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Nintendo of America has filed a lawsuit to take down the Yuzu Emulator, a tool commonly used for Nintendo Switch Games.

In the lawsuit (via Stephen Totilo), Nintendo argues that its intellectual property rights have been infringed since playing Nintendo Switch games on Yuzu would require decrypting the game first.

Part of the reasoning behind the lawsuit this time was the release of Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, which leaked early and was available on Yuzu

“Yuzu circumvents Nintendo’s technological measures on its games; thus, Defendant’s development and distribution of Yuzu constitutes unlawful trafficking in software primarily designed to circumvent technological measures, and the confirmed use of the emulator by Bunnei and other Yuzu developers as Defendant’s agents to decrypt and play Nintendo games constitutes unlawful circumvention”, the lawsuit reads.

The Nintendo Yuzu lawsuit sees the publisher seeking statutory damages of USD 2,500 per violation of the DMCA’s anti-circumvention and anti-trafficking provisions, and USD 150,000 per violation of Nintendo’s copyright,

Are Emulators Legal?

While it sounds like an open-shut case the reality of emulators is anything but- the softwares themselves are a form of fair use, as ruled in Sony v Connectix in 1998.

One of the arguments was that the ability to run games on a platform that it would be otherwise unavailable wasn’t itself a copyright violation- instead making the emulator “Modestly transformative” and therefore fair use.

“For this reason, some economic loss by Sony as a result of this competition does not compel a finding of no fair use”, the judgement reads. “Sony understandably seeks control over the market for devices that play games Sony produces or licenses. The copyright law, however, does not confer such a monopoly.”

W. Amirul Adlan
Nmia Gaming – Editor W. Amirul Adlan