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Nintendo's Lawsuits Aided by Fans 402

Guppy06 writes "Last week there was a posting about Nintendo's efforts to crack down on people selling counterfeit Nintendo hardware and software, and there was at least one reply from a guy who reported someone to Nintendo. It turns out he's not alone; according to a posting at Nintendorks, NOA's Jodi Daugherty, their director of anti-piracy efforts, says it was helped by over 400 people reporting such kiosks to them."
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Nintendo's Lawsuits Aided by Fans

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  • by tekiegreg ( 674773 ) * <> on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:19AM (#10795575) Homepage Journal
    Nintendo probably has a more loyal fan base at this time. Rather than the Record Industry pain in the butt Sony, or the Borgish I could bash them forever Microsoft. What harm has Nintendo really done to people other than sue the occasional Warez site distributing old Nintendo ROMS? People get cheap crap from these imitation game consoles, and see a Nintendo piracy hotline somewehere infuriated they give them a call...
  • by discontinuity ( 792010 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:21AM (#10795580)

    Music fans reporting file sharers.

  • Piracy in China (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thepyre ( 697537 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:21AM (#10795583)
    I have been living and working in China for the past year. There is a street in my city dedicated to console games and equipment. Some of the Game Cube knock-off hardware is incredible. They make the game console smaller, prettier, more see-through-ish, higher quality and cheaper. I know that piracy is the issue here, but it's interesting to see what other designers can do to improve the console.
  • by terrymaster69 ( 792830 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:23AM (#10795589)
    Despite how often we trash the RIAA etc. for their (misguided) attempts to defend copyrights, this just proves that if you treat your customers well and produce quality products, you'll be paid back. I'da turned 'em in too. Rock on Nintendo.
  • Ive done this.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thegoogler ( 792786 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:24AM (#10795597)
    There was a "toys and games" shop that opened near my house, i thought nothing of it untill my friend said they were selling SNES games for $2 for any game, buy 2, get 2 free. so i headed down there. turns out they were selling counterfeit systems all the way up to the N64, and every game you could think of... I emailed nintendo, and got an amusing thank you note..
  • by Ambient_Developer ( 825456 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:25AM (#10795602) Journal
    I probably helps that nintendo has been seen (as far as I know) as a company that has had a long long history of being a rather "good", innovative, and untainted (compared to it's counterparts). I personally like nintendo, regardless of what others say.
  • by MrLint ( 519792 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:30AM (#10795625) Journal
    so the cult of mac gets knocked out of first place. :)
  • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:31AM (#10795633) Homepage Journal
    I think if a market stall appeared selling dodgy copies of movies and albums, then I would also do something about it.

    I have always been totally two faced about things like this. If no money is exchanged and its not being used commercially, then I don't see a problem. However, once people actually begin using actual cash, it DOES start to divert money from the real content providers, whoever they may be.
  • by BrianGa ( 536442 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:48AM (#10795709)
    Actually, artists like The Grateful Dead, Phish, and John Mayer have created very large fan bases in part because they ALLOW file sharing.
    These artists are generous enough to allow (and encourage) fans to trade and share all live recordings. Because of this, loyalists are very willing to report people selling/trading copyrighted material.
  • by korea ( 615587 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:57AM (#10795756)
    No offense, but now that you have gotten away with that and won't likely see any reprocussions to what you have done, do you honestly feel that you would have had the same opinion if you and your family were sued into the street when you were 14?
  • Loyal fanbases: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nomihn0 ( 739701 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:58AM (#10795762)
    Almost unconsciously, I have categorized nearly all brand names I know into one of two categories: those I imagine to be supported by die hard, underdog loving fans and those embraced by the conformist, top of the game crowd. Although I realize that some of these associations are flat out absurd, they sit in my mind as such, nonetheless. I am curious if others have the same type of relationships in the back of their minds:

    *Nintendo:Sony (and more recently, Microsoft)
    *Armadillo Aerospace:Scaled Composites
    *Mozilla:Internet Explorer
    *Texas Instruments:Hewlett Packard (despite TI's market hold)
    *Star Trek:Star Wars
    *Wina mp(rip):WiMP

    I wonder how much of this is my personal bias and how much is a result of clever advertising. Clearly, some of these comparisons are not legitimate or accurate, but the vast majority are. Regardless, those are the pairs I imagine. It's the fans of those things on the left that I feel would go out of their way for their cause.
  • by rm999 ( 775449 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:02AM (#10795773)
    I'm sure I will get modded down for this, but I honestly don't think "pirating" classic NES games, which are up to 20 years old now, is that wrong. Nintendo made a lot of money off the NES, but at this point the market for the classic Mario and Donkey Kong games is limitied to the nostalgic crowd, most of whom legitmately bought the games when they were kids. Why should we have to shell out 20 bucks for a game that we not only already bought, but that pales in comparison to newer games regarding programming time and complexity? In my opinion, these old games should be freely given to the community who made Nintendo what it is today instead of whored out by the marketing department of Nintendo to squeeze the last few cents out of them.
  • by elhedran ( 768858 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:05AM (#10795784)
    Um, you really misunderstand whats going on in the concept of loyalty.

    People will rat on people ripping of Nintendo because they don't want a good thing to go away. I am a Nintendo fan because they favor quality over catering to the lowest common denominator, or at least, thats my opinion. Hence I want them to stick around so there is more quality stuff for me to get. And that in turn means I want to help them deal with anything that might eat into their ability to stick around.

    The world isn't black or white. It kinda annoys me when people react to anything thats pro-establishment by statements such as "use its violent power". Yes, there are problems with corporations, and even Nintendo. But that doesn't mean they are 100% pure evil and should be slain in the name of the righteous.
  • by BTWR ( 540147 ) <americangibor3@y ... minus city> on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:07AM (#10795796) Homepage Journal
    so the cult of mac gets knocked out of first place. :)

    The early/late 90s would prove otherwise. The dedicated Macies bought their 840AV's and Power Machintosh's, but Apple was SERIOUSLY stuggling until Jobs came in and saved them with brilliancy-after-brilliancy (iMac, revilalized laptop division, iPod, iTunes music store, Mac Stores) in an effort to win new customers.

    The parent correctly states that, unlike apple, nintendo can stay profitable with only their main hardcore customer base. Case in point: the GameCube, hardly a smash, is still enourmously successful: Nintendo has been profitable for 11 of the 12 quarters of it's existence. Yes, this includes GBA sales, but big N is known (at least AFAIK) that it sells each console unit at a profit.

  • by LoadWB ( 592248 ) * on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:09AM (#10795802) Journal
    That's because sharing music and movies cannot duplicate the experience of the genuine article. The only way to do that is to produce exact copies of the original CD or DVD, but such copies are a rarity on the P2P networks.

    When you buy a ticket to a theater, or you buy the DVD to watch on your system at home, you are getting a specific experience. Same with CDs. These copies you download, even really good screners, just cannot compare to the original. The compression makes movies look blocky and grainy, and music sound more tin-canny.

    But the majority of these things being reported are exact copies of the original ROMs. You then take them and connect them to a TV or monitor, just like the original. Ergo, the experience has now been duplicated, and hence stolen.

    There was a site which allowed you to legally purchase ROMs, but I cannot remember what it was (or maybe still is.) Everybody got caught up in the dot-com fever of "everything on the Internet should be free," which then translated to "everything which CAN be put on the Internet should be free." This just is not so, and should not be so. And to hell with the law, the issue is that of ethics and morals (and we often find the law conflicting with the later two.)

    As I have stated plenty of times before, I download movies (I even made a shirt which says so which I wear to the theater,) and I download music. If the preview is good enough, I will buy a ticket or the DVD. If it sucks, then I have lost nothing but time and do not have to try to return this unpleasing product -- which cannot be done anyway.

    ROM images, and now XBox rips and the like, are a completely different story. There just is no way to get a reduced quality copy of these -- you get the real deal, the genuine article, the real action and feel of the original game, even if it is Tinky Winky replacing Mario. And this should not be free, and should not be profited from by anyone other than the original producer, not unscrupulous scum that produce the clones.

    What has been happening now is that because of the freebie revolution many companies are realizing that the market which they abandoned years ago is still viable. We said "if you won't give us what we want, then we will take it." So, now they are giving us (albeit rather highly priced... $20 for a single "classic" retro!) what we wanted, and in return they are telling us to stop giving away their swag. Seems a reasonable compromise to me.

    Even parts of the music industry has conceded to this new medium by offering legally licensed, lower quality downloadable music. But even that is encumbered by damnedable rights management. Sure, DRM is really all about the Evil Corp, Inc. controlling what we do, but we do not have a leg to stand on in the fight against it because time and time again, the majority of file traders have proven themselves not trustworthy -- and that affects us all.

    So, coming full circle, if we report Abdul, Sheehaba, Big Tony, and Mr. Earl for profiting on illegitimately gained product which gives the exact same experience as the original, then we are saying "hey, your argument that all we want to do is steal is wrong."
  • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:12AM (#10795810) Homepage
    You won't see game fans reporting file sharers either. We're talking about people actually selling and profiting from these games. I'm sure music fans get upset by people selling illegal copies of Red Hot Chili Peppers albums too.

  • by BTWR ( 540147 ) <americangibor3@y ... minus city> on Friday November 12, 2004 @03:06AM (#10795978) Homepage Journal
    Why is it you get to decide that video games have an arbitrary shelf life (and... a shelf life 1/5 the current copyright length?).

    You know, they just released a special edition of Dr. Strangelove. That movie is over 40 years old. Are you going to say that it should be legally piratable? What about Back to the Future? Return of the Jedi? All are at least as old as Super Mario Brothers. Are they ok to copy? Lord of the Rings books - a half-century old. Are they now public domain?

    Listen, I think abandonware sites are ok. But... let's look at the word abandonware: Abandon and Ware: i.e. "software" that has been "abandoned" (i.e. completely given up).

    This year, Nintendo decided to re-release their classic NES games. And you know what? They made one hell of a profit. Did you have to buy them? No. Could you have gotten Metroid free from other sources (i.e. beating Metroid Prime + metroid Fusion)? Sure. But, it was a decent price (half the price they were in 1985) and a lot of people got to either re-live their childhoods (the avg person doesn't know what the hell a ROM is) or introduce an awesome game to an 11 year-old whos never seen anything 2-D.

    Personally, I think there's nothing wrong with that and it is hardly "whoring" of nintendo "to squeeze the last few cents out of them."

  • by BTWR ( 540147 ) <americangibor3@y ... minus city> on Friday November 12, 2004 @04:30AM (#10796210) Homepage Journal
    yes. it's called public domain. In the USA, I believe it is approximately 100 years. Which means that anyone can use the name "Huckleberry Finn" in their works (hense "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"), and in a few years anyone can use "Mickey Mouse."

    But for now, I'm sorry, using Dr. Strangelove is NOT public domain (nor should it be).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2004 @05:20AM (#10796345)
    If copyrights lasted for only 20 years like they were meant to, then these kiosks would be legit.

    Except that the NES was released in the US in '85, only 19 years ago. Not to mention that games were being made for it all the way up to 1994.
  • Come on, guys (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <sd_resp2.earthshod@co@uk> on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:09AM (#10796636)
    We're always told how America is the Land of the Free Market and Government Regulation is a Bad Thing. Yet the instant someone tries practising free-market economics for real over there, they're suddenly evil. What the hell difference is there between this type of counterfeiting, and what every supermarket is doing with its "own brand" copies of bestselling goods anyway? Isn't Tesco Rich Blend Instant Coffee just counterfeit Nescafé? Aren't Sainsbury's Rice Pops just counterfeit Kellogg's Rice Krispies? What's the freakin' difference already?

    Joe Punter isn't going to be fooled for one minute into believing this sort of thing is endorsed by Nintendo. Nor, at that price, is he going to be bothered whether it is or not. All it has to do is keep the kids entertained for longer than they will take to break it. Realness isn't part of the equation. And if some third party can satisfy the relevant factors, then they're going to be the ones that get the money. Pure and simple.

    It's the same thing with the obviously fake designer clothing sold on market stalls, and those awful fake Rolex watches you can spot a mile off {hint: a real Rolex does not go around in jerks. Just on the wrists of jerks}. Nobody's expecting it to be real, and nobody's disappointed that it isn't.

    You know, just maybe if perhaps "official" stuff wasn't so overpriced, there might be a chance that people perhaps wouldn't feel so much of an urge to counterfeit it, possibly. It's all very well to say that if you're poor and have principles, you should do without; and I should know all there is to know about doing without. But while there are all these big rich corporations wanting to eat their cake and have it*, while simultaneously shoving it in your face that if you don't have foo you're obviously a loser, what the hell kind of example is that setting?

    * I just think it sounds better that way around.
  • by Firehawke ( 50498 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @08:49AM (#10796888) Journal
    That's it exactly. The old-school pirate mentality was "Give this out for free, but don't sell it." and it still is there to a large extent-- freeloading is one thing, and profiting from someone else's work is an entirely different thing under this mindset.

    Doesn't make the former any less legal under the law, but we're talking about human reactions here anyway.
  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @09:34AM (#10797081)
    they should be inclined to give some kind of donation or whatnot proportional to how much they liked it.

    If things are presented like that, I guess most people would agree. People do not like freeloaders.
    But the media industry marketing has a strong effect to the contrary. Artists are marketed as "pop stars", that is very, very, rich people making millions from each music or film. Then the public thinks like this: first, why should I contribute to making them richer, and second, what difference would my little hard-earned money make to their millions?
    Of course, for each pop star there are hundreds of other people working, but no one listens to a music or watches a movie because the third electrician did a great job. Since the whole marketing effort is directed to please the ego and the pockets of the star, people don't feel like they are harming anyone else by not paying.

  • by Marc2k ( 221814 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @10:12AM (#10797306) Homepage Journal
    Your quaint story aside, one has nothing to do with the other. Realize that now in the age where CD and even DVD recorders exist, the video game industry has just recently surpassed the film industry in terms of revenue. Halo 2 is now the highest grossing (maybe in the shortest amount of time, something like that) media item ever.

    There's no hard luck among the major players, least of all Sony. If the quality has gone down in games, it's because the big media publishers have realized just how big a buck can be made from games. Just like when the film and music industry big boys figured this out, they've begun to sell you the most efficient media available: old wine in new bottles. If the quality's gone down of late, it's they've found (in enough cases to make them a profit, anyway) that innovation doesn't usually have as high a yield as simply putting out the same crap over and over again.
  • by clarkc3 ( 574410 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @10:56AM (#10797626)
    I'm pretty sure Harley Davidson has a more loyal following among their customers. As my Marketing professor used to say, "How many companies have customers willing to tattoo the brand name on their arm for no other reason than they enjoy their products"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2004 @11:04AM (#10797698)
    You said...

    "In that case, copyright violation might be a legal issue, but never an ethic or moral one."

    So in your opinion there is nothing morally or ethically wrong with filesharing of copyrighted movies and music?

    "Many people feel they aren't harming anyone when they copy a work that they wouldn't spend any money to buy, under any circumstances. "

    IMO this statement is false, many more people would buy the movies, music, games, etc. if they were not freely available on the internet. To believe that all of the filetraders would simply turn off their stereos, stop playing their Xboxes, unplug their PC's and go read a book because they can no longer download warez, mp3's, movies, etc. seems completely ridiculous. While I am sure a few would escew all forms of entertainment, the majority would begin to buy again.

    A good example...

    An aquaitance of mine who deals in this sort of stuff, downloaded Halo 2 (French version) to "try it out before he bought it". "Great game" he said, I need to go preorder it. Now the English version hits the warez you think he is pre ordering it! This is a sale lost! I can guarantee he would have purchased it had the English version not been released to the newsgroups.

    Personally I find his attitudes despicable. He is more than able to purchase software, as it is not a monetary issue, but he has no impetus to because it is all available at the click of a mouse and better's free.

  • Re:Come on, guys (Score:4, Insightful)

    by El Camino SS ( 264212 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:05PM (#10798268)

    We're always told how America is the Land of the Free Market and Government Regulation is a Bad Thing. Yet the instant someone tries practising free-market economics for real over there, they're suddenly evil. What the hell difference is there between this type of counterfeiting, and what every supermarket is doing with its "own brand" copies of bestselling goods anyway? Isn't Tesco Rich Blend Instant Coffee just counterfeit Nescafé? Aren't Sainsbury's Rice Pops just counterfeit Kellogg's Rice Krispies? What's the freakin' difference already?

    There is a differene between competition, and outright theft. These people are selling software. Someone else's software. They are not selling a controller insomuch as it gets you the software.

    The difference is, if you make your own coffee that tastes like another, it actually requires effort to do it. Getting beans. Comparing styles. You can even say, "Tastes like our competitor!" on the outside.

    They are not selling knock offs, they are selling stolen originals in a new casing.

    There is no effort other than buying the crap device to put the ROMs in. They are not selling the crap device, they are selling someone else's product. If you could instantly copy a Coca-Cola for free infinite times, and then put it in a can that is cheaper, then you could have a comparison. But you cannot. There is no way to compare software (which is what they are selling, not the controller) with food items. Coffee is coffee. Video games require ingenuity to make them. If you think that the beans and software are comparable in any way, may I humbly suggest you stay out of the business world.

    Your argument is specious at best.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie