February was a touchy month for the issue of Nintendo and copyright — first in them sending mass takedowns to the beloved YouTube video game music channel GilvaSunner and forcing it to shut down, and then in the announced closure of the 3DS and Wii U eShops in the future prompting debates about emulation. Now they’re kicking off March with more controversy, as a number of YouTube videos showing off Yuzu (Switch) and Dolphin (GameCube/Wii) emulation on the recently released Steam Deck appear to be the target of takedowns.
While there’s currently no confirmation that Nintendo is behind it, it seems an obvious guess, and has already become popular consensus. One popular Yuzu video in particular uploaded by YouTuber The Phawx (who has over 55k subscribers) was targeted, as was his video on the Dolphin emulation. The Yuzu video showed a number of Switch games running on the Steam Deck, including Super Mario Odyssey, Super Mario 3D World, and ARMS, though nowhere in the video was it shown how to obtain ROMs, nor was piracy condoned.
It’s easy to paint the issue in black and white terms, as Nintendo either once again being cruel and brazen with their takedowns or as perfectly in their right to do whatever they’d like in regards to copyright. But the situation requires nuance — while the video does not strictly say these games should be pirated (and The Phawx showed off he already owned the games in question in the humorous tweet below), it would be slightly disingenuous to imply that showing you can play Switch-exclusive games on a new console directly competing with the Switch wouldn’t be used by some for piracy. In that sense, Nintendo would be legally justified to take action — but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily morally right either. In particular, while you could argue that Yuzu emulation on the Steam Deck could impede on Nintendo’s market, could you say the same about the Dolphin when the company doesn’t sell GameCube games in any capacity and Wii games only through the soon-to-be-shuttered Wii U eShop (on a system many may not have in the first place)?
I have diplomatic immunity. pic.twitter.com/znNUcQ9wft
— Cary Golomb (@carygolomb) March 2, 2022
In the end, it’s up to the reader to make their own judgment — and it must bear repeating that we don’t even know if it was Nintendo behind the copyright strikes (but it probably was). Hopefully Nintendo will offer some more proper emulation of its own sooner rather than later.
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