Nintendo Launches Lawsuit Against Yuzu Emulator Creators, Alleging Piracy Connection

In a surprising move, Nintendo has filed a 41-page lawsuit against Tropic Haze, the creators of the popular Nintendo Switch emulator Yuzu. The Japan-based console maker alleges that Yuzu’s emulation of the Switch results in indirect piracy, citing examples such as the leaked Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom game file.

Nintendo’s lawsuit, filed in a Rhode Island court on Monday, contends that Yuzu circumvents the security measures in place for the Nintendo Switch, enabling the unauthorized playing of game copies on PCs and Android devices and contributing to instances of piracy.

The legal document explicitly points to damages incurred due to the leak of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Nintendo asserts that a week before the official launch, a copy of the game file appeared online, with users downloading the Yuzu emulator to play the leaked version during that period.

Additionally, Nintendo highlights the significant growth in Yuzu’s Patreon tiers between May 1 and May 15, 2023, suggesting increased downloads related to piracy. The lawsuit claims that Yuzu creators earned at least $50,000 in paid Yuzu downloads during this period. Nintendo demands the immediate shutdown of the emulator and seeks damages from the creators.

While Nintendo has a history of taking legal action against ROM sites and fan projects, the Yuzu case raises questions about the legality of emulation. Emulation itself is not illegal and serves a purpose in preservation, but running pirated copies of games on emulators enters a legally grey area.

Notably, a significant precedent for emulator legality comes from the 1999 case of Connectix Virtual Game Station, a PlayStation 1 emulator sued by Sony. The court favored the emulator group, contributing to the current understanding of emulation as legal. However, opinions on emulation have evolved, and the outcome of this lawsuit remains uncertain.

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