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Emulation (Games) Nintendo The Courts Games

Nintendo Upset Over Nokia Game Emulation Video 189

Posted by Soulskill
from the super-mario-takedown dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Nintendo is investigating potential copyright infringement by Nokia during some video demos of their N900 phone, which can be seen emulating Nintendo games. Nintendo spokesman Robert Saunders says: 'We take rigorous steps to protect our IP and our legal team will examine this to determine if any infringement has taken place.' In the video, Nokia says, 'Most publishers allow individual title usage, provided that the user is in possession of the original title.'"
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Nintendo Upset Over Nokia Game Emulation Video

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  • Oh, Nokia.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Psaakyrn (838406)

    "Most publishers allow individual title usage, provided that the user is in possession of the original title."

    This might explain why their platforms failed so much (well, other than side-talking and whatnot). I have not really heard of any major publisher that allows copies of their titles (disregarding software officially released free) so I don't know who gave Nokia that info.

    Not to mention this is NINTENDO. If there's a single game company who is most likely to oppose emulation, it's Nintendo.

    • by Psaakyrn (838406) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @03:09AM (#30280152)

      http://www.nintendo.com/corp/legal.jsp#roms [nintendo.com]

      How Does Nintendo Feel About the Emergence of Video Game Emulators?

      The introduction of emulators created to play illegally copied Nintendo software represents the greatest threat to date to the intellectual property rights of video game developers. As is the case with any business or industry, when its products become available for free, the revenue stream supporting that industry is threatened. Such emulators have the potential to significantly damage a worldwide entertainment software industry which generates over $15 billion annually, and tens of thousands of jobs.

      What Does Nintendo Think of the Argument that Emulators are Actually Good for Nintendo Because it Promotes the Nintendo Brand to PC Users and Leads to More Sales?

      Distribution of an emulator developed to play illegally copied Nintendo software hurts Nintendo's goodwill, the millions of dollars invested in research & development and marketing by Nintendo and its licensees. Substantial damages are caused to Nintendo and its licensees. It is irrelevant whether or not someone profits from the distribution of an emulator. The emulator promotes the play of illegal ROMs , NOT authentic games. Thus, not only does it not lead to more sales, it has the opposite effect and purpose.

      How Come Nintendo Does Not Take Steps Towards Legitimizing Nintendo Emulators?

      Emulators developed to play illegally copied Nintendo software promote piracy. That's like asking why doesn't Nintendo legitimize piracy. It doesn't make any business sense. It's that simple and not open to debate.

      People Making Nintendo Emulators and Nintendo ROMs are Helping Publishers by Making Old Games Available that are No Longer Being Sold by the Copyright Owner. This Does Not Hurt Anyone and Allows Gamers to Play Old Favorites. What's the Problem?

      The problem is that it's illegal. Copyrights and trademarks of games are corporate assets. If these vintage titles are available far and wide, it undermines the value of this intellectual property and adversely affects the right owner. In addition, the assumption that the games involved are vintage or nostalgia games is incorrect. Nintendo is famous for bringing back to life its popular characters for its newer systems, for example, Mario and Donkey Kong have enjoyed their adventures on all Nintendo platforms, going from coin-op machines to our latest hardware platforms. As a copyright owner, and creator of such famous characters, only Nintendo has the right to benefit from such valuable assets.

      • by planetoid (719535)
        Nintendo is famous for bringing back to life its popular characters for its newer systems, for example, Mario and Donkey Kong have enjoyed their adventures on all Nintendo platforms

        WHAT ABOUT EARTHBOUND?
        • Mother 3 is for the GBA. There's even an english patch out there.
          • by Jesus_666 (702802)
            Good luck applying an English patch to your original Mother 3 cartridge.
            • by NemosomeN (670035)
              Or, you know, taking a foreign language class? It's not that difficult, really. (Although reading hiragana on a Gameboy Micro kinda is, tbh)
            • by Golddess (1361003)
              Re-read the policy. Notice how they keep mentioning illegal copies. If you bought the physical cartridge, then you would not be making an illegal copy.

              Realistically though, I'm sure Nintendo would not like it if I were to buy a Japanese game, copy the ROM, apply an English translation patch, and then play the translated ROM on an Emulator.
            • Good luck applying an English patch to your original Mother 3 cartridge.

              First buy a DS Lite, a SLOT-1 microSD adapter such as CycloDS Evolution, and a SLOT-2 flash card. On a microSD card, install a dump and patch program. Then under 17 USC 117 (backup/adaptation defense applicable in the United States), you can dump your authentic Mother 3 Game Pak, patch it, and write out the patched version to the SLOT-2 card. Voila: English Mother 3.

      • by fractoid (1076465) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @03:37AM (#30280260) Homepage

        The introduction of emulators created to play illegally copied Nintendo software represents the greatest threat to date to the intellectual property rights of video game developers.

        Wow, self-centered much? So piracy of Nintendo games is the greatest threat to date to the IP rights of video game developers as a whole?

      • by Rix (54095) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @04:08AM (#30280454)

        Emulators developed to play illegally copied Nintendo software promote piracy. That's like asking why doesn't Nintendo legitimize piracy. It doesn't make any business sense. It's that simple and not open to debate.

        They're right that it's not open to debate. Piracy is going to happen, and there's absolutely nothing Nintendo or anyone else can do about it. They can accept that, and find a way to profit from it, or turn away people who want to be paying customers.

        • by ThePhilips (752041) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:45AM (#30281308) Homepage Journal

          ... and they consistently choose to do the latter.

          • They can accept that, and find a way to profit from it, or turn away people who want to be paying customers.

            ... and they consistently choose to do the latter.

            I would argue that they've finally changed that decision with the Wii. Nintendo realized that there are plenty of people out there (myself included) who will pay $5-10 for an easy way to download and play old NES, SNES, etc. games instead of going through the hassle of finding an emulator that works well and finding the games for free.

        • by Duradin (1261418)

          So what you are say is that pirates pirate because they don't want to be pirates but the big bad evil companies keep forcing them to pirate by not releasing exactly what the pirate wants for a price (free) the pirate is willing to pay?

          • Though it is for some, certainly. Why should Nintendo (or anyone else) care one way or another about those people?

            Why spite the people who have a non-zero price point in some sort of misguided revenge on people who won't pay (but will pirate regardless)?

        • by sjames (1099)

          Nintendo seems to want to sidestep the fact that if they offer old games for sale at a reasonable price for use in emulators, it's no longer piracy.

          They naturally also ignore the larger legal philosophical issues surrounding works that are no longer available, particularly those that likely never will be available again in that form. That is, since copyright's explicit purpose is to make more works available, should it really be usable to make a work effectively disappear? Can they claim to be losing someth

      • by tagno25 (1518033)

        How Come Nintendo Does Not Take Steps Towards Legitimizing Nintendo Emulators?

        Emulators developed to play illegally copied Nintendo software promote piracy. That's like asking why doesn't Nintendo legitimize piracy. It doesn't make any business sense. It's that simple and not open to debate.

        So thy are just saying that they do not want to make an emulator that works like the Wii VC for computers. (have encryption and sell the roms themselves)

      • That article's Q&A format is quite funny. It has good questions, and then they're all answered with "IT'S ILLEGAL, IT'S ILLEGAL, IT'S ILLEGAL GODDAMMIT!!! Also, $corporate_fluff_pity_speech." Reminds me of John McCain's debate style - "HE'S GONNA RAISE TAXES!!! Also, $argument_for_smaller_government."
        • by Trinn (523103)

          Reminds me of how people argue for modern prohibition. "Drugs are bad because they're illegal!...Drugs are illegal because they're bad!"....yeah

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Who cares what Nintendo says. Making copies of a computer program you own is legal [cornell.edu] provided: "that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner"

        The Nokia phone is "a machine" and making a copy of the ROM is an "essential step" in the utilization of the computer program with that machine. Since there's no copy protection, the DMCA doesn't apply. The only question left is whether

      • Are you really that concerned about games you haven't made a dime on in 15 years? Whether the law is on your side or not, you're just being bitches.
      • by trawg (308495)

        I think copyright simply shouldn't apply after some period where the products are no longer commercially available. This would stop companies simply sitting on their copyrights trying to figure out ways to milk them for the next hundred years and keep fresh things rolling into the public domain.

    • Re:Oh, Nokia.. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @03:51AM (#30280338)

      Not to mention this is NINTENDO. If there's a single game company who is most likely to oppose emulation, it's Nintendo.

      Allow me to introduce you to the Nintendo Gateway System [panasonic.aero] for IFE's (In Flight Entertainment systems). Such systems have been in place on many airlines for some time now, this one is uses GameBoy roms but the one's I've used on Singapore Airlines used NES and SNES roms.

      Nintendo aren't against emulation, they are all for it (after all the whole virtual console thing is emulation) they just want to sell it. Nintendo's problem isn't that the emulators exist it that they are competing commercially (I.E. Nokia wants to make money for itself by advertising Nintendo's products without permission).

      MS and Sony are far more hostile to emulation, they just haven't been in the game long enough to be affected by it. MS has released 2 generations of console, Sony 3 generations whilst Nintendo have had 6 generations released.

  • by coppro (1143801) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @03:04AM (#30280120)
    It's worth pointing out that Nintendo merely wants to find out if infringement occurred - they're almost certainly as aware as every other game company that emulation is legal. It's quite possible, however, that there was indeed some copyright infringement, such as in acquiring the game, and they want to be sure that their competitors are playing by the book.
    This is reasonable, in my opinion.
    • by V!NCENT (1105021) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:05AM (#30281742)

      Nintendo: I don't want you to emulate our games on your phone!
      V!NCENT: Dear Nintendo, can I buy a 8bit GameBoy then?
      Nintendo: No we don't sell them anymore.
      V!NCENT: Ehm... ?

      • by tepples (727027)

        Nintendo: I don't want you to emulate our games on your phone!
        V!NCENT: Dear Nintendo, can I buy a 8bit GameBoy then?
        Nintendo: No we don't sell them anymore.
        V!NCENT: Ehm... ?

        Compare to Disney's "vault" tactics. The copyright owner gets 95 years of exclusive rights in exchange for 9,995 years of public domain. Even if you think this isn't a fair trade, at least 51 percent of U.S. voters in congressional elections since 1998 either agree with expansion of copyright or don't give a care.

    • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

      It's more likely this is a scare tactic, making people wary of downloading emulators because they might be illegal. "I heard Nintendo will sue you for using an emulator, just like the RIAA/MPAA are doing..." and disinformation spreads like wildfire.

      It's purely public relations.

  • by feedayeen (1322473)
    How many Mario clones have been made using flash/java web applications this last decade alone? Answer: 2.35 * 10 ^ 34
  • I really don't care what most publishers says, I only care about what the laws in my country says. That's what matters, unless you live in some place where the publishers owns the government and make their own laws (or licenses that supersedes the law). And in my country I have every right to play what I own on any device I feel like.

    (don't know for how long though, given the current copyright jihad.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by marcansoft (727665)

      Precisely. Even more important is that emulators do not themselves constitute copyright infringement (unless they contain a ripped BIOS or the like), nor do they bypass copy protection (that's the job of the game ripper, not the emulator), so Nintendo can do squat about the application itself. At most, Nintendo is pulling a PR move here. The only real claim they have relates to whether some employee at Nokia illegally downloaded games that he does not own for the purposes of this demostration.

      • No, they can make a copyright infringement claim over the video itself. It would be the same if a microsoft commercial had someone playing half-life without Valve's authorization.
  • Dear Nintendo (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Random5 (826815)
    Either start selling copies of these roms (or licenses to play them) on your website or shut the hell up. You're not losing profit on games for consoles which are 3 and 4 generations obsolete if you're not selling new copies of those games. Charging people say $1, $2 a pop to download 1meg roms off your site would have a pretty damn high profit margin I think.
    • That's basically what the Wii's Virtual Console is. Only caveat is that you have to have a Wii to play them. And, well, you're not SUPPOSED to be able to copy them, but there are hacks that let you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Nintendo are selling some of the more popular titles via Wii shop (and some DS shop?). Of course, they are not at all obliged to do this to keep their copyrights; they're free to cash in from their work whenever they like.

      In fact, it's very possible that there would be more classic titles on sale if less people were downloading them beforehand. Some games, thanks to their demand drying up, might no longer have the demand necessary for Nintendo to be bothered making them available.

      • I think most 10-20 year old games are popular precisely due to the availiblity to download them over the past years.

        • You know what? I think Nintendo doesn't require pirates to handle their marketing. I'm pretty sure they can make good games popular without people ripping them off.

          • You misread me if you thought I said that.

            I am just refuting your point about some games not being available due to the accessibility of questionable downloads.

            • Perhaps I'm misreading you, but I think you're making the argument that the downloads don't correspond to lost sales, since it was because of the downloads that the downloads occurred, right? And thus without the downloads, the games are no more likely to be sold officially, right?

              Wrong. It's the combination of demand and a marketing vehicle (in this case, the downloads) that fuelled the downloads. It doesn't really matter what the marketing vehicle is; just so long as it reminds people of the game.

              Nintendo

            • You're attempting to refute, but if you look at your debate logically his counter-point successfully parries your refutation.

              Him: Access to downloadable ROMs reduces the potential of a game on the virtual marketplace by reducing the number of potential buyers.
              You: Access to downloadable ROMs makes these games popular, thereby increasing the number of potential buyers.
              Him: Nintendo can make those same games popular without downloadable ROMs. Therefore, any popularity gain from downloadable ROMs is effectivel

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      Uhh, Doesn't the Wii have an online marketplace where you can get those games from systems past and play them on your new Wii under emulation?

      I'm sure they aren't making these [amazon.com] two items [amazon.com] just to look pretty on a shelf.

      • For the record, the first is actually a standard GameCube controller. While you can hook them to the Wii (and in fact you must if you want to play GC games on the Wii), they're designed for the old GameCube.

        They also work on certain Wii titles... Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Mario Kart Wii are the first two to come to mind.

      • by tepples (727027)

        Doesn't the Wii have an online marketplace where you can get those games from systems past and play them on your new Wii under emulation?

        Games, yes. Those games, not necessarily. Let me know when any of the Mother trilogy shows up in North American Wii Shop Channel.

    • by xenocide2 (231786)

      Nintendo does sell old games; they used them in the GBA Classics series, and now the Wii "virtual console" has tons of games. The bone of contention, I think, is Nokia advertising their system as a platform to pirate Nintendo games with a weak "don't forget to buy the original cartridge!". Which would be substantially undermined by Nokia's marketing team not even following the rules.

      It's hard to remember, but there was a time when Nokia directly competed with Nintendo in the hardware market with the N-Gage.

  • There's a company that made commercial console emulators for Nokia Series 60 phones:
    Vampent - http://vampent.com [vampent.com]
    Their products are: VNES = NES Emulator
    VBOY = Gameboy Color Emulator
    VSUN = SNES Emulator
    VBAG/VBAGX = Gameboy Advance Emulator
  • I can tell you from personal experience that half the friends I know with Nintendo DS consoles have only bought on cartridge for it: The "R4" device that lets you, among other things, download illegal copies of games so you don't have to pay for them.
    Of course, that's just because they want foreign games, right? Right?

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