Gary Bowser Pleads Guilty To Piracy Charges After Nintendo Pursuit

Gary Bowser Pleads Guilty To Piracy Charges After Nintendo Pursuit
Image: Nintendo

Team-Xecuter was a hacking group that sold both software and hardware for stuff like Nintendo consoles. While arguing that they were simply advocating for homebrew programs and a consumer’s right to repair their own property, gaming giants like Nintendo thought otherwise.

Having pursued them for years, last year the Japanese gaming giant were joined in their efforts by the US government, who quickly launched a formal criminal investigation into three of the 12 men alleged to be operating the company. Here’s how the Department of Justice describes their case against Team-Xecuter:

According to court documents, the Team Xecuter criminal enterprise is comprised of over a dozen individual members located around the world. These members include developers who exploit vulnerabilities in video game consoles and design circumvention devices; website designers who create the various websites that promote the enterprise’s devices; suppliers who manufacture the devices; and resellers around the world who sell and distribute the devices. The indictment alleges that due to the illegal nature of its business, Team Xecuter continuously sought to evade enforcement efforts by victim companies, financial institutions, and law enforcement. Notably, Team Xecuter attempted to protect its overall business by using a wide variety of brands, websites, and distribution channels, according to the indictment. From approximately June 2013 through August 2020, Team Xecuter used a variety of product names for its devices, such as the Gateway 3DS, the Stargate, the TrueBlue Mini, the Classic2Magic, and the SX line of devices that included the SX OS, the SX Pro, the SX Lite, and the SX Core.

According to the indictment, Team Xecuter at times cloaked its illegal activity with a purported desire to support gaming enthusiasts who wanted to design their own video games for noncommercial use. However, the overwhelming demand and use for the enterprise’s devices was to play pirated video games. To support this illegal activity, Team Xecuter allegedly helped create and support online libraries of pirated video games for its customers, and several of the enterprise’s devices came preloaded with numerous pirated video games. According to the indictment, Team Xecuter was so brazen that it even required customers to purchase a “licence” to unlock the full features of its custom firmware, the SX OS, in order to enable the ability to play pirated video games.

It didn’t take them long to start making progress; 48 year-old French national Max Louarn and 51 year-old Canadian man Gary Bowser were both arrested late last year, with Bowser found in the Dominican Republic and extradited to the United States, where he’s been held since.

It’s alleged he “advertised and trafficked circumvention devices, while maintaining regular contact with resellers throughout the world”, and despite initially claiming he was innocent, Torrentfreak reports that Bowser has since changed his mind and plead guilty to conspiracy to circumvent technological measures and trafficking in circumvention devices, which both carry maximum prison sentences of five years.

Louarn was “arrested abroad in connection with the charges in this case”, and the government is seeking his extradition so he too can stand trial in the United States.

“Imagine if something you invented was stolen from you and then marketed and sold to customers around the world. That is exactly what Team Xecutor was doing,” says Raymond Duda of the FBI. “This is a perfect example of why the FBI has made the prevention of the theft of intellectual property a priority. These arrests should send a message to would-be pirates that the FBI does not consider these crimes to be a game.”

Comments

  • Gotta say it’s a pretty messed up world where you can get extradited from your own country and spend 5 years in a US prison for just providing jailbreaking kits.
    They dont provide roms – just the jailbreaking dongles and software so users can modify the hardware they own and paid for.

    • “However, the overwhelming demand and use for the enterprise’s devices was to play pirated video games. To support this illegal activity, Team Xecuter allegedly helped create and support online libraries of pirated video games for its customers, and several of the enterprise’s devices came preloaded with numerous pirated video games.”

      This statement seems to say otherwise. Sounds like they did indeed provide roms in a number of ways, and I’d wager this is what has landed them in hot water.

    • We live in the same world where Julian Assange has been, and continues to be, harangued by three successive US administrations for revealing the US’ war crimes during the ‘War on Terror’. Subject to isolation, his family and lawyers spied upon and their privacy violated, as well as attempted CIA assassination plots.

      Messed up, yes, but not unexpected from the US.

    • You own a LICENCE to use it. The hardware remains their IP. Same with any games. You don’t own the code, rights to modify and/or distribute, republish, etc. Need to read those agreements rather than bin them.

  • Disgusting outcome, Jailbreaking your device should not be illegal and should be a right as the owner of the device.

    You can fuck right off nintendo.

    • If you read the case statement, it says that they (allegedly) “helped create and support online libraries of pirated video games for its customers, and several of the enterprise’s devices came preloaded with numerous pirated video games.”. I actually don’t think it’s necessarily the jailbreaking that’s got them into trouble here (even if Nintendo doesn’t like it, just like Sony didn’t like it when the PS3 was jailbroken), I think it’s how they were providing illegal roms.

      • spot on. on top of the cost of the kit which allowed to run homebrew, they were charging an additional fee for a licence code that enabled the option to run pirated content.

    • Hahaha, you moron. If you buy a device you don’t own legal rights to manipulate its technologies, especially to sell and market doing so. You sound like someone who needs to actually READ a EULA in something they play, because you don’t own that either, nor a right to modify its code and so on. Same applies. Derp.

      • EULAs from America and Japan don’t apply in Australia. Haha, you moron, you should remember which country the commentators on this article live in.

          • Bingo. And they’re all completely against such acts. Funny how some think difference in country would permit such. Guess they were triggered by not being able to do what they want.

  • Don’t feel too bad for these guys. They’ve been caught deliberately inserting code into their products that would brick your consoles as their own ‘anti-piracy’ measure against clones. Ironic, isn’t it?

    Don’t pay someone else to softmod your console if you can do it yourself for free, relatively risk-free, and easily. These cottage industries around softmodding exist because people are lazy and want an easy one-step solution, rather than just going through minimal effort.

    • That’s hilarious. Not to mention it’s illegal to jailbreak or softmod, but they somehow thought it was fine to MARKET THAT. If anyone thinks its a permitted act they need to review copyright laws. Sure, people do it still, but they shouldn’t assume it’s legal because they hold it in their hands. It’s so damned funny. Some real unintelligent people in the world.

      • “Some real unintelligent people in the world” – Yeah there really is, and they are the kind of people that post crap like “Hahaha, you moron”.

  • Thoroughly deserved, 99.9% of people were using these devices for piracy plain and simple, and the Devs were pretty open that this was the main reason to buy one.

    They got caught, they pay the price.

    • Yep! People like to think they have a right to modify everything they own without reading what they can do. There are terms to how something can be used that people skip entirely. If they went after every case, I bet there’d be an absolute tonne of breaches.

  • Normally I would side with the little guy, but in this case they deserved what they got. I’m not against them selling the jailbreaking kits, people should be allowed to do what they want with the devices they paid for.

    The jailbreaking kits on their own did not allow piracy, they simply allowed for homebrew, which is what they should have drawn the line with.

    The reason they shot themselves in the foot is because they were charging extra money for an additional licence code, whose sole purpose was to unlock the functionality to run pirated games.

    This had nothing to do with providing access to the hardware for the homebrew community.

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