37 votes

Nintendo's ridiculous war on ROMs threatens gaming history

19 comments

  1. [16]
    hungariantoast
    (edited )
    Link
    I tried for a long time to think of a good comment to go along with this post, because I didn't want to put it on Tildes and go back to sleep without a nice comment, but I cannot think of anything...

    I tried for a long time to think of a good comment to go along with this post, because I didn't want to put it on Tildes and go back to sleep without a nice comment, but I cannot think of anything good to say that will hold up in an argument, so I have this:

    I don't know enough or care enough about Nintendo to know if there exist any kind of marketplace where you can 'legally' obtain these games, so assuming that most emulated titles cannot be acquired 'legally' I think Nintendo's new-found hobby of nuking enthusiast communities from orbit is pretty bad and should reinforce in anyone's mind whether they want to pay artificially inflated prices for a vintage console reboot or $50 for a RetroPi loaded with some emulators.

    I am also afraid that future aggression by Nintendo to reign in their IPs across the Internet will lead to a What.CD repeat where valuable, irreplaceable historical content will be lost due to greed and reckless pursuit of copyright entitlement.

    EDIT: I just want to say that I am so glad that torrents and other peer-to-peer technologies/groups are not concerned with should as much as they are with could. I still don't have an argument as why I shouldn't buy these products from Nintendo directly, because really that boils down to copyright and opinion, but I am glad that there are people willing to work for free to remove hardware and software restrictions on games that I do not want to pay artificial prices for, buy expensive hardware for, or deal with DRM just to purchase, while never really owning my own copy.

    14 votes
    1. [5]
      nacho
      Link Parent
      I think you're entirely right that the folks who love the free games can't think of arguments that hold up. It boils down to wanting the free games and music. Copyright lasts stupidly long....

      I think you're entirely right that the folks who love the free games can't think of arguments that hold up. It boils down to wanting the free games and music.


      Copyright lasts stupidly long. However, none of these Nintendo games (or any video games) are old enough to be games that should be in the public domain. The earliest games should be reaching that timing, but aren't though because 70 years after the death of the last creator is extreme.

      That needs to change, but you should reasonably have the right to your own music, paintings, characters in novels etc. 30 years after they saw the light of day right? I mean, you'd still be an active artist in very many of those cases. It'd be strange if someone could just like make toys or movies or using the characters you're still actively writing about, right? (corporate content creation obviously don't work exactly the same way)


      It's perfectly in Nintendo's right not to have their IP be available for you and I to buy. I may not personally like it, but they should have that right. They also have every right to choose what price they want to sell their games at.

      I know several people who have not bought modern Nintendo systems to be able to play games they loved in their childhood because they've downloaded those games from "enthusiast communities" (or as Nintendo would say, havens of game thieves).


      It's amazing to me that people actually bought the argument that shutting down What.CD lead to valuable irreplaceable historical content being lost due to the huge library of music no longer being available to them for free.

      Emulation saved these games for decades, and nobody’s stepped up with an alternative. Not Nintendo, not anyone. If emulation persists, it’s because of a failure on the part of the actual rights-holders, not the audience.

      Out of sight, out of mind.

      Those that have met the families of artists, even ones dead for decades and approaching the public domain, know that those families have all the music. As analog copies, and as digital files where those exist.

      It's another argument from digitally freeloading thieves that can no longer say that legal alternatives to getting music aren't affordable and easy to get.

      What's the next vicarious argument that justifies to people that they should get something for free rather than paying for it?


      a community that's almost singlehandedly kept game preservation efforts alive for decades, and for what?

      This claim is simply stupid. Nintendo is selling these games so they've obviously preserved them.

      Thus we wade into the same swamp as modern-day game piracy. “How much does this actually affect sales?” “Would these people buy the games if there were a legal option available?” “Is Nintendo losing money?”

      These are even more silly questions to ask. Do you have the right to this content? No? Oh. We've finished the conversation then. What if I as a sculptor or cartoonist simply don't want my content distributed? Why shouldn't video game companies have those same rights?


      It's also ridiculous to jump the conclusion that today's existing video game companies aren't taking care of their own heritage because they aren't selling those games.

      Did anyone speak to them and ask what they're doing to preserve their IP? I haven't heard a single company say "no we only have the physical hard copies in a basement" or anything to that effect?

      Games that are actually abandoned, who could possibly issue takedowns for them?


      We have real issues with stupid copyright laws in the EU and US, but that's about duration of copyright. Those issues are extremely easy to dismiss when movements like these essentially just want free stuff.

      For that's what this sis about: wanting to get someone else's music and games for free.

      12 votes
      1. unknown user
        Link Parent
        I contest this - there's some fairly solid evidence that the ROM used for Super Mario Bros. on the Wii Virtual Console was at the very least dumped using a community-developed program, if not just...

        Nintendo is selling these games so they've obviously preserved them.

        I contest this - there's some fairly solid evidence that the ROM used for Super Mario Bros. on the Wii Virtual Console was at the very least dumped using a community-developed program, if not just taken straight from the internet.

        19 votes
      2. time
        Link Parent
        Just because an artist makes something, doesn't mean they should control every aspect of that thing for their entire life. You start by saying copyright is too long. I think almost everyone agrees...

        Copyright lasts stupidly long. However, none of these Nintendo games (or any video games) are old enough to be games that should be in the public domain. The earliest games should be reaching that timing, but aren't though because 70 years after the death of the last creator is extreme.

        That needs to change, but you should reasonably have the right to your own music, paintings, characters in novels etc. 30 years after they saw the light of day right? I mean, you'd still be an active artist in very many of those cases. It'd be strange if someone could just like make toys or movies or using the characters you're still actively writing about, right? (corporate content creation obviously don't work exactly the same way)

        Just because an artist makes something, doesn't mean they should control every aspect of that thing for their entire life. You start by saying copyright is too long. I think almost everyone agrees on that. I see copyright longer than 14-28 years being effectively stealing from the people of the world. It's an artificial construct designed "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." How does keeping everything under lock and key for longer than anyone currently living promote progress?

        If I make a design for a new chair that everyone likes, should I be able to make sure nobody else can sell that chair or make any modifications to it for the duration of my entire life plus 70 years? Then why should any artist expect the same control over their works or characters? Once something is released to the world, and becomes part of our culture, we should be able to take that idea or work and adapt it, and make it better, or share it with each other freely, or modify it in any way we see fit. At some point it stops being the artist's work, and becomes humanity's.

        Current copyright is WAY too long for any reasonable time scale that involves the people who used and enjoyed that work. The NES games taken down were released between 1985 to 1994. That makes them between 24-33 years old today. That's roughly 1/3 of most people's lives. Under current copyright law, these works will not become part of the public domain until everyone who enjoyed them has died. Why should these works remain in the sole control of one corporation for that long when they are part of the shared culture of their time?

        I see this not as protecting intellectual property, but as stealing from our shared history and culture. Nintendo has taken something that has become a shared experience of the world, and locked it away. They maintain that only they should control this, because they created it. This has been reinforced by decades of lobbying and propaganda and laws extending copyright that were designed to make everyone agree with this appalling practice. I wasn't even alive while this was happening, I had no say in it, yet I am expected to just accept that this is the way the world works and everything is fine.

        "We have to extend copyright so the poor artist who made something 50 years ago can continue to support himself." "We have to extend copyright so that the artist's children continue to milk this cow after the artist is dead, because think of the children!" The chair maker works for a year to make the perfect chair, sells it, and has to make more to support himself for the coming few years. The copyright holder works for a year to make their art, and demands to be able to make money for life plus 70 years. Why is this okay to everyone? How did this become an acceptable norm?

        These arguments always come down to 'They created it, they should have control over it.' This has been going on so long, almost nobody currently alive remembers when these things only lasted 14 years with the option for one 14 year extension. The people (mostly corpotations) who control the IP and lobbied for constant extensions have robbed us of our culture, and nobody seems to care. The creators don't have any more right to these things than we do after 28 years. I'm not saying that creators shouldn't be able to make money from their work, or control it to some extent. I think the original idea of Copyright is acceptable and should be upheld. I am saying that they should have to accept that ideas belong to humanity at the end of the day, and that morally these games have been around long enough to belong to humanity and not Nintendo now. I am saying we need to come together and take back our culture from these corporations who have stolen it from our parents and grandparents, and not from us as well.

        16 votes
      3. Gaywallet
        Link Parent
        Their copyright claims directed at these ROM emulator websites include a very small percentage of content that they are actually selling. The vast majority of ROMs on these websites are for games...

        Nintendo is selling these games so they've obviously preserved them.

        Their copyright claims directed at these ROM emulator websites include a very small percentage of content that they are actually selling.

        The vast majority of ROMs on these websites are for games that are no longer produced or sold. The claim of 150,000 in damages per title, while fair for some ROMs is quite unfair for others.

        12 votes
      4. DanBC
        Link Parent
        The what.cd argument is slightly different, in that people are complaining about all the metadata that was lost. That's an important point: they had a load, and now it's gone. It's important for a...

        The what.cd argument is slightly different, in that people are complaining about all the metadata that was lost. That's an important point: they had a load, and now it's gone. It's important for a few reasons. i) Private trackers are not effective at keeping this info. They should have had an archive of the meta data stuff available on other sites (pirate bay). ii) They really did have a lot, more than the publishers and distributors, and it's sad that this huge volunteer effort wasn't recognised and preserved by the industry.

        2 votes
    2. [10]
      Vadsamoht
      Link Parent
      I agree with your post, but could you give some more detail on this? I can see how the large amount of data/work being inaccessible is a real pity, but I find it hard to believe that what you...

      What.CD repeat where valuable, irreplaceable historical content will be lost

      I agree with your post, but could you give some more detail on this? I can see how the large amount of data/work being inaccessible is a real pity, but I find it hard to believe that what you describe as 'historical content' would be lost - or at least aside from content that would only be of interest to internet archaeologists.

      3 votes
      1. [3]
        pseudolobster
        Link Parent
        I never had a What.CD account, but I was on Oink.Me, which is often considered a predecessor. It's hard to describe how comprehensive these trackers were. If you wanted a specific song an obscure...

        I never had a What.CD account, but I was on Oink.Me, which is often considered a predecessor.

        It's hard to describe how comprehensive these trackers were. If you wanted a specific song an obscure band from 30 years ago printed on vinyl singles and they only did a limited run of 50, it'll be there, and maybe ever ripped from two different sources to ensure preservation. Everything ripped at the highest bitrates possible. It was an absolutely absurd collection of music, bigger than any radio station, bigger than any library. Not just any song you can think of, but every edition, every pressing, every release of that song, on every format it was ever released in. It was meticulously curated, everything was documented correctly, scans of album art, everything was there, cataloged and organized. There were a lot of albums on that site that didn't exist anywhere else, they were ripped from the only known copy of something. Oink and What really were irreplaceable collections.

        Anyway, I don't feel the same way about rom sites. There's only a few hundred to a few thousand games released for any system. They've already been comprehensively collected into a single zip file that takes maybe a few hundred megs to a gigabyte or two. Those collections haven't changed, since no new games have come out for those systems. Those torrents are widely available, and in a few minutes anyone can download every NES game in a single click. There's zero chance these games will be lost.

        14 votes
        1. [2]
          Vadsamoht
          Link Parent
          This isn't entirely accurate - new versions (particularly beta/development versions) of old games are sometimes found at garage sales or the like. These versions can offer insight into the...

          Those collections haven't changed, since no new games have come out for those systems. Those torrents are widely available, and in a few minutes anyone can download every NES game in a single click. There's zero chance these games will be lost.

          This isn't entirely accurate - new versions (particularly beta/development versions) of old games are sometimes found at garage sales or the like. These versions can offer insight into the development process of a title, or perhaps the game itself was cancelled during development and so those versions are the only known copies of that work. People often spend significant sums of money to purchase these games to rip them for preservation purposes.

          6 votes
          1. pseudolobster
            Link Parent
            Sure, that's true. Betas and prototype carts are still found on a semi-regular basis. Also new games like Grandtheftendo / Retro City Rampage get made sometimes. I think they "ported" halo to...

            Sure, that's true. Betas and prototype carts are still found on a semi-regular basis. Also new games like Grandtheftendo / Retro City Rampage get made sometimes. I think they "ported" halo to Atari 2600 at one point. Then you get things like Star Fox 2, or Seiken Densetsu 3 where carts existed but no good dumps were made for years due to technical weirdness etc.

            But still, 99.9% of games for these systems have a good dump. The MD5 of that dump is widely known. Torrents of every known game are still widely available without emuparadise being there to distribute them.

            My point was that music is a different category to roms. No one owns a comprehensive set of every song ever made, but getting a 99.9% comprehensive collection of NES games is trivial. I have one on my phone, since it was easier to copy every NES game instead of choosing which ones I might want to play.

            3 votes
      2. [6]
        hungariantoast
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Unfortunately there does not exist, to my knowledge, hard factual evidence of my claim, strictly because something that cannot be found anywhere except through What.CD's servers or the individual...

        Unfortunately there does not exist, to my knowledge, hard factual evidence of my claim, strictly because something that cannot be found anywhere except through What.CD's servers or the individual hard drive that contained it, cannot be brought up as evidence of my claim after being lost.

        If I have a blue ball in my hand, and I throw it out of sight, I can claim all day long that the blue ball exists, but until it is found and its existence demonstrated, I cannot provide factual evidence of my claim, much the same with What.CD.

        To be clear, What.CD didn't host everything themselves, but rather aggregated content between users using torrents. So user X would have the files on their drive, and the only way for other people to get them from user X was to get the torrent file or link through What.CD, so a majority of the content hosted on What.CD has never been re-hosted anywhere else, thus being lost. Of course it still exists somewhere, so you could say it hasn't been lost. My rebuttal would be that a good bit of the "lost" Doctor Who episodes still exist, but no one argues if those films, location unknown, are lost.

        This post is a good demonstration of what I mean. What.CD had just about everything.

        10 votes
        1. [5]
          frickindeal
          Link Parent
          What a damned interesting conversation that was. I had never even heard of What.CD, and that OP basically credited it for his career. I love discovering new music, and it sounds like that place...

          This post is a good demonstration of what I mean.

          What a damned interesting conversation that was. I had never even heard of What.CD, and that OP basically credited it for his career. I love discovering new music, and it sounds like that place would have been possible under a subscription-based model, but it was clearly violating a whole lot of copyright law. It's a shame that that's the case, but there it is under current law. As someone who's made a tiny amount of money making music, though, I can't say I'd like to see my music hosted/linked there.

          3 votes
          1. [4]
            Amarok
            Link Parent
            What was a brief glimpse at how our culture would be stored and used if the concept of copyright law was out of the picture. Curation and preservation rather than constant exploitation. Extend...

            What was a brief glimpse at how our culture would be stored and used if the concept of copyright law was out of the picture. Curation and preservation rather than constant exploitation. Extend that to film, television, games, scientific journals and any other IP.

            This is I think why some people have such a problem with copyrights. In the digital era, they are getting in the way. Maybe we need to replace it with something else, perhaps profit-rights? I'm not sure. The goal isn't to deprive people of access, it's to reward the creators. Surely we can design other ways of rewarding the people who create without limiting access to that wellspring of knowledge and culture. Those limits represent an ancient way of thinking.

            9 votes
            1. [2]
              Comment deleted by author
              Link Parent
              1. Amarok
                Link Parent
                It just seems to me that the creator's right to make money on their creation is the key of the issue. If we have a world where someone creates a book, and only they may make money printing that...

                It just seems to me that the creator's right to make money on their creation is the key of the issue.

                If we have a world where someone creates a book, and only they may make money printing that book and selling it (and those they authorize, publishers etc)... there shouldn't be anyone else printing it and making money, and if there is, simply seize that money and return it to the creator. It sidesteps the 'copy' problem completely.

                That's assuming in that world enough people would pay for the product despite it being freely available everywhere in digital format - and not just like today with torrents, more like what.cd with music, a genuine universal clearing house of all media making it one-click easy to get, for free, likely backed by massive torrent indexes as everyone could share them legally. It wouldn't even be a company or necessarily a single website.

                There's really nothing anyone can ever do to stop copying from happening - all media has to pass through the 'analog hole' between the screen and your eyeballs, so all media can be captured no matter how it is packaged and sold. Clever new blockchain sales mechanisms like mycelia are still vulnerable to this - anyone who buys it can share it in a new format for free.

                4 votes
            2. [2]
              nacho
              Link Parent
              The answer to this question is simply "no." It's an issue of fairness: why would the best creative minds bother to hone their craft for years and years if there's nothing in it for them if they...

              Surely we can design other ways of rewarding the people who create without limiting access to that wellspring of knowledge and culture.

              The answer to this question is simply "no."


              It's an issue of fairness: why would the best creative minds bother to hone their craft for years and years if there's nothing in it for them if they succeed?

              If you want to set up a huge bureaucracy for state-run funding of arts, you end up with systems that are worse than simply having people pay for the creative works they want access to or own.

              (Plenty of state run arts programs with state artists in various different forms and organizations have shown this to be the case)

              The economies of art have been with us for centuries. Without commissioned works, our cultural heritage both old and young would be much less inspiring, exciting or profound.

              Money is a positive motivator: it's a carrot and not a stick. It's a massive carrot. What could possibly replace it effectively?

              1. Amarok
                Link Parent
                At no point did I say we should replace money, or let the state take over (that is never a good idea). I think crowdfunding might have a role to play here, though. It's still early days but it's a...

                At no point did I say we should replace money, or let the state take over (that is never a good idea). I think crowdfunding might have a role to play here, though. It's still early days but it's a beginning.

                The economy of art has been fundamentally changed forever. I can snap my fingers and make/send copies of anything, to anyone, anywhere. That's a new and paradigm-shifting phenomenon, as most people in the business of media have discovered, much to their chagrin. What we've done throughout history is a bit less relevant thanks to that change. Even a printing press took some effort - copying an ebook takes about as close to zero effort as one can get.

                I'll say it again, this seems more about profit-rights than copy-rights. The copy isn't the problem. Whenever this is discussed, it's about stopping everyone from copying/sharing, and that's simply never, ever going to happen - computers not copying is like water not being wet, it's an insane position.

                So, we can't solve the copy problem. What do we do then?

                Making sure that only the creator (and those they license) has the rights to make money on their work, and making sure the courts uphold that makes more sense to me. I just don't know what their compensation would look like in a world where anyone can easily download everything from a central library for free (and that's not far from what we have today). What would motivate people to pay? How much could artists make? What does it take to go from starving to decent living in that world? I don't know but I think we're going to find out.

                3 votes
  2. meghan
    Link
    There are some really great bytes in there I really love

    There are some really great bytes in there I really love

    Archives will continue to exist. Shutting down three ROM sites does little but inconvenience the determined.

    There’s no reason for it. Nintendo gets almost nothing out of these sites shutting down, and what’s potentially lost is priceless. Emulation’s been wink-and-nod “illegal” for years, and that status quo benefits not just players but the companies themselves.

    You’d think Nintendo, a company with a reputation almost 100 percent built on nostalgia, might understand that.

    9 votes
  3. NeoTheFox
    Link
    Poor emuparadise, it deserved better.

    Poor emuparadise, it deserved better.

    8 votes
  4. meghan
    Link
    I think that copyright should last as long as the creator is actually making new content and making the content available, up to an x amount of time. If I make something, why should I be able to...

    I think that copyright should last as long as the creator is actually making new content and making the content available, up to an x amount of time. If I make something, why should I be able to hoard it in my basement for 90+ years before someone is allowed to spin off my idea?

    5 votes