I have heard a lot of talk about how emulation is not illegal, or that downloading ROMs is legal in some circumstances but not others, and I would really like to clarify what is allowed about emulators and ROMs in relation to the law.
For instance, I've heard that downloading and using emulators is fine, but downloading ROMs is not. Does this seem a bit contrived? Who would download an emulator just to have it sit there? This doesn't seem realistic to me.
I've also heard that one can download ROMs for a 24/48 hour period, but then must delete them, unless you own the game physically. If this is true, this also doesn't seem realistic. But even so, why hasn't someone created a service that allows you to download ROMs that automatically expire after 24/48 hours, which you would then have to purchase to continue playing? It seems workable to me, yet no such service is available that I've seen.
There are other things I'd like to know too, like whether or not one could get in trouble for downloading ROMs of games no longer being sold, or for hosting emulators or ROMs on a website (perhaps for personal use only?), or what the law differences might be between different generations of consoles, etc.
So, what exactly is allowed about emulators and ROMs, in relation to the law?