Freeshop is homebrew software touted as a tool used to download 3DS games that you already own. Most people, however, know Freeshop as a thing you can use to download entire 3DS games, free of charge (hence the name). Today, Freeshop’s main distribution source was hit with a DMCA notice.
If you visit the old Freeshop page on Github, this is what you’ll see:
Meaning: Freeshop can no longer be downloaded here.
Previously, users could use Freeshop to download games straight from Nintendo’s servers, provided it was available through the official Nintendo eShop. Apparently, legally purchased games are issued “tickets” that allow 3DS consoles to download titles from the eShop, except those tickets are stored locally, not online—which is what Freeshop could exploit. While it the tool could theoretically be used by people for backups and other arguable legal purposes, the first few links that come up when you search “3DS Freeshop” are tutorials on how to download games for “free”—and they’ve been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people. The murky grey area here is that Freeshop itself didn’t provide people with the 3DS keys, so it technically isn’t a piracy tool.
What work was allegedly infringed? If possible, please provide a URL:
The freeShop application provided at infringes Nintendo’s copyrights, because the application circumvents Nintendo’s technological protection measures in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Nintendo encrypts the game files available from its eShop servers to prevent users from accessing those files without paying for them. Nintendo believes the freeShop application circumvents Nintendo’s protection measures by decrypting the game files accessible from its eShop servers, allowing freeShop users to access and play Nintendo’s eShop games for free.
The freeShop application also contains unauthorized copies of the Nintendo 3DS Logo Data file, covered by U.S. Copyright Reg. No. PA0001781880, which further infringes Nintendo’s rights.
The Github Freeshop page was created by a user named TheCruel, who does not seem happy about this turn of events.
“Fuck Nintendo,” TheCruel wrote. “If anyone wants to know whether I’m going to counter it, I’m not yet sure. That could permit them to file lawsuit against me...to claim [Freeshop] circumvents any protections is laughable, though I’m unsure if it’s legally sound (law is often laughable itself). It only circumvents protections if people utilise title keys they did not purchase or obtain legally. If people illegally obtain the password/PINs of a person’s bank account, you can’t criticise the banking website for facilitating theft.”
Despite the DMCA, Freeshop is not necessarily dead. Users are now disseminating it through other means, and the software itself still functions. Additionally, Freeshop is not the only tool used for these purposes, so it’s not as if Nintendo has successfully shut down 3DS piracy with one DMCA. Instead, this seems to be the latest saga of Nintendo’s battle against pirates. Earlier this year, Nintendo announced a $20,000 cash bounty for people who found security exploits on the 3DS, though if software like Freeshop is any indication, it sounds like the 3DS has already been cracked wide open.
We reached out to Nintendo about Freeshop’s DMCA takedown, but did not hear back in time for publication.