freeShop is an app that allows users to download digital 3DS titles from Nintendo’s eShop without actually using the eShop itself. This is accomplished through the use of “titlekeys”, which are essentially passcodes that verify that you have paid for and own a particular app from the eShop. These are stored locally on the 3DS, so naturally, if you’ve purchased a game from the eShop you already have the code on your system.
A thread on the /r/3dshacks subreddit expands on the application’s potential uses. Piracy is possible through titlekey sharing via freeShop, but there are also a number of gray areas mentioned such as downloading games from other regions (which you wouldn’t be able to legally obtain, even if you purchased them) or restoring games that have been pulled from the eShop. Some users also mention that the interface and user experience of freeShop is cleaner and faster than the vanilla eShop. Additionally, a comparison to CD ripping software, BitTorrent, and similar programs is made in this thread and elsewhere; while the application can be used to download titles you don’t own, some users assert that the actual piracy occurs when you trade titlekeys or use titlekeys for software you haven’t paid for.
Nintendo’s DMCA claim asserts that freeShop is in violation of the DMCA as it circumvents their technological protection measures. They assert that the application’s ability to decrypt the titlekeys facilitates piracy. Furthermore, they take issue with the usage of the 3DS logo within the application as that infringes on their trademark.
As for the developer, he made a statement regarding the takedown on gbatemp.net. He concedes that the issue regarding the 3DS logo is valid and that its inclusion was an oversight on his part. He also states that he finds their claims of circumventing Nintendo’s technological preventions “laughable” as the only way to download titles you don’t own is to acquire the titlekeys elsewhere. This is best summarized in this sentence from his post:
If people illegally obtain the password/PINs of a person’s bank account, you can’t criticize the banking website for facilitating theft.
Although the application is no longer available on GitHub, it is still readily available elsewhere on the Internet. Developer TheCruel has stated that he is exploring alternative options for hosting the software.
Who’s in the right here – freeShop, or Nintendo? Do you think Nintendo’s DMCA claim is legitimate considering the capabilities of the application in question? What do you think of the developer’s response to the DMCA? Let us know in the comments below!