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p4head.jpg (8375 bytes)   March 1999

Couldn't see his lying eyes/couldn't see his blushing face/couldn't see his nose/but I knew he was lying/lying/ly-y-y-y-ing! ("Hello viewers!")

Emulation, eh? Now there's a cut-and-dried case if ever I saw one.

Or is it?

 

 

 

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I'm going to take a bit of a flyer here, pals, and predict the contents of this weekend's page 674 in advance.

I reckon the basic theme, apart from the usual sprinkling of total nutcases, will be as follows:

"Well, emulation of old stuff is okay, but doing new systems like PS and N64 are illegal and evil and emus will kill them deader than Rod Hull. Ironically."

But where did this idea come from in the first place, anyway?

 

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Because when emulation started up (and I should know, because I've been writing articles about it for over four years now), absolutely nobody thought it was illegal. Yet now, everyone seems to take that for granted, and only argues about whether it's actually harmful or not.

But here's the funny thing - emulation isn't, not a tiny bit, not even slightly, illegal. There are all kinds of precedents to prove this, going back over 20 years both in the games industry and the real world.

 

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However, everyone seems to be simply bowing to the line put out by trade organisations like ELSPA, who say that "Emulation is illegal, full stop", usually as an excuse to bully Internet emulation sites into closing down.

And yet, that's all it is - bullying. Software publishers don't like emulation, for a number of obvious, and understandable, reasons. But just because they don't like it doesn't mean it's against the law. (Site authors, though, usually don't have the resources to fight this out in court.)

 

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Recently, ELSPA have also said that modchips (which allow Playstations to play imported games) are illegal. However, they're not.

ELSPA have also publically said that it's illegal to make back-up copies of your own legitimately-owned software. However, it isn't. (In fact, the law very specifically permits it.)

And of course, let's not forget the recent scandal whereby ELSPA took 100,000 from a sick children's charity fund for their anti-piracy campaign.

 

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So the question is, just who are these "ELSPA" people anyway, going around making these blatantly wrong claims and threatening innocent people with all sorts of legal action? Game authors, perhaps? Nope. In fact, several leading game authors have spoken out recently in praise of emulation. The people who actually make the games don't mind.

ELSPA and their like are, in fact, nothing but a group of money-grabbing businessmen who've never played even the smallest part in the creation of a game in their lives.

 

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These people have only two purposes in life. One, to justify their own existence. And two, to make a whole pile of extra money out of you, the game player, without actually creating anything for it.

Now of course, there's no law against trying to get money for nothing. But there ought to be one against going around telling flat-out lies, and causing gullible people to believe them. Emulation breaks no laws, and does no damage whatsoever to the software industry. Simple fact.

 

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It certainly doesn't hurt the PS any, because even if you've got an emulator, you still have to buy the CDs.

And playing N64 games on a PC, on keyboard, without analogue control, without multi-player modes, on a poxy PC monitor instead of sprawled on the floor in front of your telly, is an extremely poor substitute for the real thing. (In fact, all it's likely to make you want to do is go out and buy a console and play the games the way they were meant to be played. It's actually just very good free advertising.)

 

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Yet some people, too lazy to think it out for themselves, still persist in parroting back the propagandist rubbish that's being fed to them by a bunch of wealthy old men in suits, despite the fact that practically everything else these people have ever said has been proved to be a pack of fibs.

I'll bet you a tenner there are some of them on the letters pages right now. Is it any wonder those of us who care about the cultural heritage of games get a bit depressed now and again? Don't believe the hype, chums.

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