Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
29 January 2007
Sony's PSOne on PSP: punishing the faithful...again
Sony needs to fix the PSOne emulation situation on the PSP right now.

There is now a firmware downgrader for every PSP ever sold, including my own which has been upgraded to firmware version 3.03. Anyone who owns a PSP and an older copy of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (I do) can then install a copy of the PSOne emulator that Sony has been selling through its PlayStation Store. Then you can rip your very own PSOne games and play them with the emulator.

The catch is that redistribution of the emulator is probably illegal. I'd guess that it has also been hacked in a way that allows it to use any game image, which probably violated the DMCA at some level and certainly the license agreement that came with the software. So, for reasons other than not wanting to brick my PSP, I'm going to stay away from hacked firmware and the emulator.

Sony needs to remedy the situation right now, or else risk deeply angering some of the fans of its hardware and software. (I count myself among those.) As it is, the folks willing to partake in copyright infringement (distribution of the emulator) are getting the most from their Sony hardware.

To fix this, Sony needs to:
  • Make the PlayStation Store available to PSP owners.
  • Sell the emulator to me at some reasonable price. Let me suggest no more than $60, although lower is better. And upgrades/improvements should be free.
  • Include a game ripper with the emulator or sell it separately. I don't care.
  • Sell pre-ripped images of games (guaranteed to work) for a modest fee (say $4).
My PSP is currently my most played system. I have spent a tremendous amount building a library of PSOne games. My PSP would likely become my only system, for all practical purposes, if Sony does the above.

Perhaps there is some other means by which Sony can stop slapping the fans in the face, but it needs to fix the situation and fast.

Labels: , , , ,

--Matt Matthews at 11:09
Comment [ 11 ]

Comments on this post:

Hear hear, I wholeheartedly agree.

By Blogger Kat, at 29 January, 2007 18:30  

you seem to have some major misconceptions about the nature of the emulator.

Firstly. Nobody is distributing the emulator illegally.

The cracked firmware requires you download the official sony 3.03 firmware, which it then modifies to avoid the copy protection. They aren't illegally distributing anything. (also, not being american, the dmca argument doesn't hold a lot of water for me).

Anybody who installs the latest firmware, gets the emulator for free with the firmware.

They have turned the emulation into a hardware feature, similar in nature to the ps2 / ps3 emulation.

Secondly, I am opposed to having to buy games I already own, again, just to play them on a different device. Sony will also _never_ officially allow you to use your own games in the way that most suits you, as this is just a cash cow for them. Same with the virtual console really.

Would you agree with sony charging you a premium for what ever of your own ps1 games you want to play on your ps2?

Upgrading to the cracked firmware is also only slightly more dangerous than running an official firmware update (ie: if the power goes out during that process, your psp will be bricked whether it was an official or an unofficial update).

At least Sony is selling the games at a semi-proper price (about $8.. for now), and eventually you will be able to get the games via a pc.

All in all, i've never actually liked my psp, as I felt the game library was underwhelming... but the cracked firmware has actually made it my favorite portable device, as I can finally finish stuff i've been in the process of playing for many years (like final fantasy 9 and xenogears).

I even found out how to get my save games off my memory card and onto my psp, something sony will never officially allow you to do.

If you are truly anti-piracy however, the biggest show stopper I can see is that ripping your own ps1 games requires you to have the sony online store version of hot shot golf 2, to be able to get past the DRM.

By Blogger Adrian, at 30 January, 2007 08:39  

Remember .. DRM only hurts legitimate users, not people who would have pirated things to begin with.

By Blogger Adrian, at 30 January, 2007 08:44  

So the firmware crack allows you to create a derivative work of something to which you don't have copyright? There are similar cases, albeit involving money, in which I believe the same idea has been held illegal. (This is usually where Bob shows up.) The case I'm remembering, perhaps incorrectly, is the one involving a service which would make a version of a DVD you had legally purchased that had been sanitized in some way to make it less violent, profane, explicitly sexual, etc. If creating that kind of derivative work is a violation, then so is this. Furthermore, I suppose it is possible that distributing the tool which is specifically intended to create a derivative work might be considered contributory infringement. I don't see how it is entirely in the clear on copyright issues.

The "won't buy a game I already own" stuff doesn't cut it with me. While the situation is not entirely analogous, I am fully in favor of the situation in which Mac users have to buy the Mac version of Quake and Windows users buy the Windows version. Does it sting? Yes, it does, but it is after all their work and they decide the rules.

The other bit about Sony charging for PS1 on PS2 is a red herring. If Sony wants to charge for it, that's their prerogative. It doesn't mean I have to pay for it, and as Ruffin is fond of pointing out, we always have alternatives (i.e. getting out a real PSOne).

The prices I've seen are $6, not $8. But YMMV with your local currency, I suppose.

And with that last part, about Hot Shots Golf, you're saying that you have to obtain a copy of a game that (most folks) haven't purchased legally? Yeah, this sounds totally above board...


And on your next comment, I don't think I've ever championed DRM. Since the time of V-MAX! on Defender of the Crown (whose copy prevention techniques and fast load routines wrought havoc on my poor 1541 disk drive), I've found it frustrating. That doesn't mean that I can't recognize that circumventing DRM is a violation of the current laws in my country.

By Blogger jvm, at 30 January, 2007 08:59  

Firstly :

Derivative works for private use are still fair use. IE: they haven't been made illegal, yet.

My point was that nobody is distributing the emulator, other than sony.

That's probably why sony haven't been able to get the custom firmware shut down yet.

I never said it was completely above the board, as you still have the hot shots golf piracy issue, and the DMCA issue (which is actually a non issue for me, as I am not american).

I also didn't pay for the linux binaries for my legal copy of quake , and i have no moral objection to downloading the mac version if i already own another version.

I do wish they would actually sell the emulator though, as it's a spectacular piece of engineering. I suspect that it is actually the same codebase that the ps3 uses for it's ps1 emulation. They won't however, their goal is to get everybody to pay for content they already own, again.

If being able to rip your own cd's to mp3 is fair use, i can't understand how ripping your own games to the psp emulator format is any less fair use.

I wouldn't mind paying for the games so much if they weren't just little DRM wrappers around the iso's of games you already own. At least give us a proper wide screen.

By Blogger Adrian, at 30 January, 2007 14:18  

Oh and btw.

I should also note that I am just waiting to be able to fill in my ps1 collection with games I missed out on via their online store.

I have no objection to paying for ps1 games, provided I don't already own them.

Let's see if they actually want my money though (I can't use itunes for instance, as they don't want my money because I don't have an american credit card).

By Blogger Adrian, at 30 January, 2007 14:24  

Since when do people who own Quake have to re-buy it for another platform?

IIRC, Quake, like Doom before it, had binaries that were freely available on several platforms. If you owned the WADs or PAK files, then you owned a full retail copy of the game, otherwise you owned yourself one of them there shareware editions.

By Blogger Jeremy, at 30 January, 2007 14:57

Format shifting has also not been made illegal, yet.

Copyright infringement cases (napster/ built on it collapsed due to their commercial nature and the fact that copyrighted content was being distributed (ie: not personal use).
"UMG argued, in part, that the copying was not covered by fair use because entire CDs were copied (instead of excerpts) and that the use was a commercial one (even though no fee was charged, it was supported by ad revenue)."
"Furthermore, the space-shifting argument did not avail the defendant, because the shift to a digital format was not a personal storage use, but was accompanied by sharing the file with the rest of the world."

By Blogger Adrian, at 31 January, 2007 02:20  

(This is usually where Bob shows up.)

(fair use of short excerpt of Mighty Mouse theme:)
Heere I come to post too laate!

However, I'm witholding my virtual legwork in the pursuit of legalese trivia in protest.

Here's my quibble: I don't know what this post is about.

There's some kind of firmware hack that lets you install something on your PSP that you get from Sony's store? I had to read through this thrice to get a guess at what the problem was.

Am I right in guessing that the PSOne emulator, bought from the PlayStation Store, is accessible through the PS3 and there so you can play PS1 games on your PS3, and it just happens through a lucky coincidence to also work on a PSP, provided that you hack the PSP firmware?

Given all that, why would I redistribute the emulator at all? Aren't I buying it from Sony? Or does "redistribution" here mean "redistributing" it from my PS3 to my PSP?

After the second read-through, I realized that the response to my whining would probably be "RTF link"...oh, wait. There is no link.

I don't have a PSP, I don't have a PS3, at best I only skim the occasional trade magazine -- how am I supposed to hand-wring over Sony's gaffes and all the illegal goings-on if I don't know what the heck you're talking about?


Okay, like I can refrain from pontificating uselessly about legal junk of which I have no genuine knowledge.

(A) I still don't see the circumstances where I'd be redistributing the emulator. Is there a firmware hack AND a hack of the PSOne emulator?

(B) If the copyright issue surrounds a derivative work, I agree with Adrian on the point that creating a derivative work, and using it yourself, is just fine -- copyright infringement occurs with distribution of a derivative work.

(C) On the other hand, there have been attempts to "game" the system -- for example, distributing a pristine version and a program that munges it into a derivative work. A court would likely view this as contributory infringement, although the case would have to be a little weird (since the copyright holder apparently has given rights for you to distribute their work unaltered, but not the altered version, and in the case of a program, the alteration isn't a defacement or confusion of the source necessarily...) It's more likely that license violation, rather than copyright infringement, would be the primary complaint.

(D) It's not clear to me what the legal standing (outside of license agreements, which aren't law, but might be contracts) of a bit of hacking software is. That is, if you get a copy of the firmware or whatever legally from Sony, and you apply a program that edits that software to make it function differently, in and of itself I don't see how you or the person who gave you that software have violated any copyright. If the hack circumvents a protection scheme (for example, DRM), then the DMCA would apply (to those in its jurisdiction). If the hack clearly encourages copyright violations without other significant uses, then contributory infringement would apply. But otherwise, I think I'm allowed to hack up the software once it gets on my machine as much as I like. Compare it to buying a book and then tearing it up or making notes in the margins.

That's why software companies love the license agreements, where they can insist you must worship their software and not sully it with other code or look at it wrong.

By Blogger Bob, at 31 January, 2007 18:06  

"Am I right in guessing that the PSOne emulator, bought from the PlayStation Store"
Nope. They are distributing the emulator to each and every PSP once you upgrade to a firmware larger than 3.x

What they are selling you, is the actual bits you already own in the form of your own games.

They are very literally selling you iso's of your own discs.

Given all that, why would I redistribute the emulator at all? Aren't I buying it from Sony? Or does "redistribution" here mean "redistributing" it from my PS3 to my PSP?

Not buying it at all. You already have it.

(A) I still don't see the circumstances where I'd be redistributing the emulator. Is there a firmware hack AND a hack of the PSOne emulator?
Nope. They basically allow the old 1.5 exploits to function on the new firmware, and the firmware itself knows how to load the ps1 games, with a specific DRM wrapper around the iso.

The games are ripped by using the keys of the hot shots 2 game (doesn't use the actual game files, just the DRM esque stuff, which is the reason why DRM is inherently breakable, they need to distribute the key along with the lock)

This is definitely a DMCA violation, but America is one of the few places on earth to have actually enacted such a braindead piece of legislation. Even across the border in Canada, the legal situation regarding this is radically different.

It's more likely that license violation, rather than copyright infringement, would be the primary complaint.
Interestingly, I can't recall agreeing to an EULA when I got the files. IIRC the EULA is displayed only when using the official updater.

Not sure what the legality regarding that is.

If the hack clearly encourages copyright violations without other significant uses, then contributory infringement would apply.

The hack allows copyright violations, but does not specifically encourage it. IE: backups, format shifting, homebrew etc.

It's basically a software mod chip.
The same laws probably apply.

By Blogger Adrian, at 01 February, 2007 17:36  

Oh and Bob, the ps3 is only applicable since you are required to own one to be able to access the playstation store at the moment.

IE: the only way to buy the ps1 games that are run on the psp (they don't even work on the ps3 itself yet), is to buy a ps3, and then pay sony for the iso's.

So that's a minimum of $506 to be able to play a ps1 game on your psp, legally.

They have announced plans to allow the games to be bought via other mechanism, but it's still an open question as to when it's actually going to be implemented.

By Blogger Adrian, at 01 February, 2007 23:40  

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