The iTunes App Store just got its latest emulator app – a MAME emulator that is capable of playing old-school arcade games.
It doesn’t glamorize the fact that you can download pirated versions of classic arcade titles – in fact, in order to load such titles, it requires a bit of back-end know how – which is probably why it was accepted to the App Store.
Video game emulation is, of course, one of those gray areas when it comes to legality and copyright infringement. It is perfectly legal and safe to create, distribute, and download emulators for different systems.
That’s why NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, etc, emulators are officially published on mobile app stores and are fairly easy to find online for your computer. However, emulators are pretty much useless unless you have ROM files – digital versions of the physical video game cartridges.
ROMs do infringe on copyrights, and for most purposes the distribution and ownership of ROM files is illegal. Nevertheless, they are available all over the Internet, and there has never been a huge push to implicate people who delve into this process. Usually when you’re talking about this kind of emulation, you are talking about very old games, meaning that if someone downloads a ROM, chances are slim that this person would have even been able to “buy” the game if he or she wanted to.
It’s very different than the distribution of music or movie files, because those can always be looked at as lost profit for the artist or production company involved.
Nevertheless, it’s expected that this app, MAME4iOS, will get pulled once news of its existence starts to float around the Web and all the anti-piracy experts.
Via 9 to 5 Mac