Hyperkin's RetroN 5 console is a fantastic way to enjoy old classics, and offers plenty of benefits over existing clone retro systems, largely because it uses advanced software emulation to offer HD visuals and other benefits.
However, it would appear that Hyperkin can't entirely take credit for the system's impressive credentials. We've been contacted by Daniel De Matteis, a key member of the RetroArch team, who claims that the RetroN 5 uses several emulators without permission.
In case you were wondering, RetroArch is an open-source "all in one" emulation solution which is currently available for free on a wide range of platforms, including Android, Linux and Windows. It unifies the work of several different emulator authors — who produce "emulation cores" which are used in the program itself — into a single user interface, and is famed for its accuracy.
It is claimed that by using RetroArch, the RetroN 5 infringes on the rights of several authors, including Eke-Eke (Genesis Plus GX), SNES9x (a non-commercial emulation core) and RetroArch itself, which is licensed under the GPLv3, meaning that it is forbidden to use it in a device that forces hardware restrictions — which is exactly what the RetroN 5 happens to be.
De Matteis and his team have run comparisons to check the similarity in code between the aforementioned emulators and what is installed on the RetroN 5, and it would appear that the code is near-identical. De Matteis reveals that he personally authored some special code for the SNES9x Next emulator and the code found in the RetroN 5 "seems to be verbatim, line-by-line, the same".
De Matteis now wants Hyperkin to credit the hard work of the authors whose emulators it has used, seemingly without permission:
We're just a bunch of lone individuals with no real financial muscle or legal muscle so they will be undoubtedly in an advantage there but all the same I'm not thinking of just letting this go unanswered. At the very least some accreditation of some sort should have happened and they should have honored the licenses of the emulators they used (like the SNES core forbids it from being used commercially). We didn't receive any patches either by these Hyperkin guys which is a base requirement of GPL code - that code of derivative works get shared back.
We've contacted Hyperkin for comment and will update this story when we hear back.