Notes from inside your Wii

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Wii homebrew for sale (Copyright? What’s that?)

December 4th, 2008 by marcan · 116 Comments

Recently, some sites have started to sell Wii homebrew packages / guides. Here are two of them:

  • HomebreWare a.k.a. PlaybreWare
  • Another site (I won’t link to it or mention its name because its author apparently feels that it will boost his sales)

Update: HomebreWare is again violating our copyright by selling and hosting our files. They are also operating under the new name PlaybreWare using Plimus instead of ClickBank. The following information applies to the old version of HomebreWare and is outdated; the new version can be summarized as an illegal distribution of our software, software to launch illegal copies of games, and some Nintendo Wii System Software.

The other site is newer apparently, and I’ve already looked quite a bit at Homebreware, so I’ll focus on the latter. Note: if you link to them, try to use the rel=”nofollow” attribute to avoid contributing to their PageRank. Google them if you must find their sites.

The Homebreware site claims to provide software to – surprise – do everything that Wii homebrew applications currently do. I encourage you to read the site for yourself. I actually went ahead and bought it to have proof of what’s going on. What’s in the box? There is none. Their product is entirely delivered online, and includes two parts: a PDF guide and a software bundle. They also have an affiliate program which seems to be pretty active.

First, let’s look at the PDF guide. Content starts on page 3, which is a badly authored introduction. Then, on page 4, we find this (cropped pdf). Hmm, interesting resemblance to, say, this revision of the Twilight Hack page on Wiibrew. Of course, there is no attribution, no GFDL, no nothing. So much for their exclusive PDF guide. But wait, it gets better. The next page is about the Homebrew Channel. Sound familiar? The next two pages are about the Wiibrew SD Installer. I think i’ve heard this before. Then it teaches you how to warez games – using two posts ripped off from the AfterDawn forums (I won’t link to either of these, but suffice to say it’s an exact copy as well). And finally, the Mii Channel Update page? Totally original too. And all that’s left is the FAQ page (which you can also find on their site), and includes such gems as “No it will not void your warranty” (they get to decide that now?) and “No it can’t [brick your console]” (I guess they’re including HomebrewareBootMii now).

Moving on to the bundle part, you’ll find a main bundle, a separate source archive containing a bit of random Wii source code, and the Twilight Hack 0.1beta2 as a separate archive (this was a recent update, and they were too lazy to include it in the main bundle). Here’s the file listing for the bundle, and here’s the source archive. Of note is that the bundle archive includes several WADs copyrighted by Nintendo. Of course, HBC beta9 is included as well as TPHack 0.1beta1, and many popular Wii apps. The questionable warez-launching bits and pieces probably violate the DMCA anti-circumvention clause too (not that I agree with it).

Now, neither the Twilight Hack nor the Homebrew Channel (among others) are distributed under the GPL, GFDL, or any other GNU licenses (we’ve had a source release of TPHack for a while on the back burner, but it hasn’t happened yet), contrary to what the other site claims on their footer (they also don’t seem to know how to spell our name, or that there are several “GNU licenses” and that the GFDL doesn’t apply to software anyway). In fact, they are distributed without any specific license (other than the “no warranty” stuff), which grants them automatic “all rights reserved” style copyright status (at least in all countries that fall under the Berne Convention, that is, practically the entire world). Therefore, redistribution, and especially sale, are forbidden. While we’re okay with free internet distribution by other parties (mirrors), any kind of sale is obviously crossing the line (and that includes any sale of a “guide” with “bundled” software).

I can only speak for the software that I’ve authored, but it’s clear that many other licenses are being violated here as well. If you are the author of anything in the archive and your copyright is being violated, I urge you to take action (tell the world, send them an e-mail, send them a DMCA takedown, whatever).

We’ve started to attempt to send the appropriate DMCA takedown notices to the providers involved, but I’d like to know if you have any suggestions, or if you know someone who could provide legal advice. It’s pretty annoying, as this is a slow process and meanwhile these guys are racking up the sales.

To the people behind this: what you’re doing is illegal, in case it wasn’t clear. We’re going to start firing DMCA notices until you stop. If you don’t stop now we’re going to start looking at a lawsuit.

Tags: Wii

116 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sheldon1 // Dec 8, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Hello Marcan, and everyone else. Please update me as to what else i can change on my site. Based on the number of attempted hacks directed towards me (i must admit, the one that made my windows jump about then told me to “ah don`t stop now, i`m just beginning” when i tried to close it, was quite funny) i assume that i`m still upsetting people. Please let me know what more i can do and i`ll do my best to sort it out. I don`t want anymore trouble and and more than obliging. Thanks, Owner Homebrewinstaller

  • 2 marcan // Dec 8, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    How is selling a guide unethical? There are plenty of books about Linux out there too. Are those unethical because you can find the same documentation on-line?

    My main concern (why this was a huge deal) is that the _software_ was being sold, against our copyright. I couldn’t care less about someone selling a guide to use my software. Is it unnecessary? Probably – you can get the same information on-line. But hey, if it gets more people to use the stuff and we don’t even have to provide tech support, what’s wrong with that? Anyone is free to create content and put it up for sale, even if equivalent content is available for free.

    I think many people got here due to the original problem, but didn’t understand quite the nature of it. Someone was profiting _directly_ out of homebrew: selling the _software_. That’s no longer the case.

    EmperorOfCanada pretty much nailed what I think. I thought this was going to be a nightmare and we were going to get laughed at. Instead, HomebreWare listened and the problem is gone. Let’s worry about the other sites that _are_ still selling homebrew.

    Sure, there are some things that need to be fixed, but they’re of much lower importance. The “won’t brick your wii” clause is obviously incorrect, but that’s a problem between HomebreWare and his customers. We’ve told him about it, and that’s all we need to do. It’s in his best interest to fix it. Otherwise, someone could end up with a bricked Wii and might end up suing HomebreWare for false advertising (and possibly other claims).

    I also think Windows is a huge rip-off and entirely redundant, and free alternatives exist. And yet millions of people keep buying it. Their loss, not mine.

    The scam was selling _verbatim copies_ of freely available content (applications and information). Now they’re selling an _alternative_ documentation package to what is already on-line. It’s no longer a scam – they’re selling something original.

  • 3 marcan // Dec 8, 2008 at 4:33 pm


    My e-mail address is marcan@marcansoft.com (I sent you an e-mail). The latest news that I have about your product is that most of the issues brought against the original version of HomebreWare apply to your product too.

    Your homepage also contains false statements such as “Usually to play Homebrew games on your Nintendo WII, you would be required to perform rather risky and complicated hardware & software modifications. Not with the Homebrewinstaller guide.” Your guide isn’t going to be any less risky than existing homebrew installation methods, and existing methods don’t require hardware either.

    You also mention “associated software” and a “bundle”, so presumably you’re still illegally distributing homebrew.

    “Contains software developed by Team Twiizers, View the GNU license HERE” further implies that you’re distributing our software, which by the way isn’t under any GNU license.

    Your guide (or at least one version that I have) is also a rip off of Wiibrew, much like the old HomebreWare guide. In fact, I think you ripped it off from HomebreWare itself.

    In other words, I have no news that you’ve done anything to resolve this issue. If you have, tell me about it.

  • 4 sketter // Dec 8, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    However it can be debatable, “Windows for Dummies” and “How to work with HBC” are in different. The two are very different and i can name key points.

    I won’t go into it, cause that’s for a different place.
    Since your concern was about the legal terms and made that very clear now, then I totally see your side from that point.

    I have token a look at HomebreWare.com perhaps it is still under work, (should be shutdown until it passes legal means) i can access 5 pages without paymen.
    NONE that says anything that he isn’t selling the programs.

    Now I don’t know what it is like after you pay, but before hand, that site is still misleading, unless i’m not looking at the right spot.

  • 5 marcan // Dec 8, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    I know the site is still misleading, and I’m bugging him about that, but after he fixed the post-payment page I’m willing to assume good faith and that he’ll complete the job soon. Besides, at this point it’s false advertising, so again it’s in his best interest to fix it ASAP 😉

  • 6 me.yahoo.com/a/6upcEVE5m // Dec 8, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    The kit was really simple to follow, it took me minimal effort to get it running. I had a few questions about this system and the technical support was very professional and answered them within 30 minutes.

    Kyoto, Japan
    LOL the hot dog eating champ

  • 7 kevind23 // Dec 8, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    I think the unethical part is not that they’re selling guides, but that they’re not making it clear enough that they are in fact selling mere guides. Not only do the names “HomebreWare” and “HomebrewInstaller” imply software, but their pages (yes, I know, they need to be updated) are very misleading. Furthermore, they make no clear effort to inform unsuspecting consumers that pirating ROMs and ISOs is in fact illegal.

    I suppose I can’t really say anything about HomebreWare since the site is currently in shambles, but I do hope that it’s fixed soon because it certainly is misleading to the point of false advertisement. HomebrewInstaller, which appears to be a direct rip of HomebreWare, is in a similar position, augmented by legal issues that marcan has already mentioned.

    All of these sites seem to be very assertive about not voiding the warranty of the console, yet no one but Nintendo can make claims regarding this. They also seem to think that it will magically work with all future updates, which, while hopefully true, might not be so. Finally, they’ve made totally false claims about being brick-proof: “If you think you ‘bricked’ your console, you didn’t.” Quite the assertion there, especially given that their magical solution is impossible without some sort of modification.

    HomebreWare, WiiUnlocker and HomebrewInstaller (among others, I’m sure) have a lot of work to do in my eyes. They especially need to stop with the false advertising.

    Although I’d rather read free manpages than buying a book on Linux, I certainly don’t see any fault in selling guides. But if a book promised to make my computer crash-proof and hack-proof, then I would be quite… disappointed, shall I say, if they just tossed around those words to make a quick sale.

  • 8 Kratosreven1 // Dec 8, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    Sorry if i missed something or anything like that but was homebreware banned? because theres 2 different users with that name it seems… the one thats h0mebreware and the ones that homebreware.

  • 9 hanswannop // Dec 9, 2008 at 12:13 am

    I understand that the homebreWare site is being updated but at the very least his FAQ page should be taken down immediately as it still directly implies that he is selling *software*.

    Whoppers like
    “Can I uninstall HomebreWare?”
    “Can I access the Wii Channel while I have HomebreWare installed on my console?”
    “Can this application brick my console?”
    clearly state that what is being purchased is an application. He is still breaking the law and negatively affecting the (more ingnorant in) the wii homebrew community. As it stands, I still find what he is doing discusting.
    Commercial guides are fine (if pointless for this topic) but false advertising is not.

    Also soully’s comment was disregarded but is valid. By making a video tutorial homebreWare is stealing his graphics. As far as I know, (not a lawyer) writers of guidebooks must first ask permission before using sceenshots etc.

    Guess theres bigger fish to fry now but I dont think that we really should be expected to give this guy a break.

  • 10 Sunrise // Dec 9, 2008 at 4:41 am

    I do find it somehow ironic that the majority of people commenting and acting on the “right side” of copyright are the same individuals acting on the “other side” when bushing was “in talks” with Nintendo about possibly booting backups.
    Think on people, act with dignity. Marcan has got it right, give a guy credit for at least trying to change.

  • 11 Sheldon1 // Dec 9, 2008 at 5:41 am

    Hello (owner of Homebrewinstaller here)

    I have directed all links to the Twilight hack and Homebrew Channel to their original source. The errors mentioned above by Marcus have been corrected, along with the referral to Team Tweezers and the GNU license at the bottom of the page. I fully re-wrote the guide to make it even more original. My disclaimer has also been updated. Hope this helps.


  • 12 Red_Breast // Dec 9, 2008 at 6:11 am

    These guides could also make the Hackmii site a little confusing for some.
    At the moment under the ads for Google is “Unlock Wii”. Click that and up pops a Google list of links. One of which is Unlock Wii.
    I guess like most sites you need to use ads. But you can see what I’m getting at yes/no?

  • 13 Rocketomy // Dec 9, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Oh well. This all sucks a lot but let’s look at the bright side, new people are being introduced to homebrew software and our community is growing, that has to be good to at least a certain extent.

    Commercialism do does bring around new business opportunities now, does it? Whatever the reason, we still can’t ignore the growing user base and, while still not justifiable, these websites are bringing new Wii users to the light of homebrew, which is ultimately the most important thing in our eyes.

    Though, I do admit, that I feel sorry for them and that they shouldn’t have been reeled in that way. But I guess in this case, if just for a second, the end might justify the means.

    You guys just think about that…

  • 14 ShadowKalmah // Dec 15, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    There are more sites sites now. There are about 50 of them.

  • 15 komicturtle // Aug 23, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    Though this article is kinda outdated, seems like their website is still up.. Has anyone done anything about it? Cause I’d be willing to point these people out through emailing Nintendo, and they can investigate it (They’ve done that to other parties along with Sony, Capcom, Microsoft, etc. anyways).

  • 16 komicturtle // Aug 23, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Well, we can wait till the Bad Karma rolls in. It’s just biding it’s time, and it’ll hit when least expected ^_^

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