Nintendo goes after fan-made customized Steam “icons” with DMCA takedowns

An archived page showing some of the custom Steam imagery that has been taken down by Nintendo's DMCA requests.
Enlarge / An archived web page displaying a few of the customized Steam imagery that has been taken down by Nintendo’s DMCA requests.

Nintendo has issued quite a few Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) requests towards SteamGridDB (SGDB), a website that hosts customized fan-made icons and pictures used to characterize video games on Steam’s front-end interface.

Since 2015, SGDB’s assortment has grown to incorporate lots of of 1000’s of pictures representing tens of 1000’s of titles. That features customized imagery for a lot of customary Steam video games and emulated recreation ROMs, which could be added to Steam as “exterior video games.”

To be clear, SteamGridDB would not host the form of ROM recordsdata which have gotten different websites in authorized bother with Nintendo, and even the emulators used to run these video games. “We do not help piracy in any manner,” an SGDB admin (who requested to stay nameless) informed Ars. “The web site is only a free repository the place individuals can share choices to customise their recreation launchers.”

However in a sequence of DMCA requests considered by Ars Technica, dated October 27, Nintendo says a few of the imagery on SGDB “shows Nintendo’s logos and different mental property (together with characters) which is more likely to result in client confusion.” Thus, dozens of SGDB pictures have been changed with a clean picture that includes the textual content “this asset has been eliminated in response to a DMCA takedown request” (you may see a few of the particular pictures that had been eliminated in this Web Archive snapshot from April and examine it to how the itemizing at the moment appears).

It’s simply what Nintendoes

The SGDB admin stated they had been “not stunned in any respect” at Nintendo’s DMCA requests and added that they’ve “gotten some prior to now from different publishers and complied accordingly.” When pressed, although, the admin may consider solely a handful of different DMCA requests the location has obtained since its founding in 2015.

To this point, Nintendo’s DMCA requests deal with imagery for simply 5 Swap video games which can be listed on SGDB: Pokémon Scarlet & Violet, Splatoon 3, Tremendous Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Xenoblade Chronicles 3. Different Swap video games listed on the location (some that includes the identical precise characters) are unaffected, as are pictures for many older Nintendo titles.

The SGDB admin informed Ars that they had “no strong concept” why Nintendo’s requests have been so focused. “I do not know what goes on of their authorized division.”

A page from SteamGridDB showing how the DMCAed images now appear (as well as one re-uploaded image with a cheeky transparent message overlayed on top).
Enlarge / A web page from SteamGridDB displaying how the DMCAed pictures now seem (in addition to one re-uploaded picture with a cheeky clear message overlayed on prime).

Even for the Swap video games in query, the DMCA requests targeted on pictures that “straight up used sprites and belongings from [Nintendo’s] IP,” in line with the SGDB admin. Nintendo’s requests thus far appear to have ignored “fully authentic creations” and “pure fan artwork” even when that artwork entails drawings of Nintendo’s authentic characters.

It is unclear if these sorts of pictures would fall below a unique authorized customary on this case. “If an IP holder asks to take down authentic creations then I will work out one of the best ways to deal with that when it occurs,” the admin stated. “The positioning is mainly all simply fan artwork, we’re open to publishers reaching out and discussing any points they could have. [The] finest strategy to discover a good plan of action is to debate choices.”

Nintendo’s SGDB takedowns come a number of months after the corporate used comparable requests towards YouTube movies explaining easy methods to set up Swap emulators on the Steam Deck. Earlier than that, the corporate used DMCA requests on all the pieces from fan video games to trendy Recreation & Watch hacking movies to Mario-themed Minecraft movies.

“Within the realm of firms ruthlessly working to regulate their very own narrative to the detriment of analysis and reference, Nintendo ranks up there with Monsanto, coal firms, and the mob,” the Web Archive’s Jason Scott informed Ars again in 2018. “You count on feelings when individuals discuss previous video video games, however considered one of them should not be worry.”

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