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The Process Itself Is Indeed Legal
I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m no legal expert, however as a writer for the tech industry, I do know that there is oftentimes a difference in legality between the rights one has to create software versus how it is commonly used. Emulators make a great topic for this column because they very easily fall into that kind of grey area. You’ve all read that it is totally legal to play emulated versions of cartridges you already own, and this seems to be the common law truth.
That’s just tip of the iceberg though because there’s also the software side of things to consider. Just because a program can be used to accomplish illegal means doesn’t necessarily mean that you can cease its development altogether. This is the reason why big media groups have yet to be able to squash stuff like uTorrent. Because there are some legal ways to use emulators by playing owned content, hardware-makers have yet to step in to stop it. The fact of the matter is, there are scenarios where emulation is in fact legal, which is why it has lasted this long.
Another argument in favor of emulation is that it preserves older content. Let’s look at this quandary on the next page!