Nintendo hits popular homebrew YouTuber, Modern Vintage Gamer, with numerous copyright claims forcing him to stop making Switch homebrew videos – What’s happened and why this is behaviour is very dangerous.
Every now and then, the Big N decides to go after people who make the world aware that their consoles are hacked and can run homebrew as they aren’t very pleased about it. This time, they retaliated by forcing Modern Vintage Gamer, a YouTuber with over 175k subscribers, to stop making videos about Switch homebrew.
Nintendo’s retaliation against MVG started on Tuesday when someone at Nintendo, possibly an employee, decided to manually file a copyright claim against an October 2018 video of his showing Nintendo 64 emulation on the Nintendo Switch. Their reason, which in my opinion is pretty weak, was because he showed a few seconds of emulated Super Mario 64 gameplay on the Switch. In order to avoid stirring up more trouble, he decided to take the video down as it had already run its course thinking it would be the end of it even though he owns a physical copy of Super Mario 64 and there are numerous videos on YouTube showing emulated Super Mario 64 game play (with some even showing you how to pirate it).
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end of things as they flagged 3 more videos on Friday morning for similar reasons (Mario Kart and Zelda: Link To The Past), even mentioning Splatoon 2 as copyrighted content even though no footage of it was present in the flagged video. Now, MVG has contested the claims, naming “Fair Use” as a reason, but disputes are sent back to the claimant so it’s unlikely that Nintendo will allow him to reinstate his videos unless he gets lucky. As a direct consequence, he will stop making videos about Nintendo Switch homebrew which is a sizeable blow to freedom of speech and the modding community as a whole.
Why is this behaviour dangerous?
While having one YouTuber being forced to stop making videos about Nintendo Switch homebrew may not sound like too much of a big deal, such things from Nintendo have measurable effects on the homebrew community and freedom of speech in the following ways:
- Through more copyright claims, Nintendo might censor more videos (and potentially websites) about Switch homebrew which might make less people aware of the hard work going in the Nintendo Switch homebrew scene
- If guides on how to hack one’s Nintendo Switch are targeted, less tech-savvy users may decide not to hack their console which could result in a smaller Switch homebrew community going forward
- Nintendo could try taking legal action against people who develop homebrew for their currently-sold hacked consoles (3DS and Switch) which might make some developers afraid of developing more homebrew games/ports/emulators
- This may be sending a message to the emulator developer community that they might be targeted next especially if they port emulators to the Switch
- Without a doubt, this is a direct threat to freedom of speech, fair use and the ability to use one’s hardware as they please
Sadly, such things have been happening for a while and they are unlikely to stop in the future but there’s always hope that sometime in the future, laws friendly to console modding are enacted. To achieve this, you can speak to local legislators that you think might understand your point, usually younger ones, and try to raise awareness about the issue by mentioning examples, such as this one, to your tech-savvy friends and family!
MVG’s video about the whole ordeal can be seen below