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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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Quoting: emphyOn another note: I find it very telling that the yuzu github page doesn't seem to have been hit by a dmca notice.

Indicates to me that nintendo are far less sure of their legal legwork than they pretend to be.
That's because Yuzu doesn't violate the DMCA. Yuzu itself is just an emulator to play Nintendo Switch games. It doesn't contain any circumvention tools.

I suppose Nintendo could try to nail Yuzu on contributory copyright infringement in the same manner Betamax was attacked some 40 years ago.

What is more concerning is whether emulation is actually legal (the video I linked earlier goes over this in great detail). That's a sticking point.

Re: The Ars article doragasu linked:

QuoteCrucially, though, the open source Yuzu emulator itself does not contain a copy of those "prod.keys," which Nintendo's lawsuit acknowledges that users need to supply themselves. That makes Yuzu different from the Dolphin emulator, which was taken off Steam last year after Nintendo pointed out that the software itself contains a copy of the Wii Common Key used to decrypt game files.
It's ridiculous to think Yuzu could be taken down for providing instructions on a website. Yuzu isn't a company. It's software worked on by developers from all around the world, and someone who contributes to the project provides a website for them with those instructions.

And here Nintendo argues for contributory infringement:

QuoteIn its lawsuit, though, Nintendo argues that "the vast majority of Yuzu users are using Yuzu to play downloaded pirated games in Yuzu." For instance, the lawsuit points to data showing that leaked copies of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom were downloaded one million times in the week and a half before the game's release, a time period that also saw "thousands of additional paid members" added to Yuzu's Patreon. Yuzu is "secondarily liable" for "inducing" this kind of infringement, Nintendo argues.
Now make the exact same argument for torrent clients.

None of these arguments in themselves are convincing. Taken together, they might be. But the main point is: using Yuzu is not in itself illegal. There is no part of Yuzu that is illegal. It just so happens that many users of Yuzu run afoul of the DMCA at some point before using Yuzu.

QuoteBut Loiterman said he's "skeptical this goes to trial. Unless Yuzu has very deep pockets, I think they're likely to take it down, and the software will live on but not be centrally distributed by Yuzu."
Yuzu is not "centrally distributed" by Yuzu. It's distributed by Github. Yuzu will die unless someone steps up to host the repository elsewhere because it lives on contributions by multiple people from all over the world.

Bleem!, the Playstation emulator for the Dreamcast, was sued by Sony. They won the case. They went bankrupt anyway. Yuzu is very different, because it's not a company. Who are they suing? The developer who owns the Github repository? A vertical slice of the most active contributors? The person who hosts the Yuzu website? The person who owns the Yuzu discord group?

Either way, Yuzu has an impressive amount of Patreon donations. In the order of $45,000 AUD a month; they might actually be able to take on Nintendo with that kind of cash, but not forever.

This seems like just the sort of case the EFF would want to provide legal resources for.

I don't own a Switch or play any Nintendo games, but this case will certainly set a precedent.

Anyway, I donated to Yuzu today because fuck Nintendo.
Ehvis Feb 28
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The weird thing about these lawsuits is that they are now targeting a company as "the makers of yuzu". I don't know anything about the development, but assuming that this company is the main driving force, it is still only a part of it. Second problem is that this is a US lawsuit using US laws that mean nothing for most of the world. So even if this went to court and Nintendo wins, nothing would change. The emu either continues directly or is forked and continued. So from a perspective of stopping emulation this is not going to work and is possibly going to have the opposite effect. So to me, it sounds more like a way of extorting a few dollars from US corporate entity.
artixbtw Feb 28
This is why I never have and never will buy anything from Nintendo. Japanese litigious approaches are downright repulsive.
I was really considering finally buying myself a switch, at worst maybe waiting to see what the new hardware release was going to be later this year, but maybe, just maybe, I shouldn't condone the actions of one of the most bloodthirsty and psychopathic video game companies in history by purchasing their equipment.
Maybe instead I should just use that money to purchase the indie games on Steam that are basically the same things Nintendo's putting out, but with actual innovation, which Nintendo hasn't done since the GameCube.
A common opinion in the comments of that Ars article was that "the Patreon was really asking for it." I'm curious what GOL users think of the Patreon which is bringing in more than 10 times as much money as GIMP's Patreon accounts.

Is it illegal to develop commercial emulators?
eldaking Feb 28
Quoting: Purple Library GuyJust 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.

The point is that there are legitimate users. The argument is that it can't possibly be used lawfully so it is exclusively a tool for crimes and it doesn't hold water, for this and other reasons.

Distributing it in the US might be a crime if it is decided that it is a tool capable of breaking DRM (even though it is insufficient for that task as it does not contain the keys), but my point is that it is not because "there is no lawful way to use Yuzu to play Nintendo Switch games".

It is not a crime to make a useless emulator that can't play games, and if people use your useless emulator for crimes it is not your problem. But if someone made a program that breaks the DRM of switch games, doesn't matter if it can emulate them, distributing it is a crime.

Nintendo is grasping at straws. They are making many wrong and misleading arguments to push a copyright-maximalist narrative that serves their purposes of suppressing legal and ethical competition and denying basic customer rights. Pushing this narrative is probably more important to them than suing the yuzu devs for money they can't pay. Yeah people can be sued in the US for looking at Nintendo wrong, doesn't mean that is what the law says.
Pengling Feb 28
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Quoting: pleasereadthemanualBleem!, the Playstation emulator for the Dreamcast, was sued by Sony.
Just to add to this, it was for Windows first. I was a Bleem! user, and I remember a lot of discontent about the "Bleem! 4 Dreamcast" version draining resources from improving the main product, even though if I remember rightly it was necessary to have it there to bring in funds to deal with the legal stuff.

And, for everyone else since I know you'll already know this one, that suit wasn't about the emulator itself, but the marketing side of it as a commercial product.

Quoting: pleasereadthemanualI don't own a Switch or play any Nintendo games, but this case will certainly set a precedent.

Anyway, I donated to Yuzu today because fuck Nintendo.
I used to be as passionate a fan of Nintendo as you guys know me today for my love of Bomberman (it was formerly a concurrent and almost symbiotic thing, since Bomberman's Nintendo installments were particularly popular and I got started with the series there). You know the drill - the sort of marketing companies can't buy.

They lost me as a fan several years ago (they took the few series I liked off in directions I didn't enjoy or stopped making them altogether, released badly-made hardware that requires frequent repairs due to design-defects*, and various other missteps), and I wholeheartedly agree with the "Fuck Nintendo" sentiment!

*These weren't covered under warranty in the UK (unlike other regions where Nintendo treated it like Microsoft treated the Xbox 360 defects) in spite of it being designed in, and they charged as much for the repairs as you'd pay for a replacement. It changed eventually, but that was years after I'd already come to the conclusion that a user shouldn't have to constantly repair carefully-used in-warranty equipment, got sick of it, and took my proverbial entertainment-dollar elsewhere.

Nintendo is now just like the other options that they used to be positively contrasted against, and this feels like the next step down that road - they're now even further from what they once were than I ever could have imagined. They can go to hell. And that's the sort of marketing that companies don't want to buy.

Quoting: EternalBlueFlameMaybe instead I should just use that money to purchase the indie games on Steam that are basically the same things Nintendo's putting out, but with actual innovation, which Nintendo hasn't done since the GameCube.
That was what I did after I ditched the Switch and all of my cartridges in late 2021. It was easily one of the best gaming decisions I ever made and it's worked out really well.

There's SO much more available on Steam (and that's before even touching on GOG.com and Itch.io), and gaming there is far better value in general than in Nintendo's ecosystem, even when it comes to buying the same indies.

Welcome, by the way!
nenoro Feb 28
i grew up with a nintendo console between my hands, nintendo fanboy for sure buuttttttt i hate them to make me pay 2 times the price for physical copy while the digital price is lower...

I thought nintendo wouldn't be an ahole like sony and microsoft but nooooo let's do like america because we are capitalist.

Also thanks to emulators because after that we want to buy a digital or physical copy of a game we have enjoyed on emulator.

So no need to sue them, they do give a benefit for companies


Last edited by nenoro on 28 February 2024 at 12:57 pm UTC
Liam Dawe Feb 28
Quoting: pleasereadthemanualA common opinion in the comments of that Ars article was that "the Patreon was really asking for it." I'm curious what GOL users think of the Patreon which is bringing in more than 10 times as much money as GIMP's Patreon accounts.

Is it illegal to develop commercial emulators?
Well, their early access to builds for people who pay probably isn't helping their case here.
Quoting: Liam Dawe
Quoting: pleasereadthemanualA common opinion in the comments of that Ars article was that "the Patreon was really asking for it." I'm curious what GOL users think of the Patreon which is bringing in more than 10 times as much money as GIMP's Patreon accounts.

Is it illegal to develop commercial emulators?
Well, their early access to builds for people who pay probably isn't helping their case here.
I don't think selling emulators is actually illegal. Connectix, for example, won in the case Sony brought against them: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connectix_Virtual_Game_Station

Of course, Sony brought them to the brink, purchased them, and shut it down anyway...

I'm actually really interested to see if there's anything about commercial emulators being illegal, because I can't find anything. I figured the potential issues were the same regardless of whether Yuzu was making money from it or not.
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