Nintendo secures UK R4 ban

A High Court ruling clarifies existing law, specifying any device that circumvents DS antipiracy measures is illegal whether or not it has non-infringing uses.

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Sales of R4 cards and similar devices have been officially banned in the UK. A ruling handed down in the High Court by Mr Justice Flood clarified existing intellectual property law regarding devices which circumvented effective technical measures put in place to protect copyright.

The case was brought by Nintendo against the firm Playables, from whom UK Trading Standards bodies had seized 165,000 such devices. R4 cards and similar devices plug into one of the DS unit's game card slots and allow DS owners to run software on their handhelds that have not been approved by Nintendo. They can be used for homebrew software and pirated copies of games, as well as unapproved third-party software such as e-book readers.

The R4 is one of several devices affected by this judgment.

While Playables' sole shareholder and director Wai Dat Chan claimed the R4 and associate devices have significant uses other than piracy, the judge ruled that "the mere fact that the device can be used for a non-infringing purpose is not a defence," as long as it can be shown that copy-protection controls are being circumvented. Mr Chan also claimed he "did not know or have reason to believe that the accused devices would be used to make infringing copies," but this potential defence was dismissed out of hand by Mr Justice Flood.

The "game copiers," as the judge referred to the accused devices, "are templates for infringement," and the way in which they circumvent the DS's antipiracy measures is tantamount to copyright infringement in itself, according to Mr Justice Flood. All the accused devices copy the Nintendo Logo Data File into RAM on startup, as this file is required by the DS's own boot-up software to allow a device that has been plugged in to work. As Nintendo had not authorised this copying, this was deemed to be a further breach on the part of the accused devices.

While the judge dismissed two other arguments Nintendo made, relating to the shape of the cartridge itself being an antipiracy measure and the Nintendo Race Track Logo also being copied, he granted summary judgement against Mr Chan and Playables, as the defendants had no defence to take to trial. Neither Mr Chan nor any representative for Playables was present at any time during the hearing. As well as the R4 DS, the ruling covers the following: M3 DS, DS One Supercard, DSTT, DS Linker, Acekard, CycloDS Evolution, N5, and EZ.

This judgment stands in contrast to a decision in the US by the Library of Congress, which oversees the interpretation of copyright legislation, earlier in the week. The ruling, from Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, indicated that under the much-maligned Digital Millennium Copyright Act it was legal to circumvent hardware and software restrictions designed to make piracy more difficult if the circumvention was for non-infringing purposes, such as copying sections of a DVD work for criticism or running unapproved software on a mobile phone.

These exceptions were not, however, extended to gaming devices wholesale, but merely for "good faith testing for, investigating, or correcting security flaws or vulnerabilities," and then only if the information gained through this testing was used to promote safety of those using the devices and was not used to facilitate copyright infringement. This position reversed the long-standing interpretation that circumventing such restrictions, for any reason, was illegal.

Discussion

44 comments
Tylendal
Tylendal

I'm not sure how they can put it into words, but it is fairly clear that the majority of these devices are used for illegal purposes. It's a tricky matter, but anyone decrying Nintendo for trying to avoid piracy needs to think about what they're saying.

smzee27
smzee27

Seems a little bit harsh considering that such devices certainly do bring out a lot more from the DS. Yeah piracy is a problem but then again hardware manufacturers should place less restrictions on devices that people LEGALLY PURCHASE.

Flint247
Flint247

Good, stealing is a crime. :D How do people not know that?

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

Score another one against piracy for Nintendo. They've always been pretty harsh on that stuff.

ringrush
ringrush

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Quezakolt
Quezakolt

uhm so they should ban cd-r and dvd-r because they can be used for copying.. oh and hard drives too.. and uh.. printers and.. hum.. well everything.

gamerpipe
gamerpipe

UK gradually becoming the land of the copyrightists and home of the ban. Soon UK will become Australia and bans every nice game. damn copyright extremists and patent insane and those skill-less "games cause violence" parents

Silinel
Silinel

Haven't bought a game since "Pokemon Pearl". Haven't bought a movie since "300" on DVD. Haven't bought a song since "Will Smith's Greatest Hits". The only way to stamp out piracy is by making the purchase of retail games a more attractive alternative. Not by implementing safeguards that will only be bypassed in time. What Nintendo has a hard time realizing is that they aren't the only people in the world that know their way around firmware. What they DO realize is that free games are an excellent motivation for finding that way around.

steveguttenberg
steveguttenberg

That something should be illegal because it has the potential for evil seems like a weak argument...

thingta42
thingta42

I use one of these... KIDDING! At first i thought the headlines ment that Nintendo has banned Resident Evil 4 in the uk. Then i said, wait that can't be right lol. Didn't know such a device exsisted actually.

Grim_Reaper007
Grim_Reaper007

I hope this thing gets banned in more places too. I blame all these piracy devices for the lack of games coming out for the DS nowadays.

triple_punse
triple_punse

Eh i think i can sleep at night knowing that a multibillion dollar company isnt making many more billions than it should be.

DanteDelacoix
DanteDelacoix

If this is the case then Nintendo need to release some kind of official emulator for snes games as I used the DS to play many classics that you cant get anymore. Hell there is even a megadrive handheld unit coming out in the uk that allows you to download and install roms on top of those already with the console. Nintendo could do with taking a leaf out of that book

loopy_101
loopy_101

That is a shame. I like my back-up cards.

TheJamin
TheJamin

glad i've got an updatable MK5. Woop Woop

tjharwin
tjharwin

@ jtthegame316 They've made ones for the DSi which have updateable firmware so any DSi firmware updates can't block the use of the card, aslong as you update the flashcard's firmware.

jrmf511
jrmf511

So let me get this strait the UK gets its games months behind the US if at all and now we cant even keep up with the Americans this is stupid why don't Nintendo make there own and have a site were UK gamers can buy the game and put it onto there R4 equivalent. this is win win UK gamers get games Quicker, no need for 30-40 cartages, no imported games, and Nintendo still make money with no illegality. I do have an R4 and still would go for this and it would be a challenge to Sony and the PSP go. Please Nintendo don't be stupid

jtthegame316
jtthegame316

they have already got round devices like this cause they only work with old ds's so whats the point?

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

bad news for the tiny handful of people who used these legitimately and only put on homebrew stuff etc... but lets face it, priacy was rife using these, so it's overall for the best.

Poodger
Poodger

That's really too bad. I love my R4 card. I have SNES emulators on it, so I can play some of my favorite classics on the go. Nintendo should just make its own version of the R4 card that we can store games on. I for one hate carrying around 15 ds cartridges, when i could have just a single cartridge.

paperwarior17
paperwarior17

Brutal. Europe gets games late if ever, so now they have to pay for imports. Or, y'know, not get caught owning an R4, which should be pretty easy for otherwise law-abiding citizens.

archlvt
archlvt

"Another reason I want to move to America, the UK government is just terrible." Yeah exactly! I mean, we should have the RIGHT to steal other people's property even though they spent thousands of hours developing the games! I mean really, if I didn't know better, I'd say developers wanted to be PAID for all of their hard work. What a silly thought!

geokes76
geokes76

Another reason I want to move to America, the UK government is just terrible.

stu_gamer
stu_gamer

Once again the UK government craps all over everyone....sometimes I dont know why I still live here........

ColdfireTrilogy
ColdfireTrilogy

@wwlettsome clearly you haven't looked into the depth of the new scripting and modding tools given to the community. Its quite feasible to make a total conversion mod for SC2 with a quarter of the layered commands and scripts required in SC since so much more has been built in. Complexity of mods could come to include not only mods but quite literally new games within the game...

SapSacPrime
SapSacPrime

Expect HongKong sales through ebay to go through the roof, why buy an R4 when you can have an W4!! only 99p (+ £15 shipping).

SaltyMeatballs
SaltyMeatballs

Why do they do this just before 3DS comes? That being said, there are a lot of people who use it legitimately, too bad. I don't think this is news worthy on GS though, a lot of casual people don't know about this, and talking about this they will be like "wait... it does what?". Grrr...!

SapSacPrime
SapSacPrime

Using that exact same logic we should ban dvd burners... I have my R4 cart and its handy to be able to back my games up, that way if the kids lose the cart its no big deal. I suppose this means the R4 cart is more valuable than the original cartridges... great.

The_Gaming_Baby
The_Gaming_Baby

Yeah those things are pretty useful when you cba to pay for games. I know a crazy amount of people who use them.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

The R4 is one of the main reasons the DS sells so well, talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

liam82517
liam82517

this will be over ruled at appeals, I have a car and could kill someone with it so by his logic cars should be banned.

stajin
stajin

Hmmmm.... remember VHS and BETAMAX... the ruling on that already stated that this is NOT illegal. Just because it CAN be used to copy does not make it illegal. They are also saying you are not allowed to do things to YOUR OWN property.... It'll be challenged and redacted.

ukogmickey
ukogmickey

Yeah I agree with some, I didnt have a clue about this before but my lassess Bday coming up in september I am now thinking of grabbing a DS just for this, Cheers for telling everyone what it is and how to do it Nintendo !

Paul2004
Paul2004

R5 will appear soon then, banning 1 will just encourage the makers to make another version that isnt banned and legally sell that. I dont own a DS but i am considering it and if i can expand its capability's then i dont see the problem. While the piracy is a problem it isnt something they are gonna win easily if they can win that is, by banning the R4 they are just sending a open invitation for improved versions to appear

ZilakEx
ZilakEx

I just ordered an R4 a week ago, they are certainly more convenient and make the DS worth the money you paid for it with the ability to watch movies and play homebrews. I hope they stay legal here, not everyone uses them for piracy.

kineas454
kineas454

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

OJ_the_LION
OJ_the_LION

Well, I understand Nintendo's position, but I hope (futilely, I'm sure) that they'll offer some support to homebrew developers to completely undermine any remaining justifications for these things on the 3DS. I'm glad the US has some recognition of the seemingly forgotten parts of protected speech, at least.

Silinel
Silinel

"Whoa! I can play DS games for free? Wow, tell me more!" Publicizing anti-piracy legal matters and such only promotes piracy itself. Those whom aren't familiar with the devices now are, especially since this article gives a lovely list of such cartridges. If GameFAQs/GameSpot wants to express support of the anti-piracy efforts (as they do through not permitting discussion of carts on the boards), their most potent weapon is the power of shutting up. Pez2k, it's unfortunate that your educational utility of the device is being (supposedly) threatened by those of us that refuse to purchase games at retail. I happen to be one of such people. I don't pretend to have any noble cause for downloading games. I do it simply because I like a free lunch, and I can obtain that lunch without the emotional and physical consequences that would result from, say, actual shoplifting. In regards to consequences, piracy of video games is as much of a crime to me as taking a few packs of ketchup back home from McDonald's.

pez2k_
pez2k_

Quite sad how one-sided this sounds, with the judge himself using biased names like 'game copier'. It's also further bad news for our game industry, I and several others I know actually used these cards on a university course as it was the only way to get any experience of developing for the platform, without which you're worthless to employ. With universities struggling to afford development kits newer than PS2s and Gamecubes and industry jobs requiring more and more experience with modern hardware, a lot of doors are closing when it comes to graduates.

beny_pimpster
beny_pimpster

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Pat_Dude
Pat_Dude

I'm glad I'm living in Canada right now.