There are many emulators for old computer and game console systems (like C64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, NES, Sega, etc). But all I know about are free and open-source software. I was not able to find any commercial ones. Are there any legal issues for creating commercial emulation software for old systems?

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    There are always legal issues related to everything. But I presume that what you really mean is whether doing so would violate the intellectual property rights of someone.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 21:25

1 Answer 1


Almost any IP issue I can think off (trademarks, copyright, patents and trade secrets) would apply to free versions as well as commercial versions.

It might be the case that a for-profit operation would attract greater enforcement but the legal technicalities would be about the same with a free version.

  • Legal problems grow a lot if you have pockets full of money and someone wants the contents of those pockets. In practice, t's not "free" vs. "commercial" but "unable to pay any damages" vs. "able to pay damages".
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 17:18

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