A 39 year-old self-employed man in Saitama Prefecture, Japan, was arrested yesterday (May 30th) for selling devices that let users play pirated games on Nintendo DS consoles. Japan’s newly-amended Unfair Competition Prevention Act prohibits the sale of equipment designed to circumvent security mechanisms, and the man is the first to face criminal charges under the new rules for selling flashcarts.
"Majikon" (magic computer) devices like the well-known R4 cart for the Nintendo DS and its variants have been sold for years online and in Japan’s electronics districts, in defiance of a ban that made sales illegal, but didn't carry any criminal charges. Before last December’s amendment, the Unfair Competition Prevention Act "only" applied to equipment that enabled "copying" or "access," but the "only" got dropped, and now devices that allow users to run homebrew apps and pirated software on their consoles are fair game. The maximum penalties under the act are up to ten years in prison and fines of up to ten million yen (about $126,000).
The suspect allegedly sold three of the devices over the internet between February 14th and March 9th, for a total of ¥7,200 (about $91), but investigators claim he has sold about 1,200 of the devices since August of last year. Nintendo issued a press release following the news, saying it hoped that the arrest would lead to majikon disappearing from the market.