Nintendo have sent Valve a DMCA takedown notice related to the GameCube and Wii emulator Dolphin. Dolphin has been in development for nearly 20 years, but in March its developers announced their intention to bring the free emulator to Steam and opened a store page.
Dolphin's developers now say that the Steam release is "indefinitely postponed".
The takedown notice, which has been seen by PC Gamer, says that, "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, we provide this notice to you of your obligation to remove the offering of the Dolphin emulator from the Steam store."
Under DMCA regulations, operators of platforms such as Steam are required to remove content upon receiving a takedown request, and to notify the allegedly infringing party who then have the opportunity to file a counter-claim. Dolphin's Steam page has been removed and now redirects to the Steam store homepage.
"It is with much disappointment that we have to announce that the Dolphin on Steam release has been indefinitely postponed," reads a short post on the Dolphin site. "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."
Emulation operates within grey areas of copyright law and the outcome of any actual lawsuit against Dolphin would be hard to predict, but it would set a precedent that could have sweeping consequences for all emulation.
Dolphin remains available for download via links on its own site. Other emulation software, such as RetroArch, remain available on Steam. Interest in accessing emulation software through Steam has increased in recent months due to the popularity of Valve's PC handheld, the Steam Deck, and last year Valve hastily replaced a trailer for the device after a Nintendo Switch emulator was shown within a user's Steam library.