News Article

Nintendo vs R4: The Lawsuit and the Snitch

Posted by Brad Long

A very un-Harry Potter like snitch website opens to combat R4 and their brethren

A while ago Nintendo won a lawsuit against retailers that sold and distributed R4 and R4-like devices. In case you didn't know, these are essentially carts which allow consumers to pirate DS games.

Since then, those retailers were sent notices updating them on the situation and were told to immediately stop selling those items in store. Obviously if you look around market places and a few select websites you'll discover that a lot of retailers are ignoring the notice pretty blatantly.

In retaliation, Nintendo has gone to court again to seek out damages incurred from those retailers. In addition, Nintendo have opened up a "snitch" website where people can fill in a form where they enter the URL of specific retailers that are still selling R4 units.

It's good to see Nintendo getting more aggressive on video game pirates, the only thing now is to see how effective it is!

[via gonintendo.com]

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User Comments (58)

Reala

#4

Reala said:

The incentive is to make sure those developers that make the games we like are paid and encouraged to continue working to entertain us.

Egg_miester

#6

Egg_miester said:

i feel that they need a stricter punishment on video game pirates like burn down there houses or put it that they are not aloud near videogames again and freeze there bank accounts

jangonov

#7

jangonov said:

I wonder if NOA will put something similar on their site. Ill admit though I bought something that was a bit like R4 (before R4 was made) where the memory plugged into the GBA slot of my DS original at wal-mart. I never pirated though. I only used it to play movies and music. It was big and clunky (The memory had to wrap around the system because it used the, now obsolete, compact flash) and when I bought it I had no knowledge that you could pirate games onto it. I thought it was a way to get mini games made by users. When the DSi was announced, I thought it was amazing because I could do everything legally. -mini games= dsiware music= dsisound video=.....oh wait...
STILL I never used the device to pirate games as I like to see sequels and they need money to do that. I feel bad for buying a device that COULD be used for illegal activity- even though I never did.

dreas

#10

dreas said:

I see why they're doing that, of course, it's just a shame they're trying to kill homebrew that way either. And it's just the same on the Wii (4.2 Update anyone?).

Kawaiipikachu

#11

Kawaiipikachu said:

@7 Jangonov
CF cards are still widely used by Profisonals with there DSLR's & are in fact you be hard pressed to find a DSLR without a CF slot & in fact the whole PCMCIA technology is in fact more forward conpatible than SD @ newer farster CF cards all made all the time like Sandisk's 32GB ultra III extream so it's a Long way off before they become obsolete.

Any back on topic hopefully this helps defeat pirates.

Terra

#12

Terra said:

I know a couple of sites I can report and do my share to help Nintendo.

jangonov

#15

jangonov said:

@Kawaiipikachu
I didnt mean that it wasn't used anymore but I can see how one might think that from my post. You are right though. What I meant was that they are rarely used in the video game industry now. SD is just a little easier for everyone since people who are new to the industry can look at that and say "oh, just like my digital camera". sorry for the misunderstanding.
back on topic I hope that there is a bit of an incentive for people to turn in someone selling them.

wanderlustwarrior

#16

wanderlustwarrior said:

we've learned a new word today! can you say: BIAS?

R4 type devices are not used only for pirating games. That is an option, and the intended choice, but it is the choice of the consumer. Someone could theoretically use one to play MP3 files that they bought legally (the DS requires those files to be converted to AAC), play a fan created game, or program for their own purposes. Unlike the homebrew channel, they also do not physically modify the DS system.

If the aim was to shut down the people who offer the game files (which would be practically impossible), or to fix these devices to where they could no longer play the game files out of the box (quite possible), that would be acceptable.

Also, they're called flashcarts, not "R4-like devices". It would be like calling every restaurant a McDonald's-like store. Calling one by name basically amounts to an endorsement for these practices.

iphys

#19

iphys said:

I don't see why Nintendo should have won such a legal case. Just because flash cards can be used to play pirated games doesn't mean that they will. A lot of people use them for homebrew. Legally, I don't see the difference from saying MP3 players shouldn't be sold because people might use them to play pirated music. Even Nintendo's DSi music player might be used to listen to pirated music, so I guess the DSi should be pulled off the shelves too then.

SwerdMurd

#20

SwerdMurd said:

I've heard the "we don't use the R4 for piracy" argument so, so, so many times. While there may be some small shred of people that use it legit-style, I guarantee the majority of owners (even a lot of the outspoken piracy critics) use it to pirate games. Why? Because it makes playing DS games free, and people are inherently lazy and look for the path of least resistance. Again, there are plenty of valid uses for it, but I can't see someone spending 60-70 bucks (however much these things cost) to play completely busted fan-created games or music/video on a gaming system devices and not at least trying to pirate a real, well-made game once.

I know plenty of people defend its use, and that's fine--more power to you. I just hope most people realize that even the people speaking its legal praises probably still use it to pirate games (and movies/music...).

EDIT - and for the record, most people with MP3 players have pirated music on them too. And most of these people, at some time or another, have posted a holier-than-thou piracy-is-wrong message.

V8_Ninja

#21

V8_Ninja said:

This idea is cool, but people are still going to find ways to pirate games even if Nintendo destroys the last R4 on the Earth. I say the cause is lost and that Nintendo should work on cool content for the non-pirates like me with their updates.

maka

#23

maka said:

Hands up those who NEVER EVER have pirated anything in their whole lives. No music, no CDs, no videogames, no pc-games, no roms, no tapes (for those of us that are older), no movies in any form. If you raised your hand you're lying. Also, have you ever bought a 2nd hand game, movie, cd, etc...? That hurts the original producer just as much as pirating because you have it and they didn't get a dime from what you payed...

To me, what is important is to support those people producing content you like. When a friend shows me a band I didn't know and copies their cd so I can listen to it at home, if I end up liking it, I'll buy their record and go to their concerts (and that's no maybe, that's 100% sure). That's much more meaningful than how you were first exposed to their music. So it was a pirated CD, so what?

Anyway, the point is not that you can pirate games with these devices, the point is they have a legitimate use and it's up to the final consumer how to use them. A CDR or DVDR drive can be used to pirate all kinds of stuff, MP3 players and DVD players can be used to play pirated music or movies. Heck, even computers, printers, scanners, photo cameras or video cameras can be used to pirate stuff!! Should all those things be forbidden too?

Nintendo's policy makes no sense in the modern world.

BTW, have any of you seen the wonderful ZXDS emulator? That one alone is worth the price of a flash card, and note that the ZX Spectrum games you can get from www.worldofspectrum.org are ALL legal.

wanderlustwarrior

#24

wanderlustwarrior said:

@Objection_Blaster: Thanks for the kind words and actually understanding what I was saying.

@iphys: How very, very true.
The Wii too, so really, everyone here is supporting a device that could be used to play pirated games. I'd very much like to see NoJ sue NoA. It might be funny.

@Swerd_Murd:
I'm going to ass-u-me that was pointed at me (or iphys). If so, that is not what I/we said. I am not defending piracy, nor saying I own an R4. It is the action of the user to use or play pirated games.
You shouldn't be too quick to dismiss fan-made games. Remember, Cave Story and Little Fighter 2 were independently developed games, and you could count their combined crew on one hand. Does that make them "completely busted"? WiiWare, DSiWare, disc-based games, they all had to start somewhere.
FYI, the devices cost $30-35.

Going off of what iphys said, computers can, and are used to pirate music. Nintendo actually shutting down the flashcart developers would be no different than Virgin Mobile shutting down Microsoft, Toshiba, Apple etc. because of what some consumers did.

Hardy83

#25

Hardy83 said:

I ordered me up a DS Iplayer. lol well...that can't load commercial roms, but that's the point with many people.
People get r4s for the homebrew apps, since Nintendo never gives what the public wants.. I just believe because Nintendo drives consumers to these devices that they find out that you can play retail games on them.

I bet if Nintendo just sucked up the licensing fees and made a video player, virtual handheld, and other PDA like functions a lot of people would stop using R4 cards, most people are honest, but if they want something they're going to get it.

Now it seems instead of listening to consumers, Nintendo's just going the music industry route by suing everyone.

Token_Girl

#26

Token_Girl said:

How many R4 producers are actually based in a country they can do something about, and how many are in, like, Hong Kong. I think this might be a lost cause thanks to a little friend I like to call ebay.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#27

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

You'd have to be pretty niave to believe most ppl who purchases R4 stuff are buying them for practices other than piracy considering all kinds of piracy is so rife. Also, to compare video game piracy to film or music cd piracy is non-sensical. All forms of piracy are of course wrong, but when you have a video game pirate why would you go a buy the original or other games by the same game maker when you know you can acquire cheap pirates for them?

Having said all that, there should be some built in facility within DSis to allow the playing of legal "fan-made" games and files that R4 can also be used for.

letsplay

#28

letsplay said:

You are still arguing why it's ok to hack, cheat and steal. Why not argue why you shouldn't?

fudgenuts

#29

fudgenuts said:

@maka:
Agreed. A flash cart can play pirated stuff, but so can a PC, a MP3 Player, a DVD Player, etc. can do that too. I'm gonna go sue tons of corporations.

AVahne

#31

AVahne said:

the incentive is that if we actually pay for the games instead of using R4, then we'll get games that WE want

metakirbyknight

#32

metakirbyknight said:

You know what I can use a flash drive to pirate PC games. Lets ban them. And I would like to say, the cards are just adapters. You must download the firmware to use it. So owning one isn't inherently wrong. I have never pirated anything. Never. Buying a used game is different, its like saying buying a used CD or VHS taps is wrong. There are still the same amount of copies in existence. Anyway, I own an AceKard 2i to play home brew. Never pirated a thing, and never will. And you can quote me on that.

Dicesukeinuzuka

#33

Dicesukeinuzuka said:

to maka
The people who buy used games are at least buying the game, and are probably more likely to get their games NEW and legally if they go to the store v.s. downloading games via internet. If used games were such a big problem, then I bet Big game companies would have mentioned them along with flashcarts when talking about why games' sales are slipping. I really just think your trying to make it seem okay to own a flashcart.
Just imagine, if people said for example,
"Not all people who break into buildings are wrong for doing so, I one time forgot my Science book in my locker and so I broke in school at night to finish my project." Just no. :|
This is also probably the most effective way for N to reduce the pirates anyway.

Dark_Zelda

#34

Dark_Zelda said:

there's nothing wrong with r4's if used legally i buy my games and then i download roms and put them on my r4 because i hate having 15-20 cartage's with me at all times especially when im traveling because they get lost so this way i have all my games on 1 cartage and i never have to worry about loosing another game again!

CorusFace

#35

CorusFace said:

People are always going to pirate things anyway. Why fight so hard to make it illegal? People are always going to get murdered and kids are always going to dope up, regardless of how "illegal" it is or how hard law enforcement finds it. Children are still going to find dynamites, and sea manatees are going to die sometime anyway. Why bother fighting these things from happening when they're going to happena anyway...?

Macaronius

#36

Macaronius said:

I used to be a pirate, but felt bad and deleted everything. I am strictly using homebrew from now on. I have repented from my awful pirating ways (by the by, my friend gave me a bunch on an sd card so I could play classic nes games) and read the homebrew ds bible everyday :)

theblackdragonAdmin

#37

theblackdragon said:

@Dark_Zelda: No one has the right to dump their ROM and then share it over the internet, not even if it's only to users who legally own a copy of the game, nor does anyone have the right to download a ROM from the internet and play that ROM under the 'backup copy' excuse. What you do have the right to do is dump the ROM from the cartridge you personally own, and use that ROM as your 'legal backup copy'. Having all your games on one cartridge is great, but know that the ROMs you've downloaded and are playing now are actually illegal for you to have downloaded and be playing in the first place. :(

CanisWolfred

#38

CanisWolfred said:

Ah, yeah, I've heard of these, and others like them. Know a lot of guys that use them, too. I considered getting one myself, but they cost almost a hundred dollars - it would've been cheaper for me to buy the games I wanted to download.:P

TrueWiiMaster

#39

TrueWiiMaster said:

I fully support Nintendo in taking action against game pirates. I don't think it's wrong for Nintendo to try to stop production of flashcarts, and I don't think the situation is comparable to the music industry either. Yes many people pirate music, but they are not the majority nor are the devices as narrowly purposed as the flashcart. Cd's and MP3 players can be used to store pictures, homework, movies, music, and just about anything, and that is what they were intended for. The flashcarts on the other hand, though capable of doing many of the same things, were not really intended to do solely them, but rather they were made to play unlicensed or illegally copied games, and the majority of owners do just that.

That said, I have often been tempted to get one just to play Earthbound, which I have never played. Thankfully, I never actually bought one. Unfortunately, I still haven't played Earthbound...

SmaMan

#40

SmaMan said:

So, what's next in Nintendo's agenda? Going after Team Twiizers for making the Homebrew Channel and letting people snitch on people who still have it installed?

@jangonov #7
I actually used to own one of those, it was the MAX Media Player. I remember once I got tempted into playing a DS rom on it, but as it turns out, my CF card was too slow, so it just froze, lol.
It was a perfect .mp3 and video player though. It was my primary music device until I got my iPod Touch.

wanderlustwarrior

#41

wanderlustwarrior said:

@letsplay, LEGEND MARIOID and others: who is this 'you'? We need a target for pronouns, people! No one is defending outright piracy (besides prochnow), so your statements seem to be aimed at me. Did you try reading my comments? I'm not defending piracy. I am saying, the developers of the R4-like devices are actually NOT PIRATES. They may be enablers, but they are not the pirates themselves.

@Dicesukeinuzuka: actually, some companies are angered with Gamestop because they don't see a dime from used game or system sales. But, that's an entirely other issue.

@theblackdragon: i was wondering if you were going to chime in! If any one wants a correct legal assessment, read her post.

Also, legal action is generally based on precedent, and at least in America, where part of the problem of piracy is, precedent is on the side of the flashcart producers. ThePirateBay and Napster both had to go legal, but they weren't outright shut down. I don't know how law proceeds in Japan (besides an insta-guilty), but over here and internationally, it wouldn't end well for nintendo.

Dicesukeinuzuka

#42

Dicesukeinuzuka said:

lol I had the MAX media player, go it to watch vids on my ds, it was cool, but I got fustrated because I couldn't play virtually any homebrew games; or any games for that matter.

maka

#43

maka said:

@Dicesukeinuzuka
"to maka
The people who buy used games are at least buying the game, and are probably more likely to get their games NEW and legally if they go to the store v.s. downloading games via internet. If used games were such a big problem, then I bet Big game companies would have mentioned them along with flashcarts when talking about why games' sales are slipping. I really just think your trying to make it seem okay to own a flashcart. "

Of course I'm trying to make it seem okay to own a flashcart, because it IS ok, as long as you don't pirate games with it. I don't care about the intent of the makers just the intent of the buyers. Even then, the newer flashcarts are clearly sold with the intent of being used for homebrew as they include features such as auto DLDI patching so running homebrew is much much easier.

Also, game companies clearly hate the 2nd hand market, and are doing all in their power to eliminate it. Digital content is one solution (just look at how you can't even move your DSiWare or WiiWare putchases to another console). Of course, until they actually manage to make 2nd hand trading illegal, they can't do much about it.

And why is music so different? I don't think the big music companies or film companies agree with this. Many people download all the music they listen and never care to buy the legit CDs/DVDs. Still Video Recorders and CDRs are legal (and that's not thanks to those companies, anyway. Remeber: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_Corp._of_America_v._Universal_City_Studios,_Inc. ).

wanderlustwarrior

#44

wanderlustwarrior said:

@TrueWiiMaster: your wording, "narrowly purposed as the flashcart", has made it clear to me that people will not understand until they see for themselves.

http://m3adapter.com/index.htm
There. That is the site of a flashcart producer. I challenge anyone to find where it outright states that any of their devices can play NDS roms.

The problem on this board at least is that people are scapegoating the producers of the devices instead of realizing that it is the people uploading, downloading and playing the games that are the pirates.

To complete the antiquated analogy: If I was a ship, rum and blunderbuss maker/salesman in the 17th century, does that automatically make me a pirate? No. Does that cast some suspicion on me? Yes hell it does. But you cannot legally declare that I am guilty of anything.

SmaMan

#45

SmaMan said:

@Dicesukeinuzuka

Yeah, all the Homebrewers had to make separate MAX versions of their program since it would be loaded from the GBA slot. I hate how they made it up to be such a great player of Homebrew games ("Shareware" they called them) but barely any of them worked on it! That taught me never to buy anything from Datel again.

It was still a great music player though

theblackdragonAdmin

#46

theblackdragon said:

@Prochnow: While I feel for you if your DSi was stolen, that's a matter for you to pursue against the thieves via the justice system in your country, not to take out on Nintendo by pirating their game software. And I do think it's stupid that Nintendo refuses to transfer DSiWare from system to system (even if you're willing to send both systems in to them on your own dime) if both are working properly, but that still doesn't give us the right to pirate their software. It is against the law, period.

SwerdMurd

#47

SwerdMurd said:

@Blardrackonis - second. People do not have the right to make up their own moral code because they feel something is unfair: things are illegal for a reason. Just because you feel it's justified doesn't make it so in the eyes of the law.

@WanderersFromLust_III - no that actually wasn't aimed at you. I respect what you're saying completely; I'm just saying most people use these to pirate media and without them, you can't (on a DS). PCs are open to piracy, as well as many other things out of the box. The DS isn't unless you buy this peripheral; I fully support Nintendo in this decision. If they need to nuke a 98% hostile city and end up killing 2% of the not-guilty civilians...too bad. Civilians should move to a safer city :) EDIT: As a member of a small studio/solo developer, I'm well aware that these games were made independently. I don't see how this supports the R4 in any way--none of those games began as anything other than PC games, which don't involve this device. I'm dismissing the fact that people are paying 35-40 dollars so their DS can use games/apps that pale in comparison to the ones you listed, all which are available for free for peripheral-free PCs.

I guess that didn't translate, situationally, as well as I thought.

evilralfwiggum

#48

evilralfwiggum said:

That's great : ).. You know.. having all those games on your R4 can be great and all, but you are dirty, unclean, stealing those DS games that should be worth more to you than a few MBs. lol.. They lose value to you once you can just download them in an instance, downloading and then playing them illegally kind of takes the fun out of "owning" games. I wish it was never possible to begin with, lol.. with sites like Goozex one wouldn't even need to worry about buying games, I just trade the old ones I have and get a few others. The cheap and legal way xD

Dicesukeinuzuka

#50

Dicesukeinuzuka said:

51. evilralfwiggum
That's great : ).. You know.. having all those games on your R4 can be great and all, but you are dirty, unclean, stealing those DS games that should be worth more to you than a few MBs. lol.. They lose value to you once you can just download them in an instance, downloading and then playing them illegally kind of takes the fun out of "owning" games.


Exactly. You explained it perfectly, Like watching anime/shows online, you have it available to you instantly, legally or not, it takes the fun of waiting to watch the next episode like you would on TV and gives you something to look forward to the next week :).
Also, am I the only one who kind of likes commercials? they let you go get something to eat or use the bathroom with out missing the show!

maka

#51

maka said:

Until recently, computers couldn't be used to duplicate CDs as at most they'd come with a CD player installed, not a CDR. You had to actually buy a CD recorder yourself. But that didn't make CDr companies suspect of promoting piracy... So it's not a question of the device used to pirate something being included with the computer/console or not.

Flashcarts do have a legitimate, legal use, just like photocopiers, video recorders, cdrs, dvdrs, etc... It's not a question of how good homebrew is (there are some excellent games, but not that many...) it's a question of flashcards addressing a particular need for many people, a need not addressed officially by Nintendo, and a need which is not illegal in any way: to be able to install software being developed independent of Nintendo.

Hopefully at some point, some judge will notice that the case of the flashcards is the same as that old video recorder case and Nintendo will have to learn to live with them.

And btw, if you really want to support developers buy your games close to the release date. Don't buy them secondhand (it's legal but they don't get ANYTHING ) and don't buy them at discount price.

Zenman

#52

Zenman said:

okay, time for me to get my say in. while i see what ninty is going for, i think they should pressure manufacturers to put some kind of code either in the game or in the device that prevents piracy, much like modern PC games do.
and on a similar note:
while i have had my share of semi-legal downloads (mostly game songs that were not on itunes), i have to say, i don't like the idea of pirating games; if pirating is not cracked-down on than game companies lose sales numbers, go out of buisness (potentially) and bam, the game world gets hurt...
...if you truly love your favorite game company, just buy the game, and support them, don't download it for free.

metakirbyknight

#53

metakirbyknight said:

@prochnow

No, not a game. But my friend gave me a pirated CD and I felt dirty holding it with the intent of destroying it. Yes, you feel bad if you have ethics.

MindFever

#54

MindFever said:

what if i want to make some homebrew games,to compensate dsiware dissasters? i dont support piracy,but until dsiware has "games" like ART ACADEMY 2ND SEMESTER,gloves are off.
the best way to combat piracy is to have great online content for their games... start making good software and people will have loyalty to Nintendo (im talking about DSi).

ofcourse,its cheaper making lowsy games or overpriced software and just sue people.it is their right...

i bet people rather buy Mario Cart DS,than having a pirated version...because they have a blast playing it online.
If Nintendo made us happy with an AIM client,i bet they would insure people`s loyalty 100% up...thus having less piracy.For goodnes sake,why on earth wont they support homebrew?make a payable/subscribtion service(for the dsi and wii),where people contribute with their creations and N just might win this "fight".Also VC on dsi is a must!

sorry for my writing,i just woke up...plus its my BIRTHDAY today (Oct. 8th).Wooooooooot!! :D

MindFever

#55

MindFever said:

@metakirbyknight

i think your feelings end with you,since Nintendo doesnt give a damn about ethics.just look how many people got ripped-off with dsiware crap...
i feel dirty supporting these large corporations...what is worse:single individuals having pirated games OR being a corporation (like EA,Nintendo,Ubisoft...) that rip-off millions of people with poorly made/overhyped games? but ofcourse,if the money wasnt the bottom line,they wouldnt sue anybody.so you see,your ethics are restricted by protecting these corporations` monetary interests.
I do think that ultimately you are doing the right thing,by not breaking the law..im just thinking "aloud".im not criticizing you on this point.piracy is thievery,that is a fact...
cheers...i dunno what im saying anyway:)

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