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Video Game Emulation Legality


Often times I'll be watching a video on Jewtube about pre-1999 vidya or the latest chinese emulation handheld of the week and there's always some absolute mouth breathers in the comments (or esl-trash) that have zero clue what they're talking about when it comes to legality. I've posted a long ass response to one of these bananas before, but that will only reach people in that comment section.

So here's a breakdown of what's legal and illegal concerning emulating Pokemon: Fire Red on your chromebook.

Emulation as a concept and tool - Legal

In fact it's used all the time by many different companies. Wii/Wii U Virtual Console, Nintendo Switch Online NES/SNES/N64/Genesis games, and PSX backwards compatibility with the PSP and PS3 are all good examples of emulation being used legally and officially.

Emulation of video game consoles - Legal

This has been proven in US Court twice with Sony Computer Entertainment America v. Bleem and Sony Computer Entertainment America, Inc. v. Connectix Corporation.

Both times, it was decided in court that the actual emulation of the Playstation was very much legal. Ironiclly both cases put the defendant's out of business as the legal fees or injunctions killed the companies. BUT this paved the way to future video game console emulators. Thanks for taking one for the team Connectix and Bleem!

Emulation of video game consoles using copyrighted material that you own. - Legal

Despite what Nintendo would tell you, if you have a copy of Pokemon: Fire Red that you dumped from a cart you legally purchased and you want to play it using something like mGBA (and you should if you have any self respect), you can. If you want to play Sonic 3 & Knuckles that you ripped from your copy of Sega Mega Drive & Genesis Classics with something like Genesis Plus GX (and you should if you don't hate yourself), you can.

A good rule of thumb is that if you are playing your purchased copy, then you have nothing to worry about.

Emulation of video game consoles using copyrighted material that you own but didn't rip - Illegal

If you downloaded Pokemon: Fire Red from, that would be illegal. Even if you own a copy, playing that downloaded copy is illegal since you don't own that copy. That is what the feds call piracy. So please, do not believe jose.gonzales2003 on YouTube when he says that him playing Sonic Advance 3 on his iPhone from a rom downloaded from is legal since his older brother has a copy somewhere in storage in Alaska.

Emulation of video game consoles using copyrighted material that you don't own - Illegal

This should be a no brainer. If ya don't own it, you can't legally play it baka! Once again, this is what the fuzz calls piracy. In this case, just stick to stuff you do own or to freely available content like certain indie titles or ports.

Protip: All Vectrex games are free to play. Just use the content dowloader on RetroArch and download em all. I suggest Berzerk. Also Cave Story on PSP or via PPSSPP is free and is the best way to play it.

I hope this all broke it down for you and cured any confusion you may have had. Please link this article anytime you see some dumb fucker who claims it's illegal emulate Nintendo Games or some other dumb shit.

Next Article: Video Game Emulation Morallity

Release Date: Soon™