Nintendo hacker Gary Bowser has been sentenced to 40 months in prison after he pled guilty to piracy charges.
Bowser was one of the leaders of Team Xecuter, a sophisticated for-profit video game hacking group that created and sold console-hacking software and hardware, such as mod chips. The group consists of over a dozen individuals located worldwide, and their tech allowed consoles such as the Switch, Nintendo 3DS, the NES Classic, the PlayStation Classic, and Xbox to run pirated games. Unlike others in the emulation/modding community who create free, open-source software, Team Xecuter charged money for its services. Bowser’s role included running websites that, according to the US Department of Justicemarketed these products to customers while helping create and support online libraries of pirated games.
Naturally, their activity drew the ire of Nintendo, who roped in the US government to launch a formal investigation. Bowser and other Team Xecuter leaders, Max Louran of France and Yuanning Chen of China, were arrested in September 2020 and initially charged with 11 felony counts each. The men potentially faced over 20 years in prison.
“These defendants lined their pockets by stealing and selling the intellectual property of other video-game developers–even going so far as to make customers pay a licensing fee to play stolen games,” said US Attorney Brian Moran after the arrests in 2020. “ This conduct doesn’t just harm billion-dollar companies, it hijacks the hard work of individuals working to advance in the video-game industry.”
Nintendo Switch OLED
The 52-year old Bowser, originally from Canada, was arrested in the Dominican Republic and deported to the US, where he has remained in custody ever since. He pleaded guilty to two felony charges – Conspiracy to Circumvent Technological Measures and to Traffic in Circumvention Devices, and Trafficking in Circumvention Devices–in October 2021. He agreed to pay $4.5 million in restitution as part of his plea agreement and another $10 million to settle a separate lawsuit from Nintendo. Although Louran, 49, and Chen, 36, were also charged, they are not in federal custody at the moment.
In a press release, Nintendo thanked the government for their efforts with the following statement:
Nintendo appreciates the hard work and tireless efforts of federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to curb illegal activities on a global scale that cause serious harm to Nintendo and the video game industry. In particular, Nintendo would like to thank the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI ), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) of the Department of Homeland Security, the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington, the US Department of Justice’s Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs for their significant contribution and assistance.
We’ll see if the other Team Xecuter leaders face a similar fate, but this is only the latest and perhaps harshest reminder that Nintendo doesn’t mess around when it comes to protecting its intellectual property.
[Source: US Department of Justice]
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