Valve, the company behind the Steam platform, has deleted a page after receiving complaints from Nintendo lawyers about the violation of the Authority Law in the USA regarding the Dolphin emulator on the STEAM platform. Dolphin is an emulator of the Nintendo GameCube and Wii gaming consoles that allows users to run the plays on an ordinary PC in Full HD mode. The emulator is distributed under the GPLV2+ license. The release on the Steam platform was planned to be launched in the second quarter of 2023, which would have made it easier to install the emulator on Valve Steam Deck consoles.
To stop Nintendo pirated copies of games from running on unauthorized devices, the firmware and files with games are encrypted using proprietary cryptographic keys. Nintendo owns or controls the copyright for games for the Wii and GameCube and provides licenses for the distribution of games for its devices. The conditions for using games permit the launch exclusively on their gaming console.
The complaint sent by Nintendo claims that the work of the Dolphin emulator requires cryptographic keys, the distribution of which Nintendo did not give permission. Nintendo lawyers argue that the use of the Dolphin emulator leads to illegally bypassing methods of technical protection of access to the contents, which is the subject of copyright. Additionally, the Dolphin codebase includes the main key of data encryption on the Wii consoles, which got into open access after information leaks in 2008. The supply of this key falls under the violation of DMCA.
One option to avoid further claims is for users to independently find and provide the keys for decoding, but this approach most likely continues to fall under the “bypass of protective equipment,” even if the user did not find the key on the Internet and deleted it from their console.