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Legal FAQ

What is MBBSEmu?

MBBSEmu is an open-source effort to develop a quality runtime environment that is compatible with Galacticomm's The Major BBS and Worldgroup applications.

Is MBBSEmu based on Galacticomm's The MajorBBS or Worldgroup original source code?

No. MBBSEmu consists only of clean-room engineered MIT License and MIT License compatible source code written in C#.

Yes. MBBSEmu is fully legal.

MBBSEmu has been developed with strict adherence to legal standards and operates entirely within the legal framework. The project does not utilize any original source code from Galacticomm's The Major BBS or Worldgroup. Instead, it is built exclusively from clean-room engineered source code, following the MIT License's guidelines. This approach involves using publicly available documentation and conducting independent tests to understand and recreate the functionalities of The MajorBBS and Worldgroup without accessing or copying their original code. The distinct and independently developed nature of MBBSEmu's codebase ensures its legal integrity and compliance with copyright laws.

A copyright violation in the context of software development, such as for emulators like MBBSEmu, typically involves directly copying or replicating the source code of another software to create a similar product. For emulators, it's crucial to develop the code independently without utilizing the original software's source code. Additionally, distributing unauthorized copies of the original software also constitutes a violation. MBBSEmu circumvents these legal pitfalls by using a clean-room approach to code development, ensuring that its emulation functionalities are created without infringing upon the copyrighted material of the original software.

For prior cases related to the legality of Emulators in relation to Copyright law, please see:

When it comes to reverse engineering for the purpose of creating an emulator, particularly for old DOS-based software over 30 years old, the legality can be quite nuanced and is heavily dependent on the jurisdiction and specific circumstances. Emulators, which allow one system to mimic or replicate the functions of another system, often require a deep understanding of the original software, which is typically obtained through reverse engineering.

In many countries, including the United States, reverse engineering for the purpose of achieving interoperability (which is a key aspect of creating an emulator) is often considered legal, falling under fair use or specific exceptions in copyright law. This legal stance aims to balance the interests of copyright holders with the advancement of technology and innovation. However, the legality is not absolute and can be complicated by factors such as the specific terms of the end-user license agreement (EULA) of the original software, and whether the software is still under copyright protection. Given that copyright terms can extend well beyond 30 years, it's possible that even older software could still be protected. As such, it’s critical for anyone considering reverse engineering for emulation purposes to consult legal expertise in their respective jurisdiction and to closely examine the copyright status and EULA terms of the software in question.

The EFF has an in-depth guide for Developers on the topic of Reverse Engineering: Coders’ Rights Project Reverse Engineering FAQ

Nintendo of America, Inc. vs. Tropic Haze LLC

In light of recent legal developments in the emulation community, particularly the case involving the Nintendo Switch emulator Yuzu, we have prepared a comprehensive analysis that contrasts these events with the legal and ethical foundations of MBBSEmu.

For more information, please read our article: Navigating Legal Challenges in Emulation: MBBSEmu vs. Yuzu

Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Laws and regulations regarding reverse engineering and emulator development can vary significantly by jurisdiction and are subject to change. For specific legal advice or up-to-date information tailored to your situation, please consult with a qualified legal expert.

legal.txt · Last modified: 2024/03/05 14:30 by enusbaum