Nintendo Goes To Court Again, This Time Over DS PiracyS

Nintendo has won its second legal victory of the month in Australia, with a seller of R4 flash cartridges in the country ordered to pay the Japanese company over AUD$500,000 in fines.

Local tech distributors RSJ. IT Solutions, which had been selling the cartridges - which allow for the use of both legally-acquired homebrew and illegally-acquired pirated games on a Nintendo DS - must cease the sale of all carts immediately, and relinquish all remaining stock and all promotional material associated with them.

In addition to the corporate fine, two men named individually in the case, Patrick & James Li, must also pay AUD$100,000 in penalties.

It's important to note that, while in 2005 an Australian judge decreed that the use of mod chips in home consoles was legal, he did so on the grounds that the chips themselves were unable to copy or pirate games. The R4 differs from this in that, by being compatible with a PC, it allows users to download pirated games off the internet and easily copy them directly onto the cartridge.

This decision follows a sustained effort by Nintendo over the past two years to stamp out the R4 (and many other similar devices), which it claims is a major cause of piracy on its DS platforms. Supporters (and many retailers) of the cart instead contend that the devices allow them to play homebrew games on their systems, and as such should be allowed.

Representatives of Nintendo of Australia told Kotaku, "Piracy of video games is illegal".

"Game copiers that are used to copy video game software without authorisation onto any type of memory device or the hard drive of a personal computer are illegal in Australia. They infringe copyright in computer programs in Nintendo products and infringe Nintendo trademarks. They are also circumvention devices. The manufacturing, importing or distributing of circumvention devices is prohibited under the Copyright Act."

"Nintendo guards its intellectual property rights in order to protect the interests of its valued consumers, its own interests, and others in the games industry including independent content creation organisations, developers and publishing studios and all distributors of Nintendo products. Nintendo will pursue those who attempt to jeopardise the gaming industry by using all means available to it under the law. In particular, Nintendo is currently contemplating bringing further actions against other sellers of game copying devices in Australia."