Though Nintendo has succeeded in making each consecutive system tougher to hack than others, the company's hardware is still modded and hacked with regularity. It's a debate that certainly raises interesting questions - tools for 'homebrew' that are a haven for curious tech-heads can also be used for blatant piracy. As is often the case, those with bad intentions often get the focus as opposed to curious hardware dabblers.
Nintendo has now issued a press release to highlight a court victory of a Canadian retailer that was prolific in selling modding equipment, flashcarts and more. Based upon the tone of the press release the biggest mistake 'Go Cyber Shopping Ltd' made was being rather cocky and open about its business.
A Canadian federal court ruled in favor of Nintendo of America Inc. in its case against Jeramie King and his affiliated business, Go Cyber Shopping Ltd. The case confirms that the distribution of circumvention devices – "flashcarts," "modchips" and "game copiers" such as Sky3DS, Gateway 3DS and similar devices – is illegal. In a strong rebuke to the defendant's activities, the court awarded Nintendo $12.76 million (CAD) against Go Cyber Shopping Ltd., including $1 million in punitive damages. The case is the first of its kind to test the Canadian Copyright Act's Anti-Circumvention law and resulted in a resounding win for Nintendo.
Through a storefront and multiple websites that he controlled, King was a prolific distributor of large quantities of game copier devices and modchips, and also offered hardware-modification services. Game copiers and modchips enable users to circumvent Nintendo's console security to download and play illegal copies of video game software in violation of Nintendo's copyrights and trademarks. After years of routinely boasting of his activities on social media, King will now be forced to issue an apology on his website for the damage that he caused to Nintendo, its developers and partners.
Some of those flashcart brands will be familiar to close followers of the 3DS modding / hacking scene.
The $12.76 million (CAD) fine is certainly a hefty one, and at the time of writing the relevant website doesn't appear to have published its apology, though not much time has yet passed since the judgement. The store isn't currently listing the named 3DS flashcarts, but does still have modding kits for the likes of Wii U up for sale.
It'll be interesting whether this case opens up a precedent for Nintendo to pursue more online retailers of this kind. We've seen similar 'wins' in Japan, for example, so the company is evidently keen to tackle these sorts of products through the legal means at its disposal.