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GoatLord

Saw a ROM hack for sale at a legit business. Legal?

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I think it was Movie Trading Company. They had an actual cart with artwork on it, of "Zombies Ate My Neighbors 2," which is apparently an SNES ROM sequel (hack) of the original game. It was something like $60. Is there a statue of limitations on this sort of thing? How did they not get hounded by Nintendo, Namco or someone else? I found the whole thing kind fascinating.

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I'm no lawyer, but it doesn't seem like it's legal.

In fact, Ghoul Patrol is the actual sequel to Zombies Ate my Neighbors, not Zombies Ate my Neighbors 2.

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HavoX is correct that Ghoul Patrol is the sequel to Zombies Ate My Neighbors. As an aside, there is a hacked cartridge out there (using the modified ROM image) called Oh No Zombies Ate My Neighbors which you could buy for $40/45 dollars, thus saving you $15.

It isn't really legal however Nintendo won't really do much about it, send your complaint to the rights-holder of the franchise (Disney).

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I don't have any actual problem with the legality of it, I'm neutral on that. I just wanted to theorize on how they got away with it.

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GoatLord said:

I don't have any actual problem with the legality of it, I'm neutral on that. I just wanted to theorize on how they got away with it.


Depending on the type of store and its location and executive which is knowledgable about stuff they actually own, you have varying chances of discovery. If this store is in the middle of a small unknown town in the country, then the chances of this kind of executive walking into your store is very small.

As they say, it is only illegal if you get caught.

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De Minimis is probably my favourite legal principle. The law is a human system, not a perfectly logical state machine. Even if something is technically "illegal" it doesn't mean anybody cares. That goes double if you're talking about civil copyright cases rather than criminal ones - for old games it's often the case that the copyright holder won't care if they aren't actively monetising it any more - why would they? This is basically the whole reason why abandonware sites exist.

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There are a lot of ROM hacks for sale as "legit" businesses and reproductions. I think the copyright wears off or something. Someone explained it to me once and it still sounded like a lie.

Its like how paying for currency to gamble isn't paying to gamble, therefore its legal. All sorts of fuzzy stuff when it comes to video games.

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A bit offtopic, but goddamn Ghoul Patrol has awful floaty slippery control compared to the tight, instant response of ZAMN. Now I see why my brother never bought it way back when. If it wasn't all slippery to control it looks like it could have been even better than the first.

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It seems many forums get away with selling ROM hacks in repro cartridges. Unrelated, but I've seen those 8/16 bit clone systems with 50+ games built-in, like Wii knock-offs and NES-on-a-chip controllers, at Wal Mart, Target, etc. So something like this isn't that surprising.

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I wish I saw rom hacks (or any cartridges, honestly) for sale around legit gaming businesses here in Aus. Finding anything older than Xbox360 and related gear seems nearly impossible, aside from ebay :(

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$60 for a ROM hack! That's not so much piracy as highway robbery.

Not legal, but unless the business is selling stuff like that on a regular basis, the copyright holders are unlikely to take action.

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I wonder where the money goes if they make the cart themselves or they pay someone for it?

Here's Game Sack where they open them up and critique the chips inside and certain controversies like an English translation and the translator was never paid. Either was the company that made the game.

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