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Once you purchase a game, do you own the contents?


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26 members have voted

  1. 1. Once you purchase a game, do you own the digital contents (i.e. the ROM)?

    • Yes
      17
    • No
      9


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Something that came up in the thread about Wii U being an emulation power house was always the topic whenever emulation is brought up -- legality. 

Everytime I see the topic brought up, I always think to myself, "How many times do I need to buy a game before I own it?". Looking at the list of officially released Wii U VC games for Nintendo consoles, there's like 10-20 games that I haven't purchased, the rest have been purchased by me at some point in the past 25 years. Hell, I purchased a good handful of the games I officially purchased on the Wii U VC on the console for which it came out on during that consoles life cycle.

It just makes me think, like when I can an album, I can rip it to my PC and store it on there, or upload those files onto my phone, or record it to a cassette. But if I buy a game, I can never have the game file to transfer to another medium?

At what point do you own the game? How many times do I have to buy a game before I can upload it to a jail broken device and play it without questioning the legality?

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I'm not too knowledgeable on this topic, but I did find this article that talks about physical media in general:

 

"Why does it matter? If you buy a CD in the United States, Section 109 of the Copyright Act gives you very specific rights under the first-sale doctrine. Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains those rights:

[O]nce you've acquired a lawfully-made CD or book or DVD, you can lend, sell, or give it away without having to get permission from the copyright owner. In simpler terms, "you bought it, you own it" (and because first sale also applies to gifts, "they gave it to you, you own it" is also true).

But the first-sale doctrine only applies to tangible goods, such as CDs. Digital music downloads (just like movies and TV shows and books) come with a completely different, much more limited set of rights. If you buy a digital album from an online service such as the iTunes store, Amazon MP3, or eMusic, you have no legal right to lend that album to a friend, as you could if you had purchased a CD. If you decide after a few listens that you hate the album, well, tough. You can't resell it. You can't even legally give it away."

 

https://www.zdnet.com/article/who-owns-your-digital-downloads-hint-its-not-you/

Edited by Tenjikuronin
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I'd say mostly yes, so did yes.  The post above basically is why.  It's also why I call a non-tangible game those pricks put a "BUY" button a rental.  You're not buying anything, you're renting time, a non-transferrable limited time use license to play with the game -- hence, rental.

While their most prickish lawyer trolls will say you're just buying a license, as much as their BS terms on the last page of a manual wrote for years, it's equally a lie -- because of first sale doctrine.  You're buying a tangible real world good, an actual item you can use, sell, trade, gift, modify, or destroy as you see fit and the company can't do crap about it.  THAT is why they act in the disgusting ways they have increasingly so for some years now.  They won't admit it, but I've been told plenty by my game producer brother, they're all pretty much collaborating towards a download only society.  They're angry and upset our internet isn't as wide spread in general, and specifically not at the level Japan is with fiber/gigabit everywhere.

 

Remember the bs that blew up in MS's face that cost them a generation with the last go around, that goddamned mess trying to force people into having no second hand transfer, resale, or even loan to a friend rights binding systems to games like DRM?  That was where they tried it originally, and people went ape over it, hence why it was grounded.  The original plan was THAT generation being the last with optionally physical media,  pushing towards all digital.  They claim they would lower game prices by like a decent margin because they'd not have to deal with the trappings of physical or people selling new cutting them off from more sales, as their tiny minded logic feels every second hand game is a guaranteed non-full price purchase.  Google made another pass with the stadia format too, which mostly croaked over again lame internet speeds/availability.  Once we have the infrastructure in place, physical is dead, and other than random sales/flash sales game prices will be unfettered and unchecked to charge whatever they want, how they want, and in as many incomplete game pieces as they want.  No one can be naive enough to think they'd pass savings to the consumer. 🙂

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2 hours ago, Tanooki said:

Remember the bs that blew up in MS's face that cost them a generation with the last go around, that goddamned mess trying to force people into having no second hand transfer, resale, or even loan to a friend rights binding systems to games like DRM?  That was where they tried it originally, and people went ape over it, hence why it was grounded.  The original plan was THAT generation being the last with optionally physical media,  pushing towards all digital

I completely forgot about this. It's just crazy to me that companies would even think that consumers would be ok with just forever renting a game. That explains gamepads tho as a natural step for MS

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32 minutes ago, Code Monkey said:

No, you're purchasing a license to use the software.

I'm wondering if there is a legal standard for this? 

If I buy a game, am I not allowed to alter the contents like hacking the ROM? Or using the instrumental to record my own lyrics over?

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14 minutes ago, RegularGuyGamer said:

I'm wondering if there is a legal standard for this? 

If I buy a game, am I not allowed to alter the contents like hacking the ROM? Or using the instrumental to record my own lyrics over?

This is all specified in the license agreement. This is why standard licenses exist and why most software licenses use standard agreements like the MIT license or the GNU General Public License.

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The law states that you have the right to digitally back up all/any physical contents that you have purchased/owned.

This is because you have purchased a reproduced share of said mass-produced media type product. And must remove it if said product is transferred to a new owner. Because you transferred said right to said person. As such, owning a physical game (in this case) means you have limited legal ownership that is attached to said game. And just like how software data (iTunes being a popular example) allowing you to "ROM dump" music into an mp3 program (and later mp4 formats for video content), you have the right to ROM dump games you own for personal/private reasons.

However... There are disputes on how your legal right can be nullified. This can be tied to the means of downloading a ROM copy of said game from an unofficial source. Which makes perfect sense because it does help disrupt all future sales in any media format. But there are those who can say they do not have the required hard/software to transfer said data after purchasing said physical copy. Thus the legal conundrum.

In the end U.S. copyright laws state that you are allowed under that condition. Just like Japan law has allowed many Japanese gamers to freely discuss the fact they ROM dump every time they obtained a new Famicom, etc., game. 🍺

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1 hour ago, FenrirZero said:

The law states that you have the right to digitally back up all/any physical contents that you have purchased/owned.

This is because you have purchased a reproduced share of said mass-produced media type product. And must remove it if said product is transferred to a new owner. Because you transferred said right to said person. As such, owning a physical game (in this case) means you have limited legal ownership that is attached to said game. And just like how software data (iTunes being a popular example) allowing you to "ROM dump" music into an mp3 program (and later mp4 formats for video content), you have the right to ROM dump games you own for personal/private reasons.

However... There are disputes on how your legal right can be nullified. This can be tied to the means of downloading a ROM copy of said game from an unofficial source. Which makes perfect sense because it does help disrupt all future sales in any media format. But there are those who can say they do not have the required hard/software to transfer said data after purchasing said physical copy. Thus the legal conundrum.

In the end U.S. copyright laws state that you are allowed under that condition. Just like Japan law has allowed many Japanese gamers to freely discuss the fact they ROM dump every time they obtained a new Famicom, etc., game. 🍺

Nobody asked if you're allowed to back up the software, this discussion is about modifying it.

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Nah, you own that specific copy of the game, and that's basically it.

I would say you are free to do with that game and the ROM therein, including backing it up or whatever, but that doesn't mean you should therefore be entitled to a free copy of the game on all future virtual consoles etc. till the end of time.

You got one copy of one game, and that's where it ends IMO. Sure it would be COOL if Nintendo had a proper continuous and integrated virtual library system like Steam, that you could curate and keep everything between systems, but... I mean this is NINTENDO we're talking about here, lol! 😅

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51 minutes ago, Code Monkey said:

Nobody asked if you're allowed to back up the software, this discussion is about modifying it.

Thank you Captain Obvious. Now feel free to realize that everything I said continues to have the answer being "Yes." as long as it continues to fall under the "personal usage" clause I brought up. 😩

The personal usage clause contradicts your "rental" statement. Because the law literally states that you have purchased a mass produced product, which includes any reproduced content. And by owning said content, you also agree to the "personal usage" clause that I have brought up.

As in, simply put, your personal usage of said product does not violate any copyright laws as long as it is not released to the public. Simply put... Modifications are allowed as long as it is for personal/private usage.

In other words... Everything I previously said gives those who read it an easy "Yes." With the "No." being in line with the notion that said modifications were intended to be offered to the public.

(As for talks of "renting"... That is limited to time-sensitive services. Even Sony during their PS3 days have stated that the owners of all digital products bought in their store have the sole responsibility to keep it on their systems.)

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4 hours ago, OptOut said:

Nah, you own that specific copy of the game, and that's basically it.

I would say you are free to do with that game and the ROM therein, including backing it up or whatever, but that doesn't mean you should therefore be entitled to a free copy of the game on all future virtual consoles etc. till the end of time.

But if I own the game and can jailbreak my console then legally I foundy just inject the ROM I've backed up onto the new hardware. 

I didn't mean that Nintendo owes me the game fo free fo eva on every console lol But like, if I'm entitled to back up the game then having and utilizing the ROM is at my discretion. 

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In terms of how the US defines things, my understanding is we own the license to use that specific rom and to back it up, etc as we please, but that it must be of the exact one in our possession. To me I interpret it more so as owning a permanent license to that version of the software rather than 'owning' the rom so to speak. It's unique much like anything that can be transferred or duplicated since it can't be as simple as say, owning a car where the ownership elements are perfectly clear.

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7 hours ago, OptOut said:

You got one copy of one game, and that's where it ends IMO. Sure it would be COOL if Nintendo had a proper continuous and integrated virtual library system like Steam, that you could curate and keep everything between systems, but... I mean this is NINTENDO we're talking about here, lol! 😅

Specifically why I've made decisions on some Switch games to buy them on PC instead on GoG/Steam because it keeps working hardware after hardware change out not having to buy it over and over again which blows.  There are a few games I like so much I want them for handheld use on Switch, but had a fair few games never hit PC and stayed on console only I'd own a number of more Switch games than I do now.

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20 hours ago, RegularGuyGamer said:

It just makes me think, like when I can an album, I can rip it to my PC and store it on there, or upload those files onto my phone, or record it to a cassette. But if I buy a game, I can never have the game file to transfer to another medium?

Yes you can. When you buy a game, you own the software and can do with it what you want. Including modifying it (only exception is the US which has some restrictions on security stuff, but that doesn't apply to most other places in the world).

The difference is you still can't download that software from a pirate site, because they still don't have the rights to distribute it.

Edited by Sumez
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1 hour ago, goldenpp72 said:

In terms of how the US defines things, my understanding is we own the license to use that specific rom and to back it up, etc as we please, but that it must be of the exact one in our possession. To me I interpret it more so as owning a permanent license to that version of the software rather than 'owning' the rom so to speak. It's unique much like anything that can be transferred or duplicated since it can't be as simple as say, owning a car where the ownership elements are perfectly clear.

That's a more accurate description as far as I could ever dig out, including asking over the last 25 years lawyers online into gaming who pop up on irc, forums, etc.  When you buy a physical game, let's say Super Mario Bros 3 (SMB3) on the NES.  You're entitled to ONE copy, that specific version of SMB3, the NES one.  While Nintendo says it starts and ends within that cartridge, the US law is in line with saying you're entitled to ONE license of that specific copy of the game to use as you wish and can only use as many copies of that license as you own.  So like if you had a NES copier, and you dumped it to your PC to play it, you have ONE license, legally speaking you're fine to use that game on an emulator on the PC, but can not use it side by side with the NES+SMB3 cart at the same time because that's 2 games, 1 license.  You also can't say well I own 1 license, but I'm going to just 'take' the GBA version, the WiiWare VC as a download, or the SNES Allstars version hacked out, etc (whatever the case) and that's mine because I already bought it once.  Doesn't work that way.

1 game, 1 license for that version ...that's it.

Even if Nintendo wanted to bitch about roms and downloads, for instance i own a GB Operator for PC which can download a copy (save included) of any GB, GBC and GBA game to the PC, it can also re-write them to various carts too.  So under law I could grab my copy of Kid Dracula for GB, dump it, play it on my computer, and I'm within my rights, but I couldn't give the cart to my kid and let her play while I play, I just own 1 copy.  And if I dumped that copy to the PC, then hacked in some 8bit Caped Mario in place of Alucard (kid dracula) there and played the hack, that's fine, I still own the game, so I can legally modify my one copy, but again just that copy, not the real one side by side since I didn't buy it twice.

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19 minutes ago, Tanooki said:

That's a more accurate description as far as I could ever dig out, including asking over the last 25 years lawyers online into gaming who pop up on irc, forums, etc.  When you buy a physical game, let's say Super Mario Bros 3 (SMB3) on the NES.  You're entitled to ONE copy, that specific version of SMB3, the NES one.  While Nintendo says it starts and ends within that cartridge, the US law is in line with saying you're entitled to ONE license of that specific copy of the game to use as you wish and can only use as many copies of that license as you own.  So like if you had a NES copier, and you dumped it to your PC to play it, you have ONE license, legally speaking you're fine to use that game on an emulator on the PC, but can not use it side by side with the NES+SMB3 cart at the same time because that's 2 games, 1 license.  You also can't say well I own 1 license, but I'm going to just 'take' the GBA version, the WiiWare VC as a download, or the SNES Allstars version hacked out, etc (whatever the case) and that's mine because I already bought it once.  Doesn't work that way.

1 game, 1 license for that version ...that's it.

Even if Nintendo wanted to bitch about roms and downloads, for instance i own a GB Operator for PC which can download a copy (save included) of any GB, GBC and GBA game to the PC, it can also re-write them to various carts too.  So under law I could grab my copy of Kid Dracula for GB, dump it, play it on my computer, and I'm within my rights, but I couldn't give the cart to my kid and let her play while I play, I just own 1 copy.  And if I dumped that copy to the PC, then hacked in some 8bit Caped Mario in place of Alucard (kid dracula) there and played the hack, that's fine, I still own the game, so I can legally modify my one copy, but again just that copy, not the real one side by side since I didn't buy it twice.

It's certainly an interesting ethical discussion, the unfortunate reality is that most people are not well reasoned enough to really understand what fair really is, and will define fair as 'whatever works best for them'. So for example, I own something like 8000 games and if I ever want to own a game I pursue owning a retail copy of it due to my collector hobby. I have on the other hand downloaded many roms in what would not be a legal sense simply because dumping my own is simply too annoying, but in my mind, nothing ethically wrong is occurring simply because I am just obtaining something I already own, but in a much more convenient fashion. If all people would think this way then a corporation wouldn't really care how much you copy or distribute a rom because every person would have the intent to own the game officially as well. For me it is never a cost saving measure.

However, then you get into the more red area where for someone like myself, I don't import games and the only legal way to own say, many Sega Saturn games is to import them from Japan, since I don't really want to import stuff but might still want to throw down on Cotton, I end up effectively pirating it, but had the company released a legitimate version of the game in the US I would purchase it, much like I did with the recent PS4/Switch releases of said title. I see it as if the company did not see fit to release in my native land then they don't really consider it much of a loss, and if they decide to rectify that I'll pony up happily.

Ethically, I think I operate within a fairly good space that would be copesetic with the business to consumer relationship, especially since I don't believe I own the right to play every version of a game just because I bought it once. I do not for example have the right to pirate Ocarina of Time on the 3DS just because I bought it on N64 as this is a distinctly different version with money that was put into it in order to get it to market, or even something like putting the game onto my Switch but doing so somehow using Nintendo's emulation container (N64 online App in this case), I don't have a right to play it that way unless I pay the agreed fee because this is a separate business model/product, but I do have the right to play my game on my system or even play my rom on other systems.

The issue will always be human greed mixed with unfortunate realities of poverty, etc, where people who simply can't afford to buy will find ways and people who can afford to will not because they don't value other peoples work. I operate as I should be paid for my work and will pay others for theirs, and try to act accordingly. The issue in turn is when a consumer is so selfish or stupid, that they equate the entire cost of a product to how much it cost the company to press the disc, and you see why companies have to be so strict and paranoid. When a consumer can't understand (or care) that the thing they want to use required money and people to make it happen, we end up with these really nasty battles between the customer and corporation.

There is also the nature of preservation and companies unwillingness to bring content forward and I do see value in that too, but then you get into the moral debate of say, does a consumer have a right to art, etc, just because it existed, but that's a different topic altogether. 

Edited by goldenpp72
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Well all tell ourselves that the answer should be yes, but I think it’s truthfully no. If you bought Star Wars on Blu-ray, it doesn’t give you the right to download a 4K version online for free. You own a copy of the IP and a medium to enjoy it on. Sure if I buy a game, CD, movie, etc. new at retail and then download the digital file as a backup, I’d say it’s easier to sleep at night, but it’s two different versions of the license at the end of the day, period. You don’t own the IP because you bought a copy once.
 

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32 minutes ago, portabello said:

If you bought Star Wars on Blu-ray, it doesn’t give you the right to download a 4K version online for free.

Obviously not if you didn't buy the 4K version. You own the data on your disc, not the property or the source material.
Even then, where would you download it from legally if the people who own the rights to distribute it aren't making it available for you?
(some 4K movies do give you the option of an online download with a code in the cover, though)

Edited by Sumez
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