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Nintendo Cracks Down on Copying Devices 361

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the protecting-your-interests dept.
Adrian Lopez writes "Nintendo is cracking down on mod chips and copying devices with the help of the Hong Kong government. 'The Hong Kong High Court has intervened, at Nintendo's request, to help stop a global distribution operation involving game copying devices and modification chips that violate the copyrights and trademarks of Nintendo DS and Wii. On Oct. 8th, the court ordered the raid of Supreme Factory Limited facilities, through which Nintendo representatives seized more than 10,000 game copying devices and mod chips over the course of three days. The devices seized are used to copy and play Nintendo DS games offered unlawfully over the Internet, and the mod chips allow the play of pirated Wii discs or illegal copies of downloaded Nintendo games.'"
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Nintendo Cracks Down on Copying Devices

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  • by Tainek (912325) * on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @06:33AM (#21083057)
    Its like taking piss out of a swimming pool, you can make wii chips out of commonly availible materials for $5 (WiiFree, OpenWii etc)
    • by Kamokazi (1080091) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @07:41AM (#21083509)
      That's all fine and dandy for the Wii, but for the DS it's not so simple. The sad thing here is I think Nintento is missing the opportunity for a new product.

      What a lot of these 3rd party cartridges do for the DS do is allow people to (aside from copying DS/GBA games) play music and movies, and have PDA functionality. They also allow users to play NES, SNES, etc games on them as well.

      Many of these cards sell for $80+ (or do once you add the removable flash memory). If they were smart, they would take a page from the Wii's online service, sell a cartridge for $20 that allows you to buy and download old NES/SNES games with Nintento points like you can on the Wii. They could also sell a cartridge with a flash memory slot and allow it to do multimedia playback.
      • by jamar0303 (896820) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @07:47AM (#21083553)
        In Japan, they do- it's called the Play-Yan. Strange that they don't try to sell it outside Japan.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Many of these cards sell for $80+ (or do once you add the removable flash memory). If they were smart, they would take a page from the Wii's online service, sell a cartridge for $20 that allows you to buy and download old NES/SNES games with Nintento points like you can on the Wii. They could also sell a cartridge with a flash memory slot and allow it to do multimedia playback.

        Maybe that's exactly what they plan on doing and that's why they are cracking down. The Nintendo folks are pretty smart. They lost the king of hill spot in the video console market to Sony and Microsoft mostly by being fat and lazy, not by being stupid. They've managed to maintain their lead in portable gaming, even despite the onslaught of PSP.

      • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @08:13AM (#21083815) Homepage
        on the DS it is that simple. you can walk into any walmart and walk out with a DS cart that will play copied games.

        Datel games-n-music DS. I got several japanese import copies playing on that device with a 1 gig micro SD card in it.

        $25.00 at walmart. Warez for the masses.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by zerocool^ (112121)

          I've just spent an hour looking on the web for information on this thing.

          It would seem that it will NOT play any commercial DS roms, with very few exceptions. This is due to some weird limitation with the GnM where in order to play a rom, it needs to be able to be copied into the DS's RAM, which after loading the GnM stuff is around a measly 3.6 ~ 3.7 MB. Most DS roms are far bigger than this, even after being trimmed and compressed. The sole exception is supposedly Elf Bowling.

          However, the GnM will appe
      • by Applekid (993327)

        The sad thing here is I think Nintento is missing the opportunity for a new product.

        They're not missing the opportunity for a new product, they're reserving that new product for themselves.

        During end-of-life of the SNES, they did exactly that in Japan. You bought a flash cartridge preloaded with a game and could then take it to a vending machine where you would insert it in a slot and buy a new game that was loaded into it. The biggest of those games was Rockman & Forte (which was also available in classic blown ROM cartridge format)

        What I find particularly interesting is that while N

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @06:42AM (#21083099)
    I can't help but notice that every article on the Main Page has been posted by ScuttleMonkey...where did everyone else go? Was there a party last night that Scuttlemonkey wasn't invited to?
  • It's a lose-lose. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @06:50AM (#21083157)
    If Nintendo is 0% successful at this, they will have wasted a lot of money and time for nothing.

    If Nintendo is 100% successful, on the other hand, they will save some revenue, but at the cost of pissing off a lot of users, legitimate and otherwise, who might decide to take their business elsewhere.

    Odds are pretty good that their actual success rate will fall somewhere between 0% and 100% (most probably close to the low end of the scale), making this endeavor slightly annoying to the users, while being in the main a big waste of time.

    Any way you slice it, it's a dumb idea.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      No it's not. They're chasing down copyright thieves who are violating the use of their software/hardware. If they shutdown one factory and seize (from the article):

      more than 10,000 game copying devices and mod chips

      then they've already made a win. Sure, if people are using these for legitimate means (i.e. making backup copies of their purchases) then they're hurting the good guys; but let's face it, the majority of mod users are breaking the law so they don't have to pay.

      Don't get me wrong, I hate all

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @07:12AM (#21083301)
        Copyright thieves? Who is falsely claiming copyright over the property of Nintendo? And what in the name of FSM does "violating the use of their software/hardware" mean? Surely if Nintendo have sold the hardware to others its not theirs anymore, and its up the new owner to decide what they do with it. Is owning property illegal? How did this scam come about whereby corporations sell stuff to you, then claim they still really own it - and the right to control what you can and cant do with it?

        As near as I can tell, Nintendo are the ones actually stealing the physical property of others - chips, consoles, and a whole heap of stuff that isnt theirs. Fuck them and the corrupt legal system that helps them commit crimes against people.
      • by muffen (321442)
        I doubt it makes any difference. There are plenty of countries in the world where producing the modchips is not a crime, so the only thing this does is delays shipment of the stuff by a few weeks until someone else starts producing it in a country with (imho) sane laws.

        As long as people are willing to pay for the modchips, there will be someone that produces them. Even if Nintendo managed to close down 90% of the modchip makers, the only result would be that the remaining 10% would produce more and earn
    • But it's CHINA! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by NealokNYU (779603)
      This is China we're talking about. It's not hard to find information about their almost total disacknowledgment of international copyright laws. Let's start with a Google search. [google.com]

      Software piracy is the norm. You can acquire scandalously cheap, perfect-looking copies of everything from Office to Everquest for dirt cheap, i.e. cents, not dollars. The Chinese government has been remarkably slow in taking action to support the authority of nations seeking the enforcement of copyright laws, and while I doubt

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Does anybody else remember the story of somebody (in China I'm pretty sure) selling old Gamecube games in Wii packaging to make them look like new Wii games. That's the extent they go to for this piracy.
    • by SpeedyDX (1014595)
      However it turns out, I'm just glad that I got my R4 [r4ds.com] from HK before the crackdown happened.
    • by jamar0303 (896820)
      This is just HK. They haven't touched the mainland yet, which is, as we know, the manufacturing center for damn near everything.
  • by EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @06:55AM (#21083183)
    Heh. I misread the first sentence as:

    Nintendo is cracking down on mod chips and copying devices with the help of the Donkey Kong government.
    Need more coffee.
  • by toQDuj (806112) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @06:55AM (#21083185) Homepage Journal
    ...the way this article is spun.

    Yes, mod chips could be used for illegal activities, but also for good. The article really fails to highlight that. With a tone like this, you'd wonder how tape recorders ever got sold.

    B.
    • He, I can mod my Wii? Never knew that, thanks.

      You would be suprised how many people learn about filesharing from the medias attack on it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dattaway (3088)
      I used a mod chip to flash DSLinux on my Nintendo DS. I just wanted a small computer that I can play with, not to play commercial games. If Nintendo cracks down too much, the community is going to be a much stronger.
  • Chasing users? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ilovegeorgebush (923173) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @07:02AM (#21083233) Homepage
    I've always wondered if those that use R4 cards [r4ds.com] (I don't have one) for the DS and play online are at risk of being caught and having their doors knocked down by the SS..err I mean Police. Surely they're logging users and have means of identifying legitimate/illegitimate users?
    • Re:Chasing users? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by FlopEJoe (784551) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @07:24AM (#21083387)

      have means of identifying legitimate/illegitimate users

      I'm assuming sarcasm but I've always wondered what is legitimate with the DS. You can use R4 (and others like it) to play movies, read ebooks, listen to music, and play homebrew your DS. That's hours of entertainment without touching an illegal, downloaded ROM or altering your rig in anyway. The R4 isn't like plopping an EPROM in a console or rerouting wires since it doesn't alter anything the DS was sold as... not even the firmware.

      Then the step further, you can buy ROMs, dump them and, and put multiple games on your DS. Most would find the convenience in traveling without all the ROMs or the chance that your kid drops it down the air duct shaft. But is that legitimate to Nintendo? Seems the same as ripping my own CDs and putting them on my MP3 player.

      • by tepples (727027)

        I'm assuming sarcasm but I've always wondered what is legitimate with the DS.
        I'm guessing that Nintendo's plan is for homebrewers to stop playing with the DS and buy a Windows Mobile device to hack on.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jamar0303 (896820)
      How? Once the game is loaded into the card's RAM, for all the DS knows it's just a regular DS game card. There's no other way for those to work (not sure about the ones that used to run from the GBA slot, though, but we're talking about the R4).
  • by Aladrin (926209) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @07:05AM (#21083251)
    "It can destroy years of hard work by a team of very talented software developers, who strive to create games consumers enjoy playing."

    It -can-, but it doesn't. Instead, it allows people that don't have the money to buy the game to play it anyhow, and get their friends excited, and get them interested in sequels and spinoffs. Instead of forcing the penniless gamer to go out and play in the yard for free, it keeps them addicted to video games.

    On the other hand, people that -can- afford the games buy them, for the most part. I'm not talking the teenagers that have to skip lunch this month to buy a game, but the people with full-time jobs and disposable income.

    And when it comes right down to it, the only difference between someone "stealing" a game using a modchip and that same person buying the game used is the timeframe. The developer doesn't get any money from either way. (Of course, GameStop gets some money on the used route, but that's irrelevant to this discussion.)

    My current tactic? Rental. Any game I don't absolutely have to have right away, I just rent it. For 1/3 of a game per month, I can rent 2-4 by mail. For 3/4 of a game per month, I can rent 4-8. Since I lose interest in most games after a few hours anyhow, this works great for me. I've had some games that I thought I'd love that I spent less than an hour playing them before they were back in the mail. GameFly (and probably other services) will even let you buy the game at a reduced price if you want to keep it. That makes it really hard to justify buying it brand new.

    So in the end, Nintendo can rid the market of these devices and it won't change things for the better. That isn't their goal, though. Their goal is to remind people that they are illegal and 'wrong'. And they did that.
    • I'm not talking the teenagers that have to skip lunch this month to buy a game, but the people with full-time jobs and disposable income.

      Incorrect assumption on those with a full-time job. Many with full time jobs are the working poor. Their disposable income was spent years ago while they lived in their parrents basement. Now they have full time mortguages, phone bills, credit card bills, tuition loans... Those with a debt load of $50,000 or more shouldn't be buying $50 videogames. I don't have any co
      • by Aladrin (926209)
        What assumption? Read it again. I said 'people with full-time jobs and disposable income.' I didn't say people that have full-time jobs HAVE disposable income, I said those with both.

        It should come of no surprise to anyone that people with no disposable income don't buy luxury items. It's pretty obvious.
    • I've tried GameFly in the states, and had nothing but trouble with them (somehow quite a few games got lost in mail ... OTOH I had no trouble with a parallel Netflix subscription. WTF?). Almost all mail-driven rental services in the States have really poor ratings and come with similar horror stories.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by brkello (642429)
      Wow...what a rosy little world you live in. Pirating games means that everyone is going to make great profit! Pirates are such nice people that when they don't pay for a game and like it they become an advertising agency that just pours money in to the company. It also keeps these pirates off the streets where they would be causing trouble. I never knew how fantastic pirating could be!

      Fact of the matter is...if companies don't at least make some attempt to make it difficult to pirate something, then
  • by wannabegeek2 (1137333) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @07:06AM (#21083269)
    I've not made a habit of backing up CD / DVD media based games or content, primarily due to the hassle. For the adult stuff my wife and I are careful enough with the disks that the risk of the disk becoming damaged through normal use is reasonably low. (read as not worth the hassle and cost of obtaining technically illegal software and quality media)

    An incident last weekend however has me reconsidering my current practices, at least where my kids CDs, DVDs and games are concerned.

    Over the course of the last few years I've had to use the furniture polish trick on a few game CDs. Usually after one of the kids left them sliding around in a drawer and the PS2 or 'puter couldn't read them anymore. With I think one exception, so far I've been lucky and they've all be playable.

    Last weekend however my son had a friend over for cooperative HALO3 fest. On the second evening they're setting up the friends system when my son decides to "stand up XBox so it can get some cooling". After this the system says the disk is unreadable, and it's discovered that their is a perfectly circular series of scratches about a quarter inch from the out edge and an eighth of an inch wide.

    After multiple attempts with the furniture polish and toothpaste tricks I finally get the disk to read. I have NO doubt I'll be buying the young man a new HALO3 disk in the near future.

    The moral of the story?

    It should be EASY and LEGAL to make backups of your media. It doesn't matter whether it is music, a video or a game!

        Oh, by the way, anyone have any favorite, tried and true, game disk restoration tips? :-)
    • by FlopEJoe (784551) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @07:27AM (#21083415)

      For the adult stuff my wife and I

      Your lucky... I wish my GF liked pr0n :(

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by xtracto (837672)
        Your lucky... I wish my GF liked pr0n :(

        I'll give you a tip, it depends on what kind of porn. I know that in stores like Ann Summers they sell "adult movies" which are "suitable" for girls, or at least, they like them. You could always also start with "Pirates" which has a pretty funny story.

        Btw, the first porn movie I saw with my girlfriend (we had a really good time as the movie is hilarious these days) was Deep Throat (the original). My GF got interested after the documentary was released, so I got it an
      • by Kiuas (1084567) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @09:08AM (#21084499)

        Your lucky... I wish my GF liked pr0n :(
        Your lucky, this is Slashdot after all... Most of us just wish we had a girlfriend :(
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I thought they give instructions on how to receive a replacement disc for like the cost of shipping and maybe $5? It's in the back of the manual of every game you buy. I've done this with multiple computer games, even 5+ year old titles like Descent 3.
    • by muffen (321442)
      Last weekend however my son had a friend over for cooperative HALO3 fest. On the second evening they're setting up the friends system when my son decides to "stand up XBox so it can get some cooling". After this the system says the disk is unreadable, and it's discovered that their is a perfectly circular series of scratches about a quarter inch from the out edge and an eighth of an inch wide.

      Had this happen to a few discs, and just so you know you probably dont have to buy a new disc.
      Those machines th
  • Typical lies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by foreverdisillusioned (763799) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @07:09AM (#21083285) Journal
    The devices seized are used to copy and play Nintendo DS games offered unlawfully over the Internet, and the mod chips allow the play of pirated Wii discs or illegal copies of downloaded Nintendo game

    They're also used to play games that aren't available for sale in the USA (and won't run on a North American Wii even if you import them legally), and they're used to play legal ("Fair Use") backups of game discs that have been damaged.

    All of you MAFIAA shills can whine "oh but that's not what you guys are REALLY using them for!" all you want, but my both my sister and my girlfriend like Japanese date sims (weird, yes), and I've known several people who've had a game disc damaged beyond playability--usually by dogs or small children.
    • I have a "hacked" ps2 (softmod, not hardmod, using HD Advance) and use it to store games on the HD. The advantage? No more scratches and wrecked disks, no more worn out lasers and much faster loading times (in game it makes a huge difference). It also allows me to play out of region games.

      I'm not a pirate, so leave me the hell alone.
    • Nintendo's "bait and switch" region-coding scheme should be enough to piss off even the staunchest nintendo supporter...

      "We're going region-free!" (and the crowd rejoiced)

      "Wait, scratch that... we're not..." (and the crowd missed the announcement)

      I'd have felt better if they'd have kept it to themselves... but it was most likely just an "also-ran" press release to keep in the news... (all too quickly retracted.)

      Meh... that really annoys me to no end.. Their motive? Regional pricing is all I can think of.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rabiddeity (941737)
      I'll back you up, except that I go the other way. I have a Japanese Wii that I've bought here in Japan. Sometimes I want to play a game that I see on the shelf at the local stores. But sometimes I just want to sit down and play a game in English. Unfortunately, since Nintendo released their system region locked, a mod chip is the only way I can reasonably do that. If the MAFIAA broke down my door today, they'd find a chipped Wii and a bunch of legally purchased Japanese and US games, and no "backups".
  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @07:34AM (#21083455)
    I recently sold my Gameboy Advance & two Flash2Advance backup cartridges on eBay (all of them separately). Along with the F2A cartridges, I threw in with each a DVD full of **ONLY** GBA PD ROMs.

    Fortunately, the auctions ended & the buyers had paid me before eBay informed me that they were taking the F2A listings down due to software piracy. When I questioned eBay as to why this had been done when I was not advertising any commercially copied software with the cartridges, they told me to get in touch with the ESA (Entertainment Software Association) who had asked for the listings to be removed.

    So far, I have emailed the officious tosspots at the ESA four times & demanded an explanation as to why they insisted the F2As be removed when eBay can still advertise writable CDs & DVDs, USB flash keys and DVD writers, all of which can be used for piracy in a similar fashion.

    In over 4 weeks now, I have not received one reply from the ESA who, as far as I am concerned, have accused me of being a software pirate & been heavy-handed in their attitude - even though I made it clear to them that the F2A can be a legitimate developer tool for homebrew GBA ROMs.

    All these heavy-handed corporations are just assholes!

  • by gabrieltss (64078) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @08:16AM (#21083857)
    My family owns an original Nintendo NES, Super Nintendo, Nintendo64, Nintendo Gamecube, and a Nintendo Gameboy Advanced. We are a Nintendo specific game family. We have purchased litterly hundreds of ORIGINAL cartridges and CD's for these systems that totals up to A LOT of money spent. I was able to get ahold of a Super Wildcard for my super nintendo a few years back and yes I did backup ALL my cartridges for my Super Nintendo and I am glad I did. I now have two that won't work anymore becuase the contacts on the cartridge are so worn. Even cleaning them didn't help. Do you know how HARD it is to find OLD nintendo cartridges to replace them? Even GameStop is slowly phasing out nintendo stuff to put in more XCrock shit! I don't own an XBox, I WON'T own an XBox. I'm starting to think Microsoft bought up GameStop too. At least I can still play my LEGALLY purchased Super Nintendo games on ZNes on the PC in Linux. At this rate I don't know if I will buy a Wii. Anyone know of a legit place that won't rip you off to purchase backup devices for the old nintendo NES, nintendo64's and gamecubes. I have one gamecube Cd that is starting to have problems now too! I want to be able to LEGALLY backup my games damit! Fuck the RIAA, MPAA, Nintedo et al.. If I won't be allowed to backup up my LEGALLY purchased stuff I won't be doing anymore purchasing. It will save me a lot of money at least and less in the pockets of the media outlets that seem to think it is their god given right to get my money!

    My thought is that the game console makers should produce their own game backup units that would allow you to legally backup your games. Even if it put like a serial number into the backup of the game so it could be traced back to the original owner if they decided to "pirate" them. This I think would protect BOTH the consumer and the media outlets rights. The consumer could legally backup his legally purchased media and if they gave out a copy to someone else and the meida outlet found a copy floating around they could trace it back to whoomever gave it out and prosecute them. Simple I think.

    At least I have my old Amiga 2000 system and all the tons of games I bought for it. Oh that's right I am glad I made backup copies of those too so I could play them on UAE under Linux on my PC, since my Amiga 2000 floppy drive died and try to get a replacement for one of those!

    Starting to see the LEGITIMATE need for backup software/devices??????
    • by Shados (741919)
      I definately do. For all 4 of you that will use these devices legitimately. The line between something legitimate and something thats not is in how people use it. If the vast majority uses it for something legitimate, then no law will be written against it, and it will stay legitimate. If the vast majority doesn't, well....

      Thats why butterknives are mostly legal everywhere. If everyone started to use bufferknives as weapons, actions would be taken against em. Everything's legal (even murder!) until too many
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @09:01AM (#21084383)
    When I was in high school, I bought a Flash2Advance for gobs and gobs of money because I wanted to play NES games on my Gameboy Advance. I did that for a few days, and then got sick of it. A few months later I decided to try my hand at GBA game development, and made a few demos and a complete game over the course of a few months. I entered the game in a Homebrew GBA competition and got an honorable mention... My parents thought it was the biggest waste of money and for a while I did too, until three years later when I mentioned it on my resume. I got a job at an embedded engineering company, and my boss later told me that the whole reason they called me in for an interview was because of they downloaded my GBA game and tried it out. Before that I had never even heard of "embedded engineering," and now it is my passion and specialty.

    I never thought a $500 video game would change the direction of my life, but I will never doubt that homebrew is great. Certainly it can be used to steal games, but it is also one of the cheapest and most effective ways for a novice programmer to get into a booming industry. And, yes, developing for emulators is also valid, but testing on real hardware was an invaluable experience that an emulator cannot replicate.
  • Region Codes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kisrael (134664) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @09:28AM (#21084775) Homepage
    I might be on Nintendo's side for stuff like this if it wasn't for the #$&(U@#$ region lock codes.
  • by sjonke (457707) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @10:04AM (#21085395) Journal
    ... you get piracy. We have a modchip in our Gamecube and primarily (by far) it is used for homebrew, backups of our purchased games (sorry, but I do think I should be allowed to backup our purchased games), and to play games from other regions (region-coding is extremely irritating and stupid - why make it hard for us to buy and play games we want to play?) Have I ever downloaded a game ("pirated")? Yes, I have. I've only done it a handful of times, and have always ended up tossing it out (or buying the game), but none-the-less, when the possibility is there, you're bound to try it at some point. And some will continue to do it and won't toss out their pirated games.

    If Nintendo et. al. provided a means for backing up games, free tools for developing and running homebrew (or for a very nominal fee), and eliminated region-coding, then modchips wouldn't be necessary for these legitimate purposes, and there wouldn't be the temptation to try pirating games at all. They choose not to provide these things. Wouldn't it be easier and less costly to them to provide this stuff? It would also make customers happy.

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