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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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Ehvis Feb 28
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Quoting: pleasereadthemanual
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.

It's not so much about the emulation as it is about the ROM/firmware issue. To be fully open, devs would have to create the whole firmware/OS/system software from specs alone. This generally doesn't happen and using the emulator requires copying it from an original device. For somewhat modern devices this also means circumventing whatever protection was put in place to prevent that. And the legality of this last bit is more difficult and varies around the world. In the US, they worked hard to push the DMCA through which helps the manufacturers make as much of that illegal as they as they could push through. I'm not sure where exactly Yuzu fits in in the process of helping circumvention, but at least it's vague enough to give Nintendo a stick to beat with. It's now up to the company being sued to pony up the funds to defend themselves. Whatever happens, it's still strictly a US thing since most other places in the worlds don't have laws as broken as the DMCA.
robertosf92 Feb 28
Suckers, was thinking about buying the pokemon legends games, but fuck them
Linux_Rocks Feb 28

Yuzu just makes me think of the delicious candy.
Trying to find information about Tropic Haze LLC, which Nintendo is suing, proves difficult. Nintendo provides this information in the suit:

QuoteDefendant employs several developers who operate as the company’s agents, including Yuzu’s author and lead developer, Bunnei.
QuoteTropic Haze engages in systematic and continuous activity in the State of Rhode Island and is thus “at home” in this District.
QuoteDefendant Tropic Haze LLC is a Rhode Island limited liability company that develops and distributes the emulator known as “Yuzu.” Defendant maintains a network of paid coders/developers who develop and maintain the software, including compiling and releasing weekly (and sometimes daily) updates to improve the software’s ability to replicate the gameplay experience on Nintendo’s authorized hardware and software. These developers are Defendant’s agents and, on information and belief, are acting within the scope of their agency when committing the acts discussed herein, making Defendant liable for their unlawful conduct.
Now, this is completely unrelated, but linking to other tools that you don't have anything to do with does not qualify as "trafficing in third-party software" or copyright infringement in America. It does in Japan, though.

QuoteAdditionally, Defendant traffics in third-party software that circumvents technological measures on the Nintendo Switch console by linking to that software on Yuzu’s website.
And on the other hand, this is not a good look:

QuoteThis may seem complicated, but in private, Bunnei admits there is a far easier way. When a user raised in a Discord chat operated by Defendant that setting up Yuzu was complicated, Bunnei first said “unfortunately at this time, it’s not as simple as” running a simple script, and there are several “specific manual step[s], hence why to go through the whole process, you need to basically learn what they are.” “Or,” Bunnei added, “users probably just pirate a yuzu folder with everything.”

Regarding circumvention, Nintendo describes how Yuzu works:

QuoteImportantly, an unauthorized Nintendo video game ROM is still an encrypted game file, protected by the Game Encryption. Indeed, Defendant’s lead developer admits as much. When asked in a June 2018 Discord chat whether “xcis”—the file type of game ROM dumps from a cartridge—“come decrypted,” Bunnei responded: “they are encrypted.” Nintendo is not aware of any source of decrypted Nintendo Switch game ROMs.

Yuzu allows users to play unauthorized copies of Nintendo Switch games by circumventing the Game Encryption at or immediately before runtime.

Yuzu unlawfully decrypts the ROM’s Game Encryption by (1) identifying the encrypted Title Key that accompanies the game file and using keys in the prod.keys to decrypt the Title Key, and (2) decrypting the game ROM using the Title Key. Yuzu unlawfully decrypts unauthorized copies of both physical cartridge and Nintendo eShop games, which come in two different file types, using slightly different methods.

But both methods require cryptographic keys from the prod.keys and result in decryption of an encrypted ROM. Then the unauthorized game is able to be played in Yuzu.
Yuzu actually decrypts the game using the prod.keys files the user extracts earlier. This is...murky, legally, at best. Without the keys that need to be provided by the user, it can't decrypt anything. But if it has them, then it circumvents the encryption Nintendo provides.

Nintendo also argues later on that emulation itself leads to loss of revenue, as customers should be required to purchase a copy of the game for each platform:

QuoteAs a clear demonstration of this, certain of Nintendo’s third-party licensees release their games not only on the Nintendo Switch but also on PCs and other platforms. If users wish to lawfully play those games on multiple platforms, they must buy the games separately for each platform.
On the other hand, this passage sends mixed messages:

QuoteOn information and belief, Defendant and its agents were fully aware that the reason membership of the Patreon exploded was that Yuzu was being used for unlawful play of pirated copies of Zelda: TotK . Indeed, Bunnei implemented a ban on discussing Zelda: TotK emulation in Yuzu’s Discord server because so many Yuzu users were trying to seek support emulating it.
Nintendo then argues that Yuzu harmed law-abiding Nintendo customers because it contributed to the propagation of...spoilers:

QuoteThe prevalence of piracy of Zelda: TotK in the days leading up to its release, in large part through emulators such as Yuzu, harmed law-abiding Nintendo customers too. For example, many fans of The Legend of Zelda were forced to avoid social media to prevent seeing spoilers and preserve their surprise and delight for the actual game release, as seen in these fan posts:
Nintendo is not attempting to get Yuzu taken down while the case is ongoing, like Sony did with Bleem! and Connectix's VGS (that is, they aren't seeking a preliminary injunction; only permanent injunction):

QuoteDefendant’s conduct has caused and, unless enjoined by this Court, will continue to cause Nintendo great and irreparable injury for which there is no adequate remedy at law. Pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 1203(b)(1), Plaintiff is entitled to permanent injunctive relief prohibiting Defendant and its members and agents from engaging in further acts of offering to the public, providing, or otherwise trafficking in Yuzu or other circumvention software.
Incidentally, Nintendo is also accusing Yuzu's developers of pirating as well as dumping games:

QuoteOn information and belief, Defendant’s agents, while acting within the scope of their authority from Defendant, have also downloaded game ROMs online from pirate websites which they have not lawfully purchased.
Nintendo also wants control of the domain name:

QuoteFor entry of an order, pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §§ 502, 1203, 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a), and this Court’s inherent equitable powers, requiring Defendant and its officers, agents, servants, employees, attorneys, and all third parties in active concert or participation with any of them: (a) to surrender and cease to use the domain name YUZU-EMU.ORG, and any variant thereof controlled by Defendant; (b) to immediately transfer the domain name YUZU-EMU.ORG, and any variant thereof controlled by Defendant, to Nintendo’s control;
And that's it. That's everything I thought was notable in the lawsuit, as a non-lawyer and copyright anti-enthusiast.
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.
The thing is that it's not really a copyright lawsuit, as such. It's about some stuff in a copyright law, but that stuff doesn't actually concern copyright. It's about how the software, when used in a device, probably will be used to tamper with a digital lock of some sort, an action which the DMCA makes illegal. A DMCA takedown notice on Github would have to be about who holds the copyright of the software itself, and Nintendo aren't alleging they hold any copyright to the software or that Yuzu are infringing on any of their copyrights as such. So no, there's no reason this lawsuit would involve any such takedown notices.

Last edited by Purple Library Guy on 28 February 2024 at 3:55 pm UTC
Mohandevir Feb 28
Worst thing is to think that, before this nonsense, I was willing to pay Nintendo if they ever decided to provide roms of their older consoles, so that I may legally run them on my emulators.

I personnally hacked my Wii console and installed USBLoader because the disk drive was starting to fail. I ripped and mounted all my legally bought games on an external drive, for preservation. It gave a second life to the console and it's even more enjoyable, now.

Oh well...

Edit: Even if I totally dislike Nintendo's behavior, the problem I see with Yuzu it's the fact that they emulate the current gen console... This is not about preservation, in this case. The Switch doesn't yet need preservation... When the Switch 2 is out, maybe then. Yuzu is too early for it's pretended purpose. Just saying. Don't hate me, please.

Last edited by Mohandevir on 28 February 2024 at 4:18 pm UTC
Pengling Feb 28
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Quoting: MohandevirWorst thing is to think that, before this nonsense, I was willing to pay Nintendo if they ever decided to provide roms of their older consoles, so that I may legally run them on my emulators.
I would've been, too, to be honest. But knowing them, even if Satan were to ice-skate to work while some pigs soar overhead one fine morning and Nintendo did do something like this, it would be saddled with Denuvo or some other similar rootkit, anyway.
Hmm, Nintendo being Nintendo again. Somehow nobody that I know IRL can understand why I will not purchase any products from them.
Pengling Feb 28
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Quoting: neon_soaked_chryssalidSomehow nobody that I know IRL can understand why I will not purchase any products from them.
Nintendo fans will even run other fans out of town for daring to hold the company accountable for their mistakes and poor decisions*, so I'm not surprised somehow. (Yeah, I never fit in with them even when I was a fan.)

*Gotta love excuses like "You should be grateful!" and "At least they tried.". No way, they're a huge company demanding a lot of money for their products - they're not doing stuff out of the goodness of their hearts!

Last edited by Pengling on 28 February 2024 at 5:06 pm UTC
ToddL Feb 28
Quoting: artixbtwThis is why I never have and never will buy anything from Nintendo. Japanese litigious approaches are downright repulsive.

I'm glad I don't care for their games anymore for over past two decades and yuzu doesn't scratch my itch to play anything they make on the Switch. Besides, I'm happy with the Steam Deck because I can play a lot of non-Nintendo games they get but better and I actually buy the games I want to play at better prices versus the eShop. At least I know I can continue to access them on a PC or elsewhere without having it get stuck on the Steam Deck if it ever dies or I sell it for whatever reason (not that I would) versus having the game get stuck on a Switch with no guarantee if the newer systems they make in the future will play them.

Quoting: neon_soaked_chryssalidHmm, Nintendo being Nintendo again. Somehow nobody that I know IRL can understand why I will not purchase any products from them.

Don't worry, it's better if they don't know than to know. At least the people I know IRL understand and somewhat agree with me why I don't like Nintendo.

Last edited by ToddL on 28 February 2024 at 6:03 pm UTC
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