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Former Dolphin team member addresses Steam/Valve’s takedown of Dolphin emulator (delroth.net)
202 points by airhangerf15 3 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 146 comments

From the thread:

> Whether that's allowed by exception clauses for interoperability, whether that's allowed by some kind of fair use clause, whether Nintendo's broken DRM actually counts as an effective copyright protection measure, etc. -> only a lawsuit could decide that. Your guess is probably as good or as bad as anyone else's.

Sorry no, this is not a "could go either way" situation. There is ample precedence (see: DeCSS) on what counts as "copy protection", and there really is no question that a judge would see the Wii encryption as a copy protection mechanism and hence the DMCA would apply here. The intent that this is meant as a copy protection is what matters, not whether it is broken or not. (Just the messenger - don't shoot me.)

Another example: The copy protection scheme for Blu-ray Discs (AACS) is actually an open standard. You can download the PDF specification from their website right now. But getting your actual unique device key? You are instantly in boiling water if you steal one from another manufacturer.

Or another example: There is a lawsuit right now about whether YouTube has legally-protected “technological protection measures,” even though YouTube doesn’t use Widevine, FairPlay, etc. The hope is to get YouTube-DL-Like programs found a violation this way. If the movie industry is seriously embroiled in a lawsuit about whether freaking YouTube has TPMs (and they think they could win), an AES-128 key from Nintendo used for encrypting games is probably a slam dunk.

> In the original post: “whether Nintendo's broken DRM actually counts as an effective copyright protection measure”

Woah, woah, woah. Courts have been clear as daylight that somebody breaking DRM, or the broken status of DRM, has zero effect on legality. DVD has the weakest protection ever (40-bit keys), has been broken since 1999, but the Library of Congress still has their meetings for arguing about what DMCA exceptions to grant for the next three years. And DVD ripping software companies have been sued and lost repeatedly. It’s still a crime to break into a private area secured by a 60-year-old rusted lock.

We'll have to wait on the result of that court case to be sure, but the letter of the law says that youtube-dl and their ilk are circumvention devices and thus illegal to use or distribute under the DMCA.

I think this is spot on. I do wish, however, that game companies could agree on some timeline for when emulating an old console is 'ok'. Because for the overwhelming majority of old games, its either emulate them or don't play them at all.

This is where copyright is broken. Because they are perfectly happy with nobody being able to play them, and the only option being "buy new stuff".

If copyright expired in a more reasonable timeframe or had more reasonable constraints (like you can't copyright something to prevent its use all together) we'd be better off, i think.

yet it seems more likely ai generated content will be the next step long term, i just can't imagine copyright ever getting weaker as is.

I definitely think automatic copyright should be very short (5-10 years), and then the holder can extend it for 5 years at a time, at a (slow initially) exponentially increasing cost based on total duration (up to a maximum of, say, 60 years).

That way, defunct titles fall out of copyright protection automatically, unless someone is there to extend them, and pay the costs associated.

There should be a hard limit, and we got it right the first time. 14 years with an additional 14 years only if the original creator survived past the term. For most people, this means an easy 28 years. These should not extend at all, no payments, no transferring ownership to extend, no attributing copyright to a corporation that "doesn't die", none of that.

I think I agree with you. Here's an interesting thought, the first Game of Thrones book came out 27 years ago.

One problem with this is it would become even more difficult to know whether something is copyrighted or not - which is already not so obvious as eg the saga of whether "Happy Birthday" was still copyrighted or not illustrated. A fixed term from creation of the work has the advantage of simplicity at least.

I think a better reform would be simply to limit damages available where a work is not actively being sold/exploited by the current owner to some nominal amount (probably nil for non commercial use) and to repeal the prohibitions on "circumvention".

I would be much easier. Every work that is extended would have to be registered, and it’s extension would be public record.

There just needs to be a system where it’s easy and free to check the extension status of a work. If it’s older than 5 years, and wasn’t registered or extended, then it’s public domain. If it was registered, then the registration website would tell you the expiration date, and when the next renewal date is.

It would be about as hard as checking when a domain expires, which is much easier than the current system. Good luck figuring out who owns the copyright today on a random piece of text published 65 years ago.

We could go a step further and make licensing mandatory. Anyone can use the work, but they have to pay a part of their profit to the originator if they do. As a side-effect this completely legalizes non-profit fan works.

Controlling licensing terms on non-abandoned works is evidently pretty important to creators though - think eg the ability to police GPL violations or even what Taylor Swift did by refusing to licence certain rights for use in movies/TV (thereby effectively forcing producers to use the new "Taylor's version" recordings).

It's a pretty big change, so yes, some impact is unavoidable. But the GPL could still operate on the margin of free vs. mandatory fees. If the company doesn't want to go through the headache of paying each open source project it uses some fraction of the profit it makes by using it (and the necessary accounting to figure out what that profit is) then it'd still have to abide by the license.

Is that relevant though? The point of copyright is not to fulfil whatever desires creators have but to encourage more creation overall.

This mandatory bit sounds problematic to me. Imagine how much it would suck if you wrote and performed a song, and it was then turned into an anthem for an ideology you abhor, just by them paying a small fee (or nothing if the KKK or whoever is not a “for-profit” enterprise)

What if a cooking pot you greated gets used by the KKK? Nobody cares. Or at least people accept that this kind of narcisitic control over what other people do doesn't help society. Why do you think things should be more restrictive with information?

Meh. Patents used in standards have similar mandatory licensing and many standards can be used for things the inventor dislikes.

And you can donate the money if you find its source unpalatable.

Unless the cost is prohibitively high, I don't see how this would change the current situation in any way.

Make it relative? Make the cost of renewal about 10% of initial 5-year revenue from the title. If you're still selling it a lot and you intend to continue, this should be easy to pay. If not, it's quite expensive.

The costs should be prohibitively high, unless the work is still extremely productive.

The costs should be tuned so pretty much only Disney would pay the 55-60 year extension for Mickey Mouse related works.

I don’t even think they’d pay for Mickey. Mickey doesn’t really make them that much money anyway, that’s all Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar (and ESPN). They only keep bribing the copyright extensions because it’s super cheap to bribe a few congressmen - and there’s no organized opposition anyway. They wouldn’t pay billions for Mickey though.

Come to think of it, the comic books that all the big movies are based on, though, they’re all so old that those are the ones that Disney and whoever owns DC will be thinking of while they’re fighting to make sure such a scheme never happens.

Nintendo would be first in line to pay the renewal fees

I’d have the renewal cost for the 55-60 year extension somewhere around the $2B mark. There would be _very_ few pieces of work that would be valuable enough to spend a few billion for 5 years of additional protection.

I’d structure the system so that Nintendo could probably afford (but it’s be painful) to blanket buy the 5-10 year extension for every title it publishes. But the 10-15 year extension would probably be an existential bet for the company, and the 15-20 year extension for every title they publish would be enough to bankrupt the company.

The fees should be painful enough that you renew specific works that are still economically productive, but impossible to simply renew everything.

There are plenty of third party published games for older Nintendo consoles that might be public domain by now though.

Copyright should be dependent on availability. If I can't buy something, it shouldn't have copyright protection any more.

Disney and their Vault would change real fast if stuff lost copyright while they hide it.

Same for consoles and games, if I can't buy it any more, it's free to emulate and copy.

> This is where copyright is broken. Because they are perfectly happy with nobody being able to play them, and the only option being "buy new stuff".

Copyright is working as designed. In fact it's weaker in the USA than elsewhere, where it plugs into the broader concept of authors' rights. Because a work reflects on its author's reputation, that author has broad latitude in determining whether and how their work gets presented and distributed. If Disney decides that Song of the South needs to go into the Disney Vault forever, they are within their rights to decide that, per the principle of authors' rights, not just the letter of copyright law.

Copyright wasn't designed to be a censorship mechanism for past works that reflect poorly on the brand.

I think their twisted view of the world is that anyone playing an old game in an emulator is a "lost sale" for a new game.

It's unsurprisingly cheap to be a decade or more behind the gaming bleeding edge.

(I just re-played through Deus Ex, that's two decades...)

This isn't something that should be decided by corporations. They're almost always going to say no forever. This needs to be regulated and allowed by law after a concrete amount of time that is not significantly longer than the commercial lifetime of a device.

90 years after the publication of the last Wii game, and not a second less! /s

Is it that clear cut? It sounds to me like the interoperability clause would apply:

> (2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a)(2) and (b), a person may develop and employ technological means to circumvent a technological measure, or to circumvent protection afforded by a technological measure, in order to enable the identification and analysis under paragraph (1), or for the purpose of enabling interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, if such means are necessary to achieve such interoperability, to the extent that doing so does not constitute infringement under this title.


Isn't this exactly what Dolphin is doing? Isn't Dolphin an independently created computer program providing PC interoperability with Switch games?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has talked repeatedly about how the Interoperability exception is significantly weaker in context than it appears.

The biggest problem, as they summarize it, is that “Any interoperable program you created as a result of the reverse engineering is non-infringing.”

Aka, your reverse-engineered DVD player software for Linux cannot break TPMs. Your emulator can’t break TPMs. Etc. It only protects breaking TPMs to develop software that does not break TPMs. Surprise, that’s almost useless.

In which case, all it does is say that the Dolphin developers can’t be sued for breaking TPMs to develop Dolphin, at least under the DMCA. But they can still be sued if they distribute any TPM-breaking tools.


I think the actual reason this key is in Dolphin boils down to a historical accident of how game dumping and piracy used to work immediately after the Wii's release. Originally, people dumped games using certain DVD drives that were capable of reading the non-standard Wii disc format using undocumented debug commands, burned them to DVDs, and used modchips to make the burned DVDs look like original discs. (This is long obsolete and replaced by softmods that can just rip and run games on USB drives or SD cards using software running on the Wii.) People doing this had no way to decrypt the data and no reason to since the Wii expected it to be encrypted. So in order to be compatible with game rips designed to run on the Wii, Dolphin needs a copy of the common key. That is, the reason this key is in Dolphin in the first place is - ironically - most likely because it was completely ineffective at preventing game copying.

"Effective" is defined in the DMCA and has nothing to do with actually being effective. It means a measure which, during the normal course of its operation (i.e., the happy path, without anyone fucking with it), prevents copying. It doesn't matter how trivial or trivially broken such a measure is, if it's there to prevent copying you are civilly and criminally liable for breaking or circumventing it.

Possibly an unpopular opinion, but I think this is a reasonable strategic move by Valve.

They're a game distributor, Nintendo is a massive game publisher. Distributing dolphin would piss Nintendo off.

As much as I'd like it as a user, it makes sense for Valve as a company.

Valve and Nintendo have no working relationship. There is an approximately 0% chance that Nintendo, as a game publisher, will ever publish on Steam. This is a pessimistic move by the legal department, nothing more.

But Valve does publish on Nintendo's eShop.

They do?

Huh, missed the news in that one coming out. Thanks.

Apart from this being false as mentioned by other replies, Nintendo is a large player in the space with a big legal department. It could be a good strategic move not to piss them off.

None at all? Then how did portal end up on my switch?

For starters. He prolly never heard of portal lol

Never say never. Look at Sega.

Even Sony and Microsoft are now publishing their recent Greatest Hits on Steam!

isnt that the sane option just keep the steam price higher than your own price and people would mostly prefer to buy directly to save money, then you get the exposure from steam but you can convert them to your platform.

Well they are also discovering that many people would rather pay the 20-30% extra than deal with the hassle of a subpar platform.

The cost to build/maintain a competent platform is also not cheap even for the big boys like EA.

I think Valve has a clause in the contract that says the price on other platforms should be as low as the price on steam at most.

Otherwise everybody could just use Steam as advertising platform.

Of course I have no idea how contracts for big companies work

I think there's some limit to that; Nintendo could sell the new Zelda for $250 on Steam and get some takers, but it won't make them more money just make them look greedy.

Sega do not produce games to drive console sales. Nintendo's games rarely, if ever, hit other platforms.

Which speaks to his point, once upon a time Sega would hog their IPs for their console and arcade games.

They changed their strat abt a decade ago.

They changed after they exited the console market.

If Nintendo ever exit the console market then we can have that conversation about Nintendo IP on Stream. But if that happens, and it is a massive IF, that’s not going to happen for a long time.

They were dipping toes in the water even before their console market exit. Specifically, Comix Zone in 1995 [0], as well as Sonic CD and Virtua Fighter PC in 1996[1]

[0] - There were other Sega games published in 1995, but the examples I mention are titles specifically developed in house by Sega rather than titles by a 3rd party that they published.

[1] - Politely ignoring that whole NV1 debacle here, since it was in the end a very niche card.

If it happens, Nintendo has a long memory. Better to get on their good side now.

They were very much in the console business for a long time.

Would you elaborate on "no working relationship?"

I was wondering things along these lines.

I don't see there being a 0% chance (though admittedly a low one) that they bundle some of their back catalogue with an emulator and release the titles on PC (like Sega on Android/iOS).

If they think the value of those sales would exceed the value added to the switch of eg Mario kart 64 being exclusive, then it'd make sense.

Why back catalogue? Modern switch games on PC would appeal to a significant audience.

Nintendo only sells hardware because of exclusive titles. I think it's also unlikely that anyone on PC will pay $90 for a new title more than 3 months after release.

No, but who said it had to be full price?

Sony has shown that people are willing to pay $50-60 for games that are a few years old but newly released on PC. See God of War, Horizon, Spider-Man, and I think there were a few more too.

True, but I think there is a much better argument in favour of gating the IP to promote switch hardware sales.

(Again, from the perspective of Nintendo. It'd obviously be great if they released these things on different platforms from a user perspective)

How would their partners feel about how they treat others intellectual property?

No IP is being infringed in this topic

Whether they are or not, it would be foolish to make any move that suggests they don't care about IP. That's how their partners make money on Steam.

Strong opinions here

So Google is okay with it? It’s available for years + Play Store has a much bigger market reach


It's quite possible that nobody at Google actively looked into this. I don't know what would be the outcome if Nintendo sent Google a cease & desist regarding this.

Valve didn’t receive a cease and desist. (edit: Well, they did, but from this post's author, Valve initiated the conversation, not Nintendo)

> In this case, none of this process was followed. To the best of my understanding, this is what happened:

> 1. Valve legal contacted Nintendo of America to ask "hey, what do you think about Dolphin?"

> 2. Nintendo replied to Valve "we think it's bad and also that it violates the DMCA anti-circumvention provisions" (note: nothing about violating copyright itself). Also "please take it down".

> 3. Valve legal takes it down and forwards NoA's reply to the Dolphin Foundation contact address.

edit: I think their note isn't exactly accurate either. As far as I know, the anti-circumvention provisions are a part of DMCA and copyright as a whole. Though, this does not sound like it was a proactive decision by Nintendo, so I am doubtful they have plans to sue the organization behind Dolphin's emulator.

edit 2: Though, the response back to Valve, however it may have occurred, was the following

> Because the Dolphin emulator violates Nintendo’s intellectual property rights, including but not limited to its rights under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)’s Anti-Circumvention and AntiTrafficking provisions, 17 U.S.C. § 1201, we provide this notice to you of your obligation to remove the offering of the Dolphin emulator from the Steam store

Does it even matter? In the US emulators do not violate any laws.

The thing here is that Dolphin might be breaking the law by having the Wii decryption key in its source code, the link talks about it.

It's a ridiculous position if one can't just ask the court "is this infringing" without needing an inter partes legal proceeding.

Maybe neither side here wants an answer, but having an answer would seem to make things better.

Easy to avoid. Ask the user to put it's own decyrption key coming from their own console.

How is it possible to copyright/trademark a key? Is there precedence for things like activation keys or breaking someone's crypto being illegal?

Seems like a failure to secure your software is not something you could reasonably pursue in court.

There's DMCA precedent [0][1][2] however the Streisand effect has historically overwhelmed takedown attempts.

[0] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AACS_encryption_key_controvers...

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayStation_3_homebrew

[2] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DeCSS

Google is a monopolist on Android. What Nintendo is going to do about? Create their own store?

Samsung does have its own store for stuff that's essentially a duplicate of what's available on Google Play. F-Droid is a store for open source apps that are often also available on Google Play. Nintendo could create its own store for its games, why not?

Ask Epic how it went for them.

Amazon has an app store too

I guess it just goes to show that even a juggernaut like Valve cowers in fear to appease Nintendo's lawyers.

I saw a few weeks ago some coverage of the first E3 where Nintendo's entire presentation was about the dangers of the internet and software piracy and it was really enlightening and hilarious.

Here's a video with some commentary: https://youtu.be/uMuJWADkMYY?t=1787

Alternatively they didn’t cower in fear, they just didn’t see a business case in pissing off a big potential partner just so they could host a free app and gain nothing.

Or it could be that Nintendo's position is an interpretation of the law as intended by Congress. You know the law doing what it was meant to do.

You don't agree. Great. But, sadly, the correct forum for that is Congress, not Steam.

I support emulation, but emulating a live system __and__ publishing it in Steam is pushing some ethical limits. I don't say breaking them, just entering a gray area.

Nobody raised an eyebrow with RetroArch, which for me is the proper use for emulation. Software preservation and keeping alive out-of-market systems.

Explain why? Do you think it's ethical to have sold games that can't be played anymore?

Is the Wii stillconsidered to be in the market?

Here's the thing though, Valve could have just waited to see what Nintendo would do. If Nintendo had submitted a DMCA takedown request, Valve could have evaluated it then. Admittedly, whether any of us like it or not, the takedown request would probably have been valid and Valve probably would have honored it. Still, I can't think of one good reason to ask.

But Valve and Steam are PC, people can just install Dolphin without Steam

A lot of evil deeds make perfect financial sense.

> Valve could have decided to ignore Nintendo with ~ no liability. They decided to just do whatever they were asked, and that's not surprising given they initiated contact in the first place.

They most certainly would have had liability in this situation. Once informed by Nintendo that they consider Dolphin a circumvention technology, it is highly likely that in any future lawsuit a court would find Valve liable for knowing distributing a circumvention technology.

They wouldn't have any liability if Nintendo filed no DMCA claim.

They would need to comply to the claim if/when filed, but could have passed the bucket to the Dolphin team for any defense while they're off Steam, and let them duke it in court if Nintendo sues.

DMCA notices apply to copyrighted material not circumvention technologies. There is no safe harbor for distributing circumvention technologies. What Nintendo would need to proof to make Valve liable is that they knew or should have known they were distributing software meant to circumvent protection. Once Nintendo told Valve they considered Dolphin to be circumventing their protection mechanisms, proofing the above in court is pretty straight forward.

MVG has a good summary - according to him the takedown was probably due to a decryption key being found in the source code. That weakens significantly the argument that this was a clean-room effort, which is really unfortunate.


but is it not theoretically possible to have reversed engineered a decryption key from clean room?

And also, in my mind, a decryption key is not copyrightable - it's a utility number. Clean room is meant to avoid any doubt of copyright violations, so if this isn't copyrightable then it shouldn't be a problem right?

> And also, in my mind, a decryption key is not copyrightable - it's a utility number.

This is not about copyright, this is about circumventing a copy protection. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegal_number, which is also cited in the above video. Therefore, it also makes no difference from where this number actually comes from, "clean room approach" makes no difference here.

fair point.

I think this is where DMCA has overreach imho. It's one of the worst pieces of legislations to have been created regarding copyright and intellectual property.

The DMCA still can't override actual reality, fortunately. Given enough scale, the DMCA is powerless to combat the overall distribution of such "in-demand" encryption keys. Look at what happened with the AACS key (09 F9... anyone?). Even if you are able to snag a few people for spreading the number, or intimidate them into ceasing doing so, the overall effect will be negligible.

This is US-only though, in most the EU, it's explicitly allowed

Valve is, unfortunately, a US based entity, and thus bound to US laws.

Corpos have in the past attempted to claim otherwise. The safest bet for the Dolphin team would've been to ask the user for the key.

This would probably work. You could even get cute store it in the form of a silly math problem.

Way back in the early days of emulation, I recall that PS1 emulators (before a workable reverse engineered BIOS was available) would be distributed, but you had to find a bios dump and provide it to the emulator to actually load a game. This helped avoid infringement but of course was a 'hurdle' in getting things running. TBF, it wasn't that bad if you knew how to search right or had a buddy in the scene that knew a good place to download one [0].

On an unrelated note, is it bad that (most of) those early emulation sites seemed less intrusive with popups/adverts than the legitimate news sites of today?

[0] - There was a period where anyone brave enough to distribute a BIOS but allow their page to get indexed by a search engine, stood a good risk of getting a C&D/DMCA.

I've really only learned how stupid the DMCA is recently. I have no idea how a private decryption key is treated any different from a trade secret.

IF KFC dropped a recipe card and you found it with 5 of the 7 spices and you cracked the final 2, can KFC come after you? How is that any different from Nintendo being sloppy and dropping their decryption key in memory for someone to find?

Say you found all but the last 4 bytes of the key on the ground and you cracked the last 4 yourself? What if Nintendo published the entire key by accident on Github?

What is the point of keeping a private key private if it's illegal to use it if it's not yours? None of it makes sense.

Seems like there is a simple solution . Just remove the encryption key from the emulator and ask the user for it

Similar on how ps2 emulators require a bios file

> Valve's ToS likely allows them to take down anything for any reason they want.

This is all you need to read. If Valve doesn’t want the headache of poking the bear that is Nintendo, they just don’t poke the bear.

For anybody that’s shocked and upset by this, well welcome to the world.

Streisand moment: neat, I didn't know that there was a Wii/GC emulator!

Their progress reports pop up on HN pretty frequently, as they're usually pretty technically dense and interesting.

Here's the discussion of the most recent update: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=36019485

And for Switch, Yuzu and Ryujinx work great. I don't know why anyone with a decent enough PC would play on native Switch hardware anymore, when you can get 4k 120 FPS + in many games, including the new Zelda game, Tears of the Kingdom.

Simple: there's no softmod for my Switch and I don't want to risk a hardware mod. I can't even copy the games I own to my PC.

I have no problem downloading the ROMs of games I already own, the data is functionally identical, regardless of where I got the data from, from a physical Switch or off the internet.

Portability is a thing.

(Works swell ok Steam Deck though.)

The biggest advantage of the Switch is immersive portability. The Steam Deck is great, I own both - but the Switch is less bulky and has simpler software, making it very pick-up-and-play.

A gaming PC is incomparable on those metrics.

Portability is no longer an issue with the recent AMD Phoenix APUs. They're powerful enough to emulate the Switch in much higher quality, and in a comparable portable device with low heat output and power requirements.

Could you link such a device? It should be portable like the Switch, not the Deck.

The deck is portable like the switch.

I own both of them - the Switch is way more portable, easy to handle, and hassle-free compared to the Deck.

There are still bugs for several games, you cannot play in portable mode and you cannot play online unless you use a custom network used only by emulator users with a specific build.

Sure, but for most games, especially single player ones, which are usually what Nintendo exclusives are mainly, it works fine. I'm not sure why I'd want to play in portable mode at all, as opposed to docked mode. I am on an emulator after all, it shouldn't make a difference.

Portable mode has a reduced resolution and so potentially better performance. (on the real device at least)

... Switch is a 2017 device with a graphics core from 2014 with games already optimized to run fine even in the portable mode on a screen less than HalfHD.

Yeah but on the emulator it's negligible when I already get 4k 120 FPS+ as I mentioned. You might get a slight boost if you have a low spec machine but I just tested this on an older AMD laptop and the difference is a few FPS between portable and docked modes in either emulator.

Interested to know what your specs are for 4K 120FPS. That seems like it would require a very high end GPU, pricey kit these days! I'm getting sub 30fps with a 2060, which is still a decent mid range card.

5900x and a 3080 for me

You can already put Yuzu into portable mode, I think what they meant was literally playing portability which you can only do if you have a Steam Deck or similar handheld PC

No you can't get 4k 120 FPS in ToTK, often not even 60.

It's honestly really nice, even if all you ever do is read their release notes: https://dolphin-emu.org/blog/tags/progress%20report/

what the actual fuck were they thinking uploading dolphin to steam??

"it's easier to provide the software to steamdeck user this way instead of 'sideloading' it"

Maybe Steamdeck version of Steam should add UI to search Flathub and install flatpaks?

What does ‘sideloading’ mean in the steamdeck context? E.g. can you run any 3rd party game out of the box or do you need to perform some jailbreak first?

You can just boot into KDE and do whatever on the Steam Deck. Projects like EmuDeck are often used to load emulators onto the Deck, which can include Dolphin. The root partition is read only by default (which is why Steam Deck users don't often brick their systems within a week opposed to many other beginning Linux users) but you can disable that st your own peril.

However, most people aren't very Linux savvy and even Linux savvy people will need to deal with the small screen. You can pick between running shell commands or running Flatpak through discover, and I honestly can't tell which one takes longer. Typing commands on the deck sucks despite Valve's best efforts but Discover + Flatpak seems awfully slow for no clear reason whenever I use it.

Installing Dolphin through the controller optimized game interface would be a lot more user friendly. It would also help with Steam's native input UI, allowing the devs to set good presets for their emulators, and it saves having tk manually add a Steam shortcut and setting up the right properties to make the emulator usable from game mode.

Thanks for the detailed answer.

I wonder if there will be a rise in controller-friendly alternative stores for steamdeck after this decision.

'Sideloading' simply means not using the official Steam client to install a piece of software. Basically you switch to desktop mode and install it like you would install any random Linux application. No jailbreaking needed and you have full root access to the underlying Linux distro out of the box. That being said, navigating and installing software in desktop mode using just the controller is a major pain, and you really need to plug in a keyboard and mouse to make it easy to do. Also having a basic working knowledge of Linux and the command line is often required.

And it would automatically sync saves using Steam's cloud saves

I'm more baffled that they thought it would be fine for them to include the keys. I wouldn't have risked the project on that kind of risk/uncertainty.

Probably something along the lines of: emulators are legal and indie developers upload their software to steam all the time

An act of peaceful protest against unreasonably restrictive laws?

Or that they’d get an enormous marketing campaign, paid for by Nintendo? (This plan appears to be succeeding)

In what way is Dolphin different from e.g. RetroArch, that is also available via Steam?

Retroarch doesn't include any copyrighted BIOS files, or decryption keys which could make it run afoul of the DMCA. Dolphin does include keys dumped from the Wii, which are nessesery to run common dumps of retail games which are usually distributed in their original encrypted form.

The legal dubiousness of bundling keys was already well established, emulators for Nintendos other recent systems (3DS/Switch) don't include the keys, and instruct the user to dump them from their own hardware to shield the project from liability (of course the keys can easily be found online, but the projects don't endorse that out of abundance of caution).

> which are nessesery to run common dumps of retail games which are usually distributed in their original encrypted form.

I think people should just share roms with the encryption pre-removed and that's would be the end of the legal reach for Nintendo here.

Not sure why we still reproduce undesirable code from the console.

Before the Wii was fully jailbroken, piracy was achieved by modifying the optical drive to trick the system into thinking burned DVDs were official factory pressed discs. That approach means the system still expects the disc to be signed and encrypted like a legitimate disc would be, so the standard for pirate releases was to retain the encryption and that convention stuck.

In another timeline where the Wii was jailbroken earlier the standard might have been to distribute decrypted versions, but that's not how it worked out.

Ah interesting, thanks for the history reasons, I did not know that.

Literally just that RetroArch doesn't support any Nintendo system from the last 20 years?


whoops wrong link but fuck it, serendipity

Here's the correct link showing dolphin core can be loaded into retroarch: https://docs.libretro.com/library/dolphin/

Maybe retroarch itself doesn't emulate anything, but just provide a render surface/input abstraction to 'cores'?

The cores are also on Steam as free DLC

My only takeaway from this is that Dolphin lied to paint themselves as David-the-victim against Nintendo-the-Goliath. Getting hit with a DMCA takedown and simply getting told by Valve to sod off are two astronomically different things.

Not necessarily. The differences between DMCA 512 takedowns, cease and desist letters, YouTube Content ID matches, and side-eyed glances between nominal competitors in the games space, are very subtle. It's very easy to confuse the two and people do it all the time, because the end result is exactly the same: something you made is removed from the Internet because someone else says you didn't make it.

You’ve been flagged but your point is largely correct. There is a big difference between Valve in listing them, and Nintendo sending them a DMCA. The dolphin developers ignored that difference and the former Dolphin developer called them out.

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