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Konami win Tokimeki Memorial case

Sets interesting precedent for Japanese courts to follow

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

The Japanese Supreme Court has recently concluded a copyright case involving Konami and an unnamed company, who were violating the former's rights by selling modified memory cards to be used with "Tokimeki Memorial". The court ruled that by distributing memory cards that altered actual game data, thereby changing the story and character assets, the unnamed company was contradicting Konami's rights to control its image. "Tokimeki Memorial," which you will probably have never heard of, is a love simulation, and is tremendously popular in Japan, where the arcade version is equipped with apparatus to monitor your skin moisture and heartbeat so as to provide accurate data, which is then used to help correlate your score. The game gives you a colour print from a selection of 500 based on how you did, and, well, this is the sort of gimmick Japanese teenagers lose their month's allowance on in a matter of minutes. The company guilty of infringing on Konami's copyright took data from the game, altered it and saved the changes to a memory card, which they then sold. The data on the card changed some of the game's characters and altered the way it worked. The most obvious parallel one can find is that of an unofficial mission pack sold commercially here in the West. Developers often spend time and money outlawing these packs, or seeking injunctions to prevent their distribution. This is the first time we have seen such a ruling in Japan. What the ruling effectively means is that companies are under no pressure to tolerate unofficial modifications to their games in Japan, and they can go to the courts if needs be to make sure of themselves. This isn't that important a change for many, but it also paves the way for similar cases along the same lines, perhaps based on fan fiction using the game's characters, stylised artwork and similar. The boundaries of such a ruling are not clear, and it will be left to Konami and rival companies to decide whether more such matters need adjudicating - only then are we likely to see how far the courts will stretch.

Source - Famitsu

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