TOKYO--Mainichi Interactive reports today that game publisher Tecmo has won another decision in a long-standing legal battle concerning its Dead or Alive franchise. The Supreme Court of Tokyo has ruled that a small software publisher called Westside infringed upon Tecmo's copyright when it released a utility that allowed PlayStation 2 owners to remove the clothes from the character Kasumi when they played Dead or Alive 2.
Two years ago, the district court of Tokyo also found Westside to be in infringement of Tecmo's copyright. Westside appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Tokyo. The decision of the Supreme Court was no different from that of the district court, ruling that Westside was "causing violations of copyright laws by allowing purchasers to use the [hacking] software."
The verdict against Westside was small on its face--the company must pay only two million yen ($18,205) in damages--but the financial damage may actually be worse, considering how much the company had spent on its legal fees up until now. Westside continues to operate in the video game data-hacking business, releasing tools that can modify or extract data from various games. The company sells its utilities by way of a bimonthly periodical Otanoshimi CD," as well as through its corporate Web site.
The outcome of this case might have been completely different in the United States. In the early '90s, American courts continually upheld the right of Lewis Galoob Toys to produce its Game Genie accessory, which let Nintendo Entertainment System users alter their video games in a similar, temporary manner. Nintendo asserted that the device infringed upon its copyrights, but the courts did not agree.