EU Court Decides Nintendo Must Allow Their Consoles To Be Hacked

While Nintendo is likely to contest this verdict, it opens up the possibility of devices like the Gateway flashcart to be sold legally in Europe.

by on 23rd Jan, 2014

A ruling from the European Union is now forcing Nintendo to allow their consoles to be hacked.

The case involved last generation Nintendo hardware, the Wii and DS, and Italian company PC Box, Srl. PC Box made mod chips that remove the encryption on this hardware. PC Box’s hardware allows Wii and DS owners to use games from different regions. In theory, this would also allow 3rd parties to make Nintendo games without their permission, although that scenario was really more applicable in the NES/Famicom era and hasn’t come up for the Wii and DS.

In their case, PC Box asserted that Nintendo had no right to stop consumers from allowing users to play movies, music, or other media on the device. The EU court has ultimately agreed, stating that Nintendo can only protect itself against actual reproduction and distribution of copyrighted material. Therefore, hacks on Nintendo consoles outside this range cannot be blocked by Nintendo.

The ruling shows how the European Union considers consumer rights differently than practically the rest of the world. For those who aren’t familiar with this, they have struck down similar rulings against Microsoft and Google. Google has to allow Android phone owners to use phones that are integrated with search engines other than Google, while Microsoft has been penalized for not acting enough to allow non-Explorer browsers on their Windows PCs to be sold to consumers.

If you had not noticed it yet, yes, these are things tech companies do that the rest of the world usually takes for granted, but the EU is trying to set the precedent of increased consumer rights protection. With this in mind, it’s likely that Nintendo of Europe will not accept the verdict and drag it in the courts a little longer. It’s something other companies have a vested interest in as well, so I doubt this is the end.

It will be interesting to see if they are eventually compelled by the EU to comply and actually allow hackable consoles in Europe, clearing the way for Gateway 3DS flashcards there. 

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