The developer team behind the Dolphin emulator received a DMCA takedown notice from Nintendo, preventing its release on Steam, according to a legal document reviewed by PC Gamer. The notice claims that Dolphin violates Nintendo’s intellectual property rights, including its DMCA anti-circumvention and anti-trafficking rights. Valve, as a service provider, must notify Dolphin’s development team, who can file a counter-notification if they believe the removal is unjustified or comply with it. In the event of the latter, Nintendo has two weeks to decide whether to sue. A bug that could have important implications for emulation in general in the future.
Although Nintendo hasn’t contacted Dolphin’s developers directly, its release on Steam has been postponed indefinitely due to the takedown notice. Previous cases involving emulation that could presume no crime and were used as precedent to keep emulation legal in the United States had previously been brought by Sony v. Bleem! and Connectix, in both cases the emulators were found not to have infringed copyright with their use of the PlayStation BIOS and firmware. But Nintendo’s case here would likely be argued on different legal grounds.
“Because the Dolphin emulator violates Nintendo’s intellectual property rights, including, without limitation, its rights under the anti-circumvention and anti-trafficking provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), 17 USC § 1201, we are providing you with this notice of your obligation to remove the Dolphin emulator offer from the Steam store,” the document reads. When trying to access the Dolphin page it sends you to the steam root.
The DMCA letter sent to Valve cites the anti-circumvention language of the DMCA and states that the Dolphin emulator operates by embedding cryptographic keys without Nintendo’s authorization and decrypting ROMs at or immediately before runtime, which constitutes Dolphin’s unlawful use to circumventing a technological measure that controls access to a work protected by copyright law.
“It is with great disappointment that we have to announce that the release of Dolphin on Steam has been postponed indefinitely,” the Dolphin team stated on their blog. “Valve has notified us that Nintendo has issued a DMCA against Dolphin’s Steam page and has removed Dolphin from Steam until the matter is resolved. We are currently investigating our options and will have a more in-depth response in the near future.”
For now, Dolphin will remain off Steam due to Nintendo’s DMCA takedown notice. Their Github page and website are not affected and the emulator’s developers have not received any direct contact from Nintendo or any takedown notices directed at the other places where the emulator is hosted. The Dolphin development team is investigating options and will have an answer in the near future.
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