Nintendo Blocks Release of Dolphin Emulator on Steam
The emulator developers announced this disappointing news on their blog, saying the Steam release has been “indefinitely postponed.”
The Dolphin emulator was set to make its debut on Steam’s platform following the launch of its page on March 28. The developers had expressed their excitement about the venture on their blog, stating, “This has been the product of many months of work, and we look forward to getting it into users’ hands soon!”
However, the situation took a turn on May 26, 2023, when Nintendo sent a DMCA notice to Valve, the parent company of Steam. The notice argued that Dolphin was in violation of Nintendo’s intellectual property rights, including the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)’s Anti-Circumvention and Anti-Trafficking provisions. Nintendo thereby demanded the removal of the Dolphin emulator from the Steam store.
Service providers like Valve are obligated to take action upon receiving DMCA notices, either by notifying the alleged infringer or by complying with the takedown. In response, the Dolphin developers now face a choice: they can either submit a counter-notice claiming no violation, or comply with the takedown.
Should the developers choose to file a counter-claim, Nintendo would then have approximately two weeks to decide on pursuing a lawsuit. If not, Dolphin may be re-instated on Steam. However, the question remains whether Nintendo would actually follow through with a lawsuit, and what the potential outcomes might be.
The outcome of any legal action in this case could significantly impact the emulation scene. If Nintendo were to win, other emulators for modern game systems could find themselves potentially violating the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions. On the other hand, a ruling favouring Dolphin could be a massive validation for the emulation community.
For now, Dolphin remains off Steam. Nevertheless, its Github page and website remain active, as they have not received any direct takedown notices from Nintendo. The Dolphin development team is currently exploring their next steps and promises to provide a detailed response in due course.