RetroPie ROMs come in many different file formats and varieties. Not only do they vary between consoles, but they often fall into different legal territories. The most common types of ROMs include copyrighted, abandonware, public domain, and homebrew.
ROMs are owned and licensed by existing businesses or people. In many countries, downloading these ROMs is considered a crime. Some countries allow citizens to maintain a backup copy of games or titles they already own. It's best to research applicable legal regulations before pursuing any of these titles.
While you can also find ROMs in a RetroPie ROMs pack on any torrent site, you should not download any copyrighted titles as this may be illegal.
includes content in a sort of legal "gray area". The businesses or people responsible for the copyright are either unavailable or no longer pursuing their licensing rights.
ROMs are legally available to the public. These ROMs can be downloaded for personal use.
ROMs are created by individuals or small teams. Most of these ROMs were created recently, long after the prime of the respective console. For example, Little Sound DJ was released in 2001 to help musicians create chiptune music using original GameBoys (for more examples of modern GameBoy tech, check out our official list of GameBoy mods). However, it’s important to remember that just because something is homebrew doesn’t mean it’s free or legal to download without purchasing.
In this guide, we'll only cover public domain material and homebrew content with no copyright restrictions for personal use. When you're done, be sure to check out our other Raspberry Pi projects!