Something's Not Quite Right About Nintendo's Aussie Pirate

So, that story the other day about an Australian man being ordered to pay Nintendo $1.5 million? Yeah, something's not quite right about it.

A day after the news broke, there's a piece in Australia's Sydney Morning Herald profiling the man in question, 24 year-old Queenslander James Burt. It leads with a pic of Burt looking terribly contrite.

There was also a report on Australia's A Current Affair program, in which Burt himself is interviewed, again looking like a kicked puppy. The segment wields a heavy tone, warning families not to pirate games, and features Nintendo of Australia's Rose Lappin coming down from the mountain, laying on a thick anti-piracy message.

Now, this show - and the Australian media in general - normally loves what we call an "Aussie battler". An everyman being run into the ground by a local government body or big business. It happens with banking stories on an almost weekly basis, even when the person in question has, like Burt, broken a law or guideline. Nine times out of 10, there'd be serious questions raised as to how fair a punishment this was. But here? The media has served as a broadcast tower, repeating Nintendo's strong anti-piracy message to millions of Australians who would otherwise have been unaware of the issue.

It's been the biggest human interest story of the week down here, but as the circus draws on, something doesn't feel quite right about it. See, the $1.5 million dollar fine wasn't handed down by a judge. Burt settled out of court with Nintendo on this. Would a 24 year-old man who works part-time at a freight company and lives with his parents really shake hands on a settlement that sees him willingly ruin the rest of his financial life? Then spend the week becoming a temporary "celebrity" as his name is publicly dragged through the mud as a criminal?

I don't think so.

Consider this, then, as a potential scenario: Burt isn't going to owe Nintendo a cent. Or, at least, won't owe them anywhere near $1.5 million. As the publisher is so fond of public displays of aggression against game pirates, I think they settled out of court, slapped a gag order on him, let the media parade him around for a week showing how sorry he was and how hard Nintendo has cracked down on a single, lonely "pirate", and will then let him be, his punishment served, Nintendo's point, well and truly made.

Or am I just looking at this a little too closely?

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Comments

    I think you're spot on, from the couple of interviews I saw the parents didn't question the settlement amount at al yet continualy reenforced it was I childish mistake.
    If he was up for 1+ mil they would have went to town on him 24 or not.

      I thought it was weird that his mother actually said he had it coming...

    I think the fact that "A Current Affair" is involved means you are on to something.

    Nope, I think you're dead on the money (so to speak).
    Guy avoids jailtime/massive fines & nintendo get an anti piracy mouthpiece. It's win win.

    I haven't been following this story too closely as I refuse to watch the tripe that is ACA, so I would like to know, did they touch on how he plans to pay the $1.5mil? It does look very dodgy. I don't upload any games my self, but I'd probably brush up on masking my online identity before doing so.

    Yeah. Nintendo probably did exactly that.
    And ACA is the most biased POS tv show on the air, nintendo could just throw a few wiis their way and they would easily make the point of view favour nintendo

    Agreed, it seems way too dodgy. No parent would throw their child to the wolves like that.

    Not to mention the fact they constantly said things like "it cost Nintendo 5 million dollars", like it was biblical truth or something. Definitely suspicious...

    When you think about it, all this guys has to do is declare that he is bankrupt and doesn't have to pay a thing. (It doesn't look like he has any assets anyway) The only set back is he is not allowed to be on a company board for 7 years (like that is going to happen to him!)

    Yeah I get the impression that the value he actually owes is the $100,000 legal fees. In a bunch of media reports they've always mentioned this mythical 1.5mil figure, and then they slap on the $100,000 that he owes them for legal fees. Why would they seperate the value? Why not just say 1.6mil? Would seem fair to me, he gets a punishment, and nintendo get free media attention to discourage pirates.

    youre bang on. i thought the exact same thing when i first heard about it. i would even go as far as saying, this guy has never uploaded or downloaded anything and ninty are paying him to play the fool here. i find it hard to believe ninty were able to track him down without crossing the line of privacy in this country. the most they could have done is sent the isp a letter to pass on to him.

    Wouldn't he just claim bankruptcy (seeing as the fine wasn't imposed by a court), wait out the 3 years and then get on with his life anyway?

    This is all clearly just for show.

    C'mon. ACA do their research, it's all legit:

    February 10, 2010: The games market is currently flooded with cheap pirated copies of top-selling Wii and Play Station 3 Games.

    Yeah, the guy doesn't look like he is too worried about his fine. This whole thing looks as if it's designed to freak parents out.

    @thistler "pirated copies of PS3 games". Gold!

    Think about who he is too. I young teenager would have drawn the battler sympathy card Luke mentioned. The fact he is 24 puts him in prime disposable income gamer age, complete with the still living at home profile so people see he's an adult and responsible for his own actions even if mummy tucks him in at night still. Also he's not a hardcore pirate - he's a game "fanatic" who simple got goaded into uploading the game. They know they can't get the real pirates so Nintendo are going ofter the part time pirates to whittle down potential targets. Very clever actually.

    Your theory makes perfect sense, even though its pretty conspiratorial.

    I'd say the truth will probably come out in some smally way in the future but this hardly feels like a big win for the anti piracy campaigners.

    I expect an interesting slam from the garbage that is ACA on this website and similairs, brandishing all who see reason in the conspiracy "unaustralian" and "dangerous" and "unseen threats".

    Seriously though, I dont think ACA did this on purpose. Their material is just poorly researched at best, so it would be unfair to hold them responsible.

    And, of course, as soon as the truth about this whole fiasco is revealed ACA will come to light with how they were tricked in a very VERY brief apology. OH how we love the predictability of Australian media.

    Quick to Media Watch

    I want to know how they found him. They referenced some "phorensic analysis" bullshit and it was all hush hush. Is every copy of every nintento game unique marked? Has no pirate every found this unique identifier? I think not.

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