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Nintendo’s DMCA Operation Continues With Lockpick, Kezplez-nx Takedowns

By , in Anti-Piracy DMCA kezplez-nx lockpick Nintendo Nintendo Switch yuzu , at May 8, 2024

lockpick-sMore recent generations of video gamers will undoubtedly have their own ideas about which company in business today has made the greatest contribution to the art of videogames.

Those who nominate Sony, for marketing the original PlayStation at adults and forever transforming public perception of video games, have a very solid case. Yet when one balances software, hardware, innovation, consistency, branding and longevity, the only answer that stands up to the most intense scrutiny is Nintendo. Should its demise ever be announced, “you only miss things when they’re gone” won’t even scratch the surface.

Yet despite its status as video game royalty, Nintendo receives significant criticism for its approach to intellectual property infringement. While smaller companies would metaphorically hack off body parts for a fan base as passionate as Nintendo’s, some believe the company has been taking that loyalty for granted. Its ruthless attitude towards fan-made labor-of-love games, struck down at the 11th hour because [insert your own reason here], certainly hasn’t done the company many favors.

Many viewed Nintendo’s smack down of the Switch emulator Yuzu earlier this year in much the same light. Yet those who took a few steps back probably could’ve predicted what lay on the horizon. The exciting and pioneering world of jailbreaking and homebrew had no chance of controlling the monster being created. It was only a matter of when it would arrive and who would end up paying the price.

When The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, leaked a week-and-a-half before its official release, and was reportedly played on up to a million hacked Switch consoles, that broke the metaphorical camel’s back.

That pivotal piracy bonanza wasn’t the direct work of the console hackers, homebrew developers, tinkerers, and others closely associated with the scene. However, as those who made the conditions for it to happen, while also making for the easiest targets, Nintendo’s plan for the future likely envisions nothing good for those who continue to circumvent its technical measures.

Nintendo’s Big Clean Continues

Following a series of takedowns in March that focused on various circumvention tools, a single DMCA notice filed at GitHub late April took down an unprecedented 8,535 Yuzu repos in the blink of an eye. While the scale of the removal may have given pause for thought, only one question needed to be answered; did the original Yuzu infringe copyright?

GitHub seems to believe it did so, on that basis, they all came down. While there was no pivotal lawsuit win for Nintendo against Yuzu, a point appears to have been reached where going over old ground concerning legality is mostly no longer needed. A pair of DMCA notices filed at GitHub in the wake of the Yuzu notice filed earlier, amount to a framework likely to be seen again and again moving forward.

“When a game is started on the Nintendo Switch console a Game [Technological Measure/TPM] is decrypted using cryptographic keys that are protected by Console TPMs. The games themselves can then be decrypted by the decrypted Game TPMs so the game can be played,” one of the notices reads.

“Nintendo owns or exclusively controls numerous copyrights in software and games that are protected from unlawful access and copying by the operation of these Technological Measures.”


The following is Nintendo’s justification for the removal of the software. The focus is on Lockpick_RCM, a circumvention tool for extracting protected cryptographic keys (prod.keys) from the Nintendo Switch that, in turn, allows the decryption of games.

“The use of Lockpick with a modified Nintendo Switch console allows users to bypass Nintendo’s Technological Measures for video games; specifically, Lockpick bypasses the Console TPMs to permit unauthorized access to, extraction of, and decryption of all the cryptographic keys, including product keys, contained in the Nintendo Switch,” the takedown notice states.

“The decrypted keys facilitate copyright infringement by permitting users to play pirated versions of Nintendo’s copyright-protected game software on systems without Nintendo’s Console TPMs or systems on which Nintendo’s Console TPMs have been disabled. Trafficking in circumvention software, such as Lockpick, violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of the United States (specifically, 17 U.S.C. §1201), and infringes copyrights owned by Nintendo.”

Kezplez-nx: Same Purpose, Same Law, Same Story

The targeting of Kezplez-nx repos follows on from the deletion of the original repo and Nintendo’s takedown of a popular fork in an earlier wave. The software received no mention in Nintendo’s lawsuit against Yuzu but as a tool to allow users to dump keys from a Switch device, which in itself requires circumvention of Nintendo TPMs, there’s scant basis for debate.

The fact that both tools were designed for infringing purposes, and have little to no other uses, effectively ends the discussion. The nature of the notices, anti-circumvention as opposed to regular DMCA notices, actually puts an end to the discussion; there is no counter notice process available.

The notices are available here and here. Elsewhere, through two main agents (Sonopress GmbH and Marketly llc) Nintendo takedowns average around 200 every day but in all likelihood the overall figure will be higher than that.

With the next Switch now confirmed but likely to be many months away from launch, Nintendo clearly sees benefit in clearing the decks, ready for whatever comes next.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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