But they don’t make new games for these machines anymore, so who are you hurting by downloading some old ROM and disk images?
Having said that, and although there is no such legal thing as ‘Abandon Ware’ (the copyright always reverts to somebody), much of the software houses responsible for developing 8 and 16bit games have released these programs to the public domain, or otherwise given permission for them to be freely used and distributed. Ultimate – Play the Game, being a notable exception to this.
Most people do not pirate games for current generation consoles. Yes, you will always get the Pirates, but that has always been and will probably continue to be a relatively small sub-group of users. To the vast majority of consumers it’s ether morally wrong, just too much hassle, or both!
But for most there is a sliding scale…
It’s perfectly ok to download all the ROM images for the Vectrex system for example, because these have all been put in the public domain.
It's also ok to download any free home-brew and demo software for any machine. Although the legalities of actually running this type of software may be a bit more complex, especially where emulators are concerned.
What about the PS2, that wasn't officialy retired. Is that a big step away from xBox? What harm is there in copying this out-of-date and unsupported software. Isn’t this a victim-less crime?
Well the software manufacturers would argue a very loud ‘No’ and it’s easy to see that they would want to protect their intellectual copyright. After all, much of those games have their sequels on the latest generation of machines and it could be argued that pirating on defunct machines could damage future sales, although it has also been counter-argued that allowing people to freely access these older programs can in-fact increase sales of the newer ones. Again there haven’t been any definitive studies done to ether prove or disproves any of this.
Of course piracy runs the gauntlet of systems with the bleeding-edge taking us right up to modern-day…
Now I’m not condemning nor condoning any reasons I’ve mentioned here, although I do think some hold more weight than others.
So what do you think? Are you against piracy on principle, or is it something that just doesn’t figure in your gaming. Even, or maybe especially, if you haven’t considered it before, where would you put yourself on this scale?