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SuperGrover

Filesharing Question....

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Hello,

I apologize if this is not the correct place for this post. I just have a question about the legality of file sharing "retro" magazines and arcade game titles via emulators, quite simply is it legal? (i.e. since the companies who originally provided the games and magazines are no longer able to in any way "profit" from them monetarily.) Or do we found ourself in the same situation as music file sharing? (legal as long as you can get away with it he he he.) I would appreciate a response to this if at all possible, and either way I commend your work, thank you! -

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I'll just say it right away, yes, scanning and distributing these copywrited magazines is not legal in any way, just as downloading roms of old games is illegal.

There is however a common conception that if you own the original copy, you are allowed to have a backup as well. Some agree with this, others don't. I myself am not sure where the truth lies in that.

The thing is, with retro games that are "out of print", many, many companies tend to re-release their classics on compilations or as of late on download services such as Xbox live, PSN and Virtual Console.

So the line of not hurting these companies doesn't really hold any ground there.

For instance, that's why I have bought every NeoGeo game released so far on the Virtual Console, even though I own the originals on the NeoGeo. I bought every one of these 2nd hand, so for me it's only fair that I now support the developer by buying the re-release.

The thing with magazines is that even the publisher most of the time simply doesn't care about it's back catalogue.

And in several cases they even give permission to preserve the earlier work (Something similar happened with Maximum magazine and SSM, where the original editor actually contributed to the project.), as long as the people doing so don't profit from it.

Which is why we have that policy and why the premium membership is not a way to buy these magazines, but instead a way to support the site. By getting one you basically donate to help pay the server costs as well as bandwidth costs, which in turn Phillyman shares with the premium members in the way of giving them a certain amount of direct download bandwidth a month.

That's also the reason why we put up free download links to such sites as Rapidhare etc. And encourage members to help share these releases by means of either such download services, torrents of newsgroups.

We also uphold the rule of only scanning magazines that are at least 5 years old, which is used to give the publishers breathing room so to speak, and also to make sure that it's absolutely clear that we don't want to cause anyone harm by threatening their sales and thus their jobs.

In case that a publisher decides to re-release their old magazines, either through reprint or digitally, then we simply don't scan or distribute these until 5 years after they again stopped selling it.

This happened recently with Retro Gamer magazine. The first issue was published January 1st 2004, so in principle we could have started scanning the very first issue in a year time.

However, they have released a DVD containing the first 30 issues in PDF format, so even if they stopped selling the DVD today, we would still wait at least until 2013 before we start scanning them even though I have basically every issue right here.

And even then I think it would be best to try and ask for their approval first since the only deal with retro games, so their subject matter doesn't get outdated over time like regular mags do.

In the end I myself believe that as long as we stick to the basic principles described above we should be fine, even if we don't have any legal ground to stand on.

As long as we don't attempt to profit from someone else's work and not get in the way of their business but simply stick to preserving little pieces of gaming history that are otherwise bound to be lost or destroyed over time, I think they will understand.

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Also, it does technically say when downloading a magazine that you are supposed to own, or have at one time purchased the magazine. I know that in my case, I have had a GamePro subscription for since 1994, but I know that about 5% of the magazines that I once owned are either missing, trashed, or sitting somewhere at a friend's house. I have absolutely no regret or guilt downloading a magazine from >= 1994 because I know that I payed for a physical copy at one time.

That being said, I wholeheartedly agree with meppi in that mags that are > 5 years old are basically just memories for the company that put them out. To be honest, most magazines older than a few months are almost worthless, as exhibited by the amount of mags you can get on eBay for under $10 including shipping. I recently just won an auction for about 13 mags for $7. None of the mags were older than 3 years.

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I just have a question about the legality of file sharing "retro" magazines and arcade game titles via emulators, quite simply is it legal? (i.e. since the companies who originally provided the games and magazines are no longer able to in any way "profit" from them monetarily.)

GamePro currently offers back issues of their magazine, so they are still profiting from their back catalogue. I used to have a huge pile of their magazine back in the 90's, which I no longer have, along with EGM. Ideally I would still have them, but I don't. So having electronic copies, while not perfect for me, is a good replacement.

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Are you sure about that?

I went to their site (http://www.gamepro.com/community/indexes/gp_faq.shtml#6.4)

And at the bottom it says:

I believe they technically do provide back issues, but the only reason I know this is because over the last few issues I have seen a 1-800 number on a page advertising back issues.

HOWEVER, I also went to their website thinking that it would be nice to see exactly what is available. I was not able to find anything. I also found what Meppi found above. I also searched google for about 15 minutes. Again no information whatsoever. So I am not sure why they even have it in the mag. Seems it would be best to advertise it on their website. So they must not be very serious about making any money off back issues.

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Thank you all very much for your responses to my rather direct question. I had not taken into account the fact that many companies do "re-release" old games, that is a good point, though I am sure the ratio of older games that get re-released versus those that will never see the light of a TV/computer screen again is quite small, even more so perhaps for magazines. Also I find the old "Oh yeah I bought a bunch of games/magazines a while back so I don't feel guilty about downloading them for free now" while morally understandable I doubt it would ever hold up in a court of law lol unless you could perhaps prove that you actually did purchase the original/remake or whatever, in which case I can't see why there would be a problem but who knows. It would be nice if there really were some definite laws with regards to all this but I suppose it hasn't really reared it's head (yet) as a "pertinent" issue for law makers.

I guess I am just a bit anal, especially when it comes to potential legal issues, I want to make sure I am always in the right (gosh what a wonderful world it would be if everyone thought the same lol) j/k, again thanks for everyones input.

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Are you sure about that?

I went to their site (http://www.gamepro.com/community/indexes/gp_faq.shtml#6.4)

And at the bottom it says:

Positive. As kbf pointed out, they advertise it in their magazine, but only provide an 800 number. It may turn out that they only have recent back issues, and not issues fro mback in the day. They advertised back issues in the early 90's and already some of the first issues were not available. So until someone calls the number, it will be a mystery as to what they have available :)

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I actually just called their customer service line and they said to go to www.gamepro.com/backissues. I went there and they only have issues up through 2003. So, I guess this doesn't even apply to us because this site requires issues > 5 years old.

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