Author Topic: Bad news (please read)  (Read 15805 times)

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Offline Kerr Avon

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Bad news (please read)
« on: January 21, 2017, 10:11 PM »
Over the past few years, since Krikzz and others made N64 flash cartridges affordable, N64 game hacks have gone from very rare, to much more commonplace. Whether to make the games easier or harder, to add new levels or weapons, or to alter/improve the game-play, or to fix bugs, or to translate the games to make them accessible to much larger groups of people, or even for other reasons, some really talented people have hacked the games we love, giving their time and skills for no financial reward, and it's been great for us all.

But now the situation has changed slightly. And if we're not careful, then that slight change could lead to the N64 rom hacking scene coming in for heavy fire from Nintendo's/other companies' teams of lawyers. And that won't end well for us.

The problem is, fake (i.e. non-official) N64 game cartridges that contain hacked roms are now starting to become common, and this could bring rom hacking (which is not strictly totally legal, even though it is innocent and harms no-one) into the scrutiny of the games' copyright holders.

Until now, no money was being made with rom hacks, so Nintendo and co. could afford to blind eye to the rom hacking scene. But now that these hacks are being sold on real cartridges, Nintendo or whoever might decide they no longer want to tolerate people hacking their games. Granted even at the highest estimates, the money made from fake N64 cartridges containing hacked roms will still be utterly negligible to a games company, but this could well be the straw that breaks the camel's back, and makes Nintendo and co. want to stamp out the (otherwise totally harmless) N64 rom hacking scene. And we don't have the money or legal skills to stand up to Nintendo, of course.

Ozidual has already spoken out against people putting his work on the Zelda games on cartridge, and Zoinkity has said that he doesn't want his English translation of Last Legion UX to be passed around. Selling a rom hack on a game cartridge might not sound bad, but it does involve money being made on what is still copyrighted material, and if the sellers of those items are prosecuted by Nintendo and co., then it's pretty likely that Nintendo will also try to kill off the hacking scene that made the games hacks possible.

Fortunately, there is something we can do to minimise the chances of Nintendo and co. coming after us, and that's to not pass around the copyrighted roms. Most rom hackers don't distribute the hacked roms, they just release the hack as a patch file (which is totally legal, as it contains no copyright code), and leave it up to the end user to find a working rom of the original game and to patch the rom himself (or herself!). And patching a rom file is not difficult, and it's a useful skill to have, so it's worth learning how to do.

Myself and others have uploaded patched roms to save time for people, and of course we didn't mean to cause trouble or anything. But for the time being, I'm taking down all of the roms I've uploaded, as it's best to be on the safe side. From now on, I'll only be posting links to hack files, and not to roms themselves.

It's not exactly great that we have to do this, but we don't want to give Nintendo or any other N64 game copyright holders any reason to set their lawyers on us. So I advise anyone who wants to post news of a game hack to post the link only to the patch file, and not a link to the patched rom.

Hopefully this will pass, and we can go back to the way it was, but for now we should try to be seen to be free of piracy.

Offline thecavalry

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Re: Bad news (please read)
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2017, 12:08 AM »
Not to be too antagonistic but can you fearmonger any harder? So much melodrama and meaningless speculation.

ROMs have been widely available on the internet for the last 20 years. They aren't going anywhere. Neither are patches. Once something is out in the ethos of the internet, good luck to the man who tries to remove it. It just doesn't work that way.

Who cares if a ROM hacker doesn't want his patch to be put on a cart? Once it's out in the wild, they no longer have ownership of it and we as a society can do whatever we damn well please. No one will be successful in getting them to stop distributing crappy cart versions of the LOZ Master Quest on Aliexpress. Go on and try.

I welcome innovation that ROM hackers bring to the retro scene and shame on you for trying to stifle or subdue it.

Lawyers will always be lawyers. Nintendo will always DMCA fan projects. It has always been this way, and will always be this way. N64 is no different than all the consoles that preceded it. But many of the users and creators are young and are just now being acquainted with how the IP copyright world works. This is not new or unique.


« Last Edit: January 22, 2017, 12:11 AM by thecavalry »

Offline Kerr Avon

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Re: Bad news (please read)
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2017, 01:16 AM »
I hope I am being too pessimistic, but I don't think that my removing links to downloadable roms is in any way 'fearmongering'. I'm not saying no one should hack games, or that we should all bury our Everdrives in the back garden and pretend they never existed, I'm just saying that at the moment it might be prudent for us N64 fans to not be too conspicuous, since Nintendo are rumoured to be considering bring back old IPs for their new console, in which case they might be inclined to be more draconian about those older IPs, and the possibility that now that N64 fake cartridges are openly available, that Nintendo might, just might, decided to do something about it, and go for an easy target first.

Life goes on as normal, there's no fear-mongering or anything. I'm just saying we should be more discrete where rom files are concerned, so as not to look like 'game hacking' is a synonym for 'piracy'.

And you criticise me, then say "Who cares if a ROM hacker doesn't want his patch to be put on a cart?". What about respect to the author? It's not like you pay the hacker and so have the right to do with it what you like since you paid for it. Mind you, you also say that, because I removed the links I put up (to files that can still be found easily elsewhere), that I am (in your own words) trying to stifle or subdue [innovation], which is a staggering bad assessment by any standard. And you accuse me of being melodramatic!


Offline geriatrix

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Re: Bad news (please read)
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2017, 01:42 AM »
Yeah, it think this is a bit dramatic.

Why are N64 repros any more concerning than every other repro currently being sold? Repros have been made for SNES and NES for years now, and nobody has batted an eye. I hardly expect that N64 would be "the straw" like you say. It's a 20+ year old system, and would earn Nintendo literally nothing to waste their time stomping it out.

Current gen of course is a different story, but these old systems...it would take a huge company selling thousands of these things for the big N to even notice, IMO.

Offline thecavalry

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Re: Bad news (please read)
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2017, 01:46 AM »
To use your own argument's logic, Kerr, if they are using Nintendo IP to produce their hack, and not creating anything original from the ground up, the hacker has no ownership. ROM hackers have no ownership if they are utilizing IP they don't own. They don't get to dictate what the community at large does with what they make available online.

And you are attempting to subdue or stifle ROM hacking/innovation by discouraging people from posting and developing for some indeterminate amount of time to avoid the ire of big bad Nintendo.

It's a ridiculous proposition.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2017, 01:50 AM by thecavalry »

Offline The Renegadist

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Re: Bad news (please read)
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2017, 02:34 AM »
Now that you've removed the links it now be harder to track down prototype ROMs, I really REALLY hope you saved the entirety of the post into a Word or Text document so that it can be pasted back in later on because that ROM page was extremely useful.

If you think about it, these guys can simply patch the games themselves and still sell them. Removing the links does nothing but add an extra step to their plans and an extra step for people who want to put these hacks on their Everdrive.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2017, 02:37 AM by The Renegadist »

Offline Aroenai

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Re: Bad news (please read)
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2017, 03:14 AM »
To use your own argument's logic, Kerr, if they are using Nintendo IP to produce their hack, and not creating anything original from the ground up, the hacker has no ownership. ROM hackers have no ownership if they are utilizing IP they don't own. They don't get to dictate what the community at large does with what they make available online.

Content creators should have some say in what happens to their work once it's posted, just because I post a rom hack that I've spent months on that I've made available for free does not give someone else the right to sell it as a repo cart and make a quick buck.

If you think about it, these guys can simply patch the games themselves and still sell them. Removing the links does nothing but add an extra step to their plans and an extra step for people who want to put these hacks on their Everdrive.

Sure it does, by limiting the download location to the original author's page they can clearly state what can or cannot be done with it. For example, explicitly stating that everyone does not have permission to sell what they create.
---
Mostly working on Zelda OoT & MM GC patches
Also, breaking region protections
Everdrive 64 v2.01 modified with an UltraCIC II, 64drive HW2

Offline thecavalry

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Re: Bad news (please read)
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2017, 04:13 AM »
With all due respect for what you do, you don't own the IP. There isn't any way to make it more clear. You don't own the work. It wasn't your IP.

You can't prevent anyone from uploading it anywhere else. You can't sue them for damages for selling what you created. You don't have any say or actual ownership or rights to the content, despite what you feel is owed from the hours you voluntarily spent creating it.

I mean this sincerely, I love that you all spend so much time making things compatible and crafting patches for broken ROMs and making hacks of existing games. But you don't actually own the IP, and can't dictate anything to the community about what they can and cannot do with it, legally. It's really that simple.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2017, 04:18 AM by thecavalry »

Offline geriatrix

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Re: Bad news (please read)
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2017, 04:40 AM »

Content creators should have some say in what happens to their work once it's posted, just because I post a rom hack that I've spent months on that I've made available for free does not give someone else the right to sell it as a repo cart and make a quick buck.

...by limiting the download location to the original author's page they can clearly state what can or cannot be done with it. For example, explicitly stating that everyone does not have permission to sell what they create.

As great as your patches are, you're sounding awfully entitled on this. You used another companies material, without permission, yet you somehow have the "right" to control permissions on your patch? That's not how it works. A person who does a mod or translation does it out of love for the game, nothing more. You don't get to dictate what people do with it once they've downloaded it, no matter what your rationale is. Especially if it's "they used it without my permission" - because again, you did this patch without Nintendo's permission, so what makes you have any more right to tell people what they can and can't do with it?

Great work, but get off the high horse.

Offline Greg2600

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Re: Bad news (please read)
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2017, 04:48 AM »
Offer patches only, Nintendo won't do anything.  Don't sell anything.  The End.

Offline Sharkbyte

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Re: Bad news (please read)
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2017, 05:00 AM »
I think Nintendo is more focused on Wiiu piracy and possibly still the wii piracy and homebrew. I don't think they focus on N64 roms that much anymore.

Offline ozidual

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Re: Bad news (please read)
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2017, 05:08 AM »
I do not own the IP, but I do feel that I own the code I wrote.  Yes, the code doesn't do anything without the ROM.  So what.  People write snippets of code online all the time that may not work on their own.  They also make it freely available online all the time, but ask that others not use it for profit.

I do this because I am passionate about Nintendo games.  I respect the company and truly hope that they continue to release amazing games.  If they feel that stopping me will help them in any way shape or form, I will gladly hand over my code and close up shop.  Honestly, it would probably make my life a lot easier if I did.

Do I have the right to ask people not to release repro carts with my patches?  Yes.  It's my opinion and this is the internet where opinions are expressed freely.  Can I dictate to them what they can and cannot do with my patches?  That's between me and the website owners of places that sell repros with my patch on them.

Does all of this hurt hackers?  Well, maybe it makes some of them less likely to want to work on/release hacks.  As I said, my life would probably be easier if I stopped (I'm not threatening to stop by the way).  The N64 seems to have very few hackers as is.

As for Nintendo not focusing on N64 roms, check out the zelda64.net forums.  More than enough Zelda 64 hacks have been brought down by big-N.

EDIT: As for Aroenai sounding entitled.  He wouldn't have spent months working on this if he weren't passionate about it.  Aroenai did some damned fine work and he should feel entitled.  Zoinkity likewise.  He single-handedly brought 64dd games to the masses not to mention his amazing work on other patches.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2017, 05:18 AM by ozidual »
Projects: Zelda OoT GCtoN64, Doshin the Giant, SSSV, Sim City 64, Getter Love, Shiren
Flash Carts: EverDrive64 2.5, EverDrive64 3.0, EverDrive N8, SD2SNES

Offline The Renegadist

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Re: Bad news (please read)
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2017, 06:28 AM »
Prototypes are not ROM hacks, why have they been removed too?

Offline Asaki

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Re: Bad news (please read)
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2017, 02:17 PM »
He's right, though, ROM hacks should be left as patch files. Most sites have a policy against distributing ROM files, I'm surprised that this site, of all places, doesn't take the same precautions.

Offline Kerr Avon

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Re: Bad news (please read)
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2017, 04:49 PM »
I didn't expect this much response, but it's great to see so much discussion.

First of all, I'm personally not happy about removing the links to the patched files. Apart from anything else, by downloading and patching the roms, then uploading them to mega.nz (where I hope they'll be safely available for years), and then posting the links to the download thread, I was actually doing something for this community. It was very little, true, but I have no skills that are transferable to hacking an N64 rom - I'm not smart enough to reprogram it, for example, and I don't speak Japanese so I can't help with translations, I can't use a modelling program so I can't help add weapon or player animations to Goldeneye X, etc.

So maintaining that thread, utterly trivial though that task was, was my way of doing something for our small but fantastic community. Making the downloads available in one place, and keeping a copy of each download (so that, say, in mega.nz goes down, then I could upload them all to a different site and post up the new links) was a job anyone could do, and I was grateful to be able to do it, as there aren't many other ways I could help others out on the forum.

But the situation has changed now. Only slightly, as I've said, but now that fake N64 cartridges are changing hands for money (which to a company with a legal team as large as Nintendo's is *much* less acceptable than the totally free rom patches we've had until now) then N64 hacking can easily become a target for Nintendo's infamous Cease and Desist campaigns. It's true that N64 hacking would never be eradicated totally, but cease and desist orders would do a lot of damage, as many people wouldn't want to risk a court case, and would instead rather abandon N64 hacking totally.

I am probably being over-cautious (and I really hope I am), and my decision might well have been influenced by a suddern spike of sciatica (it's horrible, but don't feel sorry for me, it's my own fault for mistreating my body when I was young  :-[), and I'm surprised by the depth of feeling in this thread. So I am rethinking my decision, but would be glad to hear any more reasons for or against the rom download thread.

I have kept a copy of the thread, of course, and can restore it easily if that's the right thing to do. The truth is, there's no answer that will please everyone, so I want to do what's best for most of us. If I do restore the thread, then I won't be including links to the patched roms of any authors who forbid it of course, as that, at least would clearly be wrong. So far that's only Ozidual and Zoinkity, but they have good reason for their decision, and we have to respect that. And we also have to respect the fact that they have done so much for us without asking for a penny in return, and that they are happy for us to enjoy the results of their hard work, and all they ask is that we don't distribute the patched roms, that we instead keep the whole thing legal by applying the patches ourselves.

Greg2600 and Asaki are right that we should keep things legal and above board, but against that we're talking about twenty year old games for a long obsolete console, with a small player base, which involves no money changing hands (aside from the fake cartridges), so we're probably OK if we go on as before. We're not hurting anyone, after all.

So does anyone have any more arguments for or against restoration of the thread, please?





Prototypes are not ROM hacks, why have they been removed too?

But the prototypes are still copyrighted. So providing a link to a prototype or beta, such as Glover 2, or an unreleased game, such as 40 Winks, is no different to providing a link to a released game such as Super Mario 64.