Japan: Teen arrested for Wii-modding-Wired

July 9, 2012

Japanese Teen Arrested for Wii-Modding Software

Daniel Feit

Wired: July 3, 2012


 A Nintendo Wii user modifies the gaming hardware. [Ray Dehler/Flickr]

Japanese police have arrested a 19-year-old Kyoto college student for allegedly distributing software online that illegally circumvented the copy protection on Nintendo Wii game consoles, the Saitama Prefectural Police said on Tuesday. The software enabled users to run unauthorized software on the Wii as well as play games copied to an USB-attached hard drive.

The police force’s Cyber Crime Unit first became aware of the site in December. Police say the software was uploaded onto the suspect’s website on Feb. 28 and was downloaded about 6,500 times over the subsequent three months. Prior to that, the suspect’s blog contained information on how to physically modify a Wii console to play unauthorized software.

The student said to police that “my website was making money, so I kept it running,” reported the Asahi Shimbun. That money, approximately 200,000 yen ($2,500) over the last 18 months, came from online advertisements and not from selling the software or modding consoles, he said.

The suspect is charged with violating the Unfair Competition Prevention Act, which was amended in 2011 to attach criminal penalties to “the act of providing devices to circumvent technological restriction measures.”

Earlier this year, two Japanese men were arrested under the new law in separate cases for modding a Nintendo Wii and selling so-called “majikon” blank game cards for Nintendo DS. In the case of the college student, no money or physical goods changed hands, nor were any services provided, making his arrest a first in Japan according to police.

The Saitama Prefectural Police do not believe the suspect possesses the necessary programming or technical know-how to create the software he is accused of distributing, so the police are attempting to determine the creator of the program.

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