Video rental firms win round in struggle with Nintendo

A vote in the House Judiciary Committee yesterday gave Blockbuster Video and other video rental companies another victory in their continuing battle with the makers of Nintendo games.

The committee approved a bill banning the rental of computer software, but a clause in the legislation allows for the rental of video games such as those made by Nintendo.


Blockbuster and Nintendo have been battling for a year over whether the video rental chain should be able to rent out Nintendo's games.

Last year, Nintendo sued Blockbuster over copyright violations, saying that the rental chain, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was photocopying Nintendo instruction manuals. Blockbuster officials said they photocopied the manuals only because the originals were worn out.


That suit, filed in New Jersey,was settled out of court earlier this year.

Nintendo, based in Japan, says rentals are cutting into the sales of its games and amount to copyright infringement. Nintendo has said it expects to sell 70 million games this year.

A spokesman for Nintendo of America in Seattle said yesterday's vote was "not consequential" because the House and the Senate must now put together a final bill.

"This is a long way from being a law," Richard Lindner said.

But both House and Senate versions allow for the rental of video games.

Blockbuster, the nation's largest video rental chain, and other rental companies say that the rationale for anti-rental laws should be to prevent copying.

Blockbuster officials say video game rentals account for about 3 percent of the company's sales.