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Nintendo will sue UltraHLE developers

Great Satan of Plumbers decides to play the heavy

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Nintendo has confirmed it will take legal action against the two developers of UltraHLE, a Windows-based N64 emulator. The move comes a week after Sony failed to get Connectix's Mac-based PlayStation emulator, Virtual GameStation (VGS), banned while the console vendor prepares a legal case against the developer. In a statement to Web site Faster Game News Online, Nintendo US spokeswoman said: "Nintendo is very disturbed that [UltraHLE's developers] have widely distributed a product designed solely to play infringing copies of copyrighted works developed by Nintendo and its third-party licensees. "We are taking several measures to further protect and enforce our intellectual property rights which, of course, includes the bringing of legal action. Emulators and ROMs are clearly infringing and damage not only 'larger industry players' such as Nintendo but hundreds of smaller companies who invest millions of dollars and thousands of hours to develop and program software only to have it stolen on the Internet." While Connectix has strongly defended VGS on the basis that it will not play pirated copies of PlayStation titles, that defence has never been open to the UltraHLE developers since the N64 emulator will only work with games downloaded from ROM cartridges to the PC. Nintendo's software licence explicitly forbids this, even for the taking of personal back-ups. As the software licence says: "Copying of any Nintendo game is illegal and is strictly prohibited by domestic and international copyright laws. "Back-up" or "archival" copies are not authorized and are not necessary to protect your software. Violators will be prosecuted." That said, UltraHLE's developers, known only by the handles 'RealityMan' and 'Epsilon', were quick to remove the emulator from public circulation when it aroused Nintendo's ire (see N64 emulator vanishes after lawsuit threat), and have stressed that the emulator was developed without recourse to Nintendo intellectual property or to bypass its anti-piracy methods (see Nintendo legal rumblings provoke boycott call). However, the ROM copying remains an issue, whatever the intentions of the developers. How Nintendo will proceed with the case will be interesting. For a start, suing two aliases may prove difficult, especially if Nintendo can't show who RealityMan and Epsilon really are -- it would certainly make it difficult for the court to issues each developer a summons. In any case, quite what the console vendor hopes to win from legal action is unclear. Given the amateur nature of the developers, there's unlikely to be any financial gain, and the public relations damage inflicted by the image of a major global corporate stamping on two individuals would certainly sour a Nintendo victory. However, it would persuade many potential emulator developers to abandon such projects, and the company may be willing to put up with the PR headaches just to do that. ® See also Analysis: Dissecting Sony's game

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