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Australia Hardware Hacking Nintendo Portables (Games) The Courts Games Build

Nintendo Wins Lawsuit Over R4 Mod Chip Piracy 146

schliz writes "The Federal Court has ordered an Australian distributor to pay Nintendo over half a million dollars for selling the R4 mod chip, which allows users to circumvent technology protection measures in Nintendo's DS consoles. The distributor, RSJ IT Solutions, has been ordered to cease selling the chip through its site and any other sites it controls, as well as paying Nintendo $520,000 in damages."
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Nintendo Wins Lawsuit Over R4 Mod Chip Piracy

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  • Re:TPM? (Score:2, Informative)

    by jayke ( 1531583 ) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @07:18AM (#31182424)
    Depending on the system, definitions can be found outside of the actual legal text. In some systems there is extensive documentation outside of the actual legal text, often based on the prepatory work that was conducted before passing the law. In other systems definitions and specifics are left to the courts, while in other systems the legal texts are extremely detailed.

    All of the above systems have their pro's and their con's, but to my knowledge there are very few modern legal systems where you would expect everything you need to know to be located in the actual legal text of the law in questions.
  • by Shrike82 ( 1471633 ) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @07:21AM (#31182442)
    Apparently the DS is region free [] so that's one legal defense out the window.
  • Every single DSi-compatible DS cart, including Datel's Action Replay DSi [], includes portions of a pirated cart ROM. Nintendo started signing all executables and retroactively signing the existing library of DS games (they include the hashes built in to the DSi firmware), so the only way you can get an unofficial DS cart to run on the DSi is by pirating a game's executable/header and partial data and then using a data file exploit (data files aren't signed) to make it bootstrap your code. These DSi-compatible cartridges even show up with the game icon of a real game in the menu, since that part is also signed.

    If that isn't a lawsuit in the making then I don't know what is.

  • Re:TPM? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Farmer Tim ( 530755 ) <roundfile&mindless,com> on Thursday February 18, 2010 @07:29AM (#31182482) Journal

    I'd like it if anyone could find "technical protection measure" actually defined within any Australian law.

    Copyright Act, here [] and here [].

  • by discord5 ( 798235 ) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @08:07AM (#31182700)

    That said don't misconstrue this as to have any actual sympathy for people selling devices to get around copyright protection. I understand that these devices can be used for homebrewing. And I'll support the first to support any company that actually tries to make a business out of homebrewing for the Nintendo DS. But first that company will have to do a pretty damn good job convincing me they really are trying to make a business out of homebrewing and aren't using it as a legal pretext to allow people to pirate DS games.

    There is no business in homebrewing on the DS. But as someone who's spent a substantial amount of time in tinkering with the DS, let me reassure you that it's a lot of FUN! (Warning: your definition of FUN may vary). By todays standards you've got a very limited amount of room to do your work in and you have to make the most out of it, and most of the code you write is going to be really close to the hardware. If you're remotely interested in this sort of thing (even if you're not going to write a game), the DS is a pretty cheap ARM platform for all the hardware that's in it:

    • two small screens, addressable through several memory banks, with several modes of operation (including a rudimentary OpenGL like 3D API on one of the screens)
    • a touch screen interface
    • wifi
    • sound output via speakers and input via microphone

    The DSi even has two cameras onboard, but I don't think they're supported by libnds [] yet.

    Oh, and of course, very interesting is that a lot of people have made the source code for their homebrew games available. Sometimes you'll just go and have a peek at how someone else did something, and discover something really ingenious, often optimized to give the best performance given the limited hardware available.

    But let's face the fact, without Nintendos official seal of approval (read: a wheelbarrow of cash and a reputable game-company backing it) there will never be any real money in whatever you're going to code. If you want to do something commercially, you'll have to buy Nintendos tools, etc. If tinkering with a piece of hardware you buy is going to make you a criminal, I fear for the next generation of geeks.

  • Re:TPM? (Score:3, Informative)

    by rjch ( 544288 ) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @08:09AM (#31182712) Homepage
    Never mind the "technical protection measure". There's enough precedent [] alone for an appeal...
  • This is different, as the end product doesn't just incorporate a trademark or code that shows a trademark, but rather almost a megabyte of a game. That falls under copyright infringement, not trademark misuse.

    Sega v. Accolade didn't make a distinction based on the type or quantity of content. It simply stated that if you have to include the magical secret code for the game to function, you may include it. So far, that case has held up and/or not been challenged even in the face of the DMCA and its clauses about defeating a copy protection mechanism, so I figure it's probably pretty secure here too.

    IANAL, but in my opinion a whole different case would be needed to establish whether copying a large amount of code/assets/whatever can be regarded as fair use if it is a requirement to be able to run unlicensed original code.

    IANAL either, but; I agree that a whole different case would be needed, but there's already ample provocation to bring one if "they" think they can win. This hasn't happened, so I suspect that the lawyers don't agree with your assessment that it's clear infringement.

    This is a long way from just showing a SEGA or Nintendo trademark.

    The trademark was included in the code, not shown. The trademark display was a Dreamcast thing and came dramatically later. Go read up on SvA on Wikipedia please.

  • Sega v. Accolade didn't make a distinction based on the type or quantity of content.

    Sure it did. As I said, there are two parts to the lawsuit: reverse engineering SEGA games in order to write your own, and copying the SEGA trademark as required for the console to boot. Part 1 doesn't apply here, because the game's code was not copied in order to write the ARDSi code - rather, it was copied because it's essentially a requirement for the console to boot. The distinction is that the lawsuit only relates to trademark law as it relates to getting consoles to boot, not copyright law.

    In other words, the lawsuit said:
    (1) You can reverse engineer game code, copy it internally, use it to learn the underlying operation of the hardware, and write your own game from the knowledge learned (containing little to none of the original code)
    (2) If the console forces you to include a trademark in order to boot, you may do so, even if you're not actually licensed to use the trademark.

    It did not say:
    (3) You can copy almost an entire game verbatim in order to exploit it to run your own code

    The intent is the same - to run your own unlicensed code - but the means are totally different. (3) is not (1) because (1) is about copying code for reverse engineering, but then distributing a final game that includes little to none of the original code. (2) is not (3) because (2) concerns trademarks, and (3) concerns copyright.

    This isn't a case of "magical secret code" - there is no magical secret code, Nintendo simply uses cryptographic techniques in order to completely block third-party software. There is, simply put, no way of actually booting third-party software on a DSi without first making use of an exploit or hacked version of original software. The console won't boot your code, it'll only boot a complete, verbatim, unmodified copy of a licensed game executable, so you have to include the entire thing and then work on tricking it into subsequently loading your stuff. And the only reason this works is because Nintendo isn't also signing data. For example, the Wii signs all data, and there you're completely screwed: you can't run original code at all (from a disc).

    IANAL either, but; I agree that a whole different case would be needed, but there's already ample provocation to bring one if "they" think they can win. This hasn't happened, so I suspect that the lawyers don't agree with your assessment that it's clear infringement.

    DSi carts are relatively recent. The gears of lawyers and the legal system move slowly.

    The trademark was included in the code, not shown.

    The trademark SEGA string caused the Genesis III to display the "licensed by SEGA" screen. Same thing, effectively speaking.

  • by LKM ( 227954 ) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @09:44AM (#31183464) Homepage

    I think the gun comparison is interesting. You can legally buy a gun, but you're not allowed to shoot people with it (usually). Likewise, it should be okay to buy an R4, and illegal to use it for piracy. And there actually are valid reasons for owning an R4 [].

  • by Wumpus ( 9548 ) <> on Thursday February 18, 2010 @11:17AM (#31184732)

    I have an R4 which I use to load my own code to the DS. I never used it to play pirated ROMs. The R4 does have legitimate uses as a development tool.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @11:49AM (#31185236) Journal

    There's a couple of reasons. First, homebrew. You can use your DS as a decent MP3 player, or even video player (with transcoding). There are also apps to take notes, read ebooks, etc. etc. There's even a handy scrabble dictionary, and some homebrew games available. (Amazingly, Quake runs pretty well on the DS.) A French court recently ruled that flash carts were legal [] for homebrew purposes.

    There's also convenience. It's just easier to carry one card with your entire collection of DS games instead of juggling a dozen carts when you travel.

    That said, there's plenty of illicit uses for such a device as well.

  • You don't know me (Score:2, Informative)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Thursday February 18, 2010 @12:06PM (#31185542) Homepage Journal

    I know three people that have them and none of them use it for anything except playing downloaded ROMs.

    Then I take it you don't know me. I don't pirate DS games on my R4. I run homebrew apps such as MoonShell, DSOrganize, Colors!, and Lockjaw. I have played pirated MP3s on it, but I don't think Nintendo has the standing to sue on behalf of (say) its competitor Sony.

  • by MadChicken ( 36468 ) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:22PM (#31188712) Homepage Journal

    What? You do know the R4 has an SD slot, and it's not a sealed flash cartridge. It would be super easy to tell them apart.

    I have an R4. All of my games personally dumped from games I own (NDS Backup Wi-Fi Tool rules), but some of the better games are 100% homebrew - VideoGame Hero and DScent are two that I really enjoy.

    So "entirely for counterfeiting and piracy"? My lone personal example proves you 100% wrong. Thanks for shopping.

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