Kodi 18 Leia update will bring in retro gaming but with a piracy risk

Retro gaming is coming to Kodi thanks to the upcoming 18 Leia build for the TV streaming service, but there’s a risk users could face the wrath of games publishers.

While Kodi 18 Leia is currently in a beta stage, when it gets its official release it will enable users of the legally-grey Kodi boxes and media player to stream old-school games to their TVs without the need for hardware like Nintendo’s SNES Classic Mini.

“Retro gaming is the newest feature being introduced in the upcoming release of Kodi 18 Leia,” TVAddons, a popular Kodi repository said. “Now you’ll be able to play all your favourite video games directly through Kodi, no additional hardware required.”

“In addition to Kodi offering built-in emulators, there is a new add-on called the Internet Archive ROM Launcher which allows you to download vintage video games on the fly, free of charge!” the site added.

This may seem like an upcoming boon for Kodi users, but companies like Nintendo are rather draconian on allowing their old games to be played emulators and non-official or approved devices.

Nintendo’s most recent legal information tackles the issues of copyright, emulators and the use of games based on ROMs (read only memory).

And as clear as day, Nintendo stated it is illegal to download and play a ROM of one of its games, even if you happen to own the original game cartridge in the first place.

“Whether you have an authentic game or not, or whether you have possession of a Nintendo ROM for a limited amount of time, i.e. 24 hours, it is illegal to download and play a Nintendo ROM from the Internet,” the company’s legal information states.

Nor does Nintendo take a more positive view on emulators, noting:  “The introduction of emulators created to play illegally copied Nintendo software represents the greatest threat to date to the intellectual property rights of video game developers.”

Given how rapidly Nintendo’s retro remakes of consoles like the NES and SNES sell, and the clamouring for a virtual console feature for the Switch, one could argue that Nintendo is being overly protective over its old games.

But regardless, if you plan to use Kodi 18 Leia to play old games, particularly Nintendo titles, then you’ll be doing so at the risk of incurring legal action if Nintendo catches you.

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