Nintendo Plots Lobbyist Push to Take on Game Piracy

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

Nintendo Plots Lobbyist Push to Take on Game Piracy

For intellectual property creators, the concept of piracy is one that chills the soul. It takes no small amount of labor to make a game or a movie or a book or anything else—believe me, I've written a few before—and the idea of someone taking the thing that hundreds of hours went into the construction of and just downloading it at no charge is a tough pill to swallow. While pirates sometimes make a good case for their own operation—not being able to buy some content, for example—it's still a disturbing point for the content creator, and Nintendo is taking its act on the road, hiring some lobbyist muscle in Washington to get more of a push against piracy.

The reports suggest that Nintendo has hired Choe Groves Consulting, and means to put the screws to the feds in terms of getting stronger intellectual property laws put in place. Nintendo is also reportedly looking for some changes in international trade and piracy laws as well, and Nintendo would have good reason to do so. It's been hit fairly hard by piracy over the years, with pretty much every one of its systems represented by piracy in some way.

Choe Groves will likely prove to be a sound choice for Nintendo, as lobbyist Jennifer Groves has previously served in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative as senior director for intellectual property, making Groves well-acquainted with many of the issues Nintendo would like to see come to fruition. But Choe Groves' involvement marks the first new lobbying group that Nintendo has worked with since 2003, and also a spark in Nintendo's overall lobbying budget, having only spent $50,000 on lobbying since 2009, averaging around $10,000 a year.

That's not a budget that a major corporation would typically spend on lobbying, but perhaps Nintendo has seen the need for a bit more push. Of course, the problem here is that the efforts can really only go so far anyway, and it may be that Nintendo's feeling the pressure a little more than it used to. With mobile gaming coming into fruition, and game makers eager to get an audience, bringing out a “Super Mario Bros.” clone is a fairly simple way to do that. Tapping that nostalgia well is a great way to get interest, and a way to do it on the cheap besides.

Yet the problem here is several-fold. One, anti-piracy measures have commonly not fared well in the United States. Remember SOPA? PIPA? The host of anti-intellectual-property-theft bills that have come and gone down in blazes of horror from the Internet? There aren't likely to be many legislators willing to take that particular bull by the horns again, mostly because this is a deeply complex area, and pushing too hard in one area can have unintended consequences that go a whole lot farther than anyone wants. Worse, there are even some problems with the pirates themselves; sometimes, they make a good point. One of the biggest reasons for piracy that's so intensely hard to fight is the “well, we WOULD buy it, if they'd actually release it!” argument. In this argument, pirates note that not everything that's been released is available, even used. And this is true; there are out-of-print movies, and games no longer produced because their market would be so imperceptibly small that it would likely cost the company money to do a wider release. This happens with several Nintendo titles; any idea where to find a copy of "River City Ransom"?  Throw in issues of music rights and the like and sometimes the studios end up working against each other; regular viewers are left with no option but piracy to see the content they want to see.

Still, it's going to be interesting to see just what Nintendo does here. There's a lot at stake, and Nintendo's future could be just part of what's up for grabs. A lobbyist may have its work cut out for it here, but it could also have a bigger reward waiting than it could ever imagine.

Featured Events