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    games were far from a mainstream idea at the time, rather being confined to computers which were owned by a very small percentage of the population

    Clones of ZX Spectrum were quite popular in Russia at that time (however probably much less popular than NES clones), and also primarily used for games. I knew lots of people who had clone of ZX Spectrum in early 90s.

    What’s interesting is that most of NES ROM cartridges (pirated, of course) these days contained more than one game, usually about 20 small games or 2-3 larger games. So, these carts had about one megabyte of ROM I think. When starting up, game selection menu appeared. Menu usually contained lots of duplicate entries for a game, sometimes with different names. Cartridge labels had text like “200 in 1” (in reality, only about 20 games, but lots of duplicate menu entries). I never seen a cartridge with Legend of Zelda, no one knew about this game (probably because it required battery-backed RAM). I think most popular game was Battle City. Mario didn’t have that cult status is ex-USSR.

    There was other notable clone of NES named Syubor (Сюбор), appeared 1-2 years after Dendy. Later, NES clones with keyboard appeared, but I don’t know details, probably these were clones of Famicom Basic.

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      “We understood from the start that we were selling counterfeit products, but the first thing you have to understand is that in that time in Russia, intellectual property was not protected,” he explains.

      He lies of course. Copyright laws were typically not enforced, but what they did was still illegal under Russian law. The USSR and then Russian Federation were signatories of Berne convention.

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        He said they weren’t protected; if the laws weren’t enforced, it sounds like that’s true.

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          From TFA:

          The law didn’t protect IP like games, consoles in Russia. There, our business was absolutely legal.

          Which is simply not true.

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          The law didn’t protect IP like games

          BTW, were they also selling games? I never seen a game catridge with Dendy logo, only Chinese noname carts.

          Legal reverse engineering of console itself is likely possible, even in US and Europe, AFAIK it doesn’t even have firmware. PPU can be reverse-engineered, CPU is 6502 (original NES had modified 6502 without BCD but with integrated PSG). Maybe Ricoh’s 6520 clone used in original NES was reverse-engineered, not licensed. Clones of IBM PC were possible and even more popular than IBM PC. Maybe he was talking about patent rights, not copyright.

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            They certainly sold cartridges too, otherwise the whole enterprise would a be a non-starter. None of the hardware or software was made in Russia of course, but that’s beside the point.