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Volume 2, Number 2 (Spring 2004) - page 10 / 30





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Vol. 2:2]

James Conley,

of planned obsolescence in which they introduce a new system every five years.51 This effectively renders the previous system and its associated games obsolete. Since each successive system plays games designed uniquely for it, there is limited backward compatibility, and no ability to upgrade the older system to run the newer games.52 Thus, each time a new console generation is launched, consumers who wish to play the new games must purchase new hardware. Emulation, however, addresses this problem by allowing users to play both new and old games associated with their video game system, as well as those games developed for competing video game systems. Emulators thus provide the gamer with a degree of flexibility unmatched by the console manufacturers, since they provide the ability to access every game ever made for any system for free. Absent a suitable commercial channel to purchase the older games, they are available for free on peer-to-peer networks. 53


Emulation Enhances the Product Experience

Emulation supporters believe that emulation enhances the product experience by allowing the user to interact with the product in ways not conceived by the vendor.54 For example, emulators often add features absent in the real console, such as the ability to “fast forward” the game or save the state of the game so that it can be resumed in midstream. Emulators also enable translation of games into foreign languages. 55


Emulation as Infringement on Intellectual Property Rights

58 Fans of classic games argue that emulation preserves video arcade games, many of which would otherwise be approaching extinction.56 The preservation argument, however, is relatively weak, since only copyright holders can determine whether they wish their software to be archived. Even copyrights of games produced by companies that have gone out of business retain their value for the length of the statutory period. As to the question of whether or not emulators infringe on intellectual property, the legal aspects remain murky. 57

51 52 53 DEAN TAKAHASHI, OPENING THE XBOX (2002). . For an example of a peer-to-peer network, 2004). http://www.kazaa.com (last visited July 4, Kazaa,


Interview by Joe Glass with Sean Kauppinen, Communications Director of Bleem! Inc., Pcrave.com,

http://www.pcrave.com/articles/85.htm (last visited July 4, 2004). May 5, 2000, . . 55 56 57 U.S. copyright laws state that copyrights on works for hire owned by corporations are valid for ninety- five years from the date of first publication. U.S. Copyright Office,

, Circular 15A (2000), http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ15a.html (last visited July 4, 2004). Because video and computer games have existed for less than three decades, the copyrights of all video and computer programs will not

expire for many decades to come.



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