Nintendo sues alleged Switch pirate pair for serious coin

And if court finds for gaming giant? It's-a me! Bankruptcy!

Mario has tossed blue shells at what Nintendo alleges are two figures deeply involved in the piracy and circumvention of the Switch console ecosystem.

The Japanese video game mainstay's American operation fired off two lawsuits at the end of June targeting James Williams [PDF] of Surprise, Arizona, who allegedly goes by "archbox" online, and Ryan Daly [PDF] of Flint, Michigan, otherwise known as "Homebrew Homie," or so Nintendo claims.

Williams is accused of being "a self-proclaimed Nintendo 'pirate' who has been involved in creating, operating, and promoting (and assisting others to create, operate, and promote) a network of unauthorized online 'shops' (nicknamed 'freeshops') which offer to the public extensive libraries of pirated Nintendo Switch games for download."

Nintendo claims that one such operation, LiberaShop, "offers over 33,000 various versions" of pirated titles.

The house of Mario, Zelda, and many other beloved series also alleges Williams "knowingly traffics in malicious and unlawful software products that are designed to, and have no purpose other than to, circumvent Nintendo's technological measures that protect against the unauthorized access to and use of Nintendo Switch games and the Nintendo Switch console."

The lawsuit claims:

Because it is not possible to use Defendant's Pirate Shops or to play pirated copies of games on Nintendo Switch without such Circumvention Software, Defendant hosts websites and online 'communities' dedicated to offering the Circumvention Software and to providing assistance to others seeking to use such software.

The complaint points to the rather unfortunately named r/SwitchPirates subreddit, self-described as a "community by pirates, for pirates" with more than 190,000 followers and links to other discussion hubs hosted on Discord, where Williams is accused of assisting others in the piracy of Nintendo properties.

The document includes a screenshot of the "archbox" account boasting on Reddit: "Most of us who hacked our Switch are, like you said, pirates and aren't going to give Nintendo $50 for a game."

Nintendo goes on to allege that once it sent a cease-and-desist letter in March, Williams "acknowledged" violating the company's intellectual property rights, but "refused to agree in writing to cease his unlawful activities." It claims he then "apparently attempted to cover his tracks by systematically destroying the documentary evidence of his misconduct, including but not limited to deleting his Discord social media account as well as his GitHub account."

Nintendo seeks maximum statutory damages of $150,000 for each copyright infringed, $2,500 for each act of circumvention, and $2,500 for each act of offering circumvention technology to the public, as well as attorneys' fees and full costs.

Seeing as just one of these "freeshops" Williams is alleged to run hosts many thousands of pirated games, do the math. "Mama mia," as Mario would say.

As for Daly, Nintendo accuses him of running the Modded Hardware website, which "sells a variety of products specifically designed (and with no commercial purpose other than) to circumvent Nintendo's technological protection measures."

This is alleged to include "hardware chips that disable the Nintendo Switch console's built-in access and copy control technology" as well as "devices that allow pirated games to be copied to or placed on Nintendo Switch-compatible memory cards" and enable "unauthorized copying of authentic Nintendo Switch game cartridges."

Daly is also accused of selling Switch consoles with modded chips pre-installed for those unwilling to do it themselves, and offering a mail-in service wherein owners send him their console to have the work done then returned. Not only that, but Nintendo claims Daly furnishes the hacked Switches with "a portfolio of ready-to-play pirated games, including some of Nintendo's most popular titles such as its Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid games."

Once again, Nintendo alleges it sent Daly a March cease-and-desist letter. It claims he agreed both verbally and in writing to shut up shop. According to Nintendo, this did not happen despite a repeated warning in May. "As a result, [Nintendo of America] was left with no choice but to file this lawsuit," the complaint states.

Nintendo seeks identically punitive damages to Williams for each copyright it claims was infringed – $150,000 – as well as $2,500 for every instance of selling circumvention technology to the public.

Forget the blue shell; Mario has launched a nuke. ®

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