Project Arcade - Build Your Own Arcade Machine! Logo by Thomas Van Horn

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Project Arcade
Chapter 14, Page 345

Bottom paragraph is missing the last 8 lines. Corrected version is below.

To be fair to the manufacturers, piracy is a big problem in this and many other countries. How much revenue is lost depends on who you ask, but there is no doubt that there is a significant amount of illegally copied material floating around out there. Some manufacturers came up with techniques to prevent copying of their software, methods that made copies useless. Techniques and products were then developed that circumvented those copy protection schemes. New copy protection schemes were then invented. This went on back and forth for many years. Then a law was passed called the DMCA, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, that made it illegal to circumvent copy protection schemes built into digital material. This had a significant possible impact on emulators. Many arcade game ROMs were encrypted (a form of copy protection) to prevent unscrupulous manufacturers from making bootleg copies of their arcade games. For instance, a bootleg version of Donkey Kong (which did not have encrypted ROMs) was created called Crazy Kong. Bootleg copies of arcade games became a serious problem in the arcade industry until encryption was used. The problem this made for emulators was that to run encrypted games, the programmers had to break the encryption used in those games! Breaking encryption is a method of circumventing copy protection, which now appeared to be against the law! After some time had passed and some amount of public outcry, the restrictions enacted by the DMCA were relaxed as they pertained to video games that had become obsolete (for more information, go to These relaxed interpretations of the DMCA appear to allow the techniques used in emulators because the video games appear to fit the definition of obsolete as described in the previous reference. The exact impact upon the emulation community is not precisely known, but it is clear that this is an area of copyright law that is in flux and will be subject to analysis and change for some time to come.

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