The ongoing war between Nintendo and piracy rages on as the company continues its effort to push back users from pirating Nintendo Switch games. Like clockwork, Nintendo fans can expect to see something about Nintendo and piracy popping up in the news often. After the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom for the Switch, Nintendo has seemingly ramped up its vigilance against piracy, with multiple instances of the company taking action against websites that have hosted tools and resources for pirated software. Now the company is taking aim at Valve’s Steam platform because of the infamous Dolphin emulator.
After sending a cease & desist notice to Valve, the popular Wii and GameCube emulator was removed from Steam listings. Originally appearing on the Steam storefront back in March 2023, Dolphin is an emulator used by many to play various Nintendo games and other third-party titles for those platforms. For those who use a Steamdeck to play games, interest in retro software has increased. Sof or them, the planned release of Dolphin to be compatible with Steamdeck sounded great. But it’s also because of this that Nintendo states the emulator allows users to play their games illegally, going around copyright protections and causing harm to the work of game developers.
Nintendo put a big halt on any plans for Dolphin on Steam after sending the cease & desist to Valve, causing them to delist the software from the storefront. On May 27th, the developers of the Dolphin software shared a statement about what happened. “It is with much disappointment that we have to announce that the Dolphin on Steam release has been indefinitely postponed… We were notified by Valve that Nintendo has issued a cease and desist citing the DMCA against Dolphin’s Steam page, and have removed Dolphin from Steam until the matter is settled. We are currently investigating our options and will have a more in-depth response in the near future. We appreciate your patience in the meantime…”
Copies of the legal notice sent by Nintendo have floated around, with some outlets obtaining a copy and reporting on it. According to a copy obtained and reported on by PC Gamer, Nintendo addressed Vavle’s legal department and stated their reason for blocking the release of Dolphin on Steam. “Because the Dolphin emulator violates Nintendo’s intellectual property rights, including but not limited to its rights under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)’s Anti-Circumvention and AntiTrafficking provisions, 17 U.S.C. § 1201, we provide this notice to you of your obligation to remove the offering of the Dolphin emulator from the Steam store…”
The same report on PC Gamer also has an update after speaking with Kellen Voyer, a lawyer of Voyer Law, who says that Nintendo’s request is not a DMCA takedown but a very stern request. “I would characterize this NOT as a DMCA take down notice and instead as a warning shot that the software, Dolphin, if released on Steam would (in Nintendo’s view) violate the DMCA… Here, there is no allegation that Valve is currently hosting anything that infringes Nintendo’s copyright or, more broadly, violates the DMCA. Rather, Nintendo is sending clear notice to Valve that it considers Dolphin to violate the DMCA and should it be released on Steam, Nintendo will likely take further action. Given that Valve controls what is available on its store, it made the decision not to wade into any dispute between the Dolphin developers and Nintendo and, instead, followed Nintendo’s preemptive request and took down the Steam page.”
For now, the Dolphin Emulator is remaining off Steam. As of reporting, no official statement from either Valve has been given. Nintendo on the other hand gave a statement in an email to Kotaku shortly after the news came out. “Nintendo is committed to protecting the hard work and creativity of video game engineers and developers… This emulator illegally circumvents Nintendo’s protection measures and runs illegal copies of games. Using illegal emulators or illegal copies of games harms development and ultimately stifles innovation. Nintendo respects the intellectual property rights of other companies, and in turn expects others to do the same.” Anyone that was looking to use the emulator on a Steamdeck to play various Wii and GameCube games might be out of luck here.
What do you think about Nintendo going after Steam over the Dolphin emulator? Are things going to get messier? Leave a comment down below with your thoughts about everything!
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