It is commonly held, and explained on many sites distributing ROM images (for instance for gaming consoles), that downloading them for emulation purposes is legal if one has the hardware containing said ROM image.

Actually, the problem is much more complicated, and this "rule" is not legal, in the sense that it's not part of any piece of law.



At the end of the previous century, the TI calculators community spent significant effort on producing TI graphing calculator emulators, in which each user had to manually enter a ROM or OS image retrieved by his/her own means. That way, emulator authors passed legal problems (if any) on to their users.

Over the last few years, many changes have occurred in the emulation field:
  • many community emulators of various quality and completeness have blossomed for smartphones and tablets
  • the community now provides online emulators, which largely free users from compatibility headaches between computer types or installation procedures (let's mention TI8XEmu on TI-Planet or jsTIfied on Cemetech)




However, things also evolved on TI's side:
  • TI started to take seriously the simulation (less advanced than emulation) of their machines, through the Nspire software (or TI-SmartView for pour TI-83+, TI-84, TI-73, TI-Collège Plus, TI-30X MultiView, TI-30X Pro MultiView, TI-34 MultiView, which are quality software)
  • TI offers some sort of online Nspire simulator, through the TI-Nspire Document Player
  • TI recently started to sell a Nspire simulator for the iPad






In this context, as mentioned on #cemetech, a "small" change has just been introduced in the TI-Software/App license, presented to users when downloading an OS from TI's site:

TI wrote:
TEXAS INSTRUMENTS APP SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT

By downloading the software and/or documentation you agree to abide by the following provisions.

Licence: Subject to your payment of any applicable license fee, Texas Instruments Incorporated ("TI") grants you a license to copy and use the software program(s) on a TI calculator and copy and use the documentation from the linked web page or CD ROM (both software programs and documentation being "Licensed Materials"). In addition to the copy resident on your calculator, you may keep a copy on your computer for backup / archive purposes only.


Restrictions: [..]: You may not use the Licensed Materials on any emulator of a TI calculator unless the emulator is obtained from TI.




Yup, from now on, using TI's OS images with community TI calculator emulators is forbidden, which is in complete contradiction with the simplistic rule mentioned at the beginning of this post. :'(

Of course, we can think of the fact that no-fee virtual calculators that emulators provide conflict with calculator sales: why buy a physical calculator when one can have a virtual calculator on the computer for no fee ?
Several years ago, the "problem" didn't exist, but nowadays, smartphone or tablet are computers with a form factor not larger than calculators (and they're much more powerful !), so the situation changed...



Some persons will say that TI needs to evolve instead of taking part in downhill battles...
But however, let's try to look beyond the facts, as there might be even more important issues at stake. So, as we're now allowed to use ROM and OS images only with emulators provided by TI... would this mean that TI intends on investing even further in the area of simulation and emulation of their products?

We're impatiently and excitingly awaiting:
  • an online TI-84+ emulator, in order to replace TI8XEmu (TI-Planet) and jsTIfied (Cemetech) which we seemingly no longer have the right to use
  • a 89/92+/V200/89T emulator


But we can also wish that TI removes such clauses...



Situation to be watched...



Source:
#cemetech via http://tiplanet.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=49&t=11296&p=135986



Edit: Indeed, TI is planning an online TI-84 emulator for the PARCC mathematics assessments for High School as you can read here (in french):
http://tiplanet.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=10813
I think that that clause is an oddity, considering the long history of TI calculator emulation. Back in high school, my math teachers used VTI to demonstrate calculator concepts on SmartBoards, certainly more interactively than they could have with the ViewScreen devices and an overhead projector. Emulators help us create z80 ASM and TI-BASIC games faster and more easily, those games drive students to spend more time with their TI calculators, and TI gets more publicity and more customers. I've had a lot of teachers contact me to thank me for jsTIfied, especially since I made it work as a TI-83+/TI-84+ emulator for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. As you say in your post, the main reason I can think of them trying to restrict emulator usage is that they're planning to introduce some paid emulator software of their own.

Which brings me to another important point. No matter how I read that clause, it appears to cover the use of emulators with ROMs downloaded from TI's website. It definitely doesn't cover emulator makers, such as the TILem authors, Buckeye and company with WabbitEmu, and myself with jsTIfied. Since emulators merely emulate hardware (that we own), and there are third-party OSes that include no TI code at all, I don't see how there could be a legal justification for preventing programmers from creating emulators. In addition, it's not clear to me if the EULA shown on TI's website applied to both .8xu OS upgrades downloaded from their website, and ROM images dumped directly from calculators that people own.

Needless to say, the very existence of this clause makes me nervous, and I'll be anxious to see where TI takes things from here.
Well, I for one am not going to be overly happy if they try to ban Wabbit and crew because they suddenly want to step into the game.

Hopefully someone can gather us some information with some gentle prodding with their contacts. Wink
You should get in touch with the EFF in case s**t gets real and you need to lawyer up.
tifreak8x wrote:
Well, I for one am not going to be overly happy if they try to ban Wabbit and crew because they suddenly want to step into the game.

Hopefully someone can gather us some information with some gentle prodding with their contacts. Wink
I thought about it, but then I decided to just lay low and see if they get in touch with me. As I said on #cemetech, I know that my contacts know about jsTIfied, and I'm pretty sure they've read about TI-84+CSE support, so we'll see if they say anything to me. I might also mention something about it at T^3; I'll be chatting with a lot of my TI contacts in person there.
I don't think they have a case. Emulators are legal as long as they don't contain copyrighted code and there's no way TI can enforce their rule, since they don't know what we do with our ROMs once they are on our computers.

TI8XEmu might be at risk if it comes with ROMs, though. Not sure about calculator skins.
DJ_O wrote:
I don't think they have a case. Emulators are legal as long as they don't contain copyrighted code and there's no way TI can enforce their rule, since they don't know what we do with our ROMs once they are on our computers.

TI8XEmu might be at risk if it comes with ROMs, though. Not sure about calculator skins.
It comes with ROMs? That's definitely illegal, as TI has gotten sites taken down for hosting ROMs before. I could see TI coming after emulators for skins, but to my knowledge, using images of products for "representative purposes" is allowable, compared to using an image of a productto sell a replica of the product (which is obviously illegal). Of course, I am not at all a lawyer, so I could be totally wrong about that.
Again, TI8XEmu doesn't come with ROMs.
It can just be specified a ROM and a RAM to load on startup.

By the way, TI is planning an online TI-84 emulator for the PARCC mathematics assessments for High School.

Source: http://tiplanet.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=10813 (in french, sorry)


So, I think we might be starting to understand why...
I notice that that talks about programs that are like the TI-84 Plus calculator in functionality, but doesn't specifically say "emulator". To my mind, that means either they're just non-technical people (and it is an emulator) or it's more a replica of the functionality (ie, math and graphing) than a hardware-accurate emulator. Based on things I've heard through the grapevine, it may be the former, ie, a real emulator. I've tried to broach jsTIfied as an asset to my TI contacts before, about which they didn't comment, so I guess we can only wait to see what they do.
French sites have been historically known to be more lax about such material, even console games. Generally, all you will see is a warning saying that you are not allowed to keep the ROM on your computer for more than 24 hours unless you own the calculator/game, while others will simply state that you are not allowed to download it at all unless you own the physical hardware.

I am not sure about the laws there, but since I've been in the community there has been only 1 case where a French site was forced to take an OS down from his site and it was Nspire OS 1.1. The site hosted every OS, but TI requested just this one to be taken down. (It was the only Ndless compatible OS at the time).

On the other hand, I do remember several US-based sites being forced to take down ROMs and OSes.
I perfectly know the warning you mention is not legal, as it's not mentionned in any law. Wink
I started your Omnimaga news reminding this. Smile
DJ_O wrote:
French sites have been historically known to be more lax about such material, even console games. Generally, all you will see is a warning saying that you are not allowed to keep the ROM on your computer for more than 24 hours unless you own the calculator/game, while others will simply state that you are not allowed to download it at all unless you own the physical hardware.
Indeed, I noticed that when I searched the French Google to sate my own curiosity about what ROMs were hosted on French sites.

Quote:
I am not sure about the laws there, but since I've been in the community there has been only 1 case where a French site was forced to take an OS down from his site and it was Nspire OS 1.1. The site hosted every OS, but TI requested just this one to be taken down. (It was the only Ndless compatible OS at the time).

On the other hand, I do remember several US-based sites being forced to take down ROMs and OSes.
It could definitely have something to do with a difference between French and US law.
IANAL, so take all of the following analysis with a grain of salt. It seems there is some similar precedent here, as far as how we should proceed, with the way Apple has historically licensed Mac OS X, which specifies that it may only be installed on Apple hardware (or with new versions, Apple hardware and a small number of virtualized instances correlating to the number of Apple computers you own). Apple has successfully gone after companies like Psystar for violating that license commercially, but has refrained from pursuing end-users who build Hackintosh systems (or people who develop software facilitating such a use) and it is widely believed (though untested in court) that personal use in that manner is legally protected as long as the copy being used was legally obtained.

By comparison of the technical details, it seems that Cemetech and its users should be protected in the same fashion as long as

  • We aren't distributing ROMs
  • You aren't using pirated ROMs


Also,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tying_(commerce) wrote:
Some kinds of tying, especially by contract, have historically been regarded as anti-competitive practices. The basic idea is that consumers are harmed by being forced to buy an undesired good (the tied good) in order to purchase a good they actually want (the tying good), and so would prefer that the goods be sold separately. The company doing this bundling may have a significantly large market share so that it may impose the tie on consumers, despite the forces of market competition. The tie may also harm other companies in the market for the tied good, or who sell only single components.
...
Tying is often used when the supplier makes one product that is critical to many customers. By threatening to withhold that key product unless others are also purchased, the supplier can increase sales of less necessary products.
...
In the United States, most states have laws against tying, which are enforced by state governments. In addition, the U.S. Department of Justice enforces federal laws against tying through its Antitrust Division.


Like Apple, TI wants contractual tying of the OS to the hardware, because the hardware is the cash cow, but the software often represents the greater development effort.

Moreover, the combination of BootFree firmware and the TI-OS is almost certainly a legally acceptable way to produce a ROM that can be run without owning a TI calculator, in the same way that third party bootloaders have been used, without legal challenge, in the Hackintosh scene to circumvent the technical aspects of Apple's tying of OS X to Mac hardware.

It might worthwhile for Kerm to have a discussion with both TI and the EFF regarding this issue while relations are cordial, but this is a probably a case of be careful what you wish for. If we push too hard, the obvious legal endgame is that TI ends up selling the OS upgrades. They obviously don't want to do that, because it would be a PR nightmare with the schools who are a large market, so we should be smart and not force a legal confrontation. If third-party emulation doesn't start cutting into their core market, they'll almost certainly prefer to leave us alone, because even though the legal system seems to be on our side here, "winning" a court case that results in them choosing to sell the OS is a losing move for both of us.
I think the bigger economic concern for TI would not be selling OS updates, but selling an emulator. If the community makes awesome free emulators, but TI sells a $130 emulator schools can buy, pre-loaded with a ROM, instead of buying hardware, then it hurts them a lot when teachers use our tools instead. This is (of course) all speculation, although I have information from reputable non-TI sources indicating that some 2014 standardized math tests will allow TI devices emulated in form or function on computers. It doesn't seem moral to try to stop people using ROMs legally obtained from legally-purchased TI calculators on emulators by the people who bought those calculators, but the legality is another story. I'd argue that BootFree and company are a lot less debatable than a full ROM dumped from your own calculator, because using BootFree makes it trivial for people to use the TI OS updates without buying a calculator at all.

Also, regarding the legality of ROMs and emulation: it appears that emulator writers can only be found on the wrong side of the law (potentially) if they violate hardware patents rather than copyright, from reading this treatment:
http://www.worldofspectrum.org/EmuFAQ2000/EmuFAQ_Y2KAddendum1.htm
As I've just written on TI-Planet, I can't see how unlocked community emulators would interfere with the business model of having a paid simulator, tailored to the needs of those silly standardized tests that keep requesting silly kinds of functionality reduction (such as trig functions) ?
Community emulators, whose aim is to emulate the calculators we own for doing the things we please and that TI has no right to interfere with, would simply not be certified for such standardized tests, so they wouldn't prevent TI from doing business.
Quote:
I'd argue that BootFree and company are a lot less debatable than a full ROM dumped from your own calculator, because using BootFree makes it trivial for people to use the TI OS updates without buying a calculator at all.

Right, but my point is that it seems pretty clear that BootFree is legal, but that we should not be encouraging its use or waving it too proudly in TI's face, because widespread use is what will trigger the sorts of negative consequences I was concerned about.


I agree with Lionel, that community emulators shouldn't infringe on a standardized-testing market, but it might infringe on a classroom market.


As far as patents are concerned, isn't there a requirement that the work be commercial in nature for that to even apply?
Just a question to post here (I read through most of the topic, but I am rushed)...

I see that this (so-called) license is posted for when you download the 8xu. Does this license apply to the 8xu exclusively, as-in does the end-user of a new calc have to agree to this license in order to use the calculator with the OS on it? If not, does that still mean that you can dump the ROM and emulate the OS that is on the calc, but not emulate the OS from the 8xu?
Thread::getSingleton()->bump(this);

#cemetech wrote:
[13:36] <Jonimus> That also doesn't apply to an OS dumped from an existing calculator such as what is in ROM's gotten through TILP.
[13:37] <Jonimus> Since you don't have to accecpt that EULA in order to obtain it.
AHelper wrote:
Just a question to post here (I read through most of the topic, but I am rushed)...

I see that this (so-called) license is posted for when you download the 8xu. Does this license apply to the 8xu exclusively, as-in does the end-user of a new calc have to agree to this license in order to use the calculator with the OS on it? If not, does that still mean that you can dump the ROM and emulate the OS that is on the calc, but not emulate the OS from the 8xu?
It's very unclear. If the latter, then they're specifically trying to prevent Buckeye's questionably-legal (illegal?) BootFree workaround in WabbitEmu. If the former, they want to try to shut down third-party emulation entirely. Not to sound "I told you so," but I've had qualms about the arguments for the legality of .8xu + BootFree + fake certificate for quite some time, if that is indeed what TI is unhappy about. Then again, since rumors indicate more widespread and student-oriented calculator emulators may be in the pipeline, it could easily have nothing to do with WabbitEmu.
In any case, attempting to criminalize users for normal usage is pointless, stupid and loathsome practice, and also gluttony for punishment (since users will fight back) Smile
  
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