Last week, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was leaked online ahead of release and naturally it started getting pirated and shared around.
Now, it seems like Nintendo is cracking down on people trying to emulate and/or pirate the game by sending DMCA requests targeted at core components to Switch emulator software.
The new DMCA crackdown (via GBAtemp) was confirmed by developer and security analyst Simon Aarons, who tried hosting a fork of the Lockpick build on Github, only to get multiple DMCA requests from Nintendo.
Lockpick and Lockpick_RCM are programs that users can run to dump Switch game decryption keys and let popular emulators like Yuzu and Ryujinx decrypt and open the game files, allowing them to be played on a PC.
At the time of writing, Lockpick remains accessible on Github but as many users have noted – this could be due to the grace period prior to the webhost having to legally respond to the DMCA request, presumably by taking the files down.
The alleged Nintendo DMCA request argues “The reported repository offers and provides access to circumvention software that infringes Nintendo’s intellectual property rights.”
They go further adding, “The decrypted keys facilitate copyright infringement by permitting users to play pirated versions of Nintendo’s copyright-protected game software on systems without Nintendo’s Console TPMs or systems on which Nintendo’s Console TPMs have been disabled.”
Up until now, Nintendo and generally all platform owners or publishers haven’t specifically targeted software or files that make emulation – or piracy – possible, as the software and files themselves aren’t breaking any laws.
Things become murky legally after users rip game files from games – generally the legal consensus is users who own the game are allowed to emulate it, legally. Once the game is shared to others or goes up on pirate sites, though, either of which could lead to legal action.
It’s worth nothing Lockpick and Nintendo Switch emulators have been around for years without issue – especially when it comes to the diehard fans that want to mod Switch-only games.
The DMCA requests have already had effects on the Switch emulation community as development for the Switch emulator on Android, Skyline, has shut down. Due to needing Lockpick keys to run Skyline, the team is concerned over legal action and as such – have stopped the project.
We’ve reached out to Nintendo for clarification on this and will update the article if we hear back.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is set to launch on May 12th, for Switch.