Nintendo DS News: R4 ‘Piracy Enabling’ Carts Now Illegal In UK

I think by now I’ve made it known that I am frothingly anti-piracy, so the new ruling in the UK that bans the R4 Revolution and similar devices thrills me.

The high court set a new precedent by adjusting that it is illegal for the R4 card to circumvent Nintendo’s security systems in order to play content on the DS.

In the US this sort of thing isn’t necessarily illegal to sell, but since they are such piracy-centric devices even Amazon who used to be a big seller of the devices has stopped supplying them.

Basically the R4 is an empty DS cart that will hold a SD card and allow direct transfer of game files that will then run on the DS as if they were actual game files. The implications are pretty obvious, but I will explain further in just a bit after some more details of the ruling from Nintendo’s point of view:

“Nintendo promotes and fosters game development and creativity, and strongly supports the game developers who legitimately create new and innovative applications,” read a statement from the platform holder.

It added: “Nintendo initiates these actions not only on its own behalf, but also on behalf of over 1,400 video game-development companies that depend on legitimate sales of games for their survival”.

The company adds that in the UK alone there have been over 100,000 game copying devices seized since 2009.

Of course, piracy isn’t the only reason to use such a device:

This ruling impacts on emulator owners who have hitherto insisted that playing homebrew games on the DS is not piracy.

Ah yes, the HomeBrew Argument! This is the same thing used by folks who cracked the PSP firmware – they claimed that by breaking the firmware and adding a manual app loader they could encourage folks to develop nifty utilities and ‘indie’ games and let people play and use them without having to go through Sony. On the PSP one big use of this was using the Japanese PSX emulator for the year or so before it came to the US. On the DS emulation is also a biggie.

But the BIGGEST use of R4 carts (and PSP hacking) is PIRACY. Plain and simple. Anyone telling you different is just blowing smoke somewhere. I was active on several PSP and DS web forums for quite a while and it was impossible to escape the constant piracy talk – I would estimate that >95% of users of ‘custom PSP firmware’ and R4-like devices use it *only* for piracy … and everyone else uses it MOSTLY for piracy.

Which is too bad, really. I have seen what ‘homebrew’ developers can do – and it is amazing stuff. It is such a shame that their work gets lost because the effort required to get it to run is subverted into a way to avoid paying developers for their efforts.

So while I am happy to see this piracy-enabler go away, I really wish that hardware makers and developers would fine more ways (like the Android App Maker) to allow folks to get their small-scale projects into the hands of more people without resorting to piracy-enabling efforts!

Source: Develop Online

Categories: Editorials, Gaming

Tags: , ,

7 replies

  1. Given this decision in the U.K. They (Apple) can argue the same tng applieunthere.

    • That the same thing applies to jail breaking, even. Jailbreaking let’s you run home brew software or pirate apps – the unlocking patches are home brew software. And now Apple is selling unlocked phones, the “jailbreak to unlock” argument has no more ammo. Yes, you got a phone with AT&T. Too bad – you could’ve imported an unlocked phone from outside.

      So, with this precedent, jailbreaking (which enables piracy even as it’s used for jomebrew software by a small griup) is now illegal as you font need it for unlocked phones.

      • I’m not sure … it isn’t clear from what I read that the ruling dealt with ‘firmware hacks’ or anything else that allows you to run unapproved software. Heck, that would hit all of those rooted Android devices as well! AFAIK, this decision is specifically about hardware devices that over-ride the security rather than applying a software patch.

        But I completely agree with you in principle – there is a slippery legal slope here.

        • The ruling can still be overturned – the main issue here is that, should you not need to jailbreak to unlock, then jailbreaking has no purpose as far as the court’s concerned except to pirate software or violate Apple’s IP rights. One thing that Apple’s yet to trot out which could kill the JB community (probably so they can avoid making AT&T angry) is the idea of going to an Apple Store and running software or doing a firmware upgrade which unlocks your phone from AT&T’s network. At that point, if they offered the service directly (for a fee), they could undercut the spirit and letter of the ruling with regards to jailbreak.

          With rulings like this, I’m rather leery of what the implications are.. and suspect that the judges don’t realize what this could cause, but the tech companies are, by helping create precedents like this. If a tool that CAN be used for piracy (which is also used for running non-pirated applications) is made illegal, then what’s to stop Apple or anyone else saying that you got the tool with the intent to pirate, and thus are subject to the same anti-piracy fines and jailtime? At that point, they’re suggesting that possession of the tool proves intent to commit an illegal act, even if the tool can be used in a legal and moral manner? It’s like the idea that having a kitchen knife, because it can be used to kill people, is the equivalent of conspiracy to commit murder; the potential usage of the tool being the incriminating factor, since you no longer have to prove intent – possession of a device that can be used for that purpose is enough to imply that you’re about to commit a crime.

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