Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Nintendo is using its army of lawyers and cash chests to sue people who seem to be some of the biggest fans of its games and franchises. Yeah, you probably have, huh? This time, Nintendo is going after people who create and host custom artwork for icons used in Steam libraries. Obviously, it’s a good use of his time and resources…
Nintendo and its lawyers have practically become a meme at this point, with people quick to point out that any fan game or mod using Nintendo characters is likely only days away from being legally hit by the major Japanese publisher. . We asked Nintendo to relaxbut what do you expect from a company that work with the feds to send people to jail for years on ROMs? And now Nintendo is going after people who create and share custom artwork for Steam because some of it features its characters.
As reported by Ars-Technica yesterdayNintendo has sent DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) requests to SteamGridDB (SGDB). This is a community site that hosts custom user-created images that are used by some players on Steam in place of the official artwork. It’s also used by gamers who have non-Steam games built into their Steam library, allowing them to create a nice one-stop digital repository of all their various games. The problem Nintendo has with SGDB is that some of the thousands of images on the site are for various Nintendo games that people can emulate, and which those users can integrate into their Steam libraries, using SGDB to provide them with nice icons.
Now, to be clear: SteamGridDB does not host, share or link any emulation software or ROMs. These are just beautiful images and icons that players can freely download and share. Ars-Technica even talked to some of the people behind the SGDB website and they told the outlet that they “don’t support piracy”. But because there is a link or a Mario in some of them, Nintendo’s lawyers arrived and sent the DMCA site takedowns, which Ars-Technica saw and checked.
In the DMCA takedowns, dated October 27, Nintendo’s legal team claims that certain images displaying Nintendo characters or intellectual properties could “likely confuse consumers”. Not wishing to fight Nintendo in court, SGDB admins complied with take down orders and now dozens of SGDB images have been swapped out and replaced with blank images containing text explaining that the original asset was removed due to DMCA takedown request. Oddly enough, Nintendo is only targeting certain art and imagery, mostly those using actual sprites or official artwork, but allowing other fan art to stay put, for now.
When this sort of thing happens with Nintendo, there will usually be some who will point out that legally Nintendo is right. Either that they have to or they could lose their legal right to their own characters. (That’s not really how it works, by the way, and confuses trademark laws with copyright laws, all of which are more complicated and nuanced than random internet folks make out. will make you believe it.)
But the reality is that Nintendo doesn’t have to. Time and time again we’ve seen other publishers and companies not go nuclear on gamers about fan games or emulators, or custom art. Meanwhile, earlier this year, Nintendo sued someone who scanned and downloaded an old, out-of-print super mario 64 strategy guide. The company could have let this stay online, allowing its biggest fans to enjoy a cool piece of mario the story. Nope! Just like some of those great custom artworks on SGDB, they are all gone now.
Nintendo should probably spend less time using its lawyers and money to sue dedicated fans and archivists and In place start processing his better its own employees and also stop the anti-union struggle.
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