Legal queries about roms

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New member
Hi guys,

I have some questions concerning the legality of downloading and/or using roms. Gathering from some stuff I have read recently, apparently it is illegal to download and use roms, especially those that are ESA protected. Is this true? I think that I may have been under the impression that roms such as old NES roms sort of fell under the category of "abandonware" or something like that. I suppose I thought that the NES has been so long off the market. I now think that I may have been mistaken. Don't copyrights have a limited life span, like they expire after a certain period of time and doesn't this apply to these games?

I'd appreciate if someone could help me understand this better. Thanks in advance for any help. :)


Controller Man
Staff member
Wow this gets old... Ok instead of going in to detail like we do every other week around here, just going to say this. If you dont own the game, yes its illegal. If you want a more detailed answer please search around a bit, its been talked about so much. I'm going to close the thread as its getting quite redundant.


An ESA-protected ROM file is basically a ROM file protected by the ESA: the Entertainment Software Association. This is a large group of many developers and publishers. The ESA are in charge of many things, such as international anti-piracy actions. If you don't want to get into any trouble, don't download them.
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