Are emulators legal to use on a game that is not being sold anymore?

Edward Deaver May 17, 2012

I want to emulate old SEGA Dreamcast and N64 games but I don’t know the legality. They are not sold anymore so I thought it would be legal because they are not sold anymore so I wouldn’t be stealing from the companies.

    May 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Hello, as far as I understand it, if you own the game you can use in an emulator environment. Of course, this depends on the laws of your country/place of residence.

  2. Oron
    May 17, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Edward, the fact that they're not sold does not alter their legal status (Google "abandonware" or even better, read the Wikipedia article on the subject). Many countries would allow you to run the ROMs under "format shifting" provisions, but this is by no means universal.
    It is also possible that licences for certain games would only allow it to be played on specific hardware. I've never come across this in games, but Apple has clauses like that on its OS licences.

  3. iStoopKid
    May 17, 2012 at 5:16 am

    from my understanding of roms and emulators, it's illegal if you don't actually own a hard copy of the game. you can keep the emulator, but if you don't make the backup/iso/rom from he game you own yourself, that's piracy. also @Bruce I never knew the abondonware rule. thanks for informing me

  4. Bruce Epper
    May 17, 2012 at 2:40 am

    In the US it is legal as long as you own the original game for the system or if the software has been declared abandonware.