Remember the days (circa 1999-2004) when the entire music business agenda was dominated by one topic and one topic alone – illegal filesharing? Just as the music business was first through the wringer, so it was the first to emerge, blinking and somewhat disoriented, out the other side.
Sure there’s still the occasional debate about stream ripping, but the agenda is primarily about continuing the growth curve rather than ululating about the decline. Spare a thought, then, for the games industry as high-profile legal action against unlicensed sites continues apace.
Nintendo recently took legal moves against two sites, LoveRetro and LoveRoms, that were offering unlicensed downloads of games and now EmuParadise, a site that has been operating since the turn of the millennium, has voluntarily shut down. Nintendo is not stopping there, though, and is seeking $150,000 for every game title that was infringed as well as $2m for every trademark infringement from EmuParadise.
TorrentFreak has written in support of the platforms, invoking the old “use it or lose it” argument about copyright. “Obtaining Roms, in order to play retro games, does no harm,” it argues. “The titles themselves are often decades old, run on obsolete hardware, and have already covered their costs 1,000 times over.”
Old timers in the record business will remember similar arguments about catalogue appearing on P2P sites that had not been digitised by the labels yet – the logic being that if such catalogues were deemed so valuable then the copyright owners would have been making them available legally (sidestepping the wider point that copyright infringement still happened here).
This story acts like a music business madeleine but also stands as a marker for just how far it has come in the past decade and a half.