News Article

Nintendo Wins Another Piracy Court Case

Posted by Brad Long

Massive fine for Mario bootlegger

Nintendo have won a court case where they took action against the James Burt, an Australian who illegally copied and uploaded for distribution the first pirate copy of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, a whole week prior to its official release in Australia. How was Burt able to get it so early? Well, blame that on an absent-minded retailer putting it on the shelf a week before launch. Whoops.

The result of the court case means the individual will pay $1.5M AUD (around $1.3M USD, or £839K) to Nintendo by way of damages to compensate the loss of sales revenue caused by the act of piracy, as well as $100,00 AUD for court costs.

Nintendo employed the use of technological forensics to identify the individual responsible for illegally copying the file and making it available for further distribution. Nintendo, playing everything by the book, obtained a Federal Court search order of the individual's residential premises, whereupon they discovered property which became crucial evidence against Burt. Allegedly his copy of the game was downloaded by over 50,000 people around the world, although the website holding it has now shut down "out of respect for Nintendo".


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User Comments (59)



LztheQuack said:

What's this? Nintendo is suing someone else?! Does anyone else see the irony in this?



Kawaiipikachu said:

Good one pirate down still unfortunately many more to go .
But still at least this is good news .



x10power said:

Arrrg Polly wants a bullet in the head Arrrg,New Pirates are dieing slowly, Old Pirates (the ones on ships) still are growing, and well Ninjas are everywhere killing them one by one.



jangonov said:

Captain Morgan? Awesome photo, but you will run out of celebrity pirates soon.
On topic though, it is good that Nintendo did this. Typically, I see many laws as unfair, but piracy hits home a bit more. How will devs make more games without the sales of previous ones? So yeah down with software pirates.



madgear said:

I don't understand why people rip and upload games onto the internet when it's such a risk and they get nothing for it in return. I mean it's the same thing as walking down the street and some guy coming up to you and saying "hey, will you break into that shop and steal that jewellery for me? I'd do it myself but I don't want to get my finger prints everywhere, so would you mind"? then actually going in and doing it for him.



Objection said:

An unreasonable amount to be sure, but it serves him right. Pay for your games. The end.



TwilightV said:

Mixing real piracy with game piracy = Fail on a grand scale

Also: Pirates pwn Ninjas >:3



SilverBaretta said:

That's one frickload of money! I wonder if he even has that much to his name. Oh well, as Koto said, Go Nintenjas!



Ark said:

Hoho, that's actually really sneaky on everyone's side; the court, Nintendo, and the 24 year old dude. O.o Even though the guy doesn't go to jail I bet he's learned his lesson and Nintendo gets their scary headline out there to discourage them there pirates. :3



MarkyVigoroth said:

The Australian submitted pictures of himself and his receipt. He was a member of a controversial forums which I fear to mention here.



KrazyKain said:

[Gosh darn it] this is one person not a company.. how the hell is he going to afford to pay that?! he did wrong but this is too much

EDIT: Whoa, language! Untitled



GeminiSaint said:

Everybody should know the guy isn't paying a single penny, and he isn't going to jail either. This is more of a scare tactic by Nintendo than anything else.



MmBuddha said:

That was one expensive copy of New Super Mario Bros. Wii old Long John Silver bought himself.



TrueWiiMaster said:

Nintendo is doing better at fighting piracy. I for one think the fine was not ridiculous, either. The way I see it is that he should be charged for each copy of the game that gets downloaded. I understand that many pirates don't get the games unless it is for free, but that doesn't change the fact that they get the game. Someone should have to pay for the game they download, and who better than the guy who gave it to them? If he had stolen 30k copies of the game and handed them out for free, no one would argue he was liable for the full amount of the games. This situation is similar, in that in both cases he might be giving to people who weren't going to buy the game period.

As for proving the number would be 30k, I think it would be impossible. Rather, every time someone downloads NSMBW in any way connected to his original upload, he should be charged $50. I'd say that this would end up being more expensive than the controversial fine he was given.



TKOWL said:

Too bad he's never gonna be able to play one of the greatest games ever



PopeReal said:

So lets say he walked into the store and stole a few thousand copies of New Super Mario Bros Wii. Then proceeded to give them out to whoever for whatever reason. Would people still say Nintendo is being too harsh?



ToastyYogurt said:

Good to see Nintendo is fighting piracy! I just wish they wouldn't be trying to get rid of homebrew (which isn't illegal).



Sylverstone said:

Nintendo's all-star lawyers FTW!

No objections here!

Serves him right, pirates always end up the major losers. Wonder if he paid up part of that cash yet to the Big N?



Jave said:

Every time Nintendo busts one of these guys, I get this mental image of Satoru Iwata spotting the pirate through a monitor, and then doing the "Agents are... GO!!" bit from Elite Beat Agents.



WiiMan192 said:

Saw this on the news last night. Although, I'm certain it wasn't a court case, and was an out-of-court settlement: Source



Objection said:

I was talking with a friend about this issue, as he does something similar to this, but with anime. It seems that he, like some people, thinks that it's forgiveable to illegally download stuff that others uploaded under the basis that someone bought a copy to upload in the first place. This is, of course, a loose assumption, and even if it were true, I don't see how it equates.



zemulii said:

If that Wosblog thing is true, then I think it would do more harm than good for Nintendo. Personally I think it puts them in a very negative light as a company that has no compassion, and doesn't care if it ruins someone's life. As you can see here:

The results of the poll indicate that most people don't think it's right. Which according to Wosblog it isn't... Doesn't seem very clever really. Gives off the wrong messages. Although maybe not to 90% of the blindly loyal fanboys here who obviously think that ruining someone's life over a petty crime would be a good laugh.



skywake said:

I thought this was ridiculous. This guy paid for an early copy of the game that a retailer mistakenly gave to him early. The guy in question is 24 and is still living at home and he has now said, through his parents, that he made a stupid mistake and wasn't going to do it again. I know that doesn't make what he did any better but it does make the settlement seem ridiculous. This was a point proving exercise and you can see that even more in Nintendo's response.

No Nintendo Australia didn't come out and talk about losses or poor sales. They didn't talk about the "piracy problem" or anything along those lines. Their reaction wasn't to send a takedown notice to the site hosting it or seek compensation from the site nor did they make any complaints about the retailer who sold it early. Instead they sued a 24 year old and said that there is a good chance that we won't get games released in Australia first again because of this. Something that is sure to get many Nintendo fans in Australia scared because our release dates normally suck.

It all seems very calculated and planed.... What a load of s&%$!



RevStu said:

This story is full of bad-journalism fail. Nintendo have NOT "won another piracy court case". The court case has been settled without the court making any judgement in favour of either party.



Chunky_Droid said:

@WiiMan192: It went through the courts, and a settlement was reached, the dude agreed to pay the amount, how he'll do it is anyone's guess.

@RevStu: If this isn't in favour of Nintendo, I don't know what is to be honest. This was a court case, and with the amount of evidence stacked against James Burt, Nintendo came out on top with the agreement.



RevStu said:

"If this isn't in favour of Nintendo, I don't know what is to be honest."

It wasn't anything. There was NO JUDGEMENT AT ALL made by the court, and therefore nothing in favour of, or against, anyone. Out-of-court settlement means it was settled OUTSIDE of the court. The clue's kinda in the name.



motang said:

Hey sup with Captain Morgan?

Good for Nintendo, it's not like this guy didn't know what he was doing, obviously he knows.



JebbyDeringer said:

There is no accurate way of equating downloads with lost sales. $1.5 million is a ridiculous amount of money. A digital file can be copied infinitely at no cost to the person distributing and *no cost to the owner of the content. The cost comes into effect when people "steal" these games instead of buying them. This is similar to how buildings and places are copyrighted and photographs of them are forbidden. What doesn't make sense to me is the fact he made 1 copy, released it to the wild and is being charged for thousands of copies. There is some sort of disconnect there. It's understandable that a lot of weight is being put on the early release though which is a lot more damaging to Nintendo's finances and possibly reputation.

I don't think the pirate is right I just don't agree that he is the devil he is made out to be and it's not the end of the world.



Rapadash6 said:

Why does everyone think that's such an unreasonable amount? It's 50,000 downloads worth of money lost plus Nintendo's legal fees. This is money that this person cost Nintendo in doing this incredibly stupid thing. This guy needs to be made an example of so people can start to realize that digital theft is no different then stealing from a store or bank. The only thing I feel bad about is that his family got wrapped up in this, but that just goes to show you piracy affects more than just those doing the uploading. It's a shame, but the law is the law.




Many of the arguements used by pirates are similar or run parallel to the ones used by credit card fraudsters. Interesting eh.



RevStu said:

@52 It's got nothing to do with the law. This sum of money was NOT levied as a fine by the court, it was an out-of-court settlement. It was 30,000 (alleged) downloads - the figure you claim is almost double that. And digital "theft" IS legally different from stealing from a store or bank.



Starwolf_UK said:

and said that there is a good chance that we won't get games released in Australia first again because of this.
That was just Nintendo Australia using the case as an excuse for future suckiness...I hope. Surely even Nintendo know that not releasing games makes piracy worse

The whole thing comes across as a media stunt to be honest. Though yes, the stupidity on the guilty parties part is a big problem (he might as well have written to Nintendo saying what he had done; it was that obvious).



drdark said:

You know something's dodgy in a press release when the phrase "technological forensics" pops up .
Do they just mean "we logged onto ***hunt, and typed 'Mario' in?"

Anyway, other sources have estimated the ratio of pirated download to actual lost sales to be around 1000:1, so 30,000 downloads would actually mean 30 copies. So maybe he could have afforded that after all... but then if that was all he was fined in court it wouldn't send the strong "message" Nintendo wanted.

I do agree piracy is a problem in certain cases, but proof that it dents sales significantly just isn't there. In facts, I'd say if a game /isn't/ pirated it's most likely crap and not selling very well either... success can almost be measured in "piracy"... now wouldn't that be a shocker?!?!



MiiMiiMii said:

I'm not about to say the following to justify pirating. I don't pirate, and I won't pirate.


In my group of friends (enough to call it a group - I'm as shocked as you!) I am the only one who doesn't download pirated games. I am also, by a long way, the one who spends the least money on official games and merchandise. Many, many people who download pirated games/ROMs actually spend a very high amount of money on proper retail games. My friends go into town most weekends and regularly spend over £100 on games.

This doesn't justify pirating. But it does highlight an irony in the issue.

If games publishers/companys treat all pirates like hardened criminals they will lose them full stop, not just make them only spend real money too. This will lose the industry even more than it thinks it currently loses to piracy (the companys say 'if 100 people download we've lost 100 times the profit on that unit - not true, the majority of those 100 downloads would not have been converted to purchases if the download wasn't available).

This issue is more tricky than just stopping downloading. New technology is changing the perception of what constitutes a product and something to cough up dough for - publishers need to try and understand this, not just go in with a giant lump-hammer and alienate large swathes of the people who do contribute a huge amount of money to the industry.



TrueWiiMaster said:

I disagree with the whole "lost sales" idea. The way I see it, the game costs $50 (or whatever that amounts to elsewhere), so every time someone downloads the game from his upload, or a copy of his upload, Nintendo should charge him for it, as if it were a gift from him to the downloader (technically, it is).

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