Is it mortal sin to download old skool games rom?

I downloaded a super nintendo emulator into my android tablet, and i want to play the games but i have to download the games illegaly thru a torrent web site since this games are impossible to find for purchase. My intention is to just play the games during a long trip, but will not utilize the games to make money out of it, just for personal use. Is it still a mortal sin sin?

I don’t see how downloading out of print games that were originally for an (now) obsolete system would be sinful. Who would you be stealing from? :confused:

I would guess venial at best. But this is a weird gray area in copyright law, much less in moral law. What you’re talking about is “abandonware” where it’s technically still under copyright, but the company probably won’t be enforcing it any time soon.

I am an avid retro gamer - there’s few things better in the world of video gaming than the 8-bit and 16-bit eras! My favourite system is the Mega Drive (which Americans know better as the Genesis). I much prefer playing games on their original hardware, but I do emulate occasionally, and my wife and I have had a few discussions about the morality of emulation.

For us, it largely depends on the game being emulated. Even though the SNES is 20 years old, you can still buy many of the games released for it as if they were new through things like the Wii U Virtual Console. And the most popular games get re-released on collection discs (e.g. Super Mario All Stars 25th Anniversary Edition for the Wii, Kirby’s Dream Collection for the Wii, Capcom Classics Collection for PS2 and other systems). After all, all these games are still under copyright, still the intellectual property of someone, and many of them still make their creators and publishers money - money which they are entitled to! If you can’t buy it new, then I think things do change, depending on what the exact situation is.

So, these are my personal emulation rules:

  1. If it’s a game I can still buy as if it were new, I don’t emulate it, because that would be denying the creators of that game money they are entitled to (and hence would be stealing).

  2. If it’s a game that I can’t buy as if it were new but I can easily get hold of second-hand and play on the original hardware, I don’t generally emulate it (because there’s no substitute for the original hardware!).

  3. If it’s a game that I can’t buy as if it were new and (for whatever reason) is very difficult to get hold of second-hand, I would have no problem just emulating it.

  4. If it’s a game that wasn’t released in English and still lacks an English re-release: a) if I can get hold of it easily (especially if I can still buy it as if it were new), I will buy the game and then emulate if I don’t have the original hardware or if the game is very text-heavy, or b) if it is very difficult to get hold of and I can’t buy it as if it were new, I would have no problem just emulating it.

To my mind, the main principle is no. 1. If I’m emulating a game I can still buy from the author(s) as if it were new, I would consider that theft (cf. commandment #7) and therefore, provided it fulfils the other usual conditions, mortal sin.

Since the games are out of print, you could always ask the copyright owner if they have a problem with you downloading the code for personal use only. If that was a problem, you could ask how much they would like for a license.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they were so shocked and surprised that they wouldn’t grant your request.

(Also, look at the example of a lot of the older Borland products, like Turbo Basic, Turbo C++, Turbo Pascal…they were released as “abandonware” years ago)

You answered your own question. You would have to download them illegally. You do not own them and the owner has not made them available in this format. Since the owner maintains the copyright and can decide when and how they make their game available, and because they own it you cannot use it unless you buy it, then YES it would be wrong to illegally download this game.

Download something you legally purchase or do something else like watch a movie you have purchased or rented.

The company that owns it.

It is not “out of print”. It is not available in the format he wants to use. The company still owns the game and can decide what formats it is available for purchase in.

You do realize that the original owners STILL own the game even if they choose not to make it available for purchase. They still have the right to do so, and you do not have the right to their work without compensation. Therefore, it is equally stealing. You have tried to rationalize it as not stealing. But it is.

1ke, what about this scenario: You’re at college or otherwise away from home and the game/book you want is back home. How would you feel about emulating the game or peeking at a copy of the book on scribd? You legally own it, just without physical access at that moment.

When these issues come up for me, I am almost always aware of the correct moral decision to be made. The hard part is separating myself from an inordinate desire. What is it that drives me to want to keep cash off my tax return, or spend hours playing online chess? I like to think of mortal as being separated from God’s life. If I am playing chess (perfectly legal) while my kids are asking me to help with yardwork or my wife wants to talk about her concerns, that is where the mortal part can be. I am interfering with God’s plan for life and removing myself from his grace, and making it harder for others to live in his grace. Why do I need to devote this much time and effort to entertainment? Inordinate attachments lead me to consider borderline moral wrongs.

I think that depends upon what rights are granted by the owner through the license agreement.

For example, if I own a physical book, I do not have any digital rights to it just as I do not have the right to photocopy it.

If I own a Kindle copy, I do have rights to view it on my Kindle and on my Kindle App.

Software often gives a license to use it on multiple machines as long as it is not used simultaneously by two people, or to create a backup copy. But again, that is a right granted in the license.

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