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Nintendo The Courts Wii Games

Man Fined $1.5 Million For Leaked Mario Game 287

An anonymous reader writes "A Queensland man will have to pay Nintendo $1.5 million in damages after illegally copying and uploading one of its recent games to the internet ahead of its release, the gaming giant says. Nintendo said the loss was caused when James Burt made New Super Mario Bros Wii available for illegal download a week ahead of its official Australian release in November of last year. Nintendo applied for and was granted a search order by the Federal Court, forcing Burt to disclose the whereabouts of all his computers, disks and electronic storage devices in November. He was also ordered to allow access, including passwords, to his social networking sites, email accounts and websites."
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Man Fined $1.5 Million For Leaked Mario Game

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  • Pro-piracy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @07:55AM (#31070484) Journal

    I often see many pro-piracy comments on slashdot on these things (probably also because pirates are more interested on the matter). But many times these are actual damages caused to companies. Putting out that game a week before surely counted a lot of illegal downloading and people not buying the game. Sure it's bad to for him, but those are the lost money for Nintendo. What's so wrong about them suing him?

  • Re:Pro-piracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Feef Lovecraft ( 1231264 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [tacsrefeef]> on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @08:03AM (#31070524) Homepage
    Having RTFA I'd be more intrested in how he obtained this advanced copy of the game for distribution, was it as simple as importating it from another region where it had been released or was it a lapse in security that enabled him to get hold of this game?
  • Proportionality. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by headkase ( 533448 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @08:12AM (#31070580)
    There should be some kind of proportion to the damages, seriously that amount ruins an ordinary person for the rest of their life. Did the court deliberately set out to give him a life sentence of sorts? And if the amounts are to be set at company rates for individuals he should have his own choice just to do some time for it. Seriously, go on a walk for 3 years and move on in your life instead of being sentenced to financial death for the rest of your natural time.
  • Re:Pro-piracy (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @08:18AM (#31070606)

    *Counts the posts at the moment*

    Nobody said it was wrong? Who are you arguing with exactly?

    That said, my personal point of view is that I'm perfectly ok with people like this getting sued, I'm not sure I'm ok with ruining their lives for all eternity as vengeance, and calling it "justice". But that's another issue.

    The problem is what then do you charge them? When you burn down a building, and please don't use the tired argument about physical property verses electronic items it's an example, you don't charge them with what they can comfortably pay. You charge them based on what was lost. The second argument is always how do you prove that there were any losses period? Does anyone really believe that people would stop playing games if file share sites vanished? A single file uploaded can result in tens or even hundreds of posts for download resulting in millions of downloads. There's a simple way to avoid this problem, don't do it.

    Any hope of a new subject for Slashdot? There's several of these stories everyday and everyone always makes the same tired arguments for both sides. There's never any new ideas floated. It always comes down to the bulk of people arguing how unfairly the downloaders are treated and a couple of people wading into the hornets nest saying maybe they shouldn't do it in the first place. There's got to be better geek subjects than the eternal debate of the right or wrong of downloading. To me it's like debating Duke Nukem Forever three or four times a day. It's all been said so let's move on. The entire thread can be marked redundant.

  • Re:Pro-piracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alphathon ( 1634555 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @08:27AM (#31070668)
    Exactly. I don't think I've seen that many people on here advocate piracy, it's usually anti-anti-piracy laws, such as the proposed UK law where suspected filesharers can be cut off without trial, disproportionate fines (especially from the RIAA) or the treating of bittorrent as illigal regardless of what's being shared (open source software etc). This can't really be treated as any of those. It would seem that the fine is roughly equivalent to 15000 copies of the game. That's assuming none is added for the crime, so it seems like a fairly reasonable fine. The only possible problem I can see is that he had to give over access to social networking sites etc. as that has little to do with the crime.
  • by hanako ( 935790 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @08:27AM (#31070670) Homepage
    Ignoring your rude suggestions (Slashdotters don't like women? What a surprise!) the exact money figure is mostly a distraction from the issue. If he's done something *actually wrong*, then the fact that he can't pay the fine shouldn't mean that he gets off scot free. If he's done something that ISN'T wrong, then the fine being a thousand instead of a million makes little difference.
  • by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @08:33AM (#31070692)

    Meh, teaches him consequences. Do bad things, get punished. Maybe his parents should've taught him that lesson before he learned it the hard way.

  • by twoshortplanks ( 124523 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @08:33AM (#31070698) Homepage
    Break this down on a personal level - if someone takes a mallet to my car, I'm going to sue them for the value of the damage to the car, i.e. what it costs to compensate me for the damage they caused. If someone burns down my house, I should be able to sue them for the value of the house. The loss they have caused is not mitigated by the ability they have to pay for it.

    Now, if you're going down these lines you need to separate out the punitive damages from the actual damages. The former should be taken in context of the ability for the person to pay (i.e. if you're suing a multinational, you expect punitive damages significant enough for them to sit up and take notice.) The later should probably not be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @08:47AM (#31070772)

    What a heap of ill thought-out bullshit.

    The defendant not having enough money isn't a valid reason for giving him a fine that, to him, is an economical death-sentence. "Scot free" doesn't even enter it. Why should a multimilionaire get a slap on the wrist if even that, and a poor guy get the economical death-sentence for the same crime? And is this a "crime" that really should carry the economical deathpenalty? Should any offence? Is it even consistent with human rights and the constitution of the United States?

    (Yes, I know this wasn't a criminal case, but we're discussing principles here.)

  • Re:Pro-piracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @08:58AM (#31070848)

    Seriously. They aren't even trying. This isn't even remotely in the same league as Xbox 360 hacks and the like, which have evolved to be quite a bit stealthier due to Microsoft's detection efforts.

    So the choices are...

    1. don't try, and people will copy your stuff
    2. try, and people will defeat it and copy your stuff.

    I wonder which of the above two options is cheaper?

  • Re:Pro-piracy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by paeanblack ( 191171 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @09:36AM (#31071146)

    There's nothing wrong with them suing him.

    He should go to jail. He used the special access his job gave him to steal from Nintendo. Yes, I used the s-word. Redistributing unpublished content is theft...he stole something valuable and monetizable from Nintendo (the right of first publication), and they don't have it anymore.

    What he did was deliberate and premeditated. He abused a position of trust. There is no "Haha, just kidding" defense or excuse for this crap. This kind of shit severely weakens the man-years of effort expended towards fixing broken copyright laws.

    He's not cute. He's not funny. He's a criminal.

  • Re:Pro-piracy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rhsanborn ( 773855 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @09:43AM (#31071226)
    Unfortunately, most of the comments I see tend to be freeloaders hiding behind a banner of freedom so they can feel all warm and fuzzy inside when they blindly download dozens of games without paying for them.
  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @09:47AM (#31071278)

    I remember people who pirated Quake 2 and then played it for 2 hours a day for the next 3 years - I don't think value for money enters the equation.

    There's also the "getting the game before the release" aspect that people seem to like.

  • by whatajoke ( 1625715 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @10:18AM (#31071632)

    To flip this around, if someone committed a premeditated violent crime that they are sentenced to jail for 20 years, I wouldn't expect them to reduce the sentence for a 70 year old because "20 years might be all he's got left, it's a life sentence" vs. the 25 year old who committed the same crime.

    Old age is considered all the time in parole hearings. Also, if you think $1.5x10^6 is an appropriate fine for a middle class fellow, why is that the upper class never gets fined for robbing the middle class of money to the tune of 10^12? If you are fine with that double standard, then you can blow me.

  • Re:Pro-piracy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DeKO ( 671377 ) <> on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @10:38AM (#31071828)

    The funny thing is the homebrew community does much more to fight piracy than Nintendo. They ban any app that even remotely might be used to facilitate piracy. And still Nintendo goes after the homebrew.

  • Re:Pro-piracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:40AM (#31072576)

    No, that's still not stealing. It's still copyright infringement. If he say, stole the disc from his company and kept it in a vault, then that would constitute theft. Otherwise, it's still copyright infringement.

  • Re:There's a leak? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Totenglocke ( 1291680 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:02PM (#31072934)

    One of the recent big ones was a cynical doctor with a lame leg and drug addiction.

    I think you meant "One of the recent big ones was a completely honest doctor with a lame leg and takes prescription pain killers for the pain his lame leg causes him".

    Sorry, but it really irks me when people call House a drug addict when it's been clearly shown that he's not (when his leg was temporarily better from the end of season 2 through early season 3, he didn't take any Vicodin - if he was addicted, he'd have continued to take Vicodin even after the pain was gone). Also, it bugs me that people call being honest about shitty things "cynical", but that's a lesser annoyance.

  • Re:Pro-piracy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm ... minus herbivore> on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:32PM (#31073404) Journal

    Not to mention most of us are for fair copyright terms but fair was about 20 miles back and we have gotten into so disgustingly greedy it is ridiculous. I can point out what is wrong with this picture in a single sentence....Steamboat Willie is STILL under copyright. The man has been dead for nearly a half a century, yet one of his FIRST works, made when planes were made of cloth and antibiotics were but a dream, is STILL under copyright.

    There is a big fucking difference between fairly compensating the author so he/she can produce more art (which was the whole point of copyright, to enable those that create art incentive to create new works, which would then become ours through public domain) to allowing multinational corporations to pervert our system with treasonous bribery to create a license to steal. So while I am not a pirate, those that are? Really don't care. They robbed US FIRST, by stealing our public domain away from us, our kids, our grandkids, etc, and by locking our entire culture up behind a paywall. Copyrights were a contract, and the contract has been broken. "Forever minus a single day" is NOT limited copyrights, and until it changes and We, The People, get a spot at the negotiating table I can understand why folks wouldn't care about copyrights. After all, all they are doing is stealing from thieves.

  • Re:Pro-piracy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rhsanborn ( 773855 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:35PM (#31073484)
    I believe that if you consume more entertainment than you can afford, then you need to learn to do without some entertainment. Just because you can't afford as much as you'd like to have, doesn't entitle you to still have it without paying it. We aren't a communist society, and we don't exort communist ideals. If you can't afford it, learn to live without it.
  • by kramerd ( 1227006 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:37PM (#31073534)

    The number of copies actually sold is irrelevant. The damages from releasing without having the right to release is the problem.

    First of all, nintendo hires good lawyers, who would spell check their complaint, and would complain about losing sales, not "loosing" them (I don't care what part of englandindiaturkmenistan you come from, how the hell do people keep making this error that first graders who are still learning the alphabet wouldn't?). Furthermore, the claim that releasing a game without permission to the general public causes lost sales is about as valid as a claim gets. The fact that none of these sales generated money for nintendo is legally irrelevant; its about the ability to control intangible assets of a corporation. Nintendo's case, to put it in football terms, isn't just a blowout, its GT vs Cumberland (

  • Re:Pro-piracy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @06:44PM (#31079354)
    Gee, and I thought that he physically took an unreleased game disk without permission. I guess the Chinese spy didn't steal any secrets, he just committed minor infringement, and he should be released to China so as not to clog up our jails, courts, and prisons.
  • Re:Pro-piracy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BikeHelmet ( 1437881 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @09:17PM (#31080862) Journal

    Exactly. I don't think I've seen that many people on here advocate piracy, it's usually anti-anti-piracy laws, such as the proposed UK law where suspected filesharers can be cut off without trial, disproportionate fines (especially from the RIAA) or the treating of bittorrent as illigal regardless of what's being shared (open source software etc). This can't really be treated as any of those. It would seem that the fine is roughly equivalent to 15000 copies of the game. That's assuming none is added for the crime, so it seems like a fairly reasonable fine. The only possible problem I can see is that he had to give over access to social networking sites etc. as that has little to do with the crime.

    Plus, most people here would only advocate it when it's obvious there's no losses.

    Like TV shows. Many people here torrent TV shows. When's the last time you let an ad influence your purchasing decisions? A lot of us won't, so why cost the companies money, while also annoying yourself with ads? Plus, after watching a good TV show, many people talk about it. The overall net result is more viewers, even if the pirates provide no direct financial gain, and even if you feel they shouldn't have access to that content for "free".

    But this is totally different. Many companies have gone under from stuff like this. Iron Lore Entertainment (the makers of Titan Quest) had their game released weeks early - but the crack was bug filled and crashed on almost all computers, part-way through the game. The result was horrible reviews lamenting its crash-prone buggy state. Abysmal game sales followed (not a problem for Nintendo), and they basically broke even after a few years, then closed up shop. Iron Lore would've been way better off having no copy protection. At least they wouldn't have had to fight with all the negative reviews. Demigod had a similar thing happen, but the pirated copies were only usable after the official release. Demigod had great sales. And unlike Titan Quest, even if a pirate copy crashed(I don't believe they did), people could verify the purchased ones didn't. It's the early release that can severely hurt the game, and is what should be punished.

    I have a similar stance for movies released weeks before they officially air. It may build hype, or it may cause unimaginable damage. It really shouldn't be allowed. Can't we all just wait until after the release date?

    P.S. I pirate games. [] (In the eyes of the law, and from the viewpoint of most publishers, I'm a law-breaking pirate scumbag.)

    I hate DRM. I try to support content creators, but if you sell me a paperweight, I'm going to download a non-paperweight and play that. You already took away the option of getting a refund.

    What I don't get is why companies have the right to cause direct financial harm. People don't, so companies shouldn't - and yet that's exactly what that Starforce/Securom combo did, burning out actual DVD drives - and SonyBMG, with their costly to remove rootkits. I think a lot of people support "piracy" because a lot of the time the companies are worse. They actually damage our stuff, and wield expensive lawyers to keep us in check. This leaked mario game is not one of those situations, so you'll find most of slashdot supporting Nintendo. But it's hard not to become a supporter of piracy when Sony or some other company kills your $100 DVD drive, and you need to reformat - possibly paying someone to do the job. (Keep in mind DVD drive prices from years back.)

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