Hacking group Team-Xecuter was a thorn in the side of major gaming companies for a long time.
The group offered hardware and software solutions that allowed people to install and play unofficial games and pirated copies on various consoles, including the popular Nintendo Switch.
Team-Xecuter defended its work by pointing out that their products are not necessarily pirate tools. They supported the ‘right to repair’ movement and backed people who wanted to play homebrew games on their devices for personal use.
Nintendo clearly disagreed and tried to shut down the group through various enforcement actions. This eventually worked with help from the U.S. Government, which indicted three members of Team-Xecuter last year.
One of the defendants is a Canadian man named Gary Bowser, who is also known through his nickname GaryOPA. Bowser was the operator and a frequent writer on the website “MaxConsole,” which regularly reviewed Team-Xecuter hardware and other hacking tools.
According to the indictment, Bowser was more than just a writer. The Government saw him as part of the Team-Xecuter conspiracy. Among other things, he allegedly advertised and trafficked circumvention devices, while maintaining regular contact with resellers throughout the world.
Nintendo ‘Settles’ With Bowser
This vision was shared by Nintendo which launched a separate civil lawsuit against the Canadian in April. Bowser was scheduled to file an official reply to Nintendo’s allegations yesterday but instead, both parties notified the court that an agreement had been reached.
Nintendo and Bowser agreed to a consent judgment that requires the former Team-Xecuter ‘member’ to pay $10 million in damages.
“Plaintiff Nintendo of America Inc. and Defendant Gary Wayne Bowser, by and through their undersigned counsel, hereby consent to judgment in favor of Nintendo and authorize the Court to enter monetary relief in the sum of US$10,000,000.00 in favor of Nintendo and against Defendant.”
The proposed judgment, which has yet to be signed off by the judge, stresses that this amount bears a reasonable relationship to the damages and fees that could have been awarded if the case went to trial.
Circumventing technological protection measures is not outlawed globally but the consent judgment clarifies that the proposed order can be applied and enforced around the world.
Domains Seized and Devices Destroyed
The order also comes with a permanent injunction that requires Bowser and all third-party intermediaries, including domain registrants, to stop facilitating access to TEAM-XECUTER.COM, SX.XECUTER.COM, XECUTER.ROCKS, TEAM-XECUTER.ROCKS, and MAXCONSOLE.COM. The same applies to various social media channels, such as Facebook, Discord, and Reddit.
In addition, Bowser is required to permanently destroy all material that can be used to infringe Nintendo’s copyrights, including any copies of SX OS and other circumvention devices that are in his posession.
If the court signs off on this agreed judgment the civil lawsuit will be over. The criminal case is still active, but that appears to be in its final stages as well.
Update December 8: The court approved the $10 million judgment.
Guilty Plea in Criminal Case
Bowser, who’s in his fifties, initially pleaded not guilty but reversed his stance last month. After consulting with his attorney, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to circumvent technological measures, trafficking in circumvention devices, and violating the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision.
These offenses both carry a maximum prison penalty of five years, but this may be reduced due to his cooperative stance.
Meanwhile, Team-Xecuter has pretty much disappeared from the internet. Initially, the group’s website remained online, but a few weeks after the indictment was announced it returned a database error, which was later replaced by a nginx welcome page.
A few weeks ago, the curtain appeared to fall for good, with Team-Xecuter.com pointing to a seizure banner with remains active to this day.