This post expands upon the contents of the static page on the legalities of emulation
As stated in the main Emulation Legality page, this is a complex issue (and differs across jurisdictions throughout the world). Anyone wishing to make backups of their own games is urged to conduct their own research before proceeding.
Stances towards the use of emulators and images/roms/iso’s differs from country to country, from hardware manufacturer to manufacturer, and from software developer to developer.
Nintendo, for example, provides detailed information regarding that company’s standpoint with regards to the use of emulators and game images:
“Can I Download a Nintendo ROM from the Internet if I Already Own the Authentic Game?
There is a good deal of misinformation on the Internet regarding the backup/archival copy exception. It is not a “second copy” rule and is often mistakenly cited for the proposition that if you have one lawful copy of a copyrighted work, you are entitled to have a second copy of the copyrighted work even if that second copy is an infringing copy. The backup/archival copy exception is a very narrow limitation relating to a copy being made by the rightful owner of an authentic game to ensure he or she has one in the event of damage or destruction of the authentic. Therefore, 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.”
Devices exist which allow a user to make a rom image directly from their own, personally owned, original, authentic game cartridge. One such device is the Retrode, details for which can be found at Retrode.org
Arstechnica wrote a review of the original device back in 2013, entitled the best (legal) way to enjoy classic game cartridges
The device is currently manufactured under licence to DragonBox and is currently at version 2.
[Image: Matthias Hullin Create Commons Share-Alike 3 unported]
The description for the Retrode 2 on the DragonBox site states:
“The Retrode is for you if…
you like playing legacy video games on your PC, Pandora or Caanoo and doing so legally”
As stated in the Arstechnica review, several plug-ins are available to allow the device to read not only Super Nintendo and Megadrive (a.k.a Genesis) cartridges, but also those of the Nintendo 64, Sega Master System, Nintendo Gameboy, and Nintendo Gameboy Advance
Links: Raspberry Pi and Gaming Emulation via RetroPie