Hyperkin’s RetroN 5, a five-slot console that plays cartridges from the NES up to the GBA, violates several licenses, according to the group behind open-source project RetroArch. A post from the group claims that the RetroN 5 incorporates the Genesis Plus GX and SNES9x Next emulators, both of which are filed under non-commercial licenses that restrict them from being used in a commercial product.
The post also argues that the RetronN 5’s use of open-source emulators FCEUmm (for NES games) and VBA Next (for GBA games) is problematic. Both emulators are licensed underGeneral Public License version 2 (GPLv2), but the RetroN 5 uses GPLv3-grade code, which is technically incompatible with FCEUmm and VBA Next’s coverage under GPLv2.
Lastly, the authors claim there are traces of RetroArch source code in the RetroN 5’s frontend (the interface that users interact with). The RetroArch code appears to be licensed under GPLv3, which forbids TIVO-ization, the act of incorporating open-source/copyleft software in a locked-down piece of hardware that doesn’t allow users freedoms granted by a license like the GPL. The post claims that attempting to modify the RetroN 5 with anything beyond updates supplied by Hyperkin voids the console’s warranty, and since GPLv3 forbids TIVO-ization, the RetroN 5’s alleged restriction of modifying RetroArch’s open-source code would be illegal.
The post states that “none of the authors were contacted” in regards to the alleged use of the Genesis Plus GX, SNES9x Next or VBA Next emulators, and adds that Hyperkin has given no credit in its alleged use of RetroArch’s code. At the time of this writing, only RetroN 5 controllers are available on Hyperkin’s online store – the console itself is listed as “out of stock” and is not offered on Hyperkin’s Amazon page.