News Article

British R4 Card Importer Shipping Off To Prison

Posted by Rebecca Gunn

Guilty plea nets 12-month sentence

Don't mess with Nintendo.

British resident Yun Can Meng clearly didn't get the memo when he was busy importing approximately 26,500 R4 cards, as GamesPolitics reports that Meng has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for pleading guilty to the charge. Meng was sentenced in Hull Crown Court.

R4 cards can be used to illegally download and play DS titles. They can also be used for some homebrew development but are largely considered illegal.

The Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association Director General Michael Ralinson, whose company played a part in nabbing Meng, offered high fives of justice all around after the sentence.

Our crime unit is pleased with the outcome of this trial and pleased to see the Court of Appeal’s copyright judgement is being robustly enforced. Intellectual property (IP) theft is an important issue for the country’s videogames industry - as is protecting it.

Score one for the gaming industry.


From the web

User Comments (69)



MarcusA said:

@lz2010 I'm sorry I understand you're trying to make a joke but I feel it is in ill taste.

Not all flashcards are used to pirate games, undeniably most are. However I as a developer of homebrew find this appalling. You may not realise how hard it is for an individual let alone a company get rights from nintendo to develop software for their console. You need a ridiculous amount of money to BUY a permit to develop, then you need to spend the money to have your product developed, the redeveloped countless times to have it finally passed by nintendo's quality standards.

I buy games regularly and I am proud of it. However Nintendo is unfairly controlling the market for their console. Spain made the right decision.

Please don't support this ridiculous crusade against flashcarts, they're the heart and the soul of the independant developer. Our history of developing new games has been a long one, spanning all the way back to the beginning of all personal computers and gaming consoles. Bill gates, steve jobs and even Captain Crunch for you oldies all began by messing around with software and hardware to create new things.

Making flashcarts illegal is essentially making new individually developed software illegal.

By all means support anti-piracy, I do myself but don't ever let a corporation take away the right to create.



IlikeVideoGames said:

@Marcus I do not believe any comment was in ill taste. If someone was buying 26,000 cards obviously they are up to no good. All anyone said was pretty much do not pirate, buy the game.



Firkraag said:

Try developing independent software for something that doesn't go hand in hand with piracy, like a PC for example. I don't sympathize with you one bit since you knew how flash cards are viewed and decided to spend time developing for it anyways.



x10power said:

This is why I believe all homebrewers should just work on making games for the PC since you don't have to worry about any lawsuits and have more variables to play around with.



MarcusA said:

@A-SWE but why? What nintendo has is a monopoly on a market which is illegal. The way that they have done it however, it being only on their consoles and the ability to pay to develop. That is sneaky.

Spain has ruled it is illegal and immoral what they are doing.

I would never sell a game, nintendo deserves money for that. I would not take money away from them. But if I want to develop an application, test to see how it works, then take it to nintendo. Then yes I would give them whatever cut of the profits they wanted.

But that's not the way things go. Nintendo forces people to comply. Piracy is wrong but so is complete control over what people do.



MarcusA said:

@Ilikevideogames Spain has just had a massive court ruling against nintendo in the favour of R4. I am using that as an example. I agree with the anti-piracy side of this, I was more voicing an alternate opinion on the flash cards. He deserved to go to jail.

@quickfingers that's where I started, but I want to do everything I can. I want to create, I love nintendo and I want to make things that I can show them how much I love them.



MarcusA said:

Also I'd just like to point out nintendo is hypocritical, they've given permission to retail stores in australia to install and run the homebrew channel on their wii's so as to use the USB loader. Sean was investigating this I don't know if he turned up any leads because he hasn't posted here. However I saw it first hand.



Crunc said:

I'd love to hear what software MarcusA has worked on, because homebrew software on the DS is a complete and utter joke.



Cipher said:

@MarcusA - re your comment on Spain, it is the only country that has ruled as such. Every other country in the world that has been forced to make a ruling on R4 has ruled it illegal. Therefore your argument is flawed and invalid. Just because Spain deems it legal, other countries will not follow suit. Re your comment on Nintendo using the Homebrew Channel, this is why we constantly have analysts, developers and even people inside Nintendo telling us that what Nintendo Australia (not Nintendo as a whole) is doing is wrong and that this is one of many reasons that Nintendo is failing in Oceania.

Also, why is it just Nintendo that are apparently being "illegal" because of the fact that they say you can't develop for them legally without an SDK? The same applies to PlayStation, Xbox 360 and their downloadable services. The same applied to Dreamcast and every SEGA system before it. If you accuse Nintendo of being illegal in what they do, you accuse Microsoft, Sony and SEGA of the same, among others.



CanisWolfred said:

Oh noes! Now I can't get one! Oh wait, there are dozens of different brands and clones of these things still floating around. I could just get one of those. Pheooph, they had me worried for a moment there.



Rapadash6 said:


Stop trying to explain why homebrew is a good thing as we already know. Nintendo is a business, however, and it is well within their legal right to protect their assets. It is also well within their rights to put limits and rules on development on their systems. Also, as Cipher says, Nintendo isn't alone on providing these limitations, so stop accusing them of being this tyranical entity preventing you and people like you from being creative. There are plenty of by the book ways of getting your work out there so just let it go.



Chunky_Droid said:

@MarcusA: We're still waiting for a reply from that particular store, as far as we've investigated on that query it's only the one store in question that has the homebrew channel installed. Other stores under the same company don't have the homebrew channel installed on their Wii. Still pending investigation.



blackknight77 said:

"Try as you might, you can never stop piracy. Stop R4 cards and something new will come along. It's a waste of taxpayer money to throw people in jail over this kind of stuff"

By that logic no one would ever go to jail.



PopeReal said:

People lose their jobs because of piracy. Corporations aren't just giant machines.

Breaking the law is breaking the law. You can't pick and choose which ones you think are important enough to punish. They all get different prison sentences (or none at all), which is why we have judges.



maka said:

MarcusA is right

BTW, France also ruled against Nintendo in a similar case.

This comment was funny: "Try developing independent software for something that doesn't go hand in hand with piracy, like a PC for example. "

What??? PC has as many pirates if not more than any console!!

France even went as far as saying it could force Nintendo to open their systems so people can develop freely.

Flashcarts are a problem for Nintendo, not only because of piracy, but because they don't want you getting software for free when they could force you to pay, and I don't mean pirate software, but freely developed software. For example, why pay for a notebook app on the ds if there's one for free, why pay for a puzzle game when there's the excellent puzzlemaniak with more than 20 excellent games, etc...

It's very much about controlling what get's played on their console, but as soon as I buy one, it's mine and flashcarts give me the freedom to use it as I want. And they're not illegal

BTW, seems this guy said he was guilty, no wander the sentence was what it was....



pikku said:

@ MarcusA
say you were a multi million $ buissness like Nintendo. would you rather
people buy your games, or steal them?
anyways they are not as xpensive as PS360 games:)



maka said:

@pikmaniac02: by that logic, all DVD-Rs, CD-Rs and computers with drives or mp3 players that allowed you to copy stuff should be illegal. Consoles are very much like computers and Nintendo can't stop people from running whatever they want on their machines. Homebrew is legal and so must be the tools needed to run it.

There was a very big precedent when content producers decide to sue video players/recorder manufacturers and guess what, content producers lost. As long as the hardware can be used for a legitimate purpose, it is legal.



ejamer said:

Although I feel bad for homebrew developers, sadly the problems of flashcarts far outweigh the benefits. Arguing that you can't restrict the choices people make is ludicrous when it's been proven that the VAST majority of buyers use flash carts exclusively to pirate software.

That said, I'd like to hear lists of what homebrew software people are actually using. I've looked, but found very few quality applications available. The only ones I've really found worthwhile so far include:

(1) Colors! - Clearly the reason to get a flash card, as this excellent program could easily have been a full retail title.
(2) Moonshell - DS isn't powerful enough to be a media beast, but with Moonshell you at least have some options.
(3) NitroTracker - Outclassed by Korg DS-10, but an excellent (and free) way to compose on the go. Sampling and sequencing have never been easier.
(4) Zhongwen DS - Learn a little bit of Chinese on the move. It's been outclassed by the Ubisoft retail game, but is still decent.
(5) DSOrganize - UI could have been improved, but functionality is strong.

That said, there are a couple in the list below that are probably worth trying:



A-SWE said:

I dont see how? CD-R, DVD-r etc. are for you to burn your stuff to like pictures or movies youve done, it is illegal to copy copyrighted music or movies or games with them.

Also, computers are made so you can use alot of stuff, consoles are not.



maka said:

I'll add ZXDS, probably the best ZX Spectrum emulator around. Incidentally, the DS has exactly the same screen resolution as the Spectrum, and games look and play amazingly well (and btw, most ZX Spectrum games can be legally distributed online, see which is even endorsed by Amstrad who owns the rights to the Spectrum)

Also, Puzzlemaniak is an excellent compilation of puzzles (it is a port of an opensource java game available on most computers),

Powder is a very good rogue-like game (think Mystery dungeon series which are derived from classics such as Nethack and the original rogue, opensource games that started on Unix computers long ago).

It's true, there's a lot of bad stuff out there, but just those I mentioned make the purchase of a flash cart worth, heck, even just ZXDS makes it worth to me...

BTW, isn't Korg DS-10 just an emulation of the original synthesizer? With Nitrotracker you can use any sounds and create almost any music. I used to make music with the same kind of trackers on the Amiga, back in the 90's and it was lots of fun...



maka said:

"I dont see how? CD-R, DVD-r etc. are for you to burn your stuff to like pictures or movies youve done, it is illegal to copy copyrighted music or movies or games with them."

Exactly: CD-Rs aren't illegal just because they can be used for piracy. If you listen to the big recording companies, they claim 90% of CD-Rs are used for piracy, but they're legal. Downloading pirated games and playing them (on your computer or on the DS with a flashcart) is what is illegal, but the flashcart itself is legal just like CD-Rs and CD Recorders are legal.

"Also, computers are made so you can use alot of stuff, consoles are not."

But who decided this? It's not the job of Apple or Microsoft or whoever sells you a computer to decide how it will be used. You can buy a computer and never pay for software by using free open source applications. The same way, Nintendo shouldn't have the power to tell us what software we can run on their consoles. That's why Flashcards are and should remain legal.

They're trying to force a monopoly and they shouldn't be allowed to ust like Microsoft can't force you to use IE instead of Firefox, etc...



KrazyKain said:

I'm with MarkusA on this one, I am also an indie developer, havent touched consoles and handhelds but I have attempted to legally get a dev kit for nintendo and they are downright draconian on the requirements.. I'm really curious at how 2dboy got one as they are not a multi million dollar company, but just 2 dudes coding in a cafe... but i cant ask them because of the NDA... go figure...



Sylverstone said:

Lesson learned: Just shell out the cash for games and HELP Nintendo to see we like them to continue making games.

(Enjoy your stay in prison and don't drop the soap! )



A-SWE said:

No, because a computer is not made by one company but consoles is. I bet if Microsoft was the only way to get a PC then youd have to pay to make games for that as well.



PopeReal said:


so what is the difference between stealing games and stealing your groceries.... why not just walk into the store and take what you want...



Starwolf_UK said:

Thing is we're no clearer to what Yun Can Meng was exactly charged for. Seriously, read the articles very carefully. All we know is he pleaded guilty to the charges press on him and he was arrested for importing R4 cards. He could have smuggling the cartridges, avoiding customs and as a result not paying tax on the R4 or associated earnings.

Will gaming-related journalism ever escape from amateur night?



Spaceboy said:

I would love an R4 card, and I would love free games, just like I love getting free music and movies and software from torrents. I just thought I would be honest and let everybody know from now on that I am a bad guy. I just don't have the money for all of these things, and when all you have to do is click a button or two in the privacy of your own home without the possibility of getting caught to get whatever form of digital entertainment you need, it's hard to stare at your computer and stare at your hard earned money and justify leaving your house to spend 20, 30, 50, 60, 100 dollars on each item that you fancy. I'm not justifying it, just stating how hard it is to turn to the bright side. It just doesn't feel like stealing to me. I could never leave a store without paying for my groceries.



iphys said:

Flashcarts shouldn't be illegal, because a lot of people do want them for homebrew, and just because you make a gaming system doesn't allow you to monopolize making games for it (which is why Tengen could sell unlicensed games for the NES). I think the problem is the companies that make the flashcarts also make software to allow people to use them to pirate games and advertise that their products play roms. I don't think there'd be any case against flashcarts otherwise.



maka said:

"No, because a computer is not made by one company but consoles is. I bet if Microsoft was the only way to get a PC then youd have to pay to make games for that as well."

Well, Macs are only made by Apple, and I can still use any software I want on them, not just software made by Apple. What makes a console so different to a computer? Mac OS X is already pretty different from Windows and that doesn't mean a thing.

I think what happened here is that this guy didn't have the means to defend himself properly and that might be why he was convicted unlike the cases in France and Spain which weren't against one person.



maka said:

BTW, talking about Apple, not only can anyone code for the Mac or iPhone platforms, but Apple even gives you the tools for FREE. Look at the success of the iPhone and the App Store. It's even becoming a worthy competitor in the handheld gaming market. Nintendo should take a hint and learn a thing or two...



shinkukage09 said:

I don't people realize just how big of tools they are to Nintendo. They'll believe just about ANYTHING Nintendo says about it. I own an Acekard. What do I use it for? Music, Homebrew, and reading(No, I don't pirate books; not licensed books that I read, I read unlicensed ones with it). Every so often, yeah, I'll download an old DS game that you can't buy anymore. Or I'll download a game I'm incredibly iffy on. If I like it, I buy it. If not, I delete it.

You people are such tools that you're anti-piracy schpiels make you look even stupider.



Stuffgamer1 said:

There is a precident for flash carts being legal if not advertized for the playing of ROM's. My brother bought a flash cart at Best Buy once; it's labeled specifically for homebrew (even providing a suggested website to download stuff from). I'd assume since it was sold out in the open at Best Buy that it was legal.

I hate blatent piracy as much as anyone, but I do believe that there are certain grey areas that aren't really a problem. I'll happily download games that are not made available to me in ANY legal form (Mother 3 w/ fan translation, various ROM's of games that were never released in America such as Terranigma and Mario's Super Picross, etc.). I'm also not against the idea of using ROM's as "demos" for VC games, as long as you do so legitimately (if you like the game, BUY IT!). In fact, emulating ANY old game you can't buy in a way that profits the creators is okay to me (Earthbound or any other rare, not-on-VC game you can think of).

If nobody loses profits, it's okay!



KrazyKain said:

yeah i must say i agree with suffgamer for the most part.. i also tend to preorder ds games and pirate them the second they are out in US so i dont have to wait for the much belated EU release.. thats a bit shady i know... but I do buy the game in the end



Caliko said:

MarcusA said "then you need to spend the money to have your product developed, then redeveloped countless times to have it finally passed by nintendo's quality standards."

Then you must really be a sucky developer. Have you EVER played Block Party??!!?!?!??



3230ru said:

@MarcusA I agree about homebrew sofware. as the best example - music software, chiptune synths for GB and so on... but there is always the other side of the moon. so I think nintendo should solve the problem to let hombrew software be developed and played at someones own risk(and thats it - because when I buy something it is mine and I can run hombrew on my own risk and its my decision), but games should have protection! and by the way - I think that offering demos for most part of the games could really reduce pirate market!



Phobos said:

See? A message to all the pirates out there. Don't illegalise 'em, just buy the darn games, ok? BUY 'EM, I SAY! Good going, Nintendo. Enforce this out, make 'em scared, make 'em run to Mummy.



Stuffgamer1 said:

I find it odd that it's apparently so insanely difficult to get a dev kit from Nintendo, yet all these utter crap companies came up out of the woodwork when the Wii released. And, as was questioned earlier, how did two guys programming in a cafe get one?!? It just doesn't fit together right.



A-SWE said:

Well, WoG was made for the PC and was a hit, so I guess Nintendo didnt need much convincing about it getting ported



MiiMiiMii said:

Seems to me that going after the flashcarts is an easier way of trying to deal with the issues (piracy) than trying to shut down the actual sites allowing pirated ROMs. They are taking the easy road and affecting what should and could be a thriving community of devs. Nintendo should befreind these people and help that community - although much homebrew is free, there's always more profit in keeping a bunch of people on board instead of alienating them. We all love WiiWare (hurry to me Meat Boy!), and its one area Wii is really doing well to attract some indie developers - but the way they are cracking down on flashcarts will only alienate the next generation.

Nintendo, IMHO would be better advised concentrating on a solution to how to stop sites allowing illegal ROM sharing.

I'm on the fence regarding the rights and wrongs of Nintendo blocking access in the way suggested above (morally/illegally). It's a bit shady under competition, but then DS is a product within a market (video games) not the market in itself - though I suspect thats a huge greay area under law! But I think it would be advised to bring the dev community in from the cold and provide them help. It will benefit in many real ways from that.

And those pirating games can still get what's coming to them.



shinkukage09 said:

@Gamelord08 - I've yet to see anyone get scared over this. It's only Britian that's done it recently. And in the US, we already know that flashcards aren't illegal, (though piracy is, yes, but since flashcards aren't always used for it, they're not going to outlaw them.) homebrew is not, and Nintendo can't say jack about it. Besides, you want to see a better example on Nintendo telling you what you can and cannot do? The new Action Replay DSi(MAX?) was blocked on the DSi before it was even out. And Nintendo didn't allow them to have a bypass. Meaning anyone who wanted to use one got screwed.

Nintendo doesn't make the laws, however much they like to twist them.



Kevin said:

Its only a matter of time before something replaces this. Piracy will never disappear.



DarkEdi said:

Here in México the R4 and RTTS (whatever the name is) are very common in all places. The only thing i´m tempted to buy one are the nes, snes, arcade, etc, games, not the DS games. But i don´t have any pirate thing and i prefer my original games but to play things what can´t be get in vc or cartridge is very tempting.



Nintendude92 said:

"Its only a matter of time before something replaces this. Piracy will never disappear."

"Try as you might, you can never stop piracy. Stop R4 cards and something new will come along. It's a waste of taxpayer money to throw people in jail over this kind of stuff."

Both true. And there are well above 30 different kinds of devices for this type of thing.

Not saying I support it, and not saying that wasn't a nice catch, but you really can't eliminate it all.



maka said:

Two more comments:

First, if Nintendo would allow homebrew on their consoles without the need for one of these devices then that would remove the need for them except for piracy. Also, there are some flashcarts that can only be used for homebrew. Anyway, I'm not sure the actual manufacturers are really the ones that do any protection cracking. Seems to me the cracking is done by other people who then release the necessary patches/roms that then work on regular flashcarts (but maybe I'm wrong). So flashcart manufacturers don't seem to be doing anything illegal, just giving you a tool that can be used to break the law, but has other uses too (just like a knife, or almost any other tool). But Nintendo's actions would certainly gather more support if they'd concentrate the fight on real piracy and wouldn't try so hard to stop homebrew with the excuse of fighting piracy.

And second. I'd like to see the same kind of comments against infringing copyright on this site when a news item about a fan translation for an existing commercial game is posted here. Translating a game's text means creating a derivative work which if done without permission means: copyright infringement too. Which is illegal. There are many reason publishers wouldn't want a fan translation to be released, especially if it's easy to apply. While it can drive a few sales of the original Japanese game, it can also hinder a possible release in English and most probably will just drive more people to pirate the game. I'm not personally against fan translations, especially of games that have almost no chance of being released here, just pointing out that they're not really legal too (And if it's true there will be no Retro Game Challenge 2, I'd love to see a patch for the Japanese version as I loved the first one which incidentally I imported from playasia)



pichon64 said:

When I think about something illegal it comes to my mind some prices in my country: Nintendo DS Lite console: U$S 365. A game like, for example, 'Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story': U$S 170.



Rensch said:

I find this kinda weird. They could say USB drives or writable DVD's are illegal too.



wildMissingnoappered said:

I think makingyour own orignial games is fine but giving away free games which usaly people have to pay for




miketh2005 said:

@shinkukage09: I HIGHLY doubt you can't get an old DS game on eBay, unless it's REALLY REALLY crappy and / or they only made so much of the game, then why would you want to buy it anyway? Just an excuse...

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