US government officials want Nintendo hacker Gary Bowser to face a five-year jail sentence for his role in creating and selling devices that hosted pirated games.
The proposed 60-month sentence was discovered in a recent court document, spotted by Eurogamer. The document lays down the argument for Bowser to be locked away for five years, with a further three years of supervised release, in order for him to “recognize the harm” that derived from his crimes, having pled guilty to two piracy charges last year.
The US government suggests their recommended term of imprisonment reflects “the nature and circumstances of the offence, the history and characteristics of the defendant, and the need for the sentence to reflect the seriousness of the offence, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment…to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct.”
Bowser’s legal team, however, are vying for a much shorter sentence, arguing that their client is “the least culpable and only apprehended defendant from this indictment,” leaving him with the “brunt” of the blame. His lawyers recognized that Nintendo had “suffered substantial monetary loss” as a result of the offences but deemed a 19-month jail term as appropriate.
The Canadian hacker previously admitted to earning “at least tens of millions of dollars of proceeds” from the hacking devices, though it’s understood that he took a fraction of that. According to Eurogamer, his defense estimated that Bowser collected $320k over seven years but they have indicated that other members of the enterprise earned more.
Nintendo of America and its president Doug Bowser filed a lawsuit against alleged Team Xecuter leader Gary Bowser in April of last year for infringing on Nintendo’s copyright by creating and selling piracy-enabling game console devices designed to circumvent security measures and give device users access to a library of pirated games.
Bowser originally denied the allegations of hacking but changed his position in November to plead guilty, admitting his involvement with Team-Xecuter, the alleged hacking group behind the “international pirate ring,” and signed a statement to acknowledge that he “knowingly and willfully participated in a cybercriminal enterprise that hacked leading gaming consoles.”
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After taking responsibility for his role in the production and sale of the devices, Bowser agreed to help the US government locate any additional Team-Xecuter assets. He was also handed a $4.5 million fine and has since accepted a $10 million fine as part of Nintendo’s own civil lawsuit against him, but a judge is yet to make a decision on the length of his jail term.
Nintendo has zero tolerance for those looking to infringe upon its copyright. The company previously won a lawsuit against RomUniverse and ordered the Rom-hosting site to destroy all of its pirated games and pay $2m in damages, with an injunction that prohibited the site’s operator to “copy, distribute, sell, or even play unauthorized copies of Nintendo games.”
Adele Ankers-Range is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow her on Twitter.