So, that story the other day about an Australian man being ordered to pay Nintendo AUD$1.5 million? Yeah, something's not quite right about it.
A day after the news broke, there was a piece in Australia's Sydney Morning Herald profiling the man in question, 24 year-old Queenslander James Burt. It leads with a pic of Burt looking terribly contrite.
There was also a report on Australia's "A Current Affair" program, in which Burt himself is interviewed, again looking like a kicked puppy. The segment wields a heavy tone, warning families not to pirate games, and features Nintendo of Australia's Rose Lappin coming down from the mountain, laying on a thick anti-piracy message.
Now, this show - and the Australian media in general - normally loves what we call an "Aussie battler". Especially when they're being run into the ground by a local government body, or even better, big business. It happens with banking stories on an almost weekly basis, even when the person in question has, like Burt, broken a law or guideline. Nine times out of ten, there'd be serious questions raised as to how fair a punishment this was. But here? The media has served as a broadcast tower, repeating Nintendo's strong anti-piracy message to millions of Australians who would otherwise have been unaware of the issue.
It's been the biggest human interest story of the week down here, but as the circus draws on, something doesn't feel quite right about it. See, the $1.5 million dollar fine wasn't handed down by a judge. Burt settled out of court with Nintendo on this. Would a 24 year-old man who works part-time at a freight company and lives with his parents really shake hands on a settlement that sees him willingly ruin the rest of his financial life? Then spend the week becoming a temporary "celebrity" as his name is publicly dragged through the mud as a criminal?
I don't think so.
Consider this, then, as a potential scenario: Burt isn't going to owe Nintendo a cent. Or, at least, won't owe them anywhere near $1.5 million. As the publisher is so fond of public displays of aggression against game pirates, I think they settled out of court, slapped a gag order on him, let the media parade him around for a week showing how sorry he was and how hard Nintendo has cracked down on a single, lonely "pirate", and will then let him be, his punishment served, Nintendo's point, well and truly made.
Or am I just looking at this a little too closely?