TVAddons Reports That Kodi 18 'Leia' Is Adding Built-in Video Game ROM Emulation

By Kim Snaith on at

Uh-oh - it looks like modified Kodi boxes may not just be a menace to the film and TV industries - but the platform could soon be upsetting the games industry too.

According to TVAddons, a popular pirate TV add-on for Kodi, a new update — nicknamed 'Leia' — will include a build-in ROM emulator, allow you go play all manner of retro video games without needing to download any extra software.

Along with the built-in emulator, there will also be a new add-on available — the Internet Archive ROM Launcher, which allows you to grab the ROMs stored on the Internet Archive and play on the built in emulator.

That sounds great, right? Games built into Kodi? Sure, in principle it is, but there's just one problem: downloading and running emulated video games is not strictly legal.

There's a lot of grey area around the subject, with some older games being considered exempt from DMCA as they're no longer sold or distributed. Some publishers, however, very much disagree with this. Nintendo has notably taken a stand on use of all ROMS, stating that any downloaded ROM, even if you own the physical item it's emulating, is illegal. In a detailed FAQ on its website, Nintendo disputed the argument about older games being considered public domain, stating that copyrights remain valid long after an item has stopped being sold on shelves:

Isn't it Okay to Download Nintendo ROMs for Games that are No Longer Distributed in the Stores or Commercially Exploited? Aren't They Considered "Public Domain"?

No, the current availability of a game in stores is irrelevant as to its copyright status. Copyrights do not enter the public domain just because they are no longer commercially exploited or widely available. Therefore, the copyrights of games are valid even if the games are not found on store shelves, and using, copying and/or distributing those games is a copyright infringement.

Haven't the Copyrights for Old Games Expired?

U.S. copyright laws state that copyrights owned by corporations are valid for 75 years from the date of first publication. Because video games have been around for less than three decades, the copyrights of all video games will not expire for many decades to come.

Others have taken a less steadfast approach, seeing emulation as a way of keeping old games alive, and particular publishers are just happy to see their games out there. Whatever your personal stance on ROM emulation is, though, there is a minefield of copyright and IP law that surrounds it. So perhaps stick to gaming on your Switch, right? [Express]