February 11th, 2010, 01:38 Posted By: wraggster
A Queensland man who has to pay Nintendo $1.5 million in a piracy case is little more than a shy gamer who uploaded his copy of a new game on to the internet only to prove a point to friends, his father said.
But Nintendo maintains James Burt deliberately distributed the game illegally online in order to gain acceptance with a game hacking group.
Burt, 24, a part-time freight worker who still lives at home with his parents in Sinnamon Park, will be forced to pay Nintendo $1.5 million after an out-of-court settlement was struck to compensate the company for a claimed loss of sales revenue.
Burt uploaded a game file from the Nintendo Wii game New Super Mario Bros on to the internet on November 6 last year, a week before its official release in Australia.
A large Australian retailer had sold him the game early by mistake.
Nintendo Australia managing director Rose Lappin claimed thousands of people accessed the game illegally after Burt uploaded the file and that his actions created "a major cost to us and the industry".
But Nintendo itself announced recently that the game in question was among the fastest selling of all time. The game earned about $20 million in revenue in just seven weeks.
New Super Mario Bros was among the first Wii titles to launch in Australia before the rest of the world, and Nintendo said Burt's actions could mean that early releases for Australia would not happen in future.
Burt, who must also pay Nintendo's legal bill of $100,000, has been forbidden by Nintendo from commenting on the settlement.
But his father, Richard, said in a phone interview that his son was far from a commercial pirate.
He said his son was a fanatical gamer who owned every console released since he was a teenager and worked part-time at a freight handling company.
"As a parent I can tell you that he's a very quiet lad, he's a fanatical computer game player - to his detriment," he said.
"It was peer pressure on the internet forums and the blog sites that led him to do a very very silly thing to prove that he'd actually managed to purchase a game before its release date."
He said his son now realised the extent of his actions but did not foresee the consequences at the time.
"It was certainly [done] with no malice or intent to make money - he actually bought the game legitimately from a major retailer," he said.
He added that the game file his son uploaded to the internet did not, on its own, allow people to play the game.
"Somebody hacked it from the internet once James had put it there and made it work," he said.
Nintendo rejected Richard's claims that his son made an innocent mistake, saying James deliberately sought out members of the game hacking community and released the pirated files to them in order to gain acceptance.
Nintendo said forensic investigations had revealed the file was downloaded 50,000 times over a five day period, but it conceded that James did not earn any money from the act.
"Nintendo obtained evidence during its investigations that James Burt knew by uploading a copy of the game to a known hacking website that the security measures would be overcome by members of this community to allow the game to be hacked and ultimately downloaded," the company said.
Despite Nintendo's claims that Burt's actions cost it revenue warranting a $1.5 million damages fine, the company announced on January 27 that more than 200,000 units of New Super Mario Bros were sold in Australia in only seven weeks.
It said the game was the only title on any format to sell 200,000 units this quickly.
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