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    I’m sorry, but this looks like copyright infringement to me if the author doesn’t have Nintendo’s consent to publish this.

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      It’s reverse-engineered code, a legal gray area. Emulators would be in the same legal gray area if not for the precedent Sony vs. Bleem set.

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        I’m a law student from Europe, specifically Germany, so I can’t say anything about the legal situation in the U.S.A. Maybe I should have clarified that. For Germany, emulators operate on the exemption for private copies (§ 53 German Copyright Act, and related § 44a for the ephemeral copy in RAM).

        This however does assume that you obtain your emulatable software yourself. It does not cover purchase of software ripped by anybody else than you. Specifically, § 53 of the German Copyright Act does not permit publishing anything you ripped. There are some unhealthy paragraphs — which I’d like to not be there — on the prohibition of DRM circumvention in the law as well. §§ 95a ff. forbid circumvention of DRM (making the private copy exemption pretty useless for DRM’ed content) culminating in a criminal law paragraph § 108b that penalises circumvention of DRM under certain conditions. I find it cynic that § 95b(1)(Nr.6)(a) specifically allows DRM circumvention under the premise that your private copy is on paper. That being said, I have no idea whether whatever Nintendo used or did not use on the Pokémon game cartidges counts as DRM or not.

        If you did not only rip the software, but also modified it, you are probably in breach of another paragraph as well, because § 69c(Nr.2) makes modification of computer software dependant on the consent of the rights owner (this is different from modification of all other kinds of copyright-protected works, where modification does not require consent, but only publishing of the modification). There might be some more sections relevant, all the above is what I tought of off the top of my head.

        The German Copyright Act is based in most of its part on the EU Direction on Information Society 2001/29/EC, which enables me to say that the situation is probably very similar in other EU member states.

        At least in Europe, I thus conclude that publishing software ripped from cartidges on the Internet is illegal. What about people downloading the software? That’s only illegal if this repository is “clearly illegal” (original wording § 53). Given my lengthy legal explanation above, I wouldn’t say it’s “clearly” illegal, so users are probably fine. OTOH, since I now gave these explanations, to anyone who made it this far in this post it may now be “clearly illegal”. So you must decide yourself now. The familiar “ALL THE WAREZ FOR FREE!!” site however is probably “clearly” illegal.

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          It’s not ripped/modified software though. It’s hand written code which used Pokémon Red as a reference. If you want insight into their reverse-engineering process, look at pokeruby. Right now pokeruby falls into the “clearly illegal” category (since it’s full of raw disassembly), but once it is finished, it will be all hand-written C code.

          I’m not saying it’s legal, I’m just saying it’s a gray area.

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            It’s hand written code which used Pokémon Red as a reference.

            That’s interesting. I’m sorry that I didn’t immediately understand. In that case, the judicial outcome depends on what you mean by “reference”. The process here appears to have been then that the author did walk through all the machine code and then produced a programme that does the exact same like the machine code he viewed at. For that matter, he could have just written the programme in any other language as well.

            Taking something as inspiration is of course not covered by copyright law in any way. If a programme is reproduced in all its instructions and structure however, I would qualify this as a copy. It’s an interesting issue about which I need to think more deeply. It is a question of the definition of “copy” then. And if it isn’t a copy, it might still be a “modification”. Both actions are reserved for the rights owner in case of computer programmes.

            On a side note: I haven’t checked, but if the author uses the original Pokémon graphics, then we’re at a copyright infringement there more easily than with the code.

            Edit: Decompilation is specifically regulated as well and usually forbidden as well §69e. :-)

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              if the author uses the original Pokémon graphics, then we’re at a copyright infringement there more easily than with the code

              I thought the Internet made this part of copyright law essentially meaningless? As far as images go, anyway. Sites like Serebii and Bulbapedia host these images, not to mention all of the screencaps and whatnot that are posted on Twitter/Reddit/4chan/whatever. It would be kind of weird to go after pokered for hosting those sprites when there are tons of other people/businesses who do the same thing.

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                the judicial outcome depends on what you mean by “reference”. The process here appears to have been then that the author did walk through all the machine code and then produced a programme that does the exact same like the machine code he viewed at. For that matter, he could have just written the programme in any other language as well.

                From what I can tell, a base ROM was never in the repository. It was user-supplied and used to build the entire pokered repo for a while, until all code and assets had been dumped into files that could be used to rebuild the ROM from just the pokered repo itself. See an early README mentioning base ROMs being required: https://github.com/pret/pokered/blob/c07a745e36cf3b3d07bbf7c2d3c897ddd5127200/README#L3-L16

                The translation process was probably just using a tool to disassemble code and labeling pieces. This is most likely an act of “decompilation” as 2001/29/EC understands it. In all likelyhood, the original was programmed in assembly as well; C was very rare in the Game Boy days. The author could not have “written the programme in any other language”: the few compilers that do exist for the Game Boy yield code that is unsuitable for the constraints of the Game Boy. Furthermore, if 1:1 identical binaries are your goal, you cannot just rewrite it in C when the original wasn’t; there’s no realistic way to get identical results.

                pokeruby first disassembled Pokémon Ruby and then adds a pass to conversion to C with the same goal, which is only possible because they have also unearthed the correct compiler.

                And yes, by definition of having an identical ROM, there are all of the original assets, namely player-visible text, graphics, sound. They’re shipped as part of the repository.

                (The judicial outcome is a total crapshoot anyway. Copyright law in the context of software makes for surprising decisions one after another. It’s simply unsuitable and doctrine in other countries has incessantly pointed it out, but due to international pressure from the United States of America, it happened anyway.)

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          The project has gotten rather large. It seems to be while the legal situation is indeed far from a clear one, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company international seem to be leaving this repo (or any of the other github/pret efforts) alone.