Linked by Hadrien Grasland on Mon 30th May 2011 14:02 UTC, submitted by sawboss
Google Over the weekend, Yong Zhang (yongzh), developer of emulators for old gaming systems on Android, has seen his developer revoked and all applications removed from the Android Market. While locally installed applications remain on user's device this time, they obviously cannot be updated or reinstalled by users who have legally purchased them. No warning or explanation has been sent, but the app and account removal is most likely the result of a complaint from one of the companies who own the right to those systems, as a complaint from Sega last month resulted in a couple of emulators getting removed already.
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Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

...but I think this shows why they are also important.

This is not solely a matter of having a screwed up legal system or Google again not protecting their developers. It is an experimental proof of the failure of centralized application distribution models, and of the necessity to at the very least always leave a possibility of decentralized installation. How is that not an OS-related topic ?

Edited 2011-05-30 14:21 UTC

Reply Score: 2

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

I'd say it's a demonstration of issues in how Google manages it's central repository more than an issue with the central repository model itself. It's too much control in the hands of an organization that does not share the user's motivations for software.

The ability to add secondary repositories and locally install packages is most definately something that should be available too though.

I'd aplaud Google if the reason for removal was malicious code included in the applications. But in this case, the issue should be between the developer and the gaming company not a third party intermediary.

Really, if the company does not provide a gaming engine for Android devices it should be happy it's being kept relevant through games for it's system remaining in use. The law abiding end users will still have original copies of the games being played (the law dismissing users where going to use infringing games either way).

Reply Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

I'd say it's a demonstration of issues in how Google manages it's central repository more than an issue with the central repository model itself. It's too much control in the hands of an organization that does not share the user's motivations for software.

Isn't having a central repository in the hand of a single company always going to be "too much control" as soon as user's interests go against the company's interests ? (Developers = users)

Reply Score: 2

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

Debian's repository management is far more sane then Google's. They both use the same basic system of centrally provided network repositories; the difference is in the management policy they each employ.

I also included this bit for a reason:


The ability to add secondary repositories and locally install packages is most definately something that should be available too though.


Debian and other's have made the decision to allow the addition of third party repositories and locally installed packages. This does not conflict with the centrally provided primary repositories or Debian's management of them. The issue arises when the primary central repositores become obligatory to the exclusion of the user's choice to add others.

Again, it's not the central repository system that's broken but how some choose to manage there distro's repositories. It's not a technological issue but rather a social one.

Reply Score: 3

No it isnt Member since:
2005-11-14

Nope. The issue is that some of the emulators contain code from other projects that have non-commercial licenses, so he was effectively selling warez. There are still emulators available from other developers @ Android Market.

Reply Score: 5

_xmv Member since:
2008-12-09

Nope. The issue is that some of the emulators contain code from other projects that have non-commercial licenses, so he was effectively selling warez. There are still emulators available from other developers @ Android Market.

and its been said everywhere but yet again every website, even osnews, falls into the COPYPASTE NEWZ QUICK QUICK ADS HITS trap (trap which happens to be full of shit)

Congratulations, world

Edited 2011-05-30 17:31 UTC

Reply Score: 5

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

so he was effectively selling warez


Heh, that's an interesting use of the word warez.
Btw, it's not known if it was pulled because of a license issue or something else.

Reply Score: 2

zetsurin Member since:
2006-06-13

Well there seems to be a new alternative app store each week. While this leads to a lot of fragmentation, it does provide something the Apple model (which suffers from the issue you mention to the nth degree) doesn't provide - choice.

And finally, there's always the ability to install an APK directly. The Android Market is entirely optional.

Reply Score: 2

shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

Meego allows using repositories as other normal Linuxes do. Configure them, and use them. Which naturally also allows resolving dependencies and installing needed libraries and etc (which is totally messed up on Android at present).

Reply Score: 3

ROMs
by kokara4a on Mon 30th May 2011 14:12 UTC
kokara4a
Member since:
2005-09-16

I am not familiar with the specific emulators that are banned but if they included the ROMs that are subject to copyright, then the ban is justified. If not, however, it's totally unacceptable.

Can anyone cast some light on the ROM's issue?

Reply Score: 1

RE: ROMs
by Soulbender on Mon 30th May 2011 14:24 UTC in reply to "ROMs"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

As far as I can gather from the various news sources the emulators does not include any ROM files.

And even if he did, seriously, you can't even buy most of these games anymore so while it's still illegal it's not like it's taking anyone's income away.
IMHO this is gigantic missed PR opportunity for these companies.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: ROMs
by Thom_Holwerda on Mon 30th May 2011 14:40 UTC in reply to "RE: ROMs"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Mobile is exactly the problem here. All these companies sitting on old 8/16bit IP want to use iOs/Android to re-release their games and make some extra money. Emulators take away this opportunity.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: ROMs
by Soulbender on Mon 30th May 2011 14:45 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: ROMs"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Hmm..yes, good point. I guess it's a golden opportunity to recycle your old products for a new generation.
On the other hand, they complain about emulators that run on PC's too so maybe they're just being petty.

Reply Score: 2

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

is the company in question actually re-releasing games packaged for Android/IOS or is this a case of "encase we ever decide to in the future, we'd like to screw you until then though".

Additionally, the emulators are already out there. The company could benefit more by re-releasing the roms for purchase and use with existing emulators. "here, have buy the rom and have at it. If you want a better experience, buy our official Android/Ios emulator and get a discount on your related game purchases."

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: ROMs
by JonGrimes on Mon 30th May 2011 18:48 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: ROMs"
JonGrimes Member since:
2011-05-30

It is a good opportunity.
Some companies do a great job making legal emulated games on mobile devices, such as the R-TYPE iPhone port.

Check out DotEmu (http://www.dotemu.com) for instance if you don't know them, they do port a lot of legal emulated games on iOS.

Edited 2011-05-30 18:48 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: ROMs
by Dryhte on Mon 30th May 2011 20:08 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: ROMs"
Dryhte Member since:
2008-02-05

Then they should get off their lazy, fat asses and do it already.

If Nintendo released Pokemon ports on Android (at prices comparable to the average android game), I wouldn't think twice about it and just buy one. As it stands, I prefer my phone to my GBA for casual gaming, so I use Gameboid.

Reply Score: 2

This is not even legal
by siki_miki on Mon 30th May 2011 17:17 UTC
siki_miki
Member since:
2006-01-17

Emulators which of old systems with mostly expired patents on anything there. Copyright also doesn't apply because it is a reimplementation, using different technology. Just because it has a possibility to play both legal and illegal kind of roms, is not a ground for their removal. I.e. they are without doubt legal software.
"Problem" is however that those old games are awfully similar to entertainment that's served to devices today, so it's a free competition and Sega & Co. are afraid of it ruining their business. However Android is not a closed platform, so users can download and install it from elsewhere. A little bit harder to do, but just what these companies want to achieve. Also they have money to roll through legal system (oh why is the world so corrupted and aligned to big companies these days?) so it can become nasty (_if_ it's going to further "ruin" their business).

Reply Score: 3

RE: This is not even legal
by daedalus on Tue 31st May 2011 07:27 UTC in reply to "This is not even legal"
daedalus Member since:
2011-01-14

True about the ability to run legal or illegal game ROMs, but if it's a copyright issue it might have to do with the ROMs of the machine itself (like the PC's BIOS), not the "ROMz" which are images of the game cartridge ROMs. If you look at a lot of FOSS emulators, they don't include an image of the ROM of the machine itself and you have to go and hunt one down yourself to get it to work. Atari 800, Amiga and PSX are all examples that spring to mind...

Reply Score: 3

RE: This is not even legal
by pantheraleo on Tue 31st May 2011 17:38 UTC in reply to "This is not even legal"
pantheraleo Member since:
2007-03-07

Of course it is legal. Google is a private business. They can choose to allow or forbid any software they want on the app store for any reason. The only time they would run into trouble is if they were selling their own software on it, and denied allowing vendors producing a competing product the ability to place it on the app store simply because it was competition for one of Google's own applications. That would fall under anti-competitive business laws. But if they are banning a certain type of application completely, there's nothing illegal about that.

Edited 2011-05-31 17:40 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Does it matter?
by cmost on Mon 30th May 2011 18:20 UTC
cmost
Member since:
2006-07-16

IMHO I don't think it's right for developers to "re-implement" anybody else's technology without the original copyright holder's consent. That being said, I don't think yanking the emulators from the Android Market is going to eliminate the problem at all. The target audience for these emulators are computer enthusiasts and gamers and these people are usually tech savvy enough to download an *.APK file and install the software to their devices anyway. This is just one way Google can go on record as being tough on copyright infringement and trustworthy as a platform for purveyors of proprietary software.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Does it matter?
by Icaria on Tue 31st May 2011 13:40 UTC in reply to "Does it matter?"
Icaria Member since:
2010-06-19

IMHO
Given what proceeded, the H is hardly appropriate.

I don't think it's right for developers to "re-implement" anybody else's technology without the original copyright holder's consent.
Firstly, this would be practically impossible in cases such as the Amiga, where IP belongs to a half-dozen entities and they're in constant dispute. Secondly, reverse engineering this 'technology' doesn't violate copyrights.

Reply Score: 1

This post is misleading
by Shmoopty on Mon 30th May 2011 19:12 UTC
Shmoopty
Member since:
2011-01-03

I had noticed a few weeks ago that reviews for yongzh's emulators were getting increasingly irate, as he (allegedly) was taking open-source emulator projects, stripping the credits and open-source license from them, and selling them for profit.

Here, for example, is the same SNES emulator that yongzh was supposedly selling. Still available. https://market.android.com/details?id=com.explusalpha.Snes9x

Reply Score: 4

It's all about the ROMS
by pantheraleo on Tue 31st May 2011 13:43 UTC
pantheraleo
Member since:
2007-03-07

It doesn't have anything to do with patents in the emulators most likely. It's probably all about preventing people from being able to used downloaded ROMs.

This is something I will never understand, especially when it comes to obsolete systems. Some companies are overly aggressive at protecting ROMs. Microprose is notorious for this. They have send DMCA notices to Web sites that were hosting C64 ROMS of Gunship and Airborn Ranger. Seriously? Why? It's not like you can purchase C64 versions of these games from Microprose anymore. Pretty much the ONLY way to play these classic games anymore is by downloading ROMs and running them on an emulator, unless you still happen to have a C64 and the original 5 1/4 inch floppies laying around.

I really don't understand why companies insist on being so anal about protecting copyright on games that you can't even buy new copies of anymore if you wanted to. It's not like it's costing them any money.

Reply Score: 3

RE: It's all about the ROMS
by fretinator on Tue 31st May 2011 19:10 UTC in reply to "It's all about the ROMS"
fretinator Member since:
2005-07-06

If you can download the ROM, then you won't buy a special "nostalgia" edition. A lot of old games wind up available bundled for newer systems. I remember buying a copy of Atari 2600 games by Activision for my PC. They were fun to play.

I think a lot of companies still want to profit from old games in this manner.

As for emulators in general, I'm surprised it took this long. You could install an emulator for Nintendo, Sega, etc, and then install a ROM program that would let you download the ROMS. I always wondered how they were getting away with it. It turns out they weren't.

Fortunately for me, I like old PC DOS games like Jazz Jackrabbit, which I keep copies of. A quick download of DOSBox, and away I go.

SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: It's all about the ROMS
by pantheraleo on Tue 31st May 2011 19:57 UTC in reply to "RE: It's all about the ROMS"
pantheraleo Member since:
2007-03-07

SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5


And who could forget fiddling with HIMEM.SYS, EMM386, and unloading unneeded drivers in an effort to squeeze that elusive extra 15k of conventional memory out of DOS because of DOS games that required at least 550k of free conventional memory and such to run?

Fun times... if occasionally frustrating...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: It's all about the ROMS
by Soulbender on Tue 31st May 2011 20:57 UTC in reply to "RE: It's all about the ROMS"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

I always wondered how they were getting away with it. It turns out they weren't.


They still are. Well, there's nothing to get away with it since it's not against any law to make emulators. MAME, snex9x, zsnes, pSX etc are all going strong and they're not going way any time soon.

SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5


You didn't forget to open the case and fiddle with the
dip switches on the card, did ya?
I just loved that you didn't have to do that with the Ultrasound. The Ultrasound ruled hard.

Reply Score: 2

Uhm
by vaette on Wed 1st Jun 2011 13:51 UTC
vaette
Member since:
2008-08-09

Man this is some kind of bizarro OSnews.

Yong Zhang took the open source emulator Snes9X, which is under a license which forbids selling it commercially (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snes9x#License), and sold it commercially on the Android Market. Since he was effectively stealing the code he got his apps thrown out of the Android Market. Strictly speaking I guess some of his other emulators were legal, but Google went all out when theft was reported in at least one case. Feel free to download the real thing for free right here:
https://market.android.com/details?id=com.explusalpha.Snes9x

Reply Score: 1