Nintendo wins case against Wii chip sellers

Hague District Court rejects retail claims of unfair competition

The Hague District Court has upheld a ruling on behalf of Nintendo against 11 retailers accused of the illegal selling of piracy chips and cartridges for the Wii and DS consoles.

Retailers had been importing and selling the piracy aids in the Netherlands, and the court also rejected the retailers claims that Nintendo was engaging in unfair competition.

"Nintendo welcomes the decision by the Hague District Court to uphold its claim that 11 online retailers operating in the Netherlands have acted unlawfully vis--vis Nintendo by importing and selling game copiers for use with Nintendo DS and mod chips for use with Nintendo Wii," said the company.

"These devices circumvent Nintendo's technical measures designed to prevent software piracy. Nintendo also welcomes the decision by the Hague District Court to reject the online retailers' defence that Nintendo has engaged in acts of unfair competition."

Nintendo said it was acting on behalf of all its development and publishing partners, as well as upholding the quality and standards associated with legitimate Nintendo products.

"Nintendo protects its intellectual property rights globally and takes action to prevent the distribution of pirated software and devices that allow illegally downloaded software to be played.

"Nintendo takes this action not only for the company's sake, but in the interests of its partners who spend time and money legitimately developing software for Nintendo videogame consoles and systems, and customers who expect the highest standards and integrity from products bearing the Nintendo name."

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Latest comments (12)

David Spender Lead Programmer 8 years ago
The chips are 'piracy chips' only in so much as bittorrent is a 'piracy protocol'.

In fact I would love to see a 'second games channel' for all consoles where the barrier to entry was just about erased. XBLA / Wiiware is a good step in that direction; we need more of that for us little guys.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by David Spender on 21st July 2010 5:29pm

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Haven Tso Web-based Game Reviewer 8 years ago
My friend, against her better judgement bought those GE chips for her kids' DS Lite and ended up stalling their machines. The issue here is if I didn't explain to her what's happening, she would have thought it is the DS that is having problem. Now she understands what's wrong. So I think Nintendo is also fighting for its own brand name too. Average mothers / parents who don't game won't be as informed as active gamers.
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gi biz ;, 8 years ago
Even in the scenario of a complete defeat of piracy, I don't really expect sales to double or to wildly counterbalance all of the costs taken so far. When I was a kid, my mom used to get me a SNES game every few months. When I discovered the modding chip for the PSX I bought plenty of fake games while almost exclusively playing FF7 (that I bought original). Now that I work and I'm back to buying original games, the trend of one every 2-3 months is back. Sometimes I still download games that I don't even try, and I can't stress enough how many people download games just for the "greed of owning just in the case".
Probably with handhelds the question is more serious, but I'll start caring about the questions when I'll see reliable statics about how many habitual pirates (2 or less original titles owned on a collection of dozens) would buy what and how many games if they couldn't find it for download or counterfeited.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by gi biz on 21st July 2010 11:55pm

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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
Michele, I think you are looking at the problem from the wrong angle. Regardless of their intent to purchase the game if means of piracy were completely removed, the fact is the still stole something. They broke a law. And at an average of $35 per theft, think of the consequences if they were physical copies.

To use a similar logic to your own, would they have stolen the physical copies instead if a digital means did not exist?

I feel when it comes to piracy in this day and age we fail to ask the proper questions and have concerned ourselves not with the legality of the issue (theft) but with the fallacy of lost revenue. By focusing on this fallacious value lost upon a corporation with income far exceeding the 'losses', we tend to lose focus on the legal implications of the individual. A pirate stealing 10 games with an MSRP of $50 has not caused $500 in lost revenue but rather committed grand theft of products valued at $500.
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Lucas Seuren Freelance, Only Network8 years ago
The problem with the comparison to theft is that nothing actually get's stolen. When a pirate downloads a copy of a game, neither the developer, nor the publisher, nor any retailer loses money or a product. A pirate doesn't steal games, products or anything at all, he copies them. Should he not be able to do that and he still wouldn't buy the game, the situation wouldn't change. The developer, publisher and retailers would still see the same amount of income. The crime they commit is that the violate laws regarding IP rights.

It really is about missed income, because what matters is how many games would be sold if nobody made copies. That is what really relevant, because that way you can determine how much money the companies really lose or miss out on due to piracy.

So yeah, it would be great if piracy didn't exist, but that's never going to happen. So instead of always looking for ways to prevent piracy and suing the people that do copy games, developers and publishers should look for ways to make sure more people want to buy the game. There should be an advantage to having a paid-for copy of the game, not a disadvantage like there is now. Buyers get punished with annoying anti-piracy software while pirates get a perfectly good version. With that way of thinking, nothing is ever going to change.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
But calculating a pirated title as lost revenue is a fallacious concept. It's completely illogical. You cannot equate them 1:1. Especially given that most pirates download titles with a total MSRP equivalent far greater than their actual income would sustain if legally purchased. You can't lose a sale that was never going to happen.

The whole concept of lost revenue due to piracy is psychological. It's lawyer marketing speak. The pirates never had any intent to legally purchase them. It's only lost revenue IF the pirate had originally intended to buy it legally. Might there be some that did? Perhaps but how exactly to you calculate that ratio?
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Lucas Seuren Freelance, Only Network8 years ago
@Jimmy, that's sort of my point. It's exactly why you can't see it as theft, because no-one loses money or a physical product. You can see it as lost revenue, but certainly not 1:1. At best you could probably sell 1 game for every 10 that are downloaded now. So it is lost revenue, but everybody keeps overestimating the influence of piracy on sales.

In the case of the DS it's a whole different story, because hardly anyone buys anymore. There the influence really is substantial. I guess because the R4 is so incredibly simple.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Lucas Seuren on 22nd July 2010 10:46am

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gi biz ;, 8 years ago
I agree with Lucas. We should keep in mind that laws (stealing is forbidden, attacking random people is forbidden and so on) are there to protect others from intentional damages. Enforcing a law that protects no one to me is like - I don't know - like putting a law about opening hat water with your left hand and cold with the right one. So the problem now consists in if pirating games constitues a real, substantial damage to companies.

Speaking of the actual enforcing situation: I recently bought 2 Worlds collector edition for PC, which requires an online activation. My wireless card for some reason stopped working on Windows (while it's ok on Linux), and having many things to do and not much free time, I don't want to waste time fixing the problem. Phone activation isn't an option either: when I'm at home people in Poland is likely to be sleeping. Result: I wasted money.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
Let me make sure I understand you correctly. You don't understand why laws exist to protect IP and that they shouldn't be enforced simply because nothing tangible is removed from someone's personal belongings?

What are Eugen's plans regarding the impending piracy of R.U.S.E.?
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Can we get one thing clear here. Whatever rationalisation anyone on this site (games industry employees apparently) use to justify their own piracy, it is theft.

Acquiring property, digital or physical without the owners consent or knowledge is theft. Plain and simple. It matters not one jot that you're sitting at your keyboard and not in some shop with a mask over your face.

We can quibble about the ratio of 1:1 which is obviously unrealistic. But that piracy is theft is not debatable.
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gi biz ;, 8 years ago
Jimmy, because I suspect that piracy makes little or no difference. When I had a modded PSX, my mom used to give me like the equivalent of 25 per month. There is no way I could've bought any game on my own, and of course on birthdays and such I welcomed the originals, with booklets and all. You see - one way or the other I wouldn't have bought many of the games I owned. Probably from the money I would've saved from getting fake games I could've squeezed one or two more games, or probably I would've spent them differently. However this is my personal experience, so let's try to get some realistic estimates on the losses before claiming a theft.

How do you take decisions at E-mpire? Estimate benefit/effort ratio first, act later I assume?
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
So you'd be OK if everyone just pirated R.U.S.E.? I can't imagine that Ubisoft shares your sentiment.

I'm still trying to grasp your rationality in accepting piracy. And I don't believe a value must be reached before it equates to theft. Theft is the unlawful acquisition of a good, product or service as far as I know it.
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