In a mass filing under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Nintendo has apparently flagged over five hundred and fifty titles for takedown. Focusing on the site Game Jolt, a notice said to come from Nintendo listed a total of 563 title for removal from the site. The majority of these titles were fan made tributes or independent works.
A screenshot of webpage that hosted one of hundreds of games Nintendo targeted at GitHub. The page was cached on Google.
Update: Game Jolt has confirmed on their site that the takedown request was filed by Nintendo “for many of the fan games on Game Jolt that infringe on copyrights and trademarks owned by them”.
“We believe the public should know what content is being removed from Game Jolt and why. In the spirit of transparency, we will start posting all DMCA takedown notices here,” they added.
The alleged statement shows that the company seeks to protect copyright over the Super Mario, Legend of Zelda, and Pokemon franchises. This comes after the prominent Metroid 2 remake AM2R received a DMCA from the company and the creators of fan game Pokemon Uranium pulled download links from their own website after mirror sites received takedown notices as well. Kotaku has reached out to both Nintendo and Game Jolt for further comment; we have not received statements at this time.
Trademarked material is required to be protected by harsh measures so that their meaning isn’t diluted. For instance, too many unofficial Mario games without action would imperil the trademark on Mario. Nintendo are well within their rights to protect their works. That is not in dispute. Still, the company has proven highly litigious, cracking down hard on fan creations with a particular swiftness.
The subject can be tricky to navigate. Given the visibility of Nintendo’s franchises and their clear continued desire to use their trademarks, I find it hard to believe that the company was at risk of losing much here. On the other hand, a gross failure to police trademarks can be grounds for losing them.
For now, Game Jolt has created a system for game creators to quickly make their games private. Invisible and locked away from the public, hundreds of games will hang in legal and existential limbo, visible only to their creators. It’s a shame. There was a BMX game with Mario. I totally would have played a BMX game starring Mario.