What is MAME

MAME is a multi-purpose emulation framework.

MAME’s purpose is to preserve decades of software history. As electronic technology continues to rush forward, MAME prevents this important “vintage” software from being lost and forgotten. This is achieved by documenting the hardware and how it functions. The source code to MAME serves as this documentation. The fact that the software is usable serves primarily to validate the accuracy of the documentation (how else can you prove that you have recreated the hardware faithfully?). MAME, originally the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, absorbed sister-projects, including MESS (Multi-Emulator Super System) and AGEMAME (Arcade Gambling Extensions for MAME), so MAME now documents a wide variety of (mostly vintage) computers, video game consoles, calculators and gambling machines, in addition to the arcade video games that were its initial focus.

Copyright © 1997-2024 MAMEdev and contributors
MAME is a registered trademark of Gregory Ember

I. Purpose

MAME’s main purpose is to be a reference to the inner workings of the emulated machines. This is done both for educational purposes and for preservation purposes, in order to prevent historical software from disappearing forever once the hardware it runs on stops working. Of course, in order to preserve the software and demonstrate that the emulated behavior matches the original, one must also be able to actually use the software. This is considered a nice side effect, and is not MAME’s primary focus.

It is not our intention to infringe on any copyrights or patents on the original software and systems. All of MAME’s source code is either our own or freely available. To operate, the emulator requires images of the original ROMs, CDs, hard disks or other media from the machines, which must be provided by the user. No portions of the original software are included in the MAME executable.

II. Cost

MAME is made available at no cost. Its source code is freely available. The project as whole is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2 or later (GPL-2.0+), but most of code, including core functionality, is also available under the terms of the more permissive 3-clause BSD license (BSD-3-clause).

III. Software Image Files

ROM, CD, hard disk and other media images are all copyrighted material. They may not be lawfully distributed without the explicit permission of the copyright holder(s). They are not “abandonware”, nor has copyright expired on any of the software supported by MAME.

MAME is not intended to be used as a tool for mass copyright infringement. Therefore, it is strongly against the authors’ wishes to sell, advertise, or link to resources that provide illegal copies of ROM, CD, hard disk or other media images.

IV. Derivative Works

Because the name MAME is trademarked, you must abide by the rules set out for trademark usage if you wish to use “MAME” as part of the name your derivative work. In general, this means you must request permission, which requires that you follow the guidelines above.

The version number of any derivative work should reflect the version number of the MAME release from which it was derived.

V. Official Contact Information

For questions regarding the MAME license, trademark, or other usage, see https://www.mamedev.org/legal.html