Reproductions...Does Nintendo / Sega care?

Discussion of hardware and software development for Super NES and Super Famicom.

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getafixx
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Reproductions...Does Nintendo / Sega care?

Post by getafixx » Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:11 pm

What do you guys think Nintendo or Sega would care about people making / selling reproduction carts? I mean, they aren't losing money on them, as these are (mostly) games that have never been released in English or proto games. Now, im not talking about people making pirate carts like Earthbound and selling them on ebay....obviously that is a little more unethical.

I'm just curious if Nintendo or any other big company would care enough to go after a repro maker? I see some sites like Gamereproductions or Nesreproductions that have been around for a few years, and they still seem to be operating just fine.

Thoughts?

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MottZilla
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Re: Reproductions...Does Nintendo / Sega care?

Post by MottZilla » Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:44 pm

It's not that they approve or look the other way. Legal actions can be complicated and it's possible they aren't aware of such sites. And it's possible if they sites are not hosted in a nation that will do anything about it. Then there is little they can do about it from the angle of having the website shut down. Another thing is their costs/reward for doing anything. If it's one guy bootlegging various random games in small numbers, that may not be a big priority. Particularly when you aren't talking about new titles but ones over a decade old. Now if it's someone mass producing something it might be worth it to a company to do something about it, particularly if they appear to have alot of money that could be awarded from a settlement or court ruling. Though again, that means they need to be in a country where they can possibly win a judgement.

So I don't think it's about whether they care or not but how practical it is to do anything about it and just how many other things they are busy with. Those that pursue the piracy concerns are probably most focused on shutting down distributors of current titles for systems like the Wii, Wii-U, Nintendo DS & 3DS, and for Sega also the Xbox 360 and PS3 titles.

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Re: Reproductions...Does Nintendo / Sega care?

Post by tepples » Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:17 pm

Another factor is the extent to which old games compete with "current titles". If people are buying bootleg copies of games for obsolete platforms, they're not buying copies of the same game on the authorized store for a currently supported platform (Wii Shop, Xbox Live, PSN), nor are they probably buying copies of the same publisher's other games on the authorized store.

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koitsu
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Re: Reproductions...Does Nintendo / Sega care?

Post by koitsu » Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:22 pm

getafixx wrote:What do you guys think Nintendo or Sega would care about people making / selling reproduction carts? I mean, they aren't losing money on them, as these are (mostly) games that have never been released in English or proto games. Now, im not talking about people making pirate carts like Earthbound and selling them on ebay....obviously that is a little more unethical.

I'm just curious if Nintendo or any other big company would care enough to go after a repro maker? I see some sites like Gamereproductions or Nesreproductions that have been around for a few years, and they still seem to be operating just fine.

Thoughts?
"They" (big companies) care a lot more than you think, and it varies from company to company. Those sites should probably have a good set of attorneys ready to go at the drop of a hat (or if they can't afford them, they might as well close shop now). Nintendo still actively has copyright on most all of its games (and this was re-established by their inclusion in things like Animal Crossing for the Wii and the "retro" games for the GBA that ran using a NES/Famicom emulator); selling games that they own copyright to is bound to upset them eventually. Chances are "they" don't know about these sites, but eventually will; just a matter of time.

Remember: back in the very late 80s/early 90s it took Nintendo about 3-4 years before they started cracking down on copiers for the SNES/SFC. Things take a very long time to happen within big companies, and that includes taking people to court. This is exactly why things like NDS flash cart companies pop up for a year or two then suddenly disappear without a trace, only to have another one pop up, rinse lather repeat -- it's a cat-and-mouse game.

Another more recent story would be that of Game Center CX -- where Arino wasn't allowed to play a substantial number of Nintendo or Capcom games because each respective company had plans to re-release those games on present-day consoles (thus it would cut into their profits somehow). This is why he tended to play weird obscure games rather than famous/popular ones. Sure, that's Japan rather than the United States, but these days the international border matters less when it comes to decision-making; think about it -- all it would take is a simple Email sent from KIMISHIMA Tatsumi to Reggie Fils-Aime and bam, the ball starts rolling.

Footnote story, semi-related: I did have a brief Email conversation with Konami Co. at one point regarding Parodius Networking (I was concerned about the name and if they would be offended/upset by it). I contacted them (out of respect) and asked about any potential legal ramifications. I was told that they weren't concerned about the name since what I/we did was completely different than what they did, plus there was no profit involved (and very little cash flow (donations only)) or legal business establishment. The only thing that concerned them was the Parodius logo + Takosuke-with-panties-on-his-head animation (which I painstakingly made myself) on our home page. I asked if a simply copyright/rightful ownership notice would be sufficient and was told that was acceptable. This was back in, hrm, 1997 I think. The world was different then (no DMCA, significantly fewer IP-copyright-infringement lawsuits going on, etc.), and even different prior to then. Today, the modus operandi is 24x7x365 CYA (cover your ass).

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Re: Reproductions...Does Nintendo / Sega care?

Post by blargg » Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:58 pm

It's not the console maker who would care, it's the one who holds the copyright to the game. As far as losing money, they can argue at the very least that unauthorized distribution of the game competes with other games they're currently selling. If they have re-released it in an emulator, or plan on doing that in the future, they might also view it as unauthorized competition.

MottZilla's point addresses the main issue: limited enforcement resources. Small-time repro sites aren't having to outrun the bear, they're just having to outrun the person carrying a big pot of honey.

(ugh, I posted this an hour or so ago but it never appeared)

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getafixx
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Re: Reproductions...Does Nintendo / Sega care?

Post by getafixx » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:13 pm

So basically as long as they arent selling them in the thousands then they're probably safe? I just feel like the companies would be wasting their time, unless they were just out to make a point.

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MottZilla
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Re: Reproductions...Does Nintendo / Sega care?

Post by MottZilla » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:51 pm

No one should assume they are safe, there is always the chance that some sort of actions will be taken. The easiest would be if you have a website selling bootleg carts it could be shut down. Another option would be to attack the payment provider, for example if you accept Paypal payments. But there is a point to be made that some people are bigger targets than others for being busted.

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Re: Reproductions...Does Nintendo / Sega care?

Post by Bregalad » Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:11 am

Unfortunately they don't care yet, but I hope some day they will sue those bastards who makes tom of money on translations or romhacks that other people made for free.

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Re: Reproductions...Does Nintendo / Sega care?

Post by rainwarrior » Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:53 pm

People who make romhacks for free don't also make you nice collectible cartridges with labels and printed boxes. Making the repro itself is its own service, worthy of compensation.

1. If you release a romhack for free, you must expect that repros will be made of it.

2. Since not everyone has the time/skill/means to make a repro themself, it's reasonable for them to pay somebody else to do it for them.

Maybe you think the romhacker should get a cut of the profits-- perhaps that would be nice, but this is certainly not the expectation they had when they released a ROM for free. If they expect this, they really should perform or seek out their own repro service to distribute through instead of releasing things for free and expecting to get paid.

I'm not saying it's morally (or legally) right to take someone's translation work and sell a product that incorporates it. I'm just saying that it's not really practical to expect compensation under the circumstances.

Though, if the repro houses have a duty to pay royalties to romhackers, you know they have just as much of a legal duty to pay royalties to the copyright holders of the original ROMs too. If a translator were to put a notice with their release demanding a cut of any repro profits, they'd be asking to take a share in the criminal profits of copyright violation, ha ha. This seems a little bit absurd to me.

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Re: Reproductions...Does Nintendo / Sega care?

Post by Bregalad » Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:59 pm

I don't think romhackers expect to be paid, but they don't expect anybody to be paid for their work either.
People who make romhacks for free don't also make you nice collectible cartridges with labels and printed boxes
Because cutting some graphics on photoshop/GIMP is worth $120 while spending hours to hack bytes in a hex editor is worth $0 ?!

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Re: Reproductions...Does Nintendo / Sega care?

Post by rainwarrior » Tue Jan 22, 2013 3:10 pm

Bregalad wrote:Because cutting some graphics on photoshop/GIMP is worth $120 while spending hours to hack bytes in a hex editor is worth $0 ?!
I didn't say anything about the worth of the romhack. I certainly don't expect the flow of money to directly represent some quantifiable "worth" of any given effort. I appreciate the romhack much more than the repro, personally, but just because someone decides to give away their ROM for free doesn't mean I would expect a repro maker to give away their repros for free. I don't think it's sensible to compare these things' worth by some dollar expectation.

Romhackers can try and sell repros or make a deal with a repro house if they like (and are willing to take a share in the copyright violation), but if they want to do that they need to actually do that. If they fail to provide repros to people, they really should expect someone else to fill that void. As I've already kinda stated above, there's not really much moral difference between not paying 1 author and not paying 2 authors, the repro house is already comfortable being a bootlegger, and it's silly to expect them to pay somebody who willingly gave up all distribution control of their ROM.

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getafixx
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Re: Reproductions...Does Nintendo / Sega care?

Post by getafixx » Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:12 pm

Bregalad wrote:Unfortunately they don't care yet, but I hope some day they will sue those bastards who makes tom of money on translations or romhacks that other people made for free.
Is it really any different then someone buying a Powerpak or other flash cart? In the way you're saying, buying a flash cart should be more wrong as it allows you to play any and all commercially released games. That obviously includes all hacks and translations as well.

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Re: Reproductions...Does Nintendo / Sega care?

Post by blargg » Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:33 pm

Well, remember that there are some people here who are negative towards people who make their own homebrew games, produce cartridges of them, and sell them. There's not much you can do to resolve such a difference in values.

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Re: Reproductions...Does Nintendo / Sega care?

Post by Bregalad » Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:55 am

Is it really any different then someone buying a Powerpak or other flash cart? In the way you're saying, buying a flash cart should be more wrong as it allows you to play any and all commercially released games. That obviously includes all hacks and translations as well.
Yes there is a difference, because in the Powerpak you pay for the hardware.

If someone would do repros and would just charge what the hardware costs to him, I would not have anything against it. Unfortunately those bastards try to pass them as original games, and makes huge margins on them, like ULTRA RARE US EARTHBOUND NES CARTRIGE $150 when anyone could just take a TKROM board, solder 2 eproms and several wires and do the same for $20-$25.
Well, remember that there are some people here who are negative towards people who make their own homebrew games, produce cartridges of them, and sell them.
I am negative towards Sivak because he just raped us literally... basically we answered him kindly how to make his game and now he made huge profits on his sales. Not to mention the authors of the original IWBTG. Looking back it's not nearly as bad as repro-makers though in my opinion.

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Re: Reproductions...Does Nintendo / Sega care?

Post by tepples » Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:16 am

Bregalad wrote:I am negative towards Sivak because he just raped us literally... basically we answered him kindly how to make his game and now he made huge profits on his sales.
Which isn't a problem at all to me. We helped someone advance the state of the art in post-discontinuation NES game development to the point where we can point to a salable product. And the demo was still released as a gratis download.

Fedora does not package NES emulators because Red Hat's legal department believes the noninfringing use for NES emulators is not "substantial" enough for a Betamax defense. Apparently the existence of a couple dozen playable NES homebrew games that one is allowed, nay, encouraged to download and use isn't yet strong enough evidence against a contributory infringement lawsuit from Nintendo claiming that an emulator would be primarily used with infringing copies of games downloaded from the Internet.
Not to mention the authors of the original IWBTG.
Battle Kid is an 8-bit-style flip-screen platformer with a shoot button and a One Hit Point Wonder. What all does Battle Kid copy from IWBTG specifically, as opposed to the whole rest of the NES library?

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