For the rein­vented game en­gines un­der con­sid­er­a­tion in this fea­ture, we’re only in­ter­ested in get­ting the as­set files from the orig­i­nal me­dia. This cir­cum­vents any DRM is­sues we may run into if we were run­ning the orig­i­nal bi­na­ries.

OpenSC2K was a re­make of the clas­sic (and drom­e­dary-jokepacked) SimCity2000. Alas, in July GitHub re­ceived a DMCA take­down no­tice that ob­li­gated it to take the OpenSC2K repos­i­tory off­line. That repo in­cluded as­sets from orig­i­nal game, and since SimCity2000 is still sold by EA for about £5 (though the com­pany has of­fered it for free in the past) the project soon at­tracted the at­ten­tion of EA’s le­gal team.

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