The colossal terrifying family friendly manufacturer, Nintendo, has tucked another victory under its belt, after pursuing further action against the R4 contraption which was developed for their DS handheld system. The Federal Court of Australia ruled in favor of Nintendo’s appeal and ordered a local distributor to fork over $520,000 for damages caused by selling the R4 Cartridge. Nintendo’s claim targeted the gadget distributor and two affiliates of the company, Patrick Li and James Li, who were also asked to dig deep into their pockets, being slapped with a $100,000 fine.
The R4 cartridge is practically identical in size to a standard DS cartridge, but has an added built in slot which allows users to run a micro SD card from their DS, along with the help of the built-in R4 software. This, of course, opens doors for software pirates to download and upload illegal digital copies of DS games.
The R4 manufacturer, however, maintains that the device wasn’t designed with piracy in mind. In fact, the R4 cartridge offers a host of legal and useful applications. This includes; playing movies, music or converting the DS into an ebook reader, a musical instrument, a pocket organizer, drawing tool and a simplified internet browser. The R4 and similar devices have opened doors to many indie developers who use the software as the only meaning of distributing their software.
Yes, piracy is a terrible thing and no doubt causes severe damage to the gaming industry, especially smaller companies. But it seems a tad unfair that talented underground software developers with some ingenious ideas are simply swept aside due to the fact that the medium they work from has a potential for piracy. Hell, a lot of devices have the potential for piracy. Should HMV sue Microsoft because Windows Media Player has music copying software?
Last year, Nintendo, Capcom and 53 other DS software manufacturers challenged distributors of the R4 at the Tokyo Distric Court. At that time, Capcom issued the following statement:
“Since we observe many cases that the vendors ignore our warning or the vendors do not show any sincere response to our warning, we decided to take legal action at this time.
“We are expecting the entire society including users to recognize that our company and other software manufactures have extremely sustained damages from proliferation of illegal instruments, such as the game copying devices, and the computer industries have sustained serious damages because of those vendors, and we expect to influence the society to eliminate such illegal instruments from the market.”
The term “game copying devices” doesn’t sit particularly well. As stated, these devices provide a hell of a lot more. Surely the answer lies in better designed anti-piracy software and not in destroying a large community of talented underground DS developers.