Hyperkin plagirism of Retroarch - Legal Recourse?

Hi all

Recently me a couple of friends were discussing a situation detailed on this site: http://www.libretro.com/index.php/retroarch-license-violations/

In summery, to save you reading the whole thing, Retroarch is a front end for libreto, an interface that allow development of emulators for game consoles. the emulators themselves are produced by various people and normally run under a non-commercial license, meaning that you can’t sell them, or use them in a products to be sold.

Hyperkin is a company that produces the Retron5, a piece of hardware that allows you to play old game cartridges, and combines various game systems together in one platform. previous versions used hardware emulation, but the retron5 uses software on an android based operating system.

It now appears that Hyperkin stole the Android version of Retroarch, or the back end emulators for it to use in the Retron5 rather then code their own emulators. This has now since been discovered by the Retroarch community.

So my question, what, if any, legal recourse do the emulator authors or the project as a whole have on Hyperkin?

I did consider they might be able to sue under copyright, but given the project and emulators are open source does that waive the creator rights?

Moderator Action

Welcome to the SDMB, TheSuffolkRam.

Questions involving legal opinions belong in our In My Humble Opinion forum. I will move this thread for you. As the forum name suggests, any replies you receive there are just the opinions of some online folks and shouldn’t be taken as the equivalent of professional legal advice.

Moving thread from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.

Open source simply means that the code is available, to be read by anyone. Closed source means that the code cannot be read by anyone.

Copyright law, on the other hand, determines who can do what with the copyrighted material. All original content is copyrighted, and the default status is that it cannot be used by anyone for any purpose (excepting fair use). Many open source projects choose to release the contributors’ work under a license that grants specific rights to the content. The community in question seems to have released the work under a non-commercial license, which allows people to use it only if they do not intend to make money with it. Since the emulator company was trying to make money with the code, they are likely in violation of the license agreement and thus have committed criminal copyright infringement, which could expose them to jail time and ruinous statutory fees.

Of course, given that the purpose of emulators seems to be to commit copyright infringement, I think it’s unlikely that this is going to go anyone.