Whats the Legality/Morality of Faking Amiibos?


I’ve seen products out there that allow you to turn a generic RFID puck into any Amiibo that you want. I don’t have one of these, but it does bring up an interesting thoughts. Is faking an Amiibo piracy? Is it cheating? I was frustrated playing BoTW knowing there were many items I simply would not have access to without purchasing an 10 to 30 dollar figure that I have no interest in otherwise.


Unless you’re making a backup of your own amiibo it’s probably piracy. You’re making an unlicensed copy of the amiibo data. It’s essentially the same as burning a CD or DVD.


It’s an interesting question. I honestly don’t know the legalities, I don’t know enough about what’s on the amiibo chips themselves and whether or not that data is copyright or not. Like if it were just a plain text “Zelda” or something would that be less enforceable than some protected code.

I would say in any event it’s immoral no matter how you cut it. Things like the rarity of the figures or the implementation into games are unfortunate at best, but the same thing applies to lots of goods I would like to own but can’t. It’s something I’m supposed to pay for to access, but I’m not paying for.


I think it’s perfectly okay to fake NFC data. they don’t sell blank cards that augment your games. they sell little plastic figures that also give you an extemely insignificant bonus in a game. the games that require an amiibo to play come with an amiibo.

now if you were 3D printing bootleg amiibos that would be a illegal, yeah.


If you’re just seeking to unlock them, then go for it. There’s already a business for it afaik. It might be 100% illegal but if you want to enjoy additional content without having to pay for figurines you don’t care about, then the answer is pretty easy for you.


Not everything is entitled to copyright protection. In particular, under US law, ‘data’ is not, only creative expression is.

Now, on one level, everything is data - the contents of a movie DVD are data in the bits and bytes sense, but they’re also a creative expression, and it’s that aspect that merits the protection. Given how very small the storage capacity of Amiibo is, it’s hard to see how Nintendo could fit anything meriting copyright protection on there, and as far as I’m aware, no indication that they have - the contents are more like an ID number than anything else.


I found a detailed description of the data stored on an Amiibo over on the 3DS homebrew wiki, and though I’m not a lawyer I have a hard time believing they could convince a court that the data is a creative work that should be covered by copyright. It’s a set of numeric IDs describing the Amiibo type, plus a space for a game to store custom data. A more likely legal issue is that it’s a breach of the user agreement.

This discussion reminds me of a fun bit of Nintendo history. When Nintendo was making the Game Boy, they wanted to prevent third parties from selling unlicensed games. There’s no legal way to keep another company from making and selling carts, so they came up with a clever hack. When the Game Boy boots, it reads the Nintendo logo that’s displayed on the boot screen from the cartridge, as well as checking to make sure that the logo data on the cartridge is correct. If the logo is wrong, it doesn’t boot the game. The idea is that because the logo is trademarked, third parties couldn’t legally put it on their carts without permission. They don’t seem to have done anything similar with the Amiibo.


I never read EULAs so I’m not sure about the legality but morally, I get why someone would do it. Amiibo functionality can go too far in some cases. One early example that really irked me at the time was the original Hyrule Warriors on Wii U. Its Spinner Link Amiibo locked a non insignificant new weapon behind it. That’s an entirely new moveset on $12 figure. The games $20 season pass gives you an exponentially larger amount of content including a few adventure maps that can last hundreds of hours, along with several new characters, weapon movesets, and costumes. Seeing the value of those two head on really soured me on the concept of Amiibos. It would be one thing if Nintendo put out its own toys to life game to justify their existence and the rate they put them but I just don’t think it’s fair for Nintendo to keep pushing them out only to serve as single use unlock keys. It doesn’t serve the concept of having a toy-to-life product line.

Don’t get me started on scarcity and supply issues either.


I 100% disagree, you have a hard time arguing that copying NFC data is stealing or piracy or immoral. It is just an ID, nothing more. This is just like uses a cheat console to access unused content in a game, it was packaged as part of the software you bought, so you own it. This isn’t some extra content like DLC where you are accessing additional software. In any case, the amiibo are collectible figures first, their in-game uses are just extra.


That’s a fine line distinction that doesn’t really mean anything. If I buy Overwatch, PUBG, Street Fighter V, or any real multiplayer game, I have on my system all the code for every cosmetic and unlockable. All of that I would need to pay to use myself, but the ones and zeroes are there so i can see when someone else uses them. I paid for a license to use the software, but I don’t own any of it.


It is, in fact, exactly like “extra content like DLC”.

Lots of small-scale DLC is already in the game when you download/purchase it these days. Gaining access to it necessitates purchasing the rights to unlock it. Sometimes that’s done through the DLC model (like purchasing a gold skin for your guns in Gears of War), and here it’s done by purchasing an Amiibo. Both operate on the model of purchasing the rights to use that content, which otherwise already exists “as part of the software you bought” (this is how other players who don’t own the gold skin can see your gold skin when they play against you).

As to whether or not you “own” the software you bought: I’m just as frustrated as you probably will be about this, but that is often just not the case. Generally, you don’t own the game, you own the right to play the game.

I’m not saying you should or should not be allowed to do these things, I’m just saying you aren’t allowed to do these things, and that the argument you’re making isn’t a legally valid one. FWIW I think Amiibo gating sucks ass


The important distinction is the “extra” bit. My operating definition in this case is: “is this content bundled at release?” If yes, then it is part of the base game, therefore by paying for the base game I have the right to access all content from a moral standpoint or in the very least, it is not immoral for me to do so.

Of course, the legal question is very different and in the US at least, I do not have the legal right to bundled DLC and cosmetics. The question of “own” vs “license” at least in the US is still a very grey area, there has yet to be any real deciding case to set precedent, though of course publishers lean into the “license” side of things.

My comment was distinctly only arguing against the statement “I would say in any event it’s immoral no matter how you cut it.” which again, I 100% disagree with. I did not go into the legality and on that point, I agree.


you are going to jail


Nintendo are notoriously litigious, yet they haven’t gone after anyone cloning Amiibo. That rather suggests to me that they can’t, and they know they can’t.

And I’m not clear where you think they’d get any sort of right to restrict the copying of something that’s not eligible for copyright protection.


I generally feel if you won’t sell it (eg. Very limited supply of amiibo) I’ll get it somewhere else. If you do sell more I’ll buy it.

I have bought games I’ve completed because it’s finally in an easily purchaseable form. Eg. Original Phoenix Wright eventually got a reprint. Earthbound got a VC release etc.

Artificial scarcity is Bologna.


My post isn’t about the law around cloning Amiibos specifically. It’s a response to the post I quoted. It’s about the argument that content that is ‘in the game already’ is legally yours whether or not you’ve paid for the right to use it.


I see. I think you’re on rather weak ground with that one too though. Copyright grants creators quite specific rights to control in specific, limited, ways a few specific acts - most notably, copying their material, and publically performing their material.

It does not give them the right to control private use of it outside making copies. So, which particular bit of the law do you think gives a rights-holder any control over how you enjoy the content of the media they’ve sold you after they’ve sold it to you?


They haven’t yet sold me the skins in Overwatch, or the gold guns in Gears of War. If I legally download a 48-hour trial from EA Origin, do I now actually own that game and can play it as I please when the trial’s up because EA gave it to me? Possession of the code on my device doesn’t just grant me the rights to everything it contains.

To be frank, I don’t really give a shit about this subject. I saw someone declare that embedded DLC is legally theirs to enjoy without paying for the rights to access it, and I am pretty sure it doesn’t legally work that way, so I said as much. I’m not going to defend the law, and I have no horse in this race, so I’m done discussing it now.


nintendo isn’t doing anything about it because nobody seriously buys amiibos like “ah yes, i can’t wait to use this so i can get five more fruits in my swordman game”, so unless people actively try and fake new amiibo models to sell off, the market loss isn’t meaningful enough. i have friends who have never owned a wii u, switch, or a 3DS with NFC compatibility, who still buy a lot of amiibos, because they’re really cheap figurines of characters that they like.

also, anyone who defends corporate IP law on moral grounds has a 50% chance of being a cop


Yes. You don’t appear to have explained any basis for that belief though, which makes it a little hard to have a meaningful discussion.