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Are Japanese ROMs Legal in the US?

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I know that ROMs are illegal. But I was wondering if there is some loophole that would make is legal to own a ROM of a game from Japan, like Pokemon Ruby.

I used to hava a huge ROM collection but got rid of them all due to wanting to "be clean" :) . I'm now looking for a way to follow the law and maybe still play around with one of the new pokemon games untill it's released here.

Also, is it illeagle to translate ROMs? Or would that be more like a fan sub?


aka Alshain
EdgeBlade said:
is some loophole that would make is legal to own a ROM of a game from Japan, like Pokemon Ruby.


EdgeBlade said:
Also, is it illeagle to translate ROMs?


EdgeBlade said:
Or would that be more like a fan sub?

No, Fan subs are of TV shows that air on public access television. Its not illegal to tape public tv on your VCR and therefore it is all legal. Games on the other hand are sold for money and any modification or duplication is explicitly illegal.


I prey, not pray.
Actualy that is incorrect, translating roms is perfectly legal. Most translations are distributed as .rtp files, there is zero copyrighted content in those (well, the copyright actualy belongs to whoever made the translation, and they give you the right to use it). You are allowed to modify your own property as you see fit, this is all that these patches do.

Now, believe it or not, fansubs are illegal. You are allowed to record anything on a VCR for your own personal use, but you are not allowed to distribute it to anybody else. Unless somebody has a method of "patching" casette tapes to add the subtitles, there is no way that you can do "fansubbing" without violating copyright law, unless of course you sub it yourself, or you buy the origional video first.
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Although, downloading & owning roms is illegal, so basically, you're doing illegal stuff before translating roms.


I prey, not pray.
No, you are not. I don't know why but so many people here have the misconception that its illegal to dump roms from cartridges that you own, trust me on this one, it is not.

Lets compare dumping a rom image to copying a cd.

A cd you should well know that you are allowed to make personal use backups of. A cd merely contains binary data of a copyrighted work. A cartridge is the same thing, only the binary data happens to be stored in solid state form instead of a compact disc form. Remember, anything that you do with your own property is legal so long as the copyrighted works within do not make it into the hands of others, unless they have a license to own that specific work. A rom image is merely a personal use backup of what YOU own, the law sees it no different than making a cd-r backup of your favorite pc game for example. At least this is the law in the US anyways, your specific country might vary, but I know that this would hold true in most EU countries.

Hence why translating is legal, you are not prohibited from buying an imported game, copying it to your computers hard drive, then using a patch for that game posted on the internet to translate it to english. There is nothing illegal done here at all.

Anything is legal unless theres a law or precedence stating that it is prohibited, so you can't always prove that something is legal in an argument, but you can prove that something is illegal. So, if somebody here reading this still insists that dumping a rom is illegal, please enlighten me on which law or which court court case decided this, because I would realy like to see it.


I was merly stating of downloading roms.
As for dumping, the copyright says it's illegal, but the law says it's legal.


New member
this thread has recieved the "Most Retarded Thread of the Year Award 2003."

I can safely safely say that even though the year has just begun because it's just that stupid.


Mr. Super Clever
Yeah I think this thread has gone far enough, his question has been answered now and we all agreed no ROM talk like this^_^
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