Forums  /  Speedrunning  /  Pirated games (Locked)

I'm personally against pirated games but I was wondering if a speedrun is done on a pirated version of a game, is it invalid?


I only run games i bought or downloaded legit, since there is no telling if in the process of cracking some important files got changed in a way which may influence gameplay or timing. I know that in some cases cracked version ran faster/slower or even introduced new bugs.

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There are abandonware games as well. Surely it counts as long as the version of the game is an originally released version/patch and that patch is included in the information when submitting the run.

Abandonware is ofcourse a special case, but still.


To put this question into perspective:

If you stole a professional racer's car, then showed up with it on race day, would that be acceptable or would you not be allowed to compete? Would it matter if you had the fastest time if your means to achieve it was illegal?

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you wouldn't steal a car in real life
but you would download it, if you could.

same applies to games.


For me at least, there are a few games that I've wanted to get but haven't had the money for at the time. For those scenarios I would download a pirated copy of the game and then once I get enough money to buy said game, I will buy it.

Also on the topic of emulation, if you own a legitimate copy of the game that you decide to emulate it (either by ripping an iso using that copy of the game or by using the original media for the game) that shouldn't be seen as pirating that game.

sorusoru likes this. 
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You can't download a car but you can download more RAM.

On a more serious note, emulation of games is fine as long as it doesn't speed up the game in anyway. That sentiment is usually the case with most instances of running games on anything other than official hardware.

TiggasaurTiggasaur likes this. 


Also on the topic of emulation, if you own a legitimate copy of the game that you decide to emulate it (either by ripping an iso using that copy of the game or by using the original media for the game) that shouldn't be seen as pirating that game.

Ethically, perhaps not, but legally, yeah, don't be too open about doing this. (If you do)

oddtomoddtom likes this. 
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I've posted about this before, so I'd like to explain why this topic doesn't sit well with me. Story time!

About fifteen years ago- during the golden era of music-pirating headed by Napster, Limewire, Kazaa, etc.- a friend of mine was actually one of the targets of a lawsuit for obtaining music illegally (downloading a pirated copy via apps / websites / etc). One Saturday, the police showed up at his house with a warrant and a list of data files sent to the IP address of his home computer. They searched his computer and permanently deleted anything that had a "watermark" from these pirating apps and made it clear that although he wasn't stuffing a cd into his pants and running out of the store, that what he was doing was undeniably larceny and that they would press charges if they caught him ever doing it again.

This is a real thing that actually happened, and I wouldn't put it past Nintendo to do something similar. We were still teenagers doing normal teenager things, mind you, and it's slightly terrifying when the police pay any sort of attention to you. Looking back, I'm sure it was more of a scare tactic thing aimed at a few of the most dedicated offenders, but to this day, he won't even download music legally, preferring to buy hard copies and keeping digital copies of the receipts.

My point is, downloading a ROM of software that is still licensed (not abandoned / freeware / open source / etc.) from a distributor that is not the holder of the license is illegal, even if it doesn't "feel" illegal or if you can explain to yourself why it is ethically okay or even if you know other people who are doing it, it is still illegal, and the copyright holders ¤can¤ press charges. You are not invisible, and as a software / web developer, I can guarantee you that unless you are in this field as well and know what you're doing, you ¤can¤ be tracked. The people in charge of developing this stuff are smarter and more clever than you are. They know how you think. They're the kind of people who make their password "¤¤¤¤¤" so even if someone cracks the encryption, they won't think they got it. I deal with people occasionally who think they are hiding because they are "deleting" stuff or using "incognito mode", and it's like playing hide and seek with a 3-year-old who hides under the bed, but keeps his feet sticking out. Even if you delete the comment, it is still recoverable. I'm not sure what kind of database they use here, but odds are it is one that uses version control, so nothing is ever permanently deleted. Maybe the updated db has a new version, but the old one is always there if anyone ever wanted to go back and look at it.

I don't mean to be the bad guy here, but that is a life lesson you don't want to learn the hard way. I used the racecar analogy to try to show you how reckless it is to publicly admit that what you own was stolen. Maybe you can't download a racecar, but you obtained these two things in a similar manner. The only difference is that you can tell yourself excuses to justify it, so you don't feel so bad about it.

EmeraldAlyEmeraldAly likes this. 
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I still wonder if they actually changed the law in europe about downloading. It used to be downloading is never illegal, only uploading.

Still buy all games myself these days and pay for my stuff. Mostly due humble bundle and having a job. Except those old ones I cant find on a vc.


On my point of ripping an iso from a game you own, I can see why it's a ethical and legal grey area. But so long as you don't distribute your iso with other and keep it to yourself I see no harm, but I can see why some would think otherwise.

Personally I use emulators with physical media that I own because it's easier for me to record gameplay.

MASHMASH, Aureus_LunaeAureus_Lunae and HowDenKingHowDenKing like this. 
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I don't think it's a legal grey area at all. The subject has been challenged enough that it is fairly well defined by now. Ripping an iso from a game you own is legal if it is for personal use; it is the distributing that is illegal. Not to be confused with downloading a copy of something you own a hard copy of, which is still a form of piracy. If you're using torrents, it means you're seeding, so even if you only actively download, you are still uploading to other people who are downloading elsewhere.

The reason it isn't usually pursued by rights holders is that the cost of damages is generally too low to sue on an individual basis. It's much easier to track uploads and honeypots, which is why they usually get targeted for this kind of thing. Even so, it takes a long time for courts to process the IP lookups and what not, and it really doesn't seem like it's worth the effort. It's like if your food is being swarmed by flies, but you can only swat one at a time. It's really annoying, but it's not worth the effort to try to stop it.

The laws are definitely different for different countries (as you might expect). The Netherlands made a big deal about making downloading illegal- it used to just be uploading- but I don't think they really actually enforce it.

MASHMASH likes this. 

They cant enforce it here (the Netherlands), so they dont.


Sometimes it's based on the community but in most cases emulation is okay if it's allowed and when asked of you own it legitimate being able to verify that helps.
Again community usually decides this.

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If people continue to throw in their own opinion, this will continue to be muddled. This is not about ethics or what any single person "feels" is right; the final authority will be what the written law states, which will likely be different for different regions. In the UK, for instance, it ¤was¤ illegal to burn music CDs until about June 2014, when Parliament passed a law to make copying music that you own legal under certain conditions.

Similarly, the US has a Copyright Act that defines what is considered "fair use" and what isn't. In the age of social media, it was necessary to create these laws, because everyone is sharing everything and everyone seems to have a different opinion of what is legal and what isn't. Courts still examine these on a case-by-case basis, because it ¤can¤ get complicated, but in the US, Supreme Court has upheld that "the enquiry focuses on whether the new work merely supersedes the objects of the original creation, or whether and to what extent it is ‘transformative,’ altering the original with new expression, meaning, or message. The more transformative the new work, the less will be the significance of other factors, like commercialism, that may weigh against a finding of fair use."

Case summary is here:

To keep this from getting overly complicated, it is essential to differentiate between fact and opinion. That's not to say that you aren't welcome to your own opinions, but if you aren't sure, don't claim that your particular view on the ethics is the law.

EDIT: ROM hacks would fall under parody, like other comment and criticism, and may claim fair use, though it may also depend on how much the new work alters from the original creation.


Pirated games is a big no no as abandonware and other sites that share commercial games without permission are illegal!!!