Dolphin Emulator Steam Release: Nintendo DMCA

Dolphin Emulator Steam Release: Nintendo has always been vocal about their disdain for illegal emulation, but following the leak of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, they have become more vocal. Nintendo has increased its crackdown on unofficial emulation.

As seen in the preceding Tweet, the distribution of the Dolphin emulator on Steam has been indefinitely delayed due to a DMCA issued by Nintendo.

The Dolphin emulator is most well-known for its ability to emulate GameCube and Wii games, a service that Nintendo does not offer except for a few select titles.

The Dolphin Team has stated that they are currently evaluating their options and will provide a more detailed response at a later date; we will keep you informed when this occurs.

When did Dolphin emulator come out?

The Dolphin Emulator was first released to the public on September 22, 2003. Since then, it has undergone significant development and improvements, becoming one of the most popular and widely used emulators for playing Nintendo GameCube and Wii games on various platforms.

What was the first ever emulator?

The first known emulator, known as “EMIDEC 1100,” was develope in the early 1960s. It allowed users to run programs originally written for the EMI 1100 computer on the newer EMI 2200 system.

Emulation, in the context of computing, refers to the process of replicating the functionality of one computer system or software on another system, typically through software or hardware emulation.

Since then, emulators have been develope for various computer systems and consoles, allowing users to run software from different platforms on their devices.

Dolphin Emulator Steam Release: Nintendo DMCA

The development team launched a Steam page on March 28 and announced it on the Dolphin blog with the following statement: “We’re excited to finally reveal our endeavour to the world.

This is the result of many months of labour, and we look forward to putting it into the hands of users as soon as possible!”

The legal notice addresse to Valve’s legal department and dated May 26, 2023 was reviewe by PC Gamer.

The document states, “Because the Dolphin emulator violates Nintendo’s intellectual property rights, including but not limited to its rights under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)’s Anti-Circumvention and AntiTrafficking provisions, 17 U.S.C. 1201, you are require to remove the Dolphin emulator from the Steam store.”

Under the DMCA, notices such as this one are sent to service providers, in this case Valve, who must then notify the putative infringer.

The Dolphin development team has the option of filing a counter-notice with Valve or complying with the takedown if it believes the emulator does not contravene the DMCA as Nintendo claims.

Copyright Alliance explains that if the team files a counterclaim, Nintendo has approximately two weeks to determine whether to sue. Dolphin could potentially be re-add to Steam if this does not occur.

The question is whether Nintendo would pursue legal action in this instance, and if so, what would occur.

If Nintendo were to win the case, the majority, if not all, emulators of modern game systems would likely be held in violation of the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions.

If a ruling favoured Dolphin, it would be a significant vindication for the emulation community.

Previous emulation-related litigation filed by Sony against Bleem! and Connectix determined that the emulators’ use of the PlayStation BIOS and firmware did not violate copyright.

These lawsuits have long use as a precedent to uphold emulation as legal in the United States, but emulation is a complex topic, and Nintendo’s case would likely be argued on distinct legal grounds.

The DMCA letter sent to Valve cites the anti-circumvention language of the DMCA and expressly asserts that “the Dolphin emulator operates by incorporating these cryptographic keys without Nintendo’s authorization and decrypting the ROMs either immediately before runtime or just before runtime.

” Thus, the use of the Dolphin emulator violates the Copyright Act by circumventing “a technological measure that effectively controls access to a protected work.”

For the time being, Dolphin will not be available on Steam. Its Github page and website remain unaffected; the emulator’s developers have not received any direct communication from Nintendo or termination notices for other hosting sites.

“It is with great regret that we must announce that the release of Dolphin on Steam has been indefinitely delaye,” the Dolphin development team wrote on their blog on Friday.

“Valve informe us that Nintendo has issu a DMCA against Dolphin’s Steam page, so we have temporarily remove Dolphin from Steam until the matter is resolve.

We are currently investigating our options and will provide a detailed response shortly.”

I’ve requested a comment from Valve regarding the DMCA notice and will update this story if I receive one.

Wes has covered games and hardware for over a decade, initially for tech sites such as The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer staff in 2014.

Wes plays a bit of everything, but he is always eager to cover emulation and Japanese games.

If he’s not obsessively optimising and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory, he’s presumably playing a 20-year-old version of Final Fantasy or some obscure ASCII roguelike.

With an emphasis on writing and editing features, he seeks personal stories and in-depth narratives from the niche communities of PC gaming. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be particular).


As a result of Nintendo’s DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice, the publication of the Dolphin Emulator on Steam has generated controversy.

Dolphin Emulator is a ubiquitous piece of software that enables users to play GameCube and Wii games on their computers.

The emulator was create by a community of devoted devotees who laboured tirelessly to provide an alternative means of playing these classic games.

Many viewed the release of the Dolphin Emulator on Steam as a means to broaden its reach and accessibility to a larger audience.

However, Nintendo, the owner of the GameCube and Wii games, issued a DMCA takedown notice against the Steam release of the emulator.

This action by Nintendo has raised queries and concerns regarding the legality of console game emulation and its effect on intellectual property rights.

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