What hasn’t the gaming industry given us? With the invention of a vast variety of genres (like RPG, Fantasy, Adventure, Multiple person shooter games, etc) gaming giants across the world have allowed individuals to surpass their own physical abilities in a vast variety of virtual environments. This freedom of ‘movement,’ (not to mention the significant creative leeway one has in these games), has the ability to make one feel invincible!
The gaming giant, Nintendo, recently found itself on the receiving end of some overzealous and unfortunate attention by some of these ‘enthusiastic’ gamers when, in mid 2010, it obtained a summary judgment in its claim against their own R4 cards. Apparently, this card allowed DS owners to transfer PC games to their own console – especially those downloaded from Torrent and P2P websites.
You would think that a large gaming company would easily win this obvious copyright infringement case, but this was not the case. The creator of the R4 card (Playables) claimed that it ‘did not know’ that the card could be used for making illegitimate ‘homebrew’ games. However, this argument did not hold water for the UK High Court. Why? Because the claim violated 2 provisions of the Copyright Designs and Patent Act 1988.
Apparently the fact that the card could be used for making homemade games as well as the fact that it could circumvent security measures was not a strong enough defense. In other words, just the fact that there was a possibility that the card could be used for copyright infringement, made this case weak from the beginning. And so in addition to Ninendo and Playables reaching a settlement, Ninentendo eventually prevailed in court as well, securing a judgment against Playables.
A full recap of this case can be found in this excellent blog post, “Nintendo vs. Playables: The Latest Modchip Case Considered.”
Obviously the United Kingdom is not the only country to face these kinds of questionable cases. Across the pond, here in the United States, Sony also recently filed a lawsuit against a number of hackers who were guilty of publishing security codes for their popular PS3 console. The hackers fell out of Sony’s favor because they could use the pre-existing codes to sign and verify games and software as if they were legitimate purchased copies.
Sony argued that such acts were encouraging the piracy black market, while the defendants claimed that they also wanted to prevent the piracy of games. The gaming industry won out when Hotz (the lead hacker) was banned from ‘offering the public, creating, posting online marketing, advertising, promoting, installing, distributing, providing or otherwise trafficking’ any other gaming information or software that has the ability to bypass the PS3’s security measures.
The hacker was also banned from providing links from websites to either gamers or online users, or to engage in any acts that could compromise the aforementioned copyright issues. One would think that Nintendo would also have taken advantage of this obvious piracy clause, to safeguard its own brand from similar ‘nefarious’ hackers and gamers. It just goes to show that perhaps that even the gaming conglomerates of the world are not safe from the exploits of over enthusiastic individuals intent on doing anything possible to make their gaming experience as “cost-friendly” as possible.