Feeds

Dropped Tecmo suit means nudity for us all

Does the law tolerate modding?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

Analysis Game developer Tecmo dropped its lawsuit against console website Ninjahackers.net this week.

The lawsuit follows almost four months of legal wranglings over game modifications that the Ninjahackers created, and then posted to their website.

Tecmo publish several games including Dead or Alive, a beat-em-up, and Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, a volleyball sim featuring, you guessed it, the DoA characters. Part of the appeal is in the manga-styled characters, who are often depicted in-game wearing next to nothing. Want to watch a busty blonde wrestle with a Japanese schoolgirl? Tecmo will satisfy you, as it were.

However, the publisher thought that Ninjahackers took things a too far. The console kids reverse engineered the Tecmo Xbox games to create nude hacks for the titles which rendered the girls not just scantily clad, but utterly unclad.

In a lawsuit filed in February, Tecmo alleged that this violated US law. By reverse engineering the code, the hackers had breached the copy protection that comes on the DoA Xbox game disc, prohibited under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, it said. Secondly, it alleged that its intellectual property had been infringed by unauthorised modification and usage.

Tecmo settled with Ninjahackers this week, out of court, and the Judge accordingly dismissed the case. No one knows what the actual settlement was, since one of the conditions of it appears to be that no one talks about it. Appropriately, it's all rather Fight Club.

However, the Judge in the case did take something of an easy way out, because the suit raised an awkward issue: do users who buy games (note: buy, not steal) have the right to modify them as they wish? By simply dismissing the case, the Judge missed the opportunity to discuss this issue.

Justifications

Leaving aside the DCMA considerations, what are the factors that courts should be considering when deciding this issue in the future - as someone, somewhere, will inevitably have to?

The first thing is to think about is why we have copyright law in the first place. Scholars have argued for years about why copyright should or shouldn't exist - indeed, many opponents substitute the phrase "Intellectual Monopoly" for "Intellectual Property". However, we can reduce the argument for copyright to a few key points.

Let's take person A, who creates a theoretical Work B. The argument goes that we, as society, should incentivise people to create works; therefore to allow them to have exclusive use and monetary monopoly over their work provides an adequate incentive. The upside is that if people think they can make money out of a work, they will create it. The downside is that every penny the work earns over the threshold at which the artist would have considered it worthwhile to create is, effectively, wasted money.

To allow someone else to profit from ones own work can be considered unjust. If person A writes book B, and person C takes the manuscript, publishes it and makes lots of money, we can get a sense that person A has been, as they say, stuffed; and society thinks this is A Bad Thing. Hence, by preventing people just taking other people’s work, copyright promotes justice.

Both these justifications for copyright go to the issue of money. However, there is another justification, and that is the moral right a creator has not to have his work tampered with. A work is the production of a human being, and a part of that human being is indelibly printed on it. To change it is to deteriorate the mark of that person, to disassociate the creator from his work. The changed item could do harm to the author by mocking him or damaging his reputation. The consuming public might mistakenly think that the changed work is the product of the original creator. This, society says, is wrong.

The flipside of this is a concept of the rights of the user. British law has no so-called doctrine of “fair use”- unlike the US, which caters explicitly for it - some notion of what it is appropriate that a person should be able to do is considered. Unduly restricting the freedom of the consumer is something that copyright should not justify. The rights of the creator must be balanced with the rights of the user.

Security for virtualized datacentres

Next page: Applying the theory

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.