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When I began this site, I had some strange, muddled visions as to what I was going to use it for. I wanted to contribute to the emulation community, and advocate the thing I thought it not only needed but actually inspired the most: freedom. It's hypocritical to say you're out to provide information on hardware that would otherwise die and bypass ridiculous corporate patens and such when you then keep the source code under lock and key. Doing so makes emulation the beast that Nintendo is making of it: nothing but a way to get free games on Nintendo's (or Sega's, or Amiga's, or whomever's) nickel.

The problem, of course, is that everyone is too cautious. I realized that to a certain extent then, but I see it even more now. The term "commercial use" has taken on a negative connotation in some circles, and a natural, almost mandatory one in others. Some people release source code but forbid modification. Some release code from five years hence and claim they've done more than anyone deserves. There are those who simply don't understand why anyone would release source code to the general public. I think it's important, then, that I put in my two cents (or even as much as ten) on the matter and say why the authors of emulators (and, just as importantly, the authors of homebrew games) should make their source free. Not just available, or even gratis, but completely, undeniably free.

1: It's honest.

As I stated above, it's simply not right to claim that you're creating an emulator or writing a game that will primrily be used on emulators in order to fight corporate evil, surmount technical challenges, or learn about hardware and/or software if all anyone gets out of your work is a binary they can use to play their 31337 w@r3z. If you really want to legitimize your work, you need to share your discoveries and achievements with the emulation community. Make sure your work fulfills your goals.

2: There's nothing to lose.

Releasing source code under a free license doesn't mean that anyone can do anything with it. It means that everyone's contributions are protected and put to good use. It makes your work accessible, understandable, and beceficial to everyone. Nobody's going to pass it off as their own (not legally, at any rate), turn it into something it isn't to discredit you, or steal thunder from you because they were able to simply see what you did and how. These things can be made illegal just as easily under a free license as they can under a proprietary one.

3: Memetics.

If your program is made free, it can be distributed by anybody. If someone wants to give the fruits of your labor to his or her friends, then a free license makes this possible. If CompuGAR wants to include your program in their next release of OperGAR200, and is willing to adhere to the license terms, then how is that a bad thing? It's suddenly possible for your work to be seen by everyone, and that's an incredible opportunity.

I understand that the emulation community has been the victim of a lot of exploitation and abuse, both by lamers who try to countermand authors' wishes and by companies trying to save themselves a few cents, but I see no way in which freedom will make this any more abundant. In fact, it makes it even less of a problem. A free license, remember, is still a legal license. There's no reason to fear it.

- George Moffitt (Zen), 2000

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