ROMs are copies of games that can be played with an emulator. Usually this allows users to play console games on the computer. You can get these for free on the Internet. There is a lot of controversy since some people may see this as stealing revenue from game companies. Are ROMs legal? Unfortunately, the answer is no. ROMs are not legal.
However, the chance of someone getting caught for possessing a ROM is very slim to none. In past history, most people that get punished for copyrighted content are people who upload it, not those who have download it. This concept makes sense because going after someone for downloading a game that costs $10 would cost way more in legal costs than the actual game. However. if you go after someone who uploaded a game who has had 1000 of those games downloaded makes a lot more sense.
If you think about things this way, it is really up to you and your core beliefs to decide if you want to download a ROM or not. Since the chance of getting caught is so small, it ends up becoming your choice. You still do have a chance of being caught though. If you legitimately believe it is stealing someone's property, you should not do it. However, some people tend to have a mixed philosophy on this. If certain questions can be answered, they may not see the bad in downloading a ROM.
For example, think about the following questions:
Can I find this game in the store anymore? Is there another reasonable way of obtaining this game that the manufacturer still supports (ex. download)? -If you can't find the game in store anymore, some people will argue that downloading the game for free wouldn't actually be stealing any revenue from the game company. Anyone who is profiting from the game at this point is not the manufacturer (ex. Amazon sellers).
Do I already own this game?
-many will argue that they already have bought this game, so it would not be considered stealing.
Am I just downloading it for use on a separate device in which a paid alternative does not exist (ex. phone)? -Some people would like to play this game on a system that it is not available on (like a phone). If the game manufacturer has not created a version for that device, why should someone be bound to playing it on the native system only? Especially if the user has already bought the game on a separate device. Some people believe this would be okay to do.
In this article, I am not supporting the use of ROMs. I do not encourage anyone to try them. Instead, I am raising some legal and ethical questions regarding them. I want to learn from my fellow Bubblews users what they think about this. Please leave a comment if you have any thoughts on this issue.