Originally Posted by pubzombie
is there a legal way of stopping open source being used to make closed source?
It depends on the way the open source license is worded. But understand that open/closed source is different from freeware or public domain versus commercial. To use an example, MAME is open source in that you can download the source code, look at it, modify it if you choose, and compile it into a working executable. One of the benefits is that anyone can contribute. What you can't do is take MAME and say you are the only author, nor can you take MAME and sell it. If they reached an agreement, this university project could use MAME as a part of their emulator, but I can't imagine that agreement would also allow them to sell it.
The university not releasing the source (making it open source) is something else entirely.
If they succeed could they damage our ability to have adf's etc. that are easy to download and damage existing archives and things like TOSEC?
That's already a legal gray issue anyway, to put it mildly. At most, I could see, were it to gain more popularity than current emulators and got to be somewhat mainstream, it might attract publishers who would try to protect their games more than they do now. (i.e. right now, Ocean (or, if it doesn't exist anymore, whoever owns their property) may not care or feel the need to go after people that download Batman: The Caped Crusader because it's just a few people with emulators.. With a more mainstream university project, perhaps they'd be more inclined. Having said that, I don't see this project gaining more popularity than emulators do now.)
Short answer, the possibility exists, but probably wouldn't affect anything.
The legality does bring up an issue I wonder if these university people even thought of. Emulators are completely legal, like say, WinUAE. But you need to go to Cloanto for a legal Kickstart ROM or dump one you already own. Same with all emulators. Plus, the games still hold their copyright. At most, this university could create an emulator that does nothing -- unless the person using it already owns the games they claim aren't being archived.