Nintendo Goes Against Creators of Yuzu Switch Emulator in a New Lawsuit

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Nintendo Goes Against Creators of Yuzu Switch Emulator in a New Lawsuit

Dhruv Bhatnagar
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Highlights
Nintendo has decided to sue Tropic Haze, the developer of the Nintendo Switch emulator Yuzu.
Nintendo alleges that Tropic Haze's tech was used to let one million copies of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of Kingdom download weeks illegally before its official release.

There’s no doubt that Nintendo has never been shy about pursuing legal action against products or people they perceive as infringing on their copyrights. While video game emulation is somewhat of a legal gray area, Nintendo has concluded that one emulation service has taken things too far. The gaming giant has filed a lawsuit against the creators of Yuzu, an open-source Nintendo Switch Emulator, with the US District Court of Rhode Island. 

Nintendo Sues Creators of Yuzu Switch Emulator

As spotted by Stephen Totilo, the 41-page lawsuit by Nintendo against Tropic Haze, creators of Yuzu, alleges that the emulator violates the anti-circumvention and anti-trafficking provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The gaming giant alleges that Yuzu is designed to circumvent layers of Nintendo Switch’s encryption so users can play copyrighted Nintendo games. 

Yuzu is a free simulator that was initially released in 2018, months after the Nintendo Switch was launched. It’s a piece of software that allows people to play Nintendo Switch games on Windows PC, Linux, and Android Devices. That’s not all; it also runs on Steam Deck. Whether the emulator is something illegal is very difficult to answer. Some precedent says that reverse engineering a console is legally acceptable as long as the emulator doesn’t use the original source code. However, in recent years, gaming consoles have incorporated mechanics to protect copyright.

Nintendo’s official statement claims that Yuzu has affected their company’s reputation by illegally passing their software encryption and causing damage to their game sales. Decryption keys for Nintendo Switch are needed to run Switch games, and Yuzu points to ways to do so unlawfully. The Mario-maker mentions the case of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, where the game was leaked online a week and a half early and was downloaded more than one million times even before the title’s launch. It was one of the most significant leaks in the Switch era. Nintendo claims Yuzu’s business model promotes gaming piracy and points to its Patreon to show that.

In the lawsuit, Nintendo has called out the creators of Yuzu directly, claiming they have direct knowledge that the emulator is used for privacy. In order to support this claim, the Reddit forum /r/YuzuPirates was also highlighted, along with links for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom that references the Yuzu simulator. 

With this lawsuit, Nintendo calls for a complete shutdown of Yuzu. The company is also seeking damages for the violations and loss of potential game sales. However, it remains to be seen whether this lawsuit will succeed in the long run. There’s a chance that courts may not agree with Nintendo on every point, but it might be enough to stop Yuzu creators from sharing and updating their emulation software. So far, there has been no public response from Tropic Haze on the filing. 


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