Dolphin speaks out: Nintendo blocks Steam release of Wii Emulator

Onur Demirkol
May 29, 2023

Nintendo issued a legal notice on Friday to the creators of the open source Dolphin GameCube and Wii emulator. The legal notice included a warning against Dolphin's upcoming distribution on Steam and the developers took the matter to public. After receiving a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice from Nintendo, Valve delisted Dolphin from Steam.

"It is with much disappointment that we have to announce that the Dolphin on Steam release has been indefinitely postponed. We were notified by Valve that Nintendo has issued a cease and desist citing the DMCA against Dolphin’s Steam page, and have removed Dolphin from Steam until the matter is settled. We are currently investigating our options and will have a more in-depth response in the near future.We appreciate your patience in the meantime," the developers said in a blog post.

In a series of posts on Mastodon, Pierre Bourdon, who claims to have been associated with Dolphin for more than ten years in a variety of roles and who was identified in the email from Valve, claims that the notice was the result of a back-and-forth with Nintendo that Steam started and that there was no DMCA notice involved, The Verge reported. He describes the action as "just standard legal removals / C&D between two companies."

"I would characterize this NOT as a DMCA take down notice and instead as a warning shot that the software, Dolphin, if released on Steam would (in Nintendo’s view) violate the DMCA. Here, there is no allegation that Valve is currently hosting anything that infringes Nintendo’s copyright or, more broadly, violates the DMCA.  Rather, Nintendo is sending clear notice to Valve that it considers Dolphin to violate the DMCA and should it be released on Steam, Nintendo will likely take further action.  Given that Valve controls what is available on its store, it made the decision not to wade into any dispute between the Dolphin developers and Nintendo and, instead, followed Nintendo’s preemptive request and took down the Steam page," says attorney Kellen Voyer of Voyer Law to PC Gamer, which specializes in intellectual property and technology law.

Dolphin will temporarily stay off of Steam. The emulator's Github page and website are untouched, and the creators haven't heard from Nintendo directly or received takedown notices for the emulator's other hosting locations.

dolphin steam nintendo
Dolphin Emulator

What is Dolphin Emulator?

Dolphin Emulator is a video game emulator that is compatible with many operating systems. Games from the GameCube and Nintendo Wii can be played on a computer or even a smartphone.

Anyone can obtain and edit the source code of Dolphin Emulator because it is an open source program. To download Dolphin for your operating system, go to the official Dolphin Emulator page. The Stable version or the Development version are your options. You can access the most recent upgrades and new features in the development version, but there is no assurance that they will function as intended.


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