Emulators and ROMS on Spectrum - Legal ?

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Paul Williams

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May 4, 2001, 4:20:30 AM5/4/01
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My understanding is that Amstrad (who now own the copyright to the
Spectrum) have given their permission for the ROM, manuals etc to be
reproduced. Therefore, emulators are perfectly legal.

Also, I understand that some companies and authors who hold the
copyrights to spectrum games have given their permission for the games
to be ditributed for use, whereas some have not specified.

Also, I've heard about the old 'its OK as long as you own the original
copy' thing.

Bottom line : Is it legal to distribute, and/or sell spectrum emulators
and games ?

Derek Jolly

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May 4, 2001, 5:00:52 AM5/4/01
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Paul Williams <pa...@lexus-it.co.uk>, in message <3AF2664E.E7D7D9B3@lexus-
it.co.uk>, wrote

> My understanding is that Amstrad (who now own the copyright to the
> Spectrum) have given their permission for the ROM, manuals etc to be
> reproduced. Therefore, emulators are perfectly legal.

Yes Amstrad have allowed this, provided no money is charged for the
ROMs.

> Also, I understand that some companies and authors who hold the
> copyrights to spectrum games have given their permission for the games
> to be ditributed for use, whereas some have not specified.

Some have allowed distribution, some (e.g. Rare and Codemasters) have
explicitly denied distribution. Most haven't said one way or the
other yet. There's an ongoing project to get distribution permission
for all Speccy software from the copyright holders.

> Also, I've heard about the old 'its OK as long as you own the original
> copy' thing.
>
> Bottom line : Is it legal to distribute, and/or sell spectrum emulators
> and games ?

Emulators are freely distributable. If you want to sell them though
you're going to need permission from both the writer of the emulator
and Amstrad to be able to do it. You're not likely to get that.

You'd definitely get into serious trouble if you tried making money
off the games too, as I don't think the copyright holders would
take too kindly to that.

For good detailed information on this see
http://www.void.jump.org/permits/
--
* Derek Jolly (derek...@sage.com) Web: http://rivet.50megs.com/ *
* comp.sys.sinclair folklore FAQ: http://rivet.50megs.com/cssfolk.html *
* Transversion PC: http://rivet.50megs.com/games.html *
* 0 OK, 0:1 *

Philip Kendall

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May 4, 2001, 5:03:50 AM5/4/01
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In article <3AF2664E...@lexus-it.co.uk>,
Paul Williams <pa...@lexus-it.co.uk> wrote:

[Followups set to c.s.s only]

>My understanding is that Amstrad (who now own the copyright to the
>Spectrum) have given their permission for the ROM, manuals etc to be
>reproduced.

Correct; Cliff Lawson's statement on this would be linked from the FAQ,
but the Deja -> Google transition has screwed this up. It's available on
WoS, or you can dig it out of Google if you know what you're looking
for.

> Therefore, emulators are perfectly legal.

Disclaimer: IANAL [1].

I don't think that Amstrad's position on the distribution of ROMs has
any effect on whether emulators are legal or not. The emulator is a
separate entity from the ROMs (at least in Britain; if you're in the US,
you've got the DMCA to worry about...)

[1] I Am Not A Lawyer

>Also, I understand that some companies and authors who hold the
>copyrights to spectrum games have given their permission for the games
>to be ditributed for use, whereas some have not specified.

Correct, although I think it would be fairer to say that "most have not
specified", and there are also some companies who have specifically
requested that their programs not be distributed.

The full lists can be found on WoS: http://www.void.jump.org/permits/

>Also, I've heard about the old 'its OK as long as you own the original
>copy' thing.

This depends a lot on what you mean by "its" -- it would not be legal to
give emulated copies of Spectrum games to all and sundry just because
you own a copy of the game.

>bottom line : Is it legal to distribute, and/or sell spectrum emulators
>and games ?

Emulators: see the conditions on each emulator.
Games: I believe you're certainly allowed to sell your original tapes,
so long as you don't keep any other copies. For emulated copies, see the
permission statements on WoS; most of these will allow free
distribution. For the games without permission, you are probably
breaking the law by distributing them.

Phil

--
Philip Kendall <p...@ast.cam.ac.uk>
http://www.srcf.ucam.org/~pak21/

Philip Kendall

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May 4, 2001, 5:08:08 AM5/4/01
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In article <9ctr44$fddbo$1...@ID-61358.news.dfncis.de>,
Derek Jolly <derek...@sage.com> wrote:
>
>Emulators are freely distributable.

No. Some are shareware, some are commercial; also, many are under some
kind of Open Source licence, which will restrict how you may distribute
the emulator.

>If you want to sell them though
>you're going to need permission from both the writer of the emulator
>and Amstrad to be able to do it.

See Cliff's statement re: distributing the ROMs with shareware (etc)
emulators: it's allowed, so long as the money is being charged for the
_emulator_ and not for the ROMs; therefore I don't think you need
Amstrad's permission.

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