Japanese publisher and developer Tecmo has settled its lawsuit against fan website Ninjahacker.net, after more than four months of legal action. The lawsuit began after Tecmo accused the site's operators of creating or distributing patches for the games Dead or Alive 3
and Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball
that allowed the already scantily clad characters to be played in the nude.
The action began in February
, when Tecmo lawyers alleged that the patch violated the controversial U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act - a law which, as yet, has no specific equivalent in Japan or much of the rest of the world. The company's complaints were twofold: that the hackers had breached the copy protection of the games and that the company's intellectual property had been infringed by unauthorized modification and usage.
The lawsuit was settled out of court this week, with the Judge dismissing the case without explanation after an unspecified out-of-court settlement, thereby missing the chance for what could have been a landmark statement on a user's rights to modify legally obtained software. The defendants argued that the creation and free distribution of software patches for video games, an activity that is used to promote the longevity of many PC titles, falls under the "fair use" doctrine applicable to any consumer product.
Tecmo have always been amongst the most vociferous of all game companies in protecting its right, and all the company's titles include lengthy legal boot-specific warnings peculiar to the company. The company previously won
a Japanese court case against a small game publisher called Westside, which developed and released Japan-only unofficial add-on discs for Tecmo's Dead or Alive 2
for PlayStation 2 which removed the clothes of popular in-game character Kasumi, though this was done for commercial profit, as opposed to the non-profit Ninjahacker site.