News Article

Nintendo Wants To Close Down This Open-Source Web Version Of Super Mario Bros.

Posted by Damien McFerran

"Full Screen Mario" infringes copyrights, claims Nintendo

Full Screen Mario is a recreation of the original Super Mario Bros. which runs in your web browser. It has all of the original levels and even allows you to create your own stages. It's an impressive feat of programming by a single person — college student Josh Goldberg — but Nintendo is trying to close it down because it infringes its copyright:

Nintendo respects the intellectual property rights of other companies, and in turn expects others to respect ours as well. Nintendo is seeking the removal of the content, as we vigorously protect against infringement of our intellectual property rights.

Although The Washington Post has run an opinion piece which takes a dim view of Nintendo's move, at the end of the day Mario remains the company's property, and it continues to make money out of the NES game thanks to its Virtual Console services. Therefore, any attempt to give away said game for free is clearly damaging to Nintendo's business — regardless of what you think about copyright law.

What are your thoughts on this move? Do you think Nintendo should allow inventive projects like this to thrive, as they are an indication of just how important the company's games are to popular culture? Or do you believe Nintendo's move to shut down Full Screen Mario is the right one, from a business and legal perspective? Share your thoughts by posting a comment.


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User Comments (104)



eza said:

Do Nintendo have to defend their IP in the same way Bethesda did when the Minecraft creator, Notch, started creating a game called Scrolls?
The way I understood Bethesda vs. Notch was that if Bethesda didn't challenge his use of he word Scrolls, then it could lead to further challenges to Bethesda's IP in future.

If this is a similar situation then Nintendo will have to act against any form of IP infringement, because if they don't then they're seen to condone it.



SanderEvers said:

I'm at Nintendo's side here. This is really just stealing Nintendo's stuff and releasing it as your own.



CaviarMeths said:

I dunno, seems pretty harmless as long as this dude isn't profiting off of it. Being open source, it seems more directed at designers than players anyway. It's not like Microsoft would claim copyright if someone used Linux to develop an OS that was virtually identical to Windows. If I modded Firefox to look and run just like Chrome, I don't think Google would send their lawyers to come spank me either.



erv said:

Well they are right to take them down.

I love the idea of playing super mario on my office hours though lol!



rayword45 said:

I wait for them to attack people who are ACTUALLY preventing VC sales such as ROM sites, or even VirtualNES. This is just a college kid having fun.



ToastyYogurt said:

@eza That was a silly issue about a name. This is a full reproduction of a game that Nintendo is selling. IMO, Nintendo has a right to ask the creator of this to take the game down. When Nintendo starts suing every person named Mario, then it will be an issue.



ClockworkMario said:

Very much understandable, seeing as they're still selling the game and it is, after all, their property. Things would be different if they were only using some assets, but had created something original out of them. As it stands, I'm completely on Nintendo's side.



Rief said:

They are fully in the right, especially because this could get them less money, since they DO sell this game in the Virtual Console



ricklongo said:

@eza Touché. People like to imply that "it's only a harmless indie website", but setting precedents is a powerful thing.



Hyperstar96 said:

@SanderEvers No, this is obviously a fan game that aims to take the experience of the original and make it better; it's not going to take away sales. Be honest: how many people do you think will look at this and say "Well I WAS going to buy the original on the VC (assuming I haven't done so three times already), but I think I'll just play this instead"?



RupeeClock said:

I find it hilarious that whoever designed this didn't head one of the game's own design lessons.
Don't map jumping to the directional controls. Seriously.



Cuddles said:

Eat a meal Nintendo. First the YouTube stunt, and now this?
Watch the profanity please — TBD



aaronsullivan said:

It's an exact duplicate. If you can't protect yourself against this you might as well not be in business. Your scenario is not the only possible situation. More likely it would happen like this: Someone plays the flash game having wanted to play for a long time. Later, they realize they could buy it on VC and say, "nah, I can play that for free whenever I want."

If Nintendo wants to offer a free web version or a cheap iOS version to help reignite passion about Mario in an attempt to generate sales for the new games (as that site could potentially do) then great. But it should be Nintendo's decision and choice.

Letting this slide sets a precedent that anyone can decide what they want to do with Nintendo's properties which it has spent billions promoting and developing over the years.

Ask yourself why this person chose SMB as his project? Why not Clu Clu Land? Because Mario is so popular right? How did Mario get popular? Why didn't this guy ask permission?

Now imagine yourself developing a new cool property that got popular quickly and someone comes along, duplicates it and puts up free on a web page. Is that fair? Yes, this is Nintendo here and the situation is different, but the principle is the same.



9th_Sage said:

The Post takes a dim view of it? But it's a clear cut case of copyright infringement. It may have come out in the eighties, but they still OWN it. I mean, it's probably not hurting them all that much, it's true, but it really is their IP, their copyright. It's not like the creators of this didn't know that.



edhe said:

There's a paypal button at the bottom of the page.

Nintendo are well within their rights.



aaronsullivan said:

I'd also like to mention that it's an impressive project that helps showcase what HTML 5 is capable of nowadays. It also helps the case for Nintendo to make a Super Mario Bros. level editor.

Still, as many talented people are, this guy is a little naive or shortsighted. He even has a donate button at the bottom. I just hope he didn't expect to have this last. If he just wanted short term publicity then good for him. Otherwise, I'm not sure what he was expecting to get for all his long hours of work on this.



eza said:

@ToastyYogurt That's true. In this case he's copied sprites and ripped sound from the original.
He can't very well claim it's a derivative work.
If he had created a different sprite set and used his own sounds then he might have gotten away with it. They might have still got him on the level design though.
He could have even made a sprite editor and allowed community submissions. It would have taken about 3 hours for someone to submit an original Mario sprite set for him, and he could have gotten away with it as he would have made a generic platformer, not a Mario clone..

He might possibly be able to claim that it's valid for teaching purposes, as there seems to be an exemption in copyright law for that, but I'm not a lawyer, and reading lots of John Grisham books doesn't count!

Nintendo should also contact Github to request removal of its data (graphics and sound files) because at the moment anyone can download it.

Legalities aside, does anyone think this is all a bit of a fuss about nothing?
Who wants to play the original NES Mario these days anyway? No one. Apart from a short nostalgia trip to remind you how things were and how they're much better now.
Yeah sure I've played NES Mario on the virtual console two or three times myself - it's a bit of fun for five minutes to harken back to simpler times - but if I want to play a platformer then I'll play NSMB:U or the new Great Giana sisters...
Ah, the original Great Giana sisters...anyone old enough to remember the furore around that Mario clone?



aaronsullivan said:

On the donation button: that's an issue but not the most important one, in my opinion.
Mario still sells games today. The big fuss is about using his likeness and an actually duplication of his game without permission. Dilution of a property is a real thing. The way money is made nowadays when so many people think they are entitled to things for free and the actual products are "free" (digital downloads, free-to-play model, TV shows with commercials) a company has to make money other ways than selling individual products.

Think of Mickey Mouse. Ever seen a restaurant use Mickey Mouse characters to sell food to kids? I have, and they are doing it without permission. Who cares, right? Now imagine if McDonalds or how about EVERY restaurant using those characters to sell stuff. It's an entire avenue of revenue cut off for Disney. That's a business perspective, but in principle it is casually stealing someone else's hard work to build a property, an awareness, an emotional attachment to a character, in this case, that has taken decades and billions of dollars and using it for personal gain without regard for any of that or even asking for permission.

It's easy to shrug it off as just a big company but where is this imaginary line where it's not okay to rip me off, but it's okay to rip you off because what? You make money and I don't yet? Or is it okay to rip everyone off? What is the principle which we are living by that makes this web site okay?



ToastyYogurt said:

@eza That's true, if the guy didn't use Nintendo's visual and audible resources, the game could have gotten away with it for much longer. But I have to disagree that no one wants to play the original Super Mario Bros. Sure, it doesn't stack up to Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World, but I'm sure if kids found out about this website and it wasn't blocked by the school's server, there would be kids playing this on school computers everywhere.



idork99 said:

The opinion piece from the Washington Post is almost a cry to copyright law. Instead of SMB being public after 28 years of copyright, it will not be public until the year 2082 due to a loophole that allows corporate authors like Nintendo to copyright their intellectual properties for 95 years.

All in all, it's very flattering that this student made this game on a web browser. Super Mario Bros. has been referred by many game designers as the game that inspired them to be game creators and is often to be referred as a masterpiece and a blueprint for game design. Designers have even argued that you are not a good game designer if you never played Super Mario Bros.

Quality is quality. And you usually pay for it. Quality is usually protected heavily, hence, Mario, the biggest videogame character that was known more than Mickey Mouse in the 80's, is going to be heavily protected. As said, it's flattering that Mario continues to inspire young minds, it's also heavily protected and with great reason. If there were no copyright, it'll be 1983 all over again and Mario's popularity would evaporate with the vast poor quality of clones IMO.



Sneaker13 said:

I have to give the student credit. This is an amazing thing to do in a web browser. But why in the world didn't he come up with some new characters, environments, new level layout, new enemies and just make it a new game. Why do they always have to use Mario to show what they have achieved. Of course Nintendo should take this down. Come on, it is Super Mario Bros, but then in a browser.



MegaAdam said:

Even if the copyright term expired, you're still not going to be able to dilute Nintendo's trademark by making your own games with Mario in them. I'm in favor of shorter copyright terms, but Post writer doesn't know what he's talking about.



Mk_II said:

@eza you are right. If you don't defend your copyright, you basically create legal precedence for someone else to come in and use your IP as well.



AlternateButtons said:

Don't see why Nintendo would be wrong in this situation....I mean it IS their game that they still own the rights to and sell. C'mon now, this is blatant stealing. How can the Washington Post justify THAT?



GN004Nadleeh said:

nintendo is a crybaby, its old mario we will play it fro free no matter what nintendo thinks. the problem again is nintendo want to tell us what game we want. we ask for a mario like old they give us nabbit who can never die! then they say only children play nintendo and its safe for them not to die, we are making diapers you know. i don't turn off the wii u when company comes over, i don't have to as it has no games it sits there turned off for weeks now



bngrybt said:

Yeah shut it down. Also, the physics are to floaty and the controls are garbage. It's technically impressive but nearly unplayable.



JumpnShootMan said:

In fairness to the NSMB series, Nabbit is only playable in LuigiU, and he was made "invincible" because of the higher difficulty level in that game as compared with NSMBU. As a multiplayer experience, it's just better. My wife gets so frustrated with games because she doesn't play that often and isn't good enough, especially when we're trying to get the star coins; having Nabbit lets me play with her without her getting mad at it. It's more fun for both of us, and hopefully she'll get good enough to play as a normal character.



Burning_Spear said:

The Washington Post columnist obviously is not aware of the Virtual Console. He seems to think NES and arcade classics are scarce.



GrimSh said:

I fully support Nintendo in their stance. While I do applaud the college student for making an impressive piece of software, he will understand Nintendo's need to enforce strict copyright laws as one day it will be his intellectual assets that may need to be protected.



eza said:

@aaronsullivan I was doing some reading around the topic and discovered that Walt Disney was instrumental in extending the length of copyright because of the very character you mentioned: Mickey Mouse.
Also, it seems that copyright laws were never intended to protect an endless stream of revenue for the holder, but instead to give a reasonable length of protection (28 years has been bandied about, but different countries did it differently: a lot implemented copyright until the death of the creator) to the author of the work.
After which time the work is released into the public domain, for the good of society as a whole.

Companies in the film, music, and now games industries have lobbied successfully to increase the length of time that they can hold copyright.

But what's reasonable? Should Nintendo be able to hold copyright over the NES Mario game for ever? Or until Miyamoto sadly passes? Or an arbitrary length of time? (Or not at all? Though I can't imagine anyone realistically arguing in favour of that)

What about other art forms? Is it fair that the descendants of world-famous classical composers don't get paid any royalties when Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, etc are played or performed?

@ToastyYogurt my statement was a little harsh, and "no one" too all-encompassing, but I do believe that the NES Mario today is nothing more than a curio, an important landmark in gaming and a masterclass in game design, yes, but I think as such this particular game is better off in the public domain.
Obviously copyright law disagrees with me on that, though

Ohhh and another question: aren't both Mario and Mickey Mouse registered trademarks of their respective owners, and therefore protected by a different set of laws? Or are they simply IP protected under copyright?



Ferret said:

@eza But what's reasonable? Should Nintendo be able to hold copyright over the NES Mario game for ever?

Yes. It's that simple.



eza said:

@Ferret really? So you disagree with current copyright law then, where copyrights expire after a period of time? Why do you believe this?



wombatkidd said:

@eza You cana rgue all you want about wheather the game SHOULD be protected by copyright. The fact of teh matter is that it IS protected by copyright and other people need to respect that as long as it remains true. If you want copyright reform, elect a candidate that is for copyright reform. The fact that you don't agree with copyrights doesn't make breaking them ok.

And, yes, if Nintendo didn't protect this Mario game that is under copyright when someone did this, then that would set a precedent and allow someone who does this with a newer Mario game to point to it as proof that they don't care about enforcing their cpyrights anyway. That's the thing about IP, you only have it as long as you defend it.

The people who lost their trademarks on Kleenex, and Rollerblades, and Adrenaline would probably love to fill you in more.



eza said:

@wombatkidd Oh I agree with copyrights alright. I agree with their original intended use. I agree with the reasons for copyright to exist and I believe those to be fair and reasonable.
I might not agree that the laws allowing their extensions are right, but they exist and there's not a lot I can do about that.

I don't think that this guy should have ripped off Nintendo's IP either. If I were him, I would have made a generic platformer. He's got a level creation tool already, and a sprite making tool would be easy to add.
Copyright law doesn't exist to prevent people from making derivative works, and there are many things that the FullScreenMario creator could have done to avoid this (and if he had done so, the news story of "student makes generic platformer in html5" wouldn't have been nearly as interesting as this one!)

The other side of copyright law is that it's limited and works will fall into the public domain eventually. There are reasons for this; why it is a good thing and in the public interest for it to happen, and that copyright owners do not have indefinite ownership.



cfgk24 said:

Well, if you wrote the original Mario Game and someone put up a copy - I guess you'd be a bit fed up. . . so - Yes, take it down



Zombie_Barioth said:

If this was just a fan game it might have gotten a pass, even if it was just a templet for a level editor. Game Freak even openly praised some so they're obviously not worried about Nintendo taking issue with they're exsistence. Its no different from PC mods, the real issue with making them for the original games is you'd have to modify the console.



element187 said:

@aaronsullivan Well considering he made it open source and freely distributed all of the code, you will start to see this program pop up ALL over the web... Nintendo wont be able to get them all to be taken down, especially when it ends up on servers in foreign countries that don't share common copyright law like US, EU, AU and Japan do....

For instance, if it ends up on a server in Belize, Nintendo might have to get used to the idea of people playing Super Mario Bros for free on any web browser from anywhere in the world.... I suppose they might be able to get ICANN to take down the DNS entries, but it would still be accessible using the IP address.

Honestly I don't see how Nintendo can get rid of this... It might have gotten the original author of this re-creation to take it down, but there will be literally 10's of thousands of copies of it being served up all over the place.



unrandomsam said:

@rayword45 Don't think that is true. For certain I wouldn't have bought Recca if I didn't know it was ace. If a 5 min trial existed for all VC games that would be fine for me. (Especially NES / Gameboy as so much of it is dire).



unrandomsam said:

@Zombie_Barioth You don't. They could provide some type of binary diff against the rom and recommend it be used with something like a retrode. (The only way to repair old cartridges is to dump them before they break. Desolder the broken chip / program a new one / resolder it in). Exact same way that arcade boards used to be repaired.



unrandomsam said:

If I was buying the expensive SNES carts at current prices I would certainly be doing that.



unrandomsam said:

Is it the American part of Nintendo doing this ? (The Japanese part has afaik never done anything against any Dojin (or whatever its name is) that uses stuff indiscriminately.



unrandomsam said:

@cfgk24 Would you really mind when it was over 30 years old ? (Presuming you had done well out of it.)
People like James Joyce got nothing out of their greatest works whilst they were alive. (For their publishers to make a fortune after it was no longer of any use to them).



unrandomsam said:

@retro_player_22 Permission wouldn't have been given.

(If this is a reimplementation then it is different. Would an artist be bothered if an amateur tried a reimplementation of one of their great works when it was 30 years old ? Not a print of the original but done from scratch. What makes films / games / Mickey Mouse so special that didn't apply for the rest of history).



unrandomsam said:

Or if it was it would have been withdrawn the second it got any media attention.

(As the fan made Streets of Rage game was. That game is unbelievably great as well.)



Azaris said:

nintendo until you release your own open source verison this diserves to be their.



unrandomsam said:

The only thing I ever complained to NIntendo about was those 200 in 1 Chinese game machines you just plug into the TV which consistently were on show in every shopping centre in my City. Only ever running that game. It never stopped so I presume they didn't do anything about it. (One of them was right outside a store). I hope they don't decide to ruin this guys life over this. (Think Sony would without a second thought).



Burning_Spear said:

@RPG_KING So you're saying any video game can be pirated into an open-source version if the rights owner doesn't do so itself? By that logic, I should be allowed to create a Smartphone version because Nintendo hasn't done that either. Create one that can be played on a wristwatch or a car dashboard or an electronic umbrella ... The video game business would die in five minutes if this were legal.



kevkeepsplaying said:

They get defensive over an experimental project, then there's stuff like vNES online...

Eh, it's fair on their part, he might not be profiting, but SMB is still sold by Nintendo to this day. He's giving it away for free, in a sense.

I played it and it was hardly faithful, some physics and collisions were clunky as heck.



InquisitivCoder said:

@CaviarMeths You can develop an open source implementation of the Super Mario Bros engine but the game assets are still Nintendo's IP. For example, id Software released the source code to Doom in 1997 as a Christmas gift to the world. Thanks to that, Doom's engine has been ported to other platforms like Linux. However, it's still illegal to distribute the game's assets - you need to purchase a copy of Doom to get a hold of the art, music, and levels. Anyone's free to build their own game around the Doom engine, but you can't give Doom itself away.



Dpishere said:

Makes sense to me, if you don't own Mario you can't make a game with Mario in it. It's common sense.



Zombie_Barioth said:

Whoops, sorry, I think something got a bit lost in translation. I was thinking of modern consoles in relation to the legality of editing code when I wrote that since I was comparing fan games to mods. Its just one of those things that only makes sense in your head at the moment.



unrandomsam said:

@Zombie_Barioth Yes Riivolution regardless of the fact that as far as I know there is no way to use it without a legitimate disk is more than likely illegal. Don't think it is unethical though I love the Newer mod for New Super Mario Bros Wii. (Something I like playing after buying the DS / 3DS and Wii versions and not really enjoying either that much).



unrandomsam said:

Sad really all the professionals need to do is be better. (Especially the Streets of Rage fan remake situation). That should show that all that is needed is something better than that and it has a market. (When prior to that it was unknown).



Capt_N said:

Things to consider:
1. No matter what (we commentors say), Nintendo, this guy, & the website hosting said content, will all do what(ever) they (choose to) do, in response to this. All of us, being no more than spectators to how this plays out, have to remember that.
2. Looking at Possible Content Infringement:
2A. Source Code - Yes, it could, & probably is written in a different code, than what it was on the Nes. Still, does any portion of the sc infringe/copy on the real Nes SMB sc? If so, remember, that the rest of the world, that can access the area/domain/etc. of the internet this resides now can have access to copyrighted game code. I am not familiar wuth laws regarding code, but agan despite the code probably being written in a different language to the original SMB, could it be copying in part, or whole, the original source code?
2B. Assets (sprites/music/sound fx/scenario) - The game obviously uses graphics, that are either a. an exact replica made by someone, or someones, b. ripped from the real SMB by the creator of this project himself, or someone else who worked on this project, that dumped their own SMB game, or c. anyone on this project got the sprites online, from a website hosting ripped sprites, either en mass, or just these particular sprites from SMB. The same thing apllies to the music, & sound fx. However, The sound fx are even more tricky, as certain sounds from SMB, are practically identical in SMB2/3. This means one could argue the sound fx source was varied, or could have been. I imagine the scenario is also the same, as SMB.
3. How long has this site been hosting this content?
4. My thoughts: Copyright infringement runs rampant all over the world. Even if Nintendo gave away for free, on any, & all platforms that would support it, their game roms, you would still have people, who go against the grain, & distribute pirate copies of the roms, despite the fact they are all free anyway. This is human nature.
Unfortunately, Nintendo will not, & more than likely could not, go against every copyright infringement ever done. So, just because SMB may be seen on a home-made all-in-one plug-n-play tv controller/game-system, or sold on a floppy disk in a shaddy dollar store, doesn't mean Nintendo can, or will go after the offender(s). They will, more than likely, go after offenses that seem to be, from their perspective, interfering with their ips, & business, as well as, if it seems feasible to them, to be able to stop a significant portion of the copyright infringement.
In other situations there's more ball-of-yarm to unravel. Here it is less complex, I feel. Nintendo still sells SMB; not the original cart variations, of course, but the program, even if emulated(as opposed to on-cart), is still being sold to this day. Nintendo is still making money on the SMB program, or rom as it were/is(?).
I know it's possible, but I imagine it's unlikely that this kid intended to make money off this project. I know everyone will say "paypal button". 1. Where is it? I believe someone said it was there. 2. It can also be assummed this guy needed money to properly do the project.
If I were Nintendo, I would tell this guy he can keep it up, as long as he changes whatever he is, from Nintendo's perspective, infringing on, to something that isn't copyrighted.
If I were the guy, & Nintendo were to offer me that kind of option, I would take it.



unrandomsam said:

@Capt_N The sprites do look different if you look closely. Its up to Nintendo what they do (In fact I would rather have just not known about this. Reminds me that I preferred it when you got hit then you went small even if you were Fire Mario). I really wish they did something about the amount of counterfeit DS carts on Amazon and Ebay though. (There is about 10 games I want to buy that I cannot without far too much risk and hassle). If it was just Ebay it wouldn't matter.



tanookisuit said:

Guy had it coming doing that and was a fool to think any company wouldn't defend a product they currently sell, let alone the mascot product of the company. That said had it not been setup as SMB1 and was just a random level designer I'd say leave the guy at peace. With it literally being SMB1 for the web then tacked on the level maker, that's the problem.



TheGZeus said:

@eza Every time a significant work is about to fall into the public domain, copyright length has been extended (thanks Disney and Sonny Bono).
I have little hope that the public domain will mean anything in coming years.



TheGZeus said:

What this is: Stupid, stupid person using someone else's assets to promote their code.



unrandomsam said:

@TheGZeus The problem I have with the way things are is Zynga taking somebody elses game and making a total rip off of it is totally ok. Its wrong to say he ripped off the assets because they are done from scratch you can tell. (Cannot see how what he is doing is much different to Zynga other than it being not for profit). I know it is but Amateurs used to copy great paintings etc (Their own work etc etc) and that was ok.




@Cuddles It's crap that they don't want others using their IPs, illegally redistributing them for free on the internet. I mean, come the hell on!



allav866 said:

I agree with this. Nintendo made Super Mario Bros., and is still making money off it. I just hope they aren't planning to take down other games like mari0 or Super Mario Crossover.



TheGZeus said:

@unrandomsam Specific level design is an asset. Mario's overall design is trademarked. An unauthorised cover song is illegal.
There's no way around the fact that this is unethical and in breach of both copyright and trademark law.
Nintendo are well within their rights. Had nintendo let it slide, I'd have thought that was pretty cool of them, but they didn't so, I say "well, you grabbed the tiger by the tail, dude".



StarDust4Ever said:

There was also a really nice clone of Super Mario Brothers for Atari. It went by the name Princess Rescue, and it got pulled too, but not before I snagged a copy!



SocksandSocks said:


Yes this is a problem. Here is the solution! Nintendo NEEDS to monetize this! The Big N must to be one of the most ripped off companies in the world. Do you think they get paid for all those cellphone rings that make the famous coin chime? Do you think they get paid for every other Mario clone out there? (this isn't the only one people. I could probably find 3 more right now). Someone is making money on that stuff, but it aint Ninty. It may be small, but there is profit in some way, shape or form for each incidence of copyright infringement, otherwise why would people do it?

Nintendo should start with this case! Phone this guy up and praise him for his creation, get him to understand that they are happy he is such a fan of Nintendo, but point out that he is in copyright violation. Next offer him a compromise. Through add-placement, or co-promotion, or groupons linked back to other Nintendo products create value for the company out of this site! Heck, make anyone who wants to play this game required to read an explanation of what exactly the Wii U is first! The public clearly hasn't figured that out yet and they would have a captive audience. After a period of time, perhaps one month, expire the promotion and turn off the site. Thank the creator for his work. Pat him on the back. Ask him to continue his studies in programming, come back in 5 years and submit his resume.

If they have success in making lemons out of lemon aid in this instance, they need to set up a department specifically devoted to finding copyright cases, contacting creators and compromising or shutting them down! Nintendo benefits from clones, but also loses out. Paradoxically something like this reminds all those readers of the Washington Post who Mario is, but it also means a potential loss in sales, however small.

Your thoughts?



eza said:

@TheGZeus you're absolutely correct, and the sad thing is that no one seems to notice or care.

Everyone on this comment thread is able to tell you why it's such an awful, terrible, bad thing that this person had the audacity to steal Nintendo's IP.
But I think only a handful; yourself, @unrandomsam, and a couple of others, are able to explain what the Public Domain is and why it is A Good Thing.

Everyone has been fed the corporate lines about what's 'fair' and "right and wrong" for so many years that many of us are repeating the corporation's words for them, without really thinking about what we're saying.

Disney are terribly hypocritical in this regard - their success is built upon 'copyright infringement' and (this last link points out that Disney donated several millions of dollars to get the law passed)

Just because something is law doesn't make it right.
Just because something is illegal it doesn't make it wrong.



unrandomsam said:

@SocksandSocks Do they get paid for the Nintendo Life sample that is at the start of the recent Sonic Lost World Video ? (I hope they don't because its quality is not high enough as much as anything).



unrandomsam said:

@TheGZeus If you look at something like Bit Trip Beat. That has far greater similarities to pong. The bat and the ball is exactly the same.

This every single individual sprite is slightly different if you look closely. Exactly the same design as Tetris with different sprites and a different name also seems to be legal.

The problem with lots of these cases is there is a poor defense and a really good prosecution. (The Game Genie included a significant amount of the program code of Bubble Bobble and was judged to be legal.)

Nintendo is the only one to not try (and lose) to sue an emulator developer. I dunno what their reasons are but they seem to prefer to keep things a grey area rather than have stuff set in stone.

(In the 80's there were loads of clones of Arcade games and they nearly always didn't work as well which is the same as this.)

If Sega can just change the colour of the Spiderman Boss in Shinobi 2 and that is all that is needed. Maybe the Mario sprite just needs to have a palette swap. (Levels from Newer Super Mario Bros Wii).

Nintendo has distributed to me (Via Warioware DIY) pixel perfect copies of Atari 2600 games. (They are not that much older).



unrandomsam said:

If Genjin had been bankrupted due to Bit Trip Beat and its pong similarities that would have been a great shame.

Nintendo should be capable of competing on simply being the best. (Like e.g Victorinox or the expensive fashion stuff that everything else is a copy of).

I am not arguing for someone doing the same thing for the DS one. (That is incredibly bad and Nintendo seem to be doing nothing about it. Amazon now even is full of counterfeits).



TheGZeus said:

@unrandomsam A: your Pong/Bit Trip shpiel is irrelevant, because there were already 100.000.000 pong clones by 1979, and how do you copyright "2D table tennis with some walls"? You could try to trademark it, I guess...

Do some research. Legal precedent is on Nintendo's side here. Actually, the owners of the Tetris rights spent years on and off successfully taking down tetris clones. I think they just take down clones that also claim to be Tetris, because there are too many of them, and they're too easy to clone.

"The Game Genie included a significant amount of the program code of Bubble Bobble and was judged to be legal" O_o WHAT??? What the hell are you smoking? That's simply not true. If you're talking about the game genie taking Bubble Bobble's data, altering it, then feeding it to the NES... That's what it does for any game, and the result vanishes when you hit "RESET".

Emulators are legal. Copied ROMs are not. This has been shown in court. Emulators pretend to be hardware and run code. ROMs ARE code. That's the difference.
The level design is copyrighted. This is a fact. There is legal precedent..
"Nintendo has" well, let the owner of these alleged Atari games sue. Wait, perhaps they got permission. It's not as though they don't have the money to get a license, dude.
You bring up bit trip/pong again despite the point being moot.
What Nintendo should/might/may have done doesn't matter. They had the right to issue a takedown, and they did. That's what happened, and there's nothing illegal or unusual going on. The maker of that website is either a fool, or just really ballsy.
"I am not arguing for someone doing the same thing for the DS one. (That is incredibly bad and Nintendo seem to be doing nothing about it. Amazon now even is full of counterfeits)." What does this even mean? Not a dis, I just don't understand (I've been in a "second language" situation a couple times myself).



unrandomsam said:

@TheGZeus Part of the bubble bobble code is included as part of the Game Genie rom (At least as far as I know - I have seen an explanation of it by someone who understands such things better than me). The DSi Action Replay does the same thing (In the same way as flash carts) don't remember what game it uses but otherwise it couldn't work on the DSi or 3DS. It is the method that it uses to start. (Nintendo haven't sued Datel.)



unrandomsam said:

The actual article is far more reasonable than most people. (Although they don't seem to apply the same standards to Washington Post articles from the same period).



TheGZeus said:

@unrandomsam So you "heard from some guy somewhere"? Not information that's useful, really. The action replay I'm not sure, but that's really just changing the subject, isn't it?
Unsigned code works fine on the NES (see Color Dreams), so the idea that it would need to do that to work is a moot point as well.
All of this is irrelevant. This particular case is 100% in Nintendo's favour. He said it was Mario, designed everything to look like Mario, used levels from actual Mario games... The intent to infringe is clear. Nintendo Wins. Flawless Victory. Fatality.



unrandomsam said:

@TheGZeus It was a fairly detailed analysis of the rom. It is the same as the headers that the modern DSi Action Replay uses. (Other than the action replay uses less.) Only way to get it to work is to use part of one of the early DS games that are whitelisted. Its exactly the same thing. The NES used the lockout chip that had to be bypassed somehow. (Game Genie used part of bubble bobble for that).



unrandomsam said:

In the end there is nothing anybody can do when it comes to this that will not just draw more attention to its existence.

Nintendo would win as it is in court but what amount of changes would change things. (Those are the sort of things that big ip holders don't want tested in court). Just changing Spiderman to a different colour seemed to be enough for Sega to risk releasing the second Shinobi on the Virtual Console.



unrandomsam said:

There is also the fact that what rules there are are not applied fairly. (See the presidential veto that Apple got against Samsung when they lost).

The founding fathers were some of the biggest IP thieves in history. (Certainly in terms of scale).



TheGZeus said:

@unrandomsam There's nothing to be found online about this supposed inclusion of bubble bobble code. There are multiple ways to bypass the lockout chip. (SEE ALSO: COLOR DREAMS. READ. BEFORE. REPLY.) Read up on the chip. Hell, wikipedia has a decent amount of info on it. Actually, this is all moot: THE GAME GENIE USES THE CHIP IN THE CARTRIDGE YOU HAVE INSERTED TO BOOT. It doesn't need to bypass the chip, because there's no point in using the game genie on its own.
Action Replay, Schmaction Replay. "Something else exists" means nothing here. Has Nintendo issued a cease-and-desist order? Are there legal proceedings? If Action Replay doesn't A: contain code they don't have the rights to and B: win a court case. You're just saying jibber-jabber, and/or attempting misdirection.
You've already stated patently false hearsay about something that isn't even relevant here.
"There is also the fact that what rules there are are not applied fairly." How is that relevant to the discussion at hand? Are you arguing that there should be no rules?
"The founding fathers were some of the biggest IP thieves in history. (Certainly in terms of scale)." Copyright was invented after the United States constitution was rattified. Can't steal what isn't owned.
Actually, you can't steal IP. You can violate copyright.



unrandomsam said:

@TheGZeus Copyright was invented prior to that. They wholesale stole everything from the British. (Same as humorously China is doing now). The only way to boot a cartridge on a Dsi (Or 3DS) is to make it appear as a whitelisted cartridge. It is why the DSi Action Replay appears on the menu as "Game and Watch Collection". (Works by copying approximately 912Kb of the original). You will find it within 30 seconds. There is no other way because it works a whitelist for old roms.

I won't link to it here because it is almost certainly against the site rules but it took me all of 30 seconds to find that again. What I read about bubble bobble was a similar type of article with the same amount of detail that I cannot find.



TheGZeus said:

@unrandomsam The United States' copyright law came into being after the ratification of the constitution. That should be a no-brainer, because no US law existed before the US. You want every country to have the same laws? Too bad. Doesn't work that way. Dream of a one world gov't. The US wanted to make the works of the British available under different terms on their soil, and they can do that, because the US was no longer part of Britain. Their country, their rules. International trade would work differently, but that's a whole different set of laws.

Stop conflating law governing copyright (civil) and law governing physical property (criminal). Copyright violation is not the same thing as theft. Nothing is stolen. Legal rights are violated. DIFFERENT. THINGS.

STOP TALKING ABOUT THE DSi!!!! This is a really, really poor attempt to change the subject. The Game Genie does not contain any illegal code, and doesn't need to. "What I read about bubble bobble was a similar type of article with the same amount of detail that I cannot find." First you heard it from someone, then you read some article that you can't find. That sure sounds reputable. -_-
Even if said article existed, perhaps the reason you can't find it is because the author took it down because they were wrong?
Maybe you were wrooooong??
A tiny mistaaake?



unrandomsam said:

@TheGZeus China doing the same thing as America did (Or Japan) is fine by you as well then ?
The only thing that will prove it either way is a similar type of analysis to that is available for the DSi Action Replay.
(All the subjects are related. If you cannot see that then whatever).
The worst thing any person or company can do is act in a hypocritical manner.



unrandomsam said:

Either way this game exists and it won't go away. (If it does get removed 20 more will pop up and it will get more publicity.)



SocksandSocks said:

Just to clarify, I am not saying that this illegal web based mario game is a good thing. I am also not criticizing Nintendo. I am often guilty of being a Schill for Ninty. I am saying that Nintendo should make lemons out of lemon-aid with this site! They should and could do it!



SocksandSocks said:

just re-read my post and realized I meant to write lemon-aid out of lemons. Freudian Slip maybe? Ha ha.



TheGZeus said:

@unrandomsam First of all: Yes. That's fine. Copyright has never been used the way it was originally intended anyway, so the idea of it as a "necessary evil" is kind of "meh". It's also illegal to be drunk in public in the US, but not in Japan. I'm also fine with that.
Secondly: THAT HAPPENED OVER 20 YEARS AGO. The NES game genie connects the copy-protection pins on the cart to the copy-protection pins on the system. I forgot that initially, then remembered when you persisted in this Bubble Bobble nonsense. That's also how the SNES version works. The old Game Genie(s) works in a way different to the modern cheat devices. It modifies/redirects code on the way to memory by being physically between them. Systems were simpler then. Just stop. You're acting like a child. You goofed. Accept it and move on.
Fourth: "The worst thing any person or company can do is act in a hypocritical manner." ...The most confusing thing a person or company can do is say a non-sequitur. O_O??? Also, hypocricy isn't the worst thing. If someone says "murder is wrong" but is actually a murderer, their statement is still correct. That's just a little lesson in basic logical philosophy.
Either way this game exists and it won't go away. (If it does get removed 20 more will pop up and it will get more publicity.) Yes. And nintendo will always have the legal right to have it removed.



TheGZeus said:

@gracesmom No, but since you're selling it, they could.
If you'd made it for her, then even given it a way you'd be in the clear, but selling copyrighted/trademarked material without permission is illegal.
So, they won't sue, it's not the making of it, it's the selling of it, and that's absolutely adorable.



kurtasbestos said:

Besides the fact that there have been literally a billion (not actually literally) flash-based or whatever else things like this released before, the part that bothers me is that if someone puts that much time into making something this detailed, why don't they just make their own game? Clearly the person making this could if he tried, but it kind of seems like the only things stopping him is that he's afraid of no one playing his creation, or he just can't think up anything original. So he puts together a Mario clone and doesn't understand why Nintendo isn't happy. But if he spent his time working on an original idea who knows what could happen. Just look at games like Cave Story... a very talented person made a very good game and let people play it for free, and it went on to become a cult hit and even lead to people wanting to pay for something they already played for free.



Gridatttack said:

Silly nintendo. I wonder why Vizzed hasn't even been touched by cases as this

Oh well, tried it for the level editor and it was meh. Its better to edit the original one instead :> (despite the limitations)



billychaos said:

I don't understand why so many people do NOT understand copyright and trademark laws. They are actually really simple. I blame the Record industry for distorting them so much. I can only speak for US copyrights/trademarks, but I personally hold multiple copyrights and a trademark. Any time you take someone else work (that is copywritten) without their permission, you infringe on their IP. You are basically taking their creation, doing what you want with it even though they have all the legal paperwork stating that they are the rightful owner of their creation. It's not rocket science. You can't copy peoples stuff when they have the legal rights (you shouldn't be copying peoples stuff anyways, what happened to originality?). For the record, if you own a Trademark, you are 'forced' to protect that mark. It means that even if some Bozo (yes this happened to me) decides that they are going to use your trademark on their website without your permission, you MUST pursue the matter or else risk losing the trademark altogether.. no matter how harmless you may think it is. This is why companies go after even small businesses and readers think they are just being bullies.... they are not bullies, it's the law.

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