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Man Fined $1.5 Million For Leaked Mario Game

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the sorry-about-your-luck dept.

Nintendo 287

An anonymous reader writes "A Queensland man will have to pay Nintendo $1.5 million in damages after illegally copying and uploading one of its recent games to the internet ahead of its release, the gaming giant says. Nintendo said the loss was caused when James Burt made New Super Mario Bros Wii available for illegal download a week ahead of its official Australian release in November of last year. Nintendo applied for and was granted a search order by the Federal Court, forcing Burt to disclose the whereabouts of all his computers, disks and electronic storage devices in November. He was also ordered to allow access, including passwords, to his social networking sites, email accounts and websites."

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287 comments

Pro-piracy (4, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070484)

I often see many pro-piracy comments on slashdot on these things (probably also because pirates are more interested on the matter). But many times these are actual damages caused to companies. Putting out that game a week before surely counted a lot of illegal downloading and people not buying the game. Sure it's bad to for him, but those are the lost money for Nintendo. What's so wrong about them suing him?

Re:Pro-piracy (3, Interesting)

anss123 (985305) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070504)

What's so wrong about them suing him?

There's nothing wrong with them suing him.

The Pro-piracy comments you've seen is (probably) more directed towards "freedom" as the technologies/laws that limits piracy also limits that much valued freedom.

Ergo pro freedom = there will be piracy

Re:Pro-piracy (5, Insightful)

Alphathon (1634555) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070668)

Exactly. I don't think I've seen that many people on here advocate piracy, it's usually anti-anti-piracy laws, such as the proposed UK law where suspected filesharers can be cut off without trial, disproportionate fines (especially from the RIAA) or the treating of bittorrent as illigal regardless of what's being shared (open source software etc). This can't really be treated as any of those. It would seem that the fine is roughly equivalent to 15000 copies of the game. That's assuming none is added for the crime, so it seems like a fairly reasonable fine. The only possible problem I can see is that he had to give over access to social networking sites etc. as that has little to do with the crime.

Re:Pro-piracy (4, Insightful)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071146)

There's nothing wrong with them suing him.

He should go to jail. He used the special access his job gave him to steal from Nintendo. Yes, I used the s-word. Redistributing unpublished content is theft...he stole something valuable and monetizable from Nintendo (the right of first publication), and they don't have it anymore.

What he did was deliberate and premeditated. He abused a position of trust. There is no "Haha, just kidding" defense or excuse for this crap. This kind of shit severely weakens the man-years of effort expended towards fixing broken copyright laws.

He's not cute. He's not funny. He's a criminal.

Re:Pro-piracy (1)

tzanger (1575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071690)

Totally agreed, and this is one of the main reasons why I am so against special "electronic" versions of already-existing laws.

If I am recording content from my legitimate cable TV connection and consuming it in my own home, with my friends and family, it should not matter if I am using the cable company's hardware or my own. The second I take that data and publish it (torrent, for example) nail my ass to the wall with existing copyright and/or distribution laws. There's no need for a special "digital" version of copyright infringement.

You're absolutely right; the man's a criminal, and should be prosecuted as any other thief.

Re:Pro-piracy (2, Insightful)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071226)

Unfortunately, most of the comments I see tend to be freeloaders hiding behind a banner of freedom so they can feel all warm and fuzzy inside when they blindly download dozens of games without paying for them.

Re:Pro-piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31071414)

Agreed. And they rarely if ever explain their thoughts on how artists should be compensated, and when they do they have no basis in reality.

Game developers are not the rule, writers/artists musicians are not on salary or paid hourly, and the ones that make millions are the exception to the rule.

And unfortunately, the most popular are seldom the most talented. Think Britney Spears vs. just about anyone else.

Re:Pro-piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070516)

*Counts the posts at the moment*

Nobody said it was wrong? Who are you arguing with exactly?

That said, my personal point of view is that I'm perfectly ok with people like this getting sued, I'm not sure I'm ok with ruining their lives for all eternity as vengeance, and calling it "justice". But that's another issue.

Re:Pro-piracy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070606)

*Counts the posts at the moment*

Nobody said it was wrong? Who are you arguing with exactly?

That said, my personal point of view is that I'm perfectly ok with people like this getting sued, I'm not sure I'm ok with ruining their lives for all eternity as vengeance, and calling it "justice". But that's another issue.

The problem is what then do you charge them? When you burn down a building, and please don't use the tired argument about physical property verses electronic items it's an example, you don't charge them with what they can comfortably pay. You charge them based on what was lost. The second argument is always how do you prove that there were any losses period? Does anyone really believe that people would stop playing games if file share sites vanished? A single file uploaded can result in tens or even hundreds of posts for download resulting in millions of downloads. There's a simple way to avoid this problem, don't do it.

Any hope of a new subject for Slashdot? There's several of these stories everyday and everyone always makes the same tired arguments for both sides. There's never any new ideas floated. It always comes down to the bulk of people arguing how unfairly the downloaders are treated and a couple of people wading into the hornets nest saying maybe they shouldn't do it in the first place. There's got to be better geek subjects than the eternal debate of the right or wrong of downloading. To me it's like debating Duke Nukem Forever three or four times a day. It's all been said so let's move on. The entire thread can be marked redundant.

Re:Pro-piracy (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070678)

That said, my personal point of view is that I'm perfectly ok with people like this getting sued, I'm not sure I'm ok with ruining their lives for all eternity as vengeance, and calling it "justice".

Common sense tells you that a release of a new game (or movie or whatever) is a big event, and it goes off to a timetable in order to maximise the hype and all that. Much as we hate those marketing types, that's reality.

Someone who buggers up that timetable is committing serious sabotage against that company, and consequently is going to get hit with a big stick - if only as a deterrent to others.

Re:Pro-piracy (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070880)

You know, that's a bit silly. First of all, nobody, or at least not I, have argued that he should go completely free, and secondly;Do you seriously think he'd be more or less of a deterrent if he had been hit with a $100 000 stick instead?

The difference is that there would have been some hope to actually pay that amount and move on with his life, rather than being stuck in eternal poverty with nothing left to lose really. By this decision justice has not been done, and nobody got deterred that wouldn't have been from a significantly lower sum. All that happened is that another economical desperado who can scoff any law which carries monetary punishments has been created.

Personal Bankruptcy (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070998)

The sampling of posts I've seen here on Slashdot about the ramifications of personal bankruptcy lead me to believe that it is not something which "ruins your life for all eternity". I assume that Australia also has personal bankruptcy laws which prevent debt bondage of the form you are talking about.

Re:Pro-piracy (5, Insightful)

Feef Lovecraft (1231264) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070524)

Having RTFA I'd be more intrested in how he obtained this advanced copy of the game for distribution, was it as simple as importating it from another region where it had been released or was it a lapse in security that enabled him to get hold of this game?

Re:Pro-piracy (2, Interesting)

Thansal (999464) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070746)

I was going to write a post about that as well, and wondering why it would matter for an AUS release, as they actually have laws (or had, I assume they still exist) making region locking illegal, and thus importing media from else where a trivial matter.

However, I then looked up the release dates of the game. Australia got it on Nov 12th, NA got it on the 15th, EU got it on the 20th, and JP got it on Dec 3rd.

So, however he got it, he released it prior to ANYONE getting it, and probably in a region free version as well (though, I think Nintendo doesn't actually region lock their games, but I wouldn't swear to it).

Re:Pro-piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31071000)

Nintendo does region lock their Wii games. I'd love it if they didn't since I have a US wii while I'm stationed in the UK.

Gameboy and DS games are region free. (Though I think DSi games are/will be region locked.)

Re:Pro-piracy (5, Informative)

RockinRobStar (693613) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070756)

He was a manager at a computer games store. I would imagine they sent copies early to his store so they had stock to sell on release day. (From what I understand it was a world first release date).

Probably worked at a game store? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070760)

I'm just guessing here, but it's likely that he worked at a game store or somewhere similar. They generally get the games early so that they can put them on shelves on the release date. This is why you sometimes hear about a retailer who screws up the release date and sells games early.

If you're an employee, especially one with access to a shrink-wrap machine, you can simply "borrow" the game before it hits the shelves, copy it, wrap it, and put it back before anyone knows the difference.

Re:Pro-piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070902)

When the Swedish radio have reported this on the news they have claimed that he simply bought it at a store that accidentally started selling the game too soon.

Re:Pro-piracy (5, Interesting)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070526)

And yet they still don't give a damn about piracy, technologically speaking, or at least they care about it a lot less than they care to annoy homebrewers and importers.

Proof: the last three iterations of Wii System Updates closed exploits used to run homebrew, but an ancient exploit that is still being used for piracy has remained untouched for that long (and counting). More proof: it would be trivial for them to detect and block modchips at the system update level, but so far they haven't even tried. Even more proof: NIntendo seems to be happy deliberately bricking your Wii if you have imported it, but it certainly hasn't even crossed their mind to do that for people who pirate. Yes, System Update 4.2 deliberately bricked all Korean Wiis that had been switched to the USA or EUR region. And by this I mean an explicit if(korean_detected()) { show_error_code_on_boot(003); }.

Re:Pro-piracy (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070672)

Because it's all about money...

People who modchip their machines to pirate games will either pirate or do without. If you make piracy impossible, your game sales will be largely unaffected but sales of the hardware and associated physical accessories will go down (pirates can't pirate the hardware so they have to buy it).

People who play legitimate out of region games or homebrew are typically not interested in piracy, and want to do legitimate things such as playing cheaper (but still legit) games from abroad, play games which aren't released in their region or even just play games they already had before they moved countries...
These people are more likely to buy new copies of the out of region games they cannot play, or buy additional devices to perform the functions that homebrew would achieve on a console...

Instead of homebrew, get an Aspire Revo (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070704)

or buy additional devices to perform the functions that homebrew would achieve on a console

I have run Wii homebrew once or twice, but now I really don't see the point. Back in the days of the original Xbox, a lot of people used to buy Xbox consoles just to run XBMC or other homebrew. That's no longer necessary now that Acer makes the Aspire Revo, a $200 PC the size of a Wii that runs a standard Windows or Linux operating system. Depending on the TV, you can use a $40 VGA-to-composite cable or a $10 HDMI cable.

Re:Instead of homebrew, get an Aspire Revo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070730)

Are there Xbox or Wii (etc.) clean-room reverse engineering projects in progress ATM?

Re:Instead of homebrew, get an Aspire Revo (2, Interesting)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070798)

Both the Xbox1 and the Wii can run Linux. On the Wii nowadays this means using BootMii + Mini, which is a completely new framework that has no relation to any Nintendo code (though strictly speaking it isn't cleanroom, as we didn't go through the cleanroom process which involves having separate teams write a spec and implement the software to it). This is a completely legal setup as far as we know.

"Native" Xbox1 homebrew (running on the Microsoft kernel) uses the Microsoft SDK, which makes binaries illegal to distribute. Most "Native" Wii homebrew (using Nintendo's IOS) uses a "homebrew" library (libogc) that is derived from a decompiled version of the Nintendo Gamecube SDK (exceptions: exploit stuff which is based on segher's Twilight Hack codebase, TinyLoad [wiibrew.org] which also is, little else), so effectively most Wii homebrew binaries are also illegal. However, the author of this decompilation pretend the code was an original work of his for a long time, and by the time we found out just how ripped it was everyone and their mom was using this library, so the net result is that most know that the resulting Wii binaries are about as illegal as the Xbox1 ones, but everyone pretends they aren't and they are happily distributed through "official" channels.

No, I don't approve of the latter.

Re:Instead of homebrew, get an Aspire Revo (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070916)

I'm interested. Is there a web page where these legal problems with libogc are documented in detail, or is it all in private IRC logs and deleted-due-to-expiry forum posts?

Re:Instead of homebrew, get an Aspire Revo (3, Informative)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071102)

It's mostly IRC logs, but I can put up a more detailed report if you're interested.

The gist is that libogc can be mostly broken down like this:

  • "Imported" libraries like lwip, lwbt, wiiuse, etc. that were developed separately and then merged into the tree. These should be OK
  • LWP threading system. I think a bit of this might have some remnants of the Nintendo stuff (maybe in exception handlers or the like), but most of it is shagkur's original work. As a threading system it totally sucks, but that's better than being illegal.
  • New Wii stuff to interface with IOS. This can be broken down into basically stuff shagkur (the "author" of libogc) "wrote" by decompiling the Wii SDK, and stuff that everyone else wrote. Thankfully the former isn't too much and could be replaced given some effort.
  • The old Gamecube drivers. This is where the huge problem lies. Stuff like handling of pads, memory cards, EXI/SPI devices (RTC, ROM, etc.), audio, DSP, video, graphics, and even the matrix math library. These are all inherited in Wii mode and required. The problems range from identical APIs but different code (not too common), through mostly manually decompiled code with the same APIs (most of it), to straight ripped assembly code (matrix math library and a few system tidbits) and at least one binary blob ripped verbatim from Nintendo (the DSP program to perform memory card unlocking).

The big fat problem is the GX driver (graphics). Everything else could be replaced with little to average effort, and the hardware is documented enough to get it to work.

Personally, though, once the large obstacle that is legal GX is overcome, I'd advocate developing an entirely new system from scratch, based on Linux or eCos or some other embedded OS, working on top of mini and ditching Nintendo's IOS. I've tried to get people interested in such a project for quite a while but haven't really found any significant support, and by now I've mostly move away from the Wii and on to other systems.

Re:Pro-piracy (1)

valentingalea (1039734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070688)

I would think that if it was THAT easy to detect/block the modchips, Nintendo would have surely done it... At what ancient exploit are you referring to exactly?

Re:Pro-piracy (2, Informative)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070744)

95% of the modchips out there are trivial to detect. They'll have stupid stuff like custom commands that can be used to identify them, and broken or flat out incorrect implementations of standard commands. Seriously. They aren't even trying. This isn't even remotely in the same league as Xbox 360 hacks and the like, which have evolved to be quite a bit stealthier due to Microsoft's detection efforts.

As for the exploit, it's the downgrade hole originally used by Comex's DVDX34 installer (which was quickly abused for other means) and more recently still used by Trucha Bug Restorer. We refuse to use this for homebrew because it involves altering (downgrading) system software, which we consider harmful, but it's there and it acts as a convenient fast-track for piracy (downgrade system software to vulnerable version, use that to install your favorite warez-pack). The exploit itself is rather silly: start installing something, which causes the system to copy the signed metadata to a temporary location. The FS permissions are set wrong, so you can delete it, write your own version with an artificially low version number, and finish the install. Then the system thinks you have an older version and will let you install any random ancient vulnerable version, as they only check signatures initially, not once things are installed.

Re:Pro-piracy (4, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070848)

Seriously. They aren't even trying. This isn't even remotely in the same league as Xbox 360 hacks and the like, which have evolved to be quite a bit stealthier due to Microsoft's detection efforts.

So the choices are...

1. don't try, and people will copy your stuff
2. try, and people will defeat it and copy your stuff.

I wonder which of the above two options is cheaper?

Re:Pro-piracy (1)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070950)

They could completely disable an entire generation of older non-upgradeable or crappily-upgradable modchips with a relatively simple update, permanently. Talk about low-hanging fruit.

Re:Pro-piracy (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070942)

95% of the modchips out there are trivial to detect. They'll have stupid stuff like custom commands that can be used to identify them, and broken or flat out incorrect implementations of standard commands. Seriously. They aren't even trying.

Why should they go out of their way to try? Why should they have to chase down every single different mod chip, find a way to identify it and implement that way? Why should they have to go to this effort?

The hardware as sold is in an expected configuration - if you are going to run it outside of the expected configuration in any way, then why are you expecting updates or addons to work at all?

Re:Pro-piracy (1)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071328)

Uhh, because ostensibly they don't want piracy?

I don't have a clue what point you're trying to express there. Of course Nintendo has no obligation to do anything. I'm just pointing out how simple and effective modchip detection would be against a large class of users who pirate.

Re:Pro-piracy (4, Interesting)

xtracto (837672) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071372)

Hey marcan, first let me tip my hat for your work.

Second, I use some of those "oh noes piratz" enhancing mechanisms to copy my legally purchased games to a USB hard disk and play them. Note that I bought my Wii console while living in Britain, I have bought games in Mexico (where I am from) and USA (cheaper to ask a relative to get them from there) AND Germany (where I am currently living and playing games).

When I moved to Germany, I refused to take all my CDs/DVDs with me [Laugagge handlers at Lufthansa are a bunch of monkeys.. you should see the state of my bags when they arrived to Germany], therefore I put all the content (serveral music CDs, some DVD movies and several Wii games) into magnetic media and took them with me.

Having said that, I really applaud Nintendo for doing this specific move, and I completely believe that this is the *right* move to combat piracy.

It is not illegal to modify hardware you buy, it is not illegal to play a copy of your purchased media, however, IT IS illegal to distribute such media without copyright permit; and that is what Nintendo prosecuted with this guy.

Re:Pro-piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070534)

> What's so wrong about them suing him?

Who is saying it was bad to sue him? Not even the original article says anything bad about the suit. And as the frosty pisser, no one has said that it WAS in any of the comments.

This place is turning into a newspaper bulletin board lately, with a bunch of activists peddling their agendas. Nauseating.

Satoru Iwata, wtf? (0, Troll)

ViralInfection (1221188) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070564)

A kid has to declare bankruptcy over the companies lack of policies in managing their intellectual property.
Is that non-existent $1.5 million going to help Nintendo protect their property or just hurt their public image and a kid, you decide!
Well, I guess Nintendo throwing down $100k for publicity might be worth it, however it still grosses me out.
Satoru Iwata step off the kid, you got your publicity.

Re:Satoru Iwata, wtf? (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070692)

Meh, teaches him consequences. Do bad things, get punished. Maybe his parents should've taught him that lesson before he learned it the hard way.

Re:Satoru Iwata, wtf? (1)

ViralInfection (1221188) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070948)

Not really, he's mostly going to declare bankruptcy and sell out for an exclusive interview or use the publicity in another manor. Your thinking is linear at best. Do x, get y.

In a word... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070608)

> those are the lost money for Nintendo

[Citation needed]

Re:Pro-piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070728)

I'll tell you what's wrong.

Nintendo were not able to protect their corporate secrets - they allowed the game to leak out a week before they were to release. How did they let that happen? If the game was available why were they delaying the release in Australia? If you are too incompetent to protect your property, why should you be compensated?

Re:Pro-piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070752)

In this case, there is no problem with suing him for damages. But those damages are NOWHERE NEAR the amount they got for it.

Also, the fact that they were allowed access to all of that information shows just how FUCKED UP Australia is.

Re:Pro-piracy (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070826)

It's not so much pro-piracy, as anti-the-things-that-would-be-required-to-prevent-piracy.

In order to make a song or movie uncopyable, you end up punishing the people who aren't breaking the law. It's been the same way with copy protection ever since it was invented - the pirates make a copy with the copy protection removed and distribute that, and the legitimate users have to put up with the inconvenience. The list is long...

When software was distributed on audio tape for home computers, copy protection often relied on making sure that an audio copy reduced the fidelity below what would work... so unless your tape player was in perfect condition you might have problems with the original too. You also couldn't make yourself a backup copy.

When software was distributed on floppy disk, they copy protection was often 'type in word 4 on page 7 of the manual' (also on tape software), a parallel port dongle (incompatible with some printers), etc. Also the disk format would be modified - deliberate errors or slightly different sector layout, again preventing you making backups. A few software packages actually wrote back to the disk once they had been installed and only returned the disk to its original state when you uninstalled.

When CD's came along it was more of the same, although worse than floppy disks because there were a bunch of CD drives that were incompatible with the copy protection.

It's all of that crap that most of the people who you say are 'pro-piracy' are against. Although there will always be people who just feel they are entitled to get stuff for free...

Re:Pro-piracy (1)

Yamata no Orochi (1626135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071012)

No one really said anything was wrong about them suing him yet. You just couldn't think of anything to say but really wanted the first post?

Re:Pro-piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31071142)

I pirated this game, brought it to a party and one of the people who was thinking he probably wasn't going to buy it went out and bought it the same day. Had I not pirated it, I wouldn't have had the game to show to the people that day. Piracy isn't always a bad thing.

Re:Pro-piracy (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071274)

I have to agree here, I am sure there would have been no that much hoopla, if the guy waited 6 months after the game came out, and made it a little more hush, hush that is was available for download, how did they link it to him, btw?
I am sure someone plugging torrents with files of this game from a cybercafe, and using TOR could remain anonymous, unless of course they inserted code specific to each programmer, and then compile time, they knew who the leak was....

Re:Pro-piracy (1)

X.25 (255792) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071648)

I often see many pro-piracy comments on slashdot on these things (probably also because pirates are more interested on the matter). But many times these are actual damages caused to companies. Putting out that game a week before surely counted a lot of illegal downloading and people not buying the game. Sure it's bad to for him, but those are the lost money for Nintendo. What's so wrong about them suing him?

There is nothing wrong with suing him.

However, slapping him with US$ 1.5mil fine is pretty retarded.

There's a leak? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070494)

Quick, we need a plumber.

Re:There's a leak? (3, Funny)

anss123 (985305) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070544)

Quick, we need a plumber.

It has always amused me that the most popular video game character by far is a "fat Italian plumber" instead of mister "awesome cool superdude".

Re:There's a leak? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070722)

Look at the popular characters on TV. One of the recent big ones was a cynical doctor with a lame leg and drug addiction. People just prefer seemingly average people doing great things over superheroes.

Re:There's a leak? (1)

Fuzzypig (631915) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070996)

Yes, they're fallable and more human, ergo easier to relate to the character if they are more like you and me. Just like you and me, you know that at any moment that character could be mentally "broken" just like you and me. Why do you think people still sit and watch soap-operas on TV? Superheroes are obviously fantasy and bear no resemblance to anyone we all know, like fairy tales or Disney cartoons we all liked as kids.

Curious... (0, Redundant)

wjsteele (255130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070520)

I wonder where he got the bits to upload them from.

Bill

Re:Curious... (1)

thefear (1011449) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070630)

a week ahead of its official Australian release

Australian game releases typically lag behind other regions.

Re:Curious... (4, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070858)

Australian game releases typically lag behind other regions.

Australia: kicked from the world for unacceptable latency.

Indecent Proposal (0, Troll)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070578)

This is crazy. How is this guy supposed to come up with $1.5M? That's more money than he's likely to earn in his lifetime.

Here's a picture of "Rose Lappin" of Nintendo Australia who sued him and rubbed his nose in it: http://blogs.theage.com.au/screenplay/RoseLappin1.jpg [theage.com.au]

I suggest he offer to do the deed with her for $1.5M. He's got nothing to lose, and it's better than declaring bankruptcy.

Well. Maybe...

Re:Indecent Proposal (3, Insightful)

hanako (935790) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070670)

Ignoring your rude suggestions (Slashdotters don't like women? What a surprise!) the exact money figure is mostly a distraction from the issue. If he's done something *actually wrong*, then the fact that he can't pay the fine shouldn't mean that he gets off scot free. If he's done something that ISN'T wrong, then the fine being a thousand instead of a million makes little difference.

Re:Indecent Proposal (1)

Darkon (206829) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070716)

the exact money figure is mostly a distraction from the issue. If he's done something *actually wrong*, then the fact that he can't pay the fine shouldn't mean that he gets off scot free.

No it should mean that the punishment reflects both the harm done and his ability to pay, unless you're saying that what he did really does merit the punishment of lifetime bankruptcy. It should cut the other way too: if he'd been rich he should have been fined more.

Re:Indecent Proposal (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070772)

What a heap of ill thought-out bullshit.

The defendant not having enough money isn't a valid reason for giving him a fine that, to him, is an economical death-sentence. "Scot free" doesn't even enter it. Why should a multimilionaire get a slap on the wrist if even that, and a poor guy get the economical death-sentence for the same crime? And is this a "crime" that really should carry the economical deathpenalty? Should any offence? Is it even consistent with human rights and the constitution of the United States?

(Yes, I know this wasn't a criminal case, but we're discussing principles here.)

Re:Indecent Proposal (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071546)

This is Australia not the US.

Interesting is that he had to give up his social networking and email passwords... That wouldn't fly in the USA.

Re:Indecent Proposal (1)

Procasinator (1173621) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070708)

The average wage in Queensland is $61,464 (figures from around 2009). So, the average person would earn that in his lifetime (around 25 years working).

Of course, I don't what he is earning, but he is more likely to make that much in a life then not, assuming people on average work for 25+ years (fair enough assumption).

In US$, this would be closer to 1.3 million.

Re:Indecent Proposal (1)

Sabriel (134364) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071170)

But how close is that "average wage" to reality? Take 20 people, 19 making $20,000 and 1 making $1,000,000m. The average (arithmetic mean) is $69,000... which is almost two and a half times what 95% of the population make. While that's just random, it shows how big outliers can distort statistics.

Not to mention even were it true, and he was making that much before - he won't be now.

FWIW, I actually live in Queensland, and I'd trust that figure to accurately represent your average Queenslander like I'd trust a live grenade... not at all.

Re:Indecent Proposal (1)

Procasinator (1173621) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071478)

Of course statistics are only a sampling of reality, my only point is that the average Male (and Female, but Males on average make more) in Queensland will probably make 1.5 million in total earnings during his lifetime. Of course the unemployed and the high-makers effect the likelihood.

Obviously big outliers can cause problems, but I would hope a Government commissioned study would have a larger sample size than in your fictional example.

Proportionality. (4, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070580)

There should be some kind of proportion to the damages, seriously that amount ruins an ordinary person for the rest of their life. Did the court deliberately set out to give him a life sentence of sorts? And if the amounts are to be set at company rates for individuals he should have his own choice just to do some time for it. Seriously, go on a walk for 3 years and move on in your life instead of being sentenced to financial death for the rest of your natural time.

Re:Proportionality. (2, Interesting)

Grantbridge (1377621) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070626)

That's why bankruptcy laws were introduced!

Re:Proportionality. (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070648)

Well he might as well take his credit cards and have a big party now .... nothing to loose

Re:Proportionality. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070682)

In most countries bankruptcy does not delete money owed in judgements. I don't know how that works in Australia though.

Re:Proportionality. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31071010)

In AU, there is the very rare "Part X" bankruptcy, which does wipe all debts completely after a decade or so. It's mostly intended for people who somehow owe so much money that they will never pay it off (happens a lot more that you would think, since eg. banks force people such as directors to be jointly and severally responsible personally for company debts even when acting with due diligence, and so on).

It does have serious downsides (something pretty close to "no more credit, ever", plus an awful lot of disqualifications from holding office in a corporation, and so on), so no lawyer or financial adviser will ever suggest it. Other types of individual bankruptcy are usually recommended instead; no other alternative ever voids or reduces (court-registered) debts.

Basically, if you owe less than a few million dollars, bankruptcy won't get you out of paying it eventually.

On the other hand, in this case, his choices are essentially:
1) Do prison time for copyright infringement. Have the stigma of being a criminal for years (or sometimes forever). Maybe get slapped with a civil judgment also, see (2)
2) Declare Part X bankruptcy. Have the stigma of being a bankruptee years (or sometimes forever).
3) Agree to pay millions in damages, probably over several decades.

I imagine his counsel recommended (3) as the best option, and he is very probably correct in the general case.

Re:Proportionality. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31071014)

with regard to the US, you are incorrect. unless the judgment was for bodily injury due to the use of a motor vehicle while intoxicated all civil court judgments are discharged by the bankruptcy court.

Re:Proportionality. (4, Insightful)

twoshortplanks (124523) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070698)

Break this down on a personal level - if someone takes a mallet to my car, I'm going to sue them for the value of the damage to the car, i.e. what it costs to compensate me for the damage they caused. If someone burns down my house, I should be able to sue them for the value of the house. The loss they have caused is not mitigated by the ability they have to pay for it.

Now, if you're going down these lines you need to separate out the punitive damages from the actual damages. The former should be taken in context of the ability for the person to pay (i.e. if you're suing a multinational, you expect punitive damages significant enough for them to sit up and take notice.) The later should probably not be.

Re:Proportionality. (3, Interesting)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070762)

You have a point. BUT... the guy didn't just trip over and somehow end up leaking the game by accident. He made a conscious decision to do what he did, knowing full well it could land him in hot water. It was an easily avoidable situation which he chose to place himself into, and paid the price. A very high price, and probably an immoral price, but he made his choice.

Re:Proportionality. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31071498)

This sounds like something we say to assure ourselves it can't happen to us. It doesn't mean the punishment level is appropriate.

Re:Proportionality. (4, Interesting)

Blue23 (197186) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070884)

here should be some kind of proportion to the damages, seriously that amount ruins an ordinary person for the rest of their life. Did the court deliberately set out to give him a life sentence of sorts? And if the amounts are to be set at company rates for individuals he should have his own choice just to do some time for it. Seriously, go on a walk for 3 years and move on in your life instead of being sentenced to financial death for the rest of your natural time.

Your suggestion seems to be setting the amount as punishment, not as restitution for lost sales. Now, I think the $1.5 million in lost sales is highly debatable, but I would think that whatever amount is awarded should be to recover the amount of lost sales, not a punitive amount as punishment that's scaled to what the person makes.

To flip this around, if someone committed a premeditated violent crime that they are sentenced to jail for 20 years, I wouldn't expect them to reduce the sentence for a 70 year old because "20 years might be all he's got left, it's a life sentence" vs. the 25 year old who committed the same crime.

Re:Proportionality. (4, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071072)

I read TFA (I know, I know).

He hasn't actually been fined a single cent. The $1.5 million is an out of court settlement.

From what I understand (I don't know how true this is, IANAL), when settlements of this nature are made it's not uncommon for the company getting the settlement to make no real effort to actually get the money. They just wanted a big news headline saying "Man has been stung for $1.5 million for pirating our product".

Though if it's an out of court settlement, I daresay bankruptcy would probably make it go away altogether.

Re:Proportionality. (2, Insightful)

whatajoke (1625715) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071632)

To flip this around, if someone committed a premeditated violent crime that they are sentenced to jail for 20 years, I wouldn't expect them to reduce the sentence for a 70 year old because "20 years might be all he's got left, it's a life sentence" vs. the 25 year old who committed the same crime.

Old age is considered all the time in parole hearings. Also, if you think $1.5x10^6 is an appropriate fine for a middle class fellow, why is that the upper class never gets fined for robbing the middle class of money to the tune of 10^12? If you are fine with that double standard, then you can blow me.

Re:Proportionality. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070984)

Good. That sends a message. Don't forget that this guy had to have access to the game, which means he began in a position of trust. That makes it a lot worse - theft employee is generally more harshly punished than regular theft.

Criminals don't get to choose their punishments; it simply doesn't work like that.

If you can't pay the fine, don't do the crime.

Re:Proportionality. (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071630)

There is a proportion to the damages. It has nothing to do with what the perpetrator has, owns, or makes. It has to do with the damage to the victim. He took a game that was expected to sell 15 million copies and illegally released it on the internet. Then, when the game was released, it sold 10 million copies. The damages should be the profit from those 5 million unsold games. $1.5 million seems fair to me.

You act like James Burt is the victim, but he is not. He is the perpetrator. He doesn't get to chose his punishment, the state does.

There is an old saying "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime". Well, we can update it with "If you can't pay the fine, don't do the crime."

Were you born a asshole or have you worked at it your whole life?

region codes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070822)

For those not in-the-know on this, the WII hacking comunity has tools to either change the region code on a game image or just completely ignore the region code on their game system. So this guy probobly just ran one of these tools on an existing game image and re-uploaded the game. Which, imo is no reason to fine him such a ridiculous amount. I doubt he got any special advanced copy.

his fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070842)

his only fault was to get caught. imaginary damage projections of 1.5 millions $ are ridiculous. i bet nintendo did an agreement with him to take the blame and send a message to piracy, he will never give a penny

New Super Mario Bros Highest sold Wii game? (3, Interesting)

adosch (1397357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070860)

Nintendo is going to do what any other software mongrel in the free world is going to do when their production is illegally propagated to the masses. However, let's not overshadow the fact that the New Super Mario Bros Wii game did sell over 10 million copies as pointed out [slashdot.org] a little over 2 weeks ago.

Just for fun, I'd like to see what Nintendo's exterior argument was from 'loosing sales' because, clearly, they capitalized on the sales aspect and in any retail store I've been in recently in my area, even a month or better past the holiday season, has the game completely sold out.

Furthermore, pirating a game like New Super Mario Bros Wii, to me, seems quite contradictory. It's $50 in the store, but it's not like you don't get the gameplay you desire out of it. My wife and I have had this game since late Decemeber 2009 and we've played it daily ever since. With 8 regular levels and 8 unlockable coin levels to conquer, all the easter eggs to discover and the nostaliga of getting to play a killer 2-D game again on a modern-day gaming console, if you don't think that's worth your $50, I pitty you.

Re:New Super Mario Bros Highest sold Wii game? (0, Troll)

kiddygrinder (605598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070926)

meh, i'd pirate it if i could be bothered (would probably involve someone burning me a copy), after paper mario's suckfest i'm guessing i'd prolly throw it in for 5 hours max. pity away.

Re:New Super Mario Bros Highest sold Wii game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31071680)

you should "prolly" consider growing up and learn to spell like an adult.

Re:New Super Mario Bros Highest sold Wii game? (2, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071278)

I remember people who pirated Quake 2 and then played it for 2 hours a day for the next 3 years - I don't think value for money enters the equation.

There's also the "getting the game before the release" aspect that people seem to like.

Re:New Super Mario Bros Highest sold Wii game? (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071518)

The question is how many would have sold if the game was not put out for unauthorized and illegal copying? It could have been 10 million and 1, or it could have been 20 million.

Nasty! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070900)

No one screws with Nintendo, they are notorious for turning anyone over when their IP is abused. One reason a lot of the more well known retro sites will not deal with Nintendo roms, as they know Nintendo will have them in court in a nanosecond.

Little thermite woulda been cheaper (1)

BubbaDave (1352535) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070912)

If you're going to engage in illegal activities, a little thermite on the drives seems like a cheap precaution...
Biggest hassle is the thermite-proof container.

Dave

... Nintendo $1.5 million in damages (1)

dyeazel (609550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071084)

What's the conversion rate from US Dollars to Nintendo Dollars? (I think it would be more proper to say "...pay $1.5 million to Nintendo in damages...")

obviously not on commission.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31071104)

This guy that works at a video game store was obviously not a commission paid employee if he is promoting pirated copies.

Bittorrent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31071210)

Seed damnit, I'm stuck at 99%...

In America the fine would be smaller (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071242)

"Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." - United States Constitution, Amendment 8

In America the fine which goes to the government would've been well under $50,000, but the "restitution" and civil damages that go to the "victim" would've been much more than $1.5M if the industry had its way.

W00T 7p!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31071358)

and 5ling or table Usenet yis roughly

forcing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31071494)

forcing Burt to disclose [...] also ordered to allow access, including passwords [...]

So I guess Australia doesn't have an equivalent to America's 5th amendment? That part is more disturbing to me than the guy getting fined a large sum for this particular crime.

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