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Wii Businesses Nintendo Entertainment Games

Atari Sub-Sub-Contractor Used ScummVM For Wii Game 313

Posted by Soulskill
from the hand-in-the-cookie-jar dept.
MBCook writes "In several recent releases, it seems that Atari published games for the Wii based on ScummVM, which was released under the GPL. Atari contracted Majesco, who contracted a company named Mistic Software with offices in the Ukraine. When the fact that the GPL was being violated was brought to Atari's attention, they were kind at first until it was discovered that Nintendo doesn't allow open source software to be used with the Wii SDK, so updated documentation mentioning the GPL wasn't an available solution. So, what happens to the games? 'There is a period of time in which all current copies have to be sold. Any copies beyond this period or any reprints get fined with quite high fine for each new/remaining copy. The remaining stock has to be destoryed [sic].' Atari and Majesco seem to have been very cooperative about this whole thing, but had their hands tied by the agreement with Nintendo."
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Atari Sub-Sub-Contractor Used ScummVM For Wii Game

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  • It's only copyright (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @10:51AM (#28453411)

    Based on what people posted for the Jammie Thomas $1.92 million settlement article, opinions will likely be divided into these different viewpoints:

    1. Atari should pay 3x the retail cost of the GPL code. 3 x $0 = $0
    2. It's only copyright which should be abolished anyways, no harm no foul
    3. Code wants to be free, man... why is the GPL holding it back?

    What's more likely is this response: OMG! GPL was violated! String Atari up by their balls!!11!!1! The GPL is sacred and must not be blasphemed like this. Grab your torches and pitchforks... we're going on a witch hunt!

  • Re:Wow (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @10:53AM (#28453445)

    Nintendo wants to prevent leakage of information about the Wii hardware that people can use to hack the machine. Of course, the Wii has already been throughly hacked and so it's just corporate doublethink to pretend it hasn't.

  • by Sj0 (472011) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @10:54AM (#28453463) Homepage Journal

    I'm certain I'm not alone when I say "Way to go, nintendo".

    I know why they did it, there has been a constant worry from closed-source developers that the GPL would force closed source code open. Nintendo is just covering their ass.

    Of course, Majesco made Psychonaughts, so the idea of booting their content off of a console for any reason sounds like a suicidal path.

  • This does not, in any way, demonstrate that companies need to be careful of how they use GPL code. They do need to be careful of how they use GPL code, but this doesn't demonstrate it at all.

    This entire thing would be fine if it wasn't for Nintendo's rules about what can be used on their devices. Atari would just have to make the modifications to ScummVM available somewhere, which it sounds like it was perfectly willing to do until someone realized that OSS violates the agreement with Nintendo, period.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @11:21AM (#28453917)

    Substitute the Nintendo SDK with a commercial product like Visual Studio. I never heard of any claims that using GPL in this environment would force MS to open anything.

  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Interesting)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:04PM (#28454677) Journal

    Could Atari not avoid this whole mess by negotiating a separate non-GPL licence with the developers of scumVM. I don't know how many contributors to the code base there have been but there are normally a smallish number of main developers. It might not be feasible to make a paying contract with all the people, but these people are usually pretty reasonable. If Atari were to offer to make a contribution to a FOSS cause such as the EFF in exchange for a one time non-GPL licence for the games they've already done, then probably the developers would sign something to help Atari out. After all, most OS developers quite like to see their work being used all other issues aside. If there are any odd contributors of the odd line here or there that can't be traced / don't respond, then small parts of the code base can be coded around quite easily perhaps.

    It seems the obvious solution, anyway.
  • by bennomatic (691188) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @02:06PM (#28456765) Homepage
    That's true in so many cases. I friend of mine runs a clothing company which prides itself on being a good corporate citizen. They have good working conditions, wages and benefits for their employees.

    Occasionally, they need to subcontract, and once, several years ago, one of their subcontractors subcontracted out to another company without due diligence, and this sub-sub-contractor did some Very Bad Things. They hired undocumented workers. They did not pay a fair wage. They closed up shop after the job was done and did not pay anyone for their last couple of weeks of work.

    This sub-sub was terrible, in that they had apparently done the same thing several times, under different names. The owner--or at least the guy who walked away with the most money, who did not claim ownership of any of the versions of this company he had opened and folded--was very well versed in hiding his assets and covering his connection to the illegal activities.

    Because the original client (my friend's company) did not do their due diligence, and did not specifically include verification steps in the subcontractor's contract, they were held equally responsible, and had to share in not only the payment of back wages, but also several hundred thousand dollars in punitive fees.

    Of course, because the responsible party was a friend of mine, I feel this was a pity, but given how common the Reagan defense is, it was probably the right thing to do.
  • by Ant P. (974313) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @03:55PM (#28458549) Homepage

    I seem to remember a story a few months back where they distributed code taken from a PC game crack in an official update.

    They obviously consider this sort of behaviour acceptable, so I expect they'll have no problem with people pirating their software en masse.

  • Re:Wow (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @04:40PM (#28459263)

    "The reason for not being able to relicense SCUMM engine is simple but sad. One developer is dead for several years now. Of course, there is always a possibility to rewrite his code.

    At this very moment we already have some parts of ScummVM LGPLed by request, and there were successful negotiations to dual license one whole engine. I hunted down every key developer and got their aye on the issue, although for some reason the other party did not continue the deal, but that's a different story."

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