For their newest Gameboy Advance game, Jaleco Entertainment quietly borrowed the source code for an open-source Nintendo emulator. While the emulation community was outraged, the emulator’s programmer felt a bit differently.
Like the recent Classic NES Series, Jaleco Entertainment’s Jajamaru Jr. for the Gameboy Advance is a nostalgic reissue for the Japanese market In addition to one new game, the cartridge includes five different emulated classic NES/Famicom titles from Jaleco’s library: Ninja Jajamaru, Jajamaru’s Great Adventure, Exerion, City Connection, and Formation Z.
Instead of writing their own emulator, Jaleco used PocketNES, the best NES emulator for the GBA. After analyzing the game’s binary, it was obvious the code was borrowed without credit or payment. Emulation fans were upset, with cries of copyright infringement.
Loopy, the programmer behind PocketNES, responded to the incident:
Yes, PocketNES is public domain… I wanted it to be public domain. This “Jaleco incident”, in fact, is the very reason I wanted to make it FREE (as in public domain) rather than “GPL free” (strings attached). I’m not a fan of the GPL, I think it’s selfish.
Let someone take an idea, do something cool with it, and not have to hesitate because of legal nitpickings. If a company can take something that I made, and turn it into a product that other people enjoy, I’m all the happier for it. Why should I care if someone else profits off of something I made? It’s already free.
Demanding that someone pay homage to my work is just ego-stroking, and I’m not into that. Sure, as a courtesy it would have been nice for Jaleco to tell me “hey, thanks for the source”, and they didn’t, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it, because I didn’t write PocketNES so people would pat me on the back.
I wrote it so people could have fun playing old games. And that’s exactly what’s happening here. Mission accomplished.
For me, his message embodies the spirit of the open-source movement.