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Re: MAME emulator is giving incentive to use non-free software

From: Jookia
Subject: Re: MAME emulator is giving incentive to use non-free software
Date: Tue, 29 Mar 2016 17:27:11 +1100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.24 (2015-08-30)

Hey again,

I think this is an interesting discussion, so let's deal with facts rather than

On Tue, Mar 29, 2016 at 06:42:43AM +0200, Jean Louis wrote:
> - decision to include MAME in a free GNU distribution directly
>   influences users to use non-free software and promotes non-free
>   software

I just read through the website and see no mention of this. No nonfree software
is endorsed or mentioned, only talk of preserving history and documenting

I do see this however in the FAQ:

"Each version of MAME includes support for additional games. If you run MAME
with the -listfull option, it will display a list of all supported games."

I'm not sure if listing support is endorsement. Wine also has its AppDB for
compatibility. There's certainly no push that you should use it for this, but
rather than it's capable of running these tools.

> - the argument "let us search for one free software ROM" to justify the
>   inclusion of MAME in such free distribution is one-sided, and does not
>   foresee the future results. As MAME is made exclusively with the
>   purpose to support non-free software, the practical future result is
>   that people will be guided to download and use non-free ROMs,

We could apply this argument to firmware updaters too. In fact I have in the
past, but we have things like Libreboot and ColorHug which while aren't popular,
are free and useful for our tools.

> - it can be clearly seen that website of MAME:
>   offers under Download section, non-free ROMs:
> (disregard their definiton of "free" as they
>   are not)

This is problematic.

> - why would free software distribution support and include software that
>   was primarily made for usage of non-free software?! Single fact that
>   such software is free does not demand and promote usage of free
>   software. See Guidelines.

"MAME main purpose is to be a refefence to the inner workings of the emulated
machines. This is done both for educational purposes and for preservation
purposes, in order to prevent historical software from disappearing forever once
the hardware it runs on stops working. Of course, in order to preserve the
software and demonstrate that the emulated behavior matches the original, you
must also be able to actually use the software. This is considered a nice side
effect, and is not MAME's primary focus.

It is not our intention to infringe on any copyrights or patents on the original
games. All of MAME's source code is either our own or freely available."


"To operate, the emulator requires images of the original ROMs, CDs, hard disks
or other media from the machines, which must be provided by the user. No
portions of the original game code are included in the executable."

Regardless of intentions, is MAME useful without these ROMs?

> - MAME® is a U.S. registered trademark, that may be found with the
>   And the owner, clearly says on the website:
>   "Please note that MAME is a registered trademark of Nicola Salmoria,
>   and permission is required to use the "MAME" name, logo or wordmark. "
>   which makes the whole software package under that name (MAME®) non-free and
>   incompatible with GPL 2.0 -- for example, I cannot sell MAME package
>   that I would get from GuixSD, as I would be required special
>   permission to use MAME® trademark.

This is problematic, but rebranding isn't out of the question.

> Regarding Wine:
> - Wine website is constantly endorsing non-free software, what is easy
>   to see from their News: as they
>   develop the software to run non-free software, I guess mostly for
>   gamers, who don't care about free software philosophy.
> - for that same reason I would reject Wine in ALL free software
>   distributions.
> - Wine is not "freedom respecting" software (see guidelines), and as
>   such, does not demand, rather it encourages users to use non-free
>   software.

Same arguments as above, though I don't see Wine endorsing nonfree software. In
fact it's importantly used to make free software development easier as I and
Mark Weaver mentioned in a previous email.

> Jean Louis


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