Takedown notice removes the Game Boy Advance emulator from GitHub

Teddy Sagi
Reading time: 3 minutes

This week, GitHub took down a popular browser-based emulator for the Game Boy Advance that let you play nearly 100 games. The ESA, which works for Nintendo and other game companies, asked to remove the video. However, the problem is not completely resolved because old games can easily find replacements, even on GitHub.

Some of the most dedicated gamers like to use browser-based emulators to play games.

Fans of the Game Boy Advance can find this option on a few websites. Nintendo hasn’t permitted them to do so.

Even though emulators that use only their code don’t break the law, they can get into trouble if they sell it with pirated ROMs. Nintendo doesn’t like this, so they have taken action against it more than once.

Nintendo’s Emulator Crackdown

The Japanese gaming company asked GitHub in 2015 to get rid of a Game Boy Advance repository hosted by the user “jsemu.”.At first, this was working, but soon after GitHub did something, copies started to show up again. The user “jsemu3” posted one of these, and Nintendo took it down in 2018.

Since then, many Nintendo fans who are really into games have found yet another alternative game collection. Again, someone with a name that sounds familiar, jsemu2, uploaded it.

This site, hosted by GitHub, has been online for a few years, but visitors got a 404 error this week. The error doesn’t say the reason behind removing the page. Although we were able to find a DMCA notice that explained the reason.

ESA Steps In

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which represents Nintendo and other video game companies, asked for the site to be taken down. ESA says the site violates its members’ copyrights and trademarks.

The notice says, “Our review of the Website shows that it has been selling or making available products and/or services that violate the copyrights and trademarks of ESA Members.”

It looks like ESA is going after this site for the third time. In its request to take down the page, the Association says two previous attempts failed. The reason is GitHub asked for “additional notice.”
“We are hopeful that this revised notice contains the necessary information to cause removal of the infringing uses of ESA Members’ intellectual property,” ESA writes. And indeed, this one was sufficient.

In its request to remove the games, ESA gives the main URL where all the games were stored. They also offered direct links to 75 of the games’ “launchers.” All 98 games on site were removed.

Persistent Problem

It doesn’t look like this will solve the problem completely. History shows that there will always be new copies. Even on GitHub, old-school gamers can easily find other games to play.

Lastly, it’s important to note that the code for the Game Boy Emulator itself, without the games already installed, is open source and still exists on GitHub. Since it’s been online for over a decade, it seems like Nintendo doesn’t mind it or has no legal reason to do anything about it.

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