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Nintendo goes after Switch emulator yuzu in new lawsuit

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Well, here we go. Nintendo have formally filed a lawsuit against the creators of the popular open source Switch emulator yuzu. Nintendo certainly aren't holding back on this one either.

Looking over the document filed February 26th, Nintendo give an example in their complaint with The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom saying that it was "unlawfully distributed a week and a half before its release by Nintendo" and that copies of it were "successfully downloaded from pirate websites over one million times before the game was published and made available for lawful purchase by Nintendo".

A major part of the argument is how Nintendo say that "Yuzu unlawfully circumvents the technological measures on Nintendo Switch games and allows for the play of encrypted Nintendo Switch games on devices other than a Nintendo Switch". Nintendo go on to talk about how yuzu allows working around all the protections they put in place, and that "to be clear, there is no lawful way to use Yuzu to play Nintendo Switch games, including because it must decrypt the games’ encryption".

To work yuzu needs certain things from a Switch console, of which the early models had an exploit where this was possible. The yuzu install guide mentions specifically you need a "HACKABLE Nintendo Switch", which Nintendo argue in the suit that "Users obtain the prod.keys either through unlawful websites or by unlawfully hacking a Nintendo Switch console". Because of how yuzu works Nintendo state it "turns general computing devices into tools for massive intellectual property infringement of Nintendo and others’ copyrighted works".

What's not particularly great for the yuzu team is a quote included in the suit from the project lead Bunnei, where Nintendo quote Bunnei saying "users probably just pirate a yuzu folder with everything" when replying to another user about the Quickstart Guide as it can be confusing for people. For context, this is a quote from the yuzu Discord server, but a follow-up post from another developer mentions directly after it "just to clarify on that last statement, we do not endorse, nor support piracy and the users who do won't receive assistance". Still, it's giving Nintendo easy ammo.

Nintendo are going after damages (which look to be quite high in monies), plus they want the yuzu website domain transferred to Nintendo control and the total shut down of yuzu as a whole.

This is going to get messy for yuzu, and for the future of emulation.

Via Stephen Totilo on X.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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83 comments
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Honestly in my opinion, it doesn't look good for Yuzu, and I wouldn't be surprised if a judge would probably agree with Nintendo's argument that there's basically no use case for Yuzu other than playing games which have encryption on them specifically designed to prevent them from being played on other devices. The fact that it doesn't come out of the box with the ability to play Switch games, because it doesn't come with the decryption keys, will be argued by Nintendo's lawyers, is irrelevant.

It's not like torrent software, where you can cite legitimate totally legal use cases since it's a general purpose tool for file transfer. There pretty much isn't a use case for Yuzu other than playing Nintendo Switch games, which Nintendo will argue is 'illegal' because they have encryption in place to prevent it, which means anyone who bypasses that by any means, is breaking DMCA's rule against circumventing DRM. And reading over the descriptions what exemptions apply to that rule, I don't think Yuzu is covered by it.

Honestly, I don't think it's looking good for Yuzu, and in turn that isn't good for the future of emulators in general. If Nintendo has a slam dunk on this case, it could put all the major game console makers, Sony, Microsoft, etc, in a good position to have a similar case against other emulators that require bypassing any kind of DRM or decrypting game files, in order to emulate games. Which could kill any chance of emulators in the future even being legal. Yikes.

Maybe the Yuzu team's only hope is focusing hard on showcasing the emulator as a way to play homebrew Nintendo Switch games and to experiment with an emulated version of the device for educational purposes.

But it's going to be hard to argue that while, upon visiting the Yuzu website just this second, the first image I saw, was a picture of Super Mario Odyssey.. There's mentions of 'Homebrew' on the website but it's obvious that isn't the use case of the software.

Well, I joined Yuzu's Patreon anyway, I wish them luck, hope they find good lawyers and get lucky, somehow win the case. Yet another reminder to never send Nintendo any money.


Last edited by gradyvuckovic on 28 February 2024 at 2:00 am UTC
eldaking Feb 28
Quoting: gradyvuckovicIt's not like torrent software, where you can cite legitimate totally legal use cases since it's a general purpose tool for file transfer. There pretty much isn't a use case for Yuzu other than playing Nintendo Switch games, which Nintendo will argue is 'illegal' because they have encryption in place to prevent it

It is illegal in some places. There are plenty of people living in countries where bypassing DRM and dumping your own ROMs to play on a PC is legal. The fact that yuzu can't be used in one jurisdiction does not mean it has no legal use at all. "Oh no, this car would be illegal to drive in Japan, so just making this car is already illegal!" - yeah, pure nonsense. It is just absurd to try to argue that something has no other uses, especially when that use isn't even being advertised by the makers.
Cyril Feb 28
My thoughts are going to the yuzu team (and all emulators devs), I hope they'll win.
Needless to say, time to clone the repository.
emphy Feb 28
I'm sure that it will either be legally solid or that nintendo is fully prepared to outspend the defending team. It was only a matter of time before this kind of dmca abuse would reach emulators.

The switch was an ideal indie-gaming device for me, but with the deckalikes that are now available I will be happy to cut my losses on the highly restrictive ecosystem and move on.

Already decided this a while ago, by the way. The device and first party games are nice enough, but to me simply not worth the entitled company that gets attached with them. I'll spend my money and time on games by developers that are not being such cultural pirates, thankyouverymuch.


Last edited by emphy on 28 February 2024 at 10:47 am UTC
Quoting: GuestAlso, is it possible to go after Nintendo for patent trolling, say?
I don't think that's actually a crime.
Quoting: CatKiller
Quoting: sonic2kkMy understanding was that a user should dump these from their Switch console, and that this is, at the very least, not illegal.

If someone has put a "technical measure" (no matter how flimsy) in place to prevent copying, the DMCA makes it a crime for Americans to circumvent that technical measure even if the making and using the copy would be otherwise legal - unless it's for one of the very short list of activities that are given a three-year exemption.
This. If we didn't have totally bullshit "copyright" laws, this lawsuit by Nintendo would be impossible.
Quoting: eldaking
Quoting: gradyvuckovicIt's not like torrent software, where you can cite legitimate totally legal use cases since it's a general purpose tool for file transfer. There pretty much isn't a use case for Yuzu other than playing Nintendo Switch games, which Nintendo will argue is 'illegal' because they have encryption in place to prevent it

It is illegal in some places. There are plenty of people living in countries where bypassing DRM and dumping your own ROMs to play on a PC is legal. The fact that yuzu can't be used in one jurisdiction does not mean it has no legal use at all. "Oh no, this car would be illegal to drive in Japan, so just making this car is already illegal!" - yeah, pure nonsense. It is just absurd to try to argue that something has no other uses, especially when that use isn't even being advertised by the makers.
Just illegal in some places, yeah. But if they've been selling 'em in the US, the fact that the sales elsewhere were legal will not stop Nintendo from suing them into oblivion, making it impossible for them to continue selling them elsewhere.

So the lesson for other such devices and for emulation in general is not don't do it, but don't allow sales in or downloads to the United States, or any place with a DMCA-lookalike.
D34VA_ Feb 28
`fsck Nintendo`
Scumbag Nintendo moment.

This is a war on content preservation. They are trying to "burn all the books" of the library of Alexandria.

They don't want you to be able to play old games, or have access to old cultural content, old movies, old music, old anything...

This is the New Global Cultural Revolution. And Nintendo is their white knight to set legal precedent to take away your private property rights.

They are replacing your "rights" with "privileges" -- and when you are a bad boy they will just "turn off your privileges" to the things you worked and paid for.
Pengling Feb 28
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Seems like the perfect time for a reminder that the last time that Nintendo lawsuited someone, their victim ended up indentured to them for the rest of his life, with $10 million owed and 25-30% of his income to be taken by Nintendo forever. He's in his 50s, so it's never going to be paid back, and the entire thing is unrealistic and heavy-handed.

After the passing of Satoru Iwata, Nintendo's president between 2002 and his death in 2015 who genuinely loved his job (he was actually uncredited on hundreds of games, and he simply enjoyed the programming challenges) and, importantly, was a gamer himself, Nintendo, its output, and its PR changed significantly. I miss what they once made and did, but I'm really glad that I'm an ex-fan - and stuff like this is part of why.
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