Ethical discussion about Backup Loaders and Emulators (not discussing using them)
November 09, 2010 10:36PM
I would like to have a civil debate about use of hardware emulators (including the dreaded backup loaders). If the mods feel this is against the rules (I'm not going to discuss their actual use or support of them), then just close this topic, but don't ban me please. I just feel that this is a big sticking point in the Wii hacking community at large, especially this forum.

I'll start. While I understand the stance that WiiBrew takes with backup loaders, I don't understand why they are any different (from an ethical standpoint) as the various emulators which take up a lot of the discussion on this forum. They all emulate hardware: FCEUgx replaces the hardware of the NES with software that can be run on the Wii; game cartridges are converted to ROMS for use in these emulators. Legality on this matter is very controversial, and the ethics are just as grey. I have personally felt that while you should not download ROMs for games that you do not own, it is okay to download the ROMs (instead of ripping them with hardware you would have to purchase - which again has questionable legality depending on the the country in which you reside) for games you own. I even take it as far as it is okay to download the ROM of a game that cannot be obtained in a more official way (i.e. extremely rare NES or Atari 2600 games that would be hard to find even on eBay - and even then the original company receives no money for this). As such, I see backup loaders as emulating the disc drive (hardware) in software. If I own the game, why can I not rip it to a drive for disc-free play (very appealing to my lazy side; not to mention saves wear and tear on my Wii's aging drive). Until the Netflix channel's availability, this would have been an excellent solution for disc-free Netflix. Both traditional emulators and backup loaders have no safeguards against true piracy, but that doesn't stop traditional emulators from being discussed.

Any thoughts from anyone else? Or have I been banned?
Re: Ethical discussion about Backup Loaders and Emulators (not discussing using them)
November 09, 2010 10:41PM
There's also another point; Homebrew ROMs [for classic consoles]. You can't load homebre with a backup loader and if you have a loader you already have homebrew.
One more thing; coding a console emulator requires lots of skill whereas the backup loader runs the games with already provided Nintendo software. It doesn't really emulate anything, it just skips the copy protection.
You can use backup loaders, but we won't help you here. Rules are rules.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/09/2010 10:45PM by bg4545.
Those are very good counterpoints that I had not thought about. Thanks for your calm response. This is not my attempt to change the rules of the forum. I understand why this forum has the rules about not supporting backup loaders as they make piracy very easy. I just don't understand why discussion of emulators (for which playing pirated games is the most common use) is allowed. It just seem hypocritical, and it is definitely a case of differential ethics (although your above points do offer some very weak reasons for one being discussed and not the other - homebrew games, although that is not the main reason for using an emulator).

There are legitimate uses of backup loaders that do not include piracy (if you don't consider playing ROMs on an emulator piracy). It is nice to have your entire library of games available with sorting/search capabilities without having to get up from the couch and hunt through some cases of games for the one you want. I understand not providing technical support, but this strict "pretend it doesn't exist and blast anyone who utters the words ROMs, backup loaders, and (now) cIOS" needs to stop for this to return to the helpful forum it used to be. I've stated before and I will state again, this site most emulates the behavior of the company with which it hacks than any other hacking community I have been involved in. Open software projects need open discussion forums. I understand having to cover yourselves legally by not providing support for some questionably legal uses (although many would argue homebrew in general is questionably legal), but no one will come down on you for merely discussing them. This site has gone leaps and bounds in my opinion by just allowing this topic to persist.

More discussion and thoughts, please!



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/09/2010 11:41PM by lorddunlow.
Re: Ethical discussion about Backup Loaders and Emulators (not discussing using them)
November 10, 2010 01:00AM
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bg4545
There's also another point; Homebrew ROMs [for classic consoles]. You can't load homebre with a backup loader and if you have a loader you already have homebrew.

A loader could be useful for launching modified games. Though, at this point, it is probably more practical to use Riivolution.

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lorddunlow
I just don't understand why discussion of emulators (for which playing pirated games is the most common use) is allowed. It just seem hypocritical, and it is definitely a case of differential ethics (although your above points do offer some very weak reasons for one being discussed and not the other - homebrew games, although that is not the main reason for using an emulator).

That is a valid point. I'm sure that not many people use emulators for playing homebrew games. Though, keep in mind, an emulator takes a lot of effort to create. Anybody who makes an emulator does it for the sake of creating the emulator. It is far too much effort to make one simply to encourage piracy. On the other hand, a "backup" loader is very easy to make. As a proof of consept, Marcan did it in only six hours.

Furthermore, emulators open up new functionality on the wii. Many games that can be played with an emulator are not available as VC games. Whereas, a "backup" loader only allows one to play copies of games that the wii could already run.

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lorddunlow
There are legitimate uses of backup loaders that do not include piracy (if you don't consider playing ROMs on an emulator piracy). It is nice to have your entire library of games available with sorting/search capabilities without having to get up from the couch and hunt through some cases of games for the one you want.

Then go ahead and use one. I'm highly doubt that anybody cares if you use a loader for legitimate purposes anyway. After all, even Marcan uses a backup of his Twilight Princess disc after he damaged the original (of course, few people would ever use any single game as much as he used Twilight Princess). Just don't talk about it here.

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lorddunlow
I understand not providing technical support, but this strict "pretend it doesn't exist and blast anyone who utters the words ROMs, backup loaders, and (now) cIOS" needs to stop for this to return to the helpful forum it used to be.

With the exception of non-piracy related cIOS, none of that was ever supported here, so what to you mean "return to the helpful forum it used to be"? I suggest you take a look at GBAFail. You will notice that they support "backup" loaders, but claim that they are against piracy. You should also notice that most of the discussion there is about "backup" loaders, and it is clear that the vast majority of the people discussing these are pirates.

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lorddunlow
Open software projects need open discussion forums. I understand having to cover yourselves legally by not providing support for some questionably legal uses (although many would argue homebrew in general is questionably legal), but no one will come down on you for merely discussing them.

I'm sure that that is not the reason that "backup" loaders and such are forbidden here. Rather, we don't want to become like so many other sites (GBAFail and others that are so bad that I won't name them here). If we supported "backup" loaders, pirates would just claim that they were using legitimate backups. This would not be much better than openly supporting piracy.

In the end, if it were not for the anti-piracy rules, I (and probably many other users), would not be here at all.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/10/2010 01:03AM by jbc007.
Re: Ethical discussion about Backup Loaders and Emulators (not discussing using them)
November 10, 2010 01:30AM
And also, if a user were to come here asking for help after messing with cIOS and or loaders, we wouldn't shun them saying "GTFO PIRATE!!" we would help them fix whatever problem, we just wouldn't help them install a cIOS or backup loader.
Re: Ethical discussion about Backup Loaders and Emulators (not discussing using them)
November 10, 2010 02:24AM
Read my response to this question here: [forum.wiibrew.org]

And regarding cIOS the change in policy was made for this reason:

There is no longer a legitimate need for them. With IOS 58 and AHBPROT from the latest version of the HBC every legitimate purpose they provided (USB 2.0 support and savegame movement in particular) can be accomplished without their use. People may still want to mess around cIOS and IOS for legitimate fulfillment of their curiosity regarding how the Wii works. But if you're smart enough to do that you probably dont need to bother the forum for support.


If you have any original points to make in rebuttal I'd be happy to continue this debate. It's actually one of my favorites. And please, never, ever be afraid to ask for civil argument. Unlike competing sites we're happy to engage in it to provide simply the best Wii homebrew discussion community around.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/11/2010 04:22PM by Arikado.
Re: Ethical discussion about Backup Loaders and Emulators (not discussing using them)
November 10, 2010 02:37AM
lorddunlow: You bring up great points... backup loaders are awesome to put your library on a hd and run your games from that. Safe, convenient, and no worries about ruining your discs.

Problem is that we can't help folks set that up because the info could EASILY be used to run downloaded pirated games.

So feel free to partake in such activities, we just can't help you set it up or fix any problems.

The other part of that is that based on what I've seen... in order to get stuff like that working / setup, you have to do stuff that seems more dangerous to your wii... so we don't wanna recommend more practices that lead to more bricks.

(granted you could counter this argument by saying that if wiibrew did support backup loaders, maybe there would be a safe procedure that was proven and didn't cause every other wii to brick.)

I dunno, would i love to run backups on my wii from my HD so that i could put my games on a shelf and not worry about my 6 year old, my 3 year old, and my 1 year old trashing them? HELL YES? but it isn't supported here, and i understand the unfortunate reason why... the info could be used to do illegal things.

NOW, emulators. WELCOME to the gray area... I don't even really delve into this topic because i could talk myself out of each side of the argument :D

But i just default to Arikado's quote :
Quote
Arikado
It may not be the best set of rules; But they are rules.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/10/2010 02:38AM by mdbrim.
Thanks for all the great discussion; many good points here.

Arikado: In response to something you mentioned in the post you linked to, specifically that emulators are different from backup loaders because they allow playing games from older systems and therefore any piracy with these affects the company less because they aren't making as much money for the company as current systems, I would like to consider your own DS emulator with which I have considerable ethical problems. Since it came out, I felt it should not be discussed here because it emulates a current device (one of Nintendo's most popular and profitable). I feel it is even worse (ethically speaking) than a Wii backup loader because at least with a backup loader you had to have purchased the physical hardware from the company, even if you want to pirate the games. With your emulator, one can easily pirate a current (very popular) handheld's games without even buying the hardware (the sales of which is obviously still profitable to Nintendo since they keep modifying the hardware so frequently). You can go on about how it is enjoyable to code an emulator for the sheer challenge of it, while there is not much challenge to coding a backup loader, but the main use for both is the same. Also, some of the backup loaders are very polished with many interesting features and GUIs which obviously took someone a lot of hard work to accomplish.

I will state again, I have no wish to change the rules to allow discussion and support of backup loaders or piracy. I just think emulators (especially the DS emulator) should not be discussed if the reason that backup loaders are not supported is that they are mainly used for piracy of a current console.

bg4545: In response to your statement that this forum doesn't shun people who use cIOS, loaders, or other questionable software who come for help, I disagree. This thread [forum.wiibrew.org] is a great example of someone looking for legitimate help who was completely shutdown. This has happened to me on several occasions when not even discussing forbidden things, such as every time I was hesistant to update HBC and just wanted advice and options. I was only told to update officially via Nintendo and update the HBC and to (I'm paraphrasing rather unfairly here to make my point) stop whining about the updates to homebrew, they won't hurt me.

I generally love homebrew/open software project forums, but this one is a little too "closed" for me nowadays.
Re: Ethical discussion about Backup Loaders and Emulators (not discussing using them)
November 11, 2010 04:10PM
Im flattered if you think my emulator runs well enough to be considered a threat to Nintendo's handheld console. At best, it's only a threat to flashcart manufacturers as it runs most homebrew software almost perfectly but literally every game plays with at least a little lag.

And regarding the GUIs Im sorry if you bought into thinking they took a lot of time and effort to program because they didnt. GUI programming is extremely trivial and easy. It's like wrapping up a present in that it's just pretty paper on top of an existing (and in this case easy to produce) base. Most use Tantric's libwiigui library or the GUI from GeckoOS which already takes care of 90% of the "work".

To flavor discussion a bit: bushing brings up an interesting point ( [hackmii.com] ) of why do we try so hard to avoid piracy and work to help out Nintendo when they obviously do not return the same courtesy to us. My answer is that I respect the developers despite the poor policy decisions made by the corporate businessmen.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/11/2010 04:20PM by Arikado.
I think wrapping a present is a lot of work. I hate wrapping presents. ;)

I wasn't saying that the programming of the GUIs take work, but making a good one (with the tools others have programmed) takes some creativity and effort. I just don't think that the amount of work put into a project should matter in the debate over whether it contributes to piracy or not.

My take on piracy and the fight against piracy is this: there are talented (and not-so-talented but lucky) programmers who simply like to hack things. (Something I understand, sinceI love to hack any gadget I get, often just to see what can be done - but I definitely depend on the hard, unpaid work of the programmers who provide the hacks and homebrew apps since I have essentially no skill in programming) These programmers open up hardware to be used to its full potential, and I am very grateful for that. (My TiVo became a media streamer in my house years before an affordable or easy solution for that came about commercially - even before TiVo came out with a half-hearted attempt at something similar for a cost, of course.) Some programmers just want to be able to get everything they want for free (pirates) and utilize their knowledge along with others' exploits to get free stuff (which I definitely don't agree with). However, both with legitimate hardware hackers and pirates, any attempt to thwart them only makes them find better hacks, so what's the point in trying to stop them. The people who want to pirate will find a way, so don't make things more difficult for those who are not pirates. I have the same gripes with DRM and other various copy protections on music and video. I bought it, let me do what I want to with it.

Arikado: I do think your emulator is great. Not 100%, but what emulator is at this early stage. DS emulation (on a Wii especially) is something I thought would take a lot longer to come about.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/11/2010 06:08PM by lorddunlow.
Re: Ethical discussion about Backup Loaders and Emulators (not discussing using them)
November 12, 2010 10:07PM
The pirates seem to be incapable of running pirated games without the use of tools made by Team Twiizers and others who are against piracy. They certainly rely on the exploits, three of which are based on Team Twiizer's Twilight Hack. Comex's created the other two exploits, and he is also against piracy. Furthermore, pirates need an IOS exploit to install their cIOS. Now that Nintendo has finally patched the bug used by TBR, the pirates must rely on Bootmii or the HW_AHBPROT flag set by the HBC. I doubt that the pirates would be able to find another IOS exploit in any reasonable amount of time.

Back on topic, although we may not like it, it is important that we do not overlook the fact that roms (and, when necessary, BIOS files) are usually obtained illegally. Overlooking this fact is much like overlooking the fact that backup loaders are more commonly used to play pirated games. After all, most people do not have the capability to dump their own roms (except for the disc based ones that can be dumped with any computer). We don't need to tell people where to download roms, but as long as we support emulators, we should not take issue with someone for illegally downloading a rom.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/12/2010 10:08PM by jbc007.
Re: Ethical discussion about Backup Loaders and Emulators (not discussing using them)
November 12, 2010 11:10PM
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jbc007
After all, most people do not have the capability to dump their own roms (except for the disc based ones that can be dumped with any computer).

I'd just like to say that most recent consoles can be used to dump their own games e.g. the DS and the PSP. DS can also be used to dump GBA games. However, for older consoles, it is indeed true that to dump games specialist hardware is required.
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jbc007
We don't need to tell people where to download roms, but as long as we support emulators, we should not take issue with someone for illegally downloading a rom.

This is what has been bothering me in other threads. This forum has a tendency to crucify someone and end any useful discussion if someone just happens to mention a backup loader, or something else that may be piracy, even if it has no bearing (or at least very little) on the person's question. In some cases, asking help to fix a problem caused by loaders, etc. Gets the cold shoulder, if not outright attacked. I understand the reason behind the forum's strict anti-piracy stance, but I think a little leniency is needed in some cases. Also, if you want to have a strict anti-piracy stance with no exceptions, then discussion of emulators also needs to be blacklisted as well.

Again, I'm not trying to step on any toes here, I just don't understand the logic of some of ways things are handled here.
Re: Ethical discussion about Backup Loaders and Emulators (not discussing using them)
November 13, 2010 09:16AM
Quote
lorddunlow
This forum has a tendency to crucify someone and end any useful discussion if someone just happens to mention a backup loader, or something else that may be piracy, even if it has no bearing (or at least very little) on the person's question. In some cases, asking help to fix a problem caused by loaders, etc. Gets the cold shoulder, if not outright attacked. I understand the reason behind the forum's strict anti-piracy stance, but I think a little leniency is needed in some cases.

According to the rules, by using piracy related applications such as backup loaders, a user is automatically disqualified from receiving any sort of support on this forum. In practice, we rarely, if ever, take such an extreme stance; instead, we usually assist people who have difficulty with their epic fail homebrew, provided that they wish to remove it. All the same, it would be greatly preferable if people did not come here to talk about their backup loaders, no matter the reason.

Quote
lorddunlow
Also, if you want to have a strict anti-piracy stance with no exceptions, then discussion of emulators also needs to be blacklisted as well.

WiiBrew is not an anti-piracy organization. Rather, it is a wii homebrew community, and as such, it is practically impossible to avoid aiding pirates in some way. As I mentioned before, the pirates rely on our exploits. Therefore, if anti-piracy was the primary goal, we would not be able to have legitimate homebrew either, since it relies on these same exploits. Of course, we take what actions are reasonably possible to prevent piracy, but there is only so much that we can do without nullifying the whole purpose of wii homebrew.

Furthermore, the purpose of homebrew is to allow developers to write applications for the wii. Homebrew users play a secondary role compared to the developers. This is why the simplicity of creating a backup loader compared to than emulator is such a big deal. A backup loader is so simple to create that it serves the users far more than it does the developer. Though this alone is not a bad thing, most users use backup loaders for piracy, and due to the backup loader's simplicity, this can not be considered to be merely an undesirable consequence of an otherwise productive project.

On the other hand, writing an emulator takes a lot of effort. The purpose of creating an emulator is to satisfy the developer's desires to write said emulator. The piracy that occurs as a result of having an emulator is an unfortunate consequence of such a project. Besides, emulator based piracy is much less harmful to the game industry than the piracy allowed by backup loaders.

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lorddunlow
Again, I'm not trying to step on any toes here, I just don't understand the logic of some of ways things are handled here.

Look at it this way, the rules, though they may not be perfect, encourage best discussion that you will find on any wii homebrew site. You may have noticed that WiiBrew users are, on average, more mature than the members of many other internet forums. We encourage good discussions (this topic is a good example), and we keep away the people who like to complain about all the problems they have when pirating games. I think that that alone is evidence that WiiBrew's policies are, overall, successful.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/13/2010 09:20AM by jbc007.
Re: Ethical discussion about Backup Loaders and Emulators (not discussing using them)
November 13, 2010 08:47PM
Quote
jbc007
Quote
lorddunlow
This forum has a tendency to crucify someone and end any useful discussion if someone just happens to mention a backup loader, or something else that may be piracy, even if it has no bearing (or at least very little) on the person's question. In some cases, asking help to fix a problem caused by loaders, etc. Gets the cold shoulder, if not outright attacked. I understand the reason behind the forum's strict anti-piracy stance, but I think a little leniency is needed in some cases.
According to the rules, by using piracy related applications such as backup loaders, a user is automatically disqualified from receiving any sort of support on this forum. In practice, we rarely, if ever, take such an extreme stance; instead, we usually assist people who have difficulty with their epic fail homebrew, provided that they wish to remove it. All the same, it would be greatly preferable if people did not come here to talk about their backup loaders, no matter the reason.
Yeah, that's pretty much it. Also, if a user blatantly admits to pirating games, they'd probbably get 'attacked'. If a user just happens to mention having a backup loader we will tell them not to discuss it here and depending on how/what they asked, they do get help with their problems.
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