Valve, the owner of the online videogame distributor Steam, has shared more details regarding the recent takedown of the Dolphin Emulator’s attempt to release on their platform.
This information comes from a series of communications provided to The Verge, from the Dolphin emulation team and Valve themselves. Firstly it was Valve who initially brought the planned Steam release of Dolphin to Nintendo’s attention, allowing the company to take action to issue the DMCA. According to a statement from a Valve spokesperson, they did this knowing that Nintendo had a “history of taking action against some emulators”
“Given Nintendo’s history of taking action against some emulators, we brought this to their attention proactively after the Dolphin team announced it was coming soon to Steam,”
The Verge also shared a series of emails sent to Valve by Nintendo after being contacted. In essence, these emails reveal that in this situation, should the Dolphin emulator be allowed to release on Steam, Valve’s legal protections would not have been able to protect them from Nintendo’s lawyers, who would have grounds to file a lawsuit against Valve if they so choose. In any other scenario, the platform holder would not be held accountable for content released on their service, but this was not the case here.
You can read Valve’s entire statement on the matter below, spelling out their reasoning in greater detail:
We operate Steam as an open platform, but that relies on creators shipping only things they have the legal right to distribute. Sometimes third parties raise legal objections to things on Steam, but Valve isn’t well positioned to judge those disputes – the parties have to go to court, or negotiate between themselves. An accusation of copyright infringement, for example, can be handled under the DMCA process, but other disputes (like trademark infringement or a breach of contract claim between a developer and a publisher) don’t have a statutory dispute resolution process, so in these cases we generally will cease distributing the material until the parties tell Valve that they have resolved their dispute.
We don’t want to ship an application we know could be taken down, because that can be disruptive to Steam users. Given Nintendo’s history of taking action against some emulators, we brought this to their attention proactively after the Dolphin team announced it was coming soon to Steam.
Based on the letter we received, Nintendo and the Dolphin team have a clear legal dispute between them, and Valve can’t sit in judgment.
Given that Valve knew that Nintendo would probably not be happy about an emulator being released on their platform, it is perhaps understandable that they reached out to the videogame publisher first to avoid any potential legal trouble. In this case, its unlikely that any Nintendo emulation software will be able to make its way onto the platform in the foreseeable future.
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