Nintendo Australia Goes To Court Again, This Time Over DS Piracy

Nintendo has won its second legal victory of the month in Australia, with a seller of R4 flash cartridges in the country ordered to pay the Japanese company over AUD$500,000 in fines.

Local tech distributors RSJ. IT Solutions, which had been selling the cartridges - which allow for the use of both legally-acquired homebrew and illegally-acquired pirated games on a Nintendo DS - must cease the sale of all carts immediately, and relinquish all remaining stock and all promotional material associated with them.

In addition to the corporate fine, two men named individually in the case, Patrick & James Li, must also pay AUD$100,000 in penalties.

It's important to note that, while in 2005 an Australian judge decreed that the use of mod chips in home consoles was legal, he did so on the grounds that the chips themselves were unable to copy or pirate games. The R4 differs from this in that, by being compatible with a PC, it allows users to download pirated games off the internet and easily copy them directly onto the cartridge.

This decision follows a sustained effort by Nintendo over the past two years to stamp out the R4 (and many other similar devices), which it claims is a major cause of piracy on its DS platforms. Supporters (and many retailers) of the cart instead contend that the devices allow them to play homebrew games on their systems, and as such should be allowed.

Representatives of Nintendo of Australia told Kotaku, "Piracy of video games is illegal".

"Game copiers that are used to copy video game software without authorisation onto any type of memory device or the hard drive of a personal computer are illegal in Australia. They infringe copyright in computer programs in Nintendo products and infringe Nintendo trademarks. They are also circumvention devices. The manufacturing, importing or distributing of circumvention devices is prohibited under the Copyright Act."

"Nintendo guards its intellectual property rights in order to protect the interests of its valued consumers, its own interests, and others in the games industry including independent content creation organisations, developers and publishing studios and all distributors of Nintendo products. Nintendo will pursue those who attempt to jeopardise the gaming industry by using all means available to it under the law. In particular, Nintendo is currently contemplating bringing further actions against other sellers of game copying devices in Australia."


    Just me or does only R4/distributors cop flack. What about other flashcarts? Acekard? Cyclo?

    I had a friend who's xbox used to "copy" the games to his hdd.

    I think Nintendo should take more time and money into making DS cartridges more hard to pirate but by doing this you are just sending the importing and buying underground. People will always find a way to buy these cartridges.

    Just like mod chips, these should be legal.
    The other case I could support. This is just bullshit.

      They're a means for people to play DS games without buying them. That's not good business for Nintendo, and it's not good business for game publishers. Why should they be legal?

        Because the law isn't supposed to be designed to be "good business for Nintendo".
        Just because a device can be used for piracy is not sufficient reason for it being illegal. R4's and similar devices also make many multimedia options available to the DS.
        I won't deny that 99% of people who use an R4 use it to pirate games; but I'm not confident that that should be legal grounds for seller's to be fined such huge amounts.
        It all comes down to the fact that people should be allowed to do whatever they want with hardware they legally purchase. Prosecute the people who actually pirate games and/or distribute pirated games.

          I think I have to agree with this. Unless the hardware has something built into it, maybe some form of software, that is clearly designed for the sole purpose of piracy, then the technology should be legal. Even if it was set up with some form of software to pirate games, they should be forced to remove it and simply sell the technology as is. Unless it violates some sort of patent Nintendo has I don't think its right.

          If you were to generalise this you could say that Bit Torrent should be illegal because it is used for piracy. That is one way it is used, but it is not what it was necessarily designed for and it does have other applications.

          I don't think a seller should be responsible for what their customers do with their products.

        The internet should be illegal, as it allows the distribution of pirate games/movies/music. The home PC should be illegal as it allows the creation of pirate games/movies/music.

        The R4 cards (and other similar products) allow you to copy your existing games all onto one device (just like folks do with custom firmware on the PSP), it also allows homebrew (the DS is a great platform for ScummVM for example). Sure it allows people to play pirate games, but you could point the finger at a lot of things for that (the net, the PC, P2P, ect.).

        I agree that piracy is something that can take money away from game companies, but thats just the way things are, and have always been, it's just that what some thought of as "protected platforms" turned out not to be.

        Nintendo want to stop Pirate games AND homebrew, if your playing homebrew you may not buy as many games... and they want your money.

          For those of you claiming that Nintendo have no right to stop people from using the R4 cards, read your Terms of Use agreement that came with your console. If you're unhappy with the Terms, then return it. Otherwise, suck it up, stop pirating crap or get sued.

          The reality is, about 1% of the people posting here are using the R4s for legitimate reasons and that 1% probably no more than one way to play freeware games on their DS. They're targeting the distributors because they are targeting the mothers of kids that don't know any better and are pirating a shitload of stuff.

          I used to work for a game retailer and once a day, without fail, some clueless parent would walk in and ask if we sell those "card things for the DS that let the kids put lots of games on them". They're coming to us because they don't know copying those games is illegal. But by slowing or stopping the supply and making this kind of big legal case, Nintendo are making their point very clear.

    Maybe nintendo should bother releasing games in Australia before they go on about piracy, etc.

    I'm glad they're targeting sellers and not buyers. It's a much better way to eliminate piracy.

    maybe they should start releasing "decent" games for the thing that are worth buying!!!
    there is only 1 game that i have "tried" and then bought, and that is mario kart. the rest is just garbage. IMO.

    I can understand Nintendo targeting the guy who distributed New Super Mario Bros Wii, but this is crazy. It's like if Microsoft tried to make the sale of blank DVDs illegal in case someone used them to pirate their games.

    what if they were just using it to test and develop homebrew?

    Well, Nintendo still won't see my money on their games until they are priced what they're worth. I don't know about you guys but a portable title at $60 sounds like a rip-off. I don't even buy home console games until they're under $60!

    Hell, my PSP library is so much larger, their games get down to $20 so much faster. Why the difference Nintendo?

    can we get our flag changed to this? somebody? yes?

    there is talk about changing the australian flag, I really like that they should change it to that!

    I find it a bit rich to watch Nintendo cracking down on all the piracy when they out of the big three do the most to prevent gamers from legally buying there games.

    I have the homebrew channel installed on my Wii and my DSi with an acekard in it both of them were originaly set up to play games that weren't getting Australian releases.

      Why would Nintendo do anything to prevent gamers from legally buying games?

      the NDS is not region coded, so your logic and lies are flawed right there.

        Not true quantocks. Shambrook was writing about DS games not sold in Australia, not that they are region coded.

        Nintendo knows such things as the R4 will never go away, no matter how hard they try. They aim to lessen R4 sales and the knowledge of their existence by making them illegal. They (obviously) don't become broke. The same goes for music and movie companies, with the burning and downloading of CDs. This is common knowledge, and as a result they have just about given up on e.g. patrolling the internet.

        While downloading games, movies and music for free is great, just remember that without the majority of people who actually pay for this stuff, companies like Nintendo will no longer exist.

    Yeah I'm late to the party on this one.

    "Game copiers that are used to copy video game software without authorisation onto any type of memory device or the hard drive of a personal computer are illegal in Australia."

    I didn't realise my CD burner was an illegal device. I should probably get rid of it seeing as it's capable of both ripping and burning pirated copies of TV shows, movies and computer games.

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