FINAL MAJOR UPDATE: Metroid Database has confirmed that depressingly, the letter they received, the takedown notices, everything is 100% TRUE. No further comments have been given from them, but I made an opinion article on the entire matter here. Nevertheless, the original article is below the edit log for those wondering what my suspicious were. This speculation of mine has officially been DEBUNKED.
MAJOR EDIT 6: The AM2R website has now been struck with two DMCA claims from this Miller Nash firm. I repeat, The Source Website has now been affected. The following pop up when trying to grab the AM2R game from the website:
I’ll try to provide more updates as they come. For now, it seems that one of the following possibilities have happened:
1: The same suspected Copyright Troll did a mass report at the same time and Metroid DB just so happened to be taken down first, with the official site being struck after the report went through the verification process.
2: The Copyright troll struck Metroid DB, but a real legal rep went after the official site and is now taking action.
Either way, the outlook seems grim for this fangame, and whatever is causing it doesn’t seem to be fond of it. When a final word is given, I’ll express my honest thoughts on the entire situation in another opinion article. Either the troll is getting more aggressive, or worst comes to worse it’s NOA/NCL in the flesh targeting the game.
MAJOR EDIT 5: The same Metroid Database admin who posted the letter has given an update mentioning that they’ve attempted to contact the lawfirm and left a message. Soon we’ll learn the fate of AM2R, but considering how wide the article has spread along with raised awareness of this game in general, it’s pretty much impossible to eradicate at this point.
MAJOR EDIT 4: Metroid Database sent out the below tweet clarifying that they will contact the lawfirm mentioned in the message to see whether or not this is true or not. We’ll learn the fate of AM2R tomorrow, and whether or not this was real or fake. As mentioned before, this whole thing was speculation on my part, hence why its in the Opinion Article section of the site, so if it ends up being true (which yes, would make me very angry along with the rest of you), don’t go all crazy on me please.
MAJOR EDIT 3: Metroid Subreddit moderator PhazonZim got word back from the creator of the fangame and owner of the blogspot, who said that he did NOT get any such takedown email. This is a bit fishy and adds more substance to my theory, but like always, we still don’t know for sure until NOA/NCL specifically states that yes, they did take the game down. A picture of the post can be found below.
MAJOR EDIT 2: Others have pointed out that this same firm is the one that takes down kickstarter projects that aim for a profit of Nintendo IPs. The Metroid fan film and a Mario one are examples. Miller Nash is a real firm who does have power to take things down. But considering the sketchy nature, the lack of any word on if the original website (The Blogspot) was hit with something like this, and no word from Nintendo or the firm, this is still a rumor/theory, and I’ve updated the title to reflect that.
MAJOR EDIT 1: Many people have brought to my attention that the guy I mentioned in my article as someone who I could “find zero trace of” does indeed exist. It is also noteworthy that the fan-funded Metroid Fan film was taken down by a firm with a similar name. However, I still stand by my suspicious considering how NCL is the one typically in charge of their IP, and the fact that Jason Allen seemed to be a real anti-piracy lawyer with NOA around the time of TGH’s album takedown last year, only for others to point out tons of errors and oddities. As pointed out further ahead, it’s really easy to fake a DMCA claim on basic file sharing websites, and there are still tons of inconsistencies. Until a concrete statement from NCL/NOA is given confirming that this happened, we should take all sides with a grain of salt.
Seeing how this is a big thing that’s BLOWING UP everywhere on the internet, I feel that it’s absolutely important to express some opinions and facts on the whole nature of Nintendo and DMCA takedown notices, and trying to get to the bottom on what exactly is going on.
For those who don’t know, just yesterday a fan released a long-in-development fangame titled Another Metroid 2 Remake. How long was this game in development for, you may ask? Well, according to the blogspot for the game the creator has spent the past decade working on this project as a labor of love, and from what gamers say, the remake is really good. (Sadly I can’t play it due to no Mac support as of now, but the overwhelming reception should be a good indicator of the quality.) Some gaming news sites reported on it, yet again with positive reception, and it all seemed well and good.
That is, until today, when according to a tweet from fansite Metroid Database, (Which is an affiliate of the fangame’s blog) Nintendo of America sent a DMCA takedown notice for their download link of the game.
Of course, as is always expected with surprise news like this, fans everywhere flipped out, going nuts and starting a whole civil war over this incident, some shouting “Nintendo has the full IP! It’s their right!” while others say “Nintendo is horrible for doing this, they hate their fans!” Well, here’s my thought on this situation: Nintendo of America had zero involvement with this takedown. Why am I saying this, you may ask? Well, look no further than the case of Jason Allen, a notorious fake employee who went after a huge amount of Nintendo Fangames, and even projects that had nothing to do with Nintendo. A great article explains that story in better detail along with a video, which you can read here. Sadly, for some odd reason the gaming media barely reported on this major fact, even though it perfectly explains why some things get the pass, (Like Nintendo fansites or youtube videos) and why some things get slapped down. (Like the aforementioned fangames) Why this happened, I honestly don’t know, but let’s take an in-depth analysis of the letter Metroid Database received.
Right off the bat, eagle-eyed Nintendo fans may have some questions. For one thing, why did Nintendo go after a mirrored host of the fangame, instead of the actual website, which is the blogspot? As of right now, the website is perfectly functional, as proven below with this screengrab I took at the time of writing.
That’s the first oddity, so onto the second, which is regarding the name of the supposed “Lawyer”, Brian Sniffen. (EDIT: This has now been proven to be the name of a real lawyer from a separate firm, and not from NOA themselves, which is where I looked into. Please stop sending me NeoGaf links, I have eyes everywhere already and know my error. My point still stands with the lack of confirmation from the guy’s mouth to know for sure if it was the real lawyer or an imposter.) Similar to Jason Allen, the lack of evidence should raise huge red flags if the article I linked above wasn’t proof enough. Another cause for alarm should be the fact that the site that was targeted was a simple filesharing website, SoftLayer. These hosting sites are notorious for their lax DMCA policies, making it easy for you or me to impersonate a company employee and take down something in the name of them, even if it doesn’t make any sense.
For example, a youtuber I admire named TheGuitahHeroe made a fantastic Pokemon Mystery Dungeon remaster album, remaking the entire GBA soundtrack in a quality akin to the amazing OSTs you would find on the TurboDuo. However, last May he was hit with a DMCA from the Jason Allen dude mentioned above, who’s from Nintendo of America, and NOT The Pokemon Company International, the company who would have the bigger authority to issue such a takedown. That was a big red flag back then, and once again the article linked above regarding Jason Allen proves that it was one of many errors made by these supposed “professionals.”
But what I personally believe is the biggest sign that this fan project is NOT actually under fire from Nintendo is the fact that Nintendo of America issued the takedown. NOA is only a small branch of Nintendo, and while they do have plenty of options to act against copyright violators, if they wanted to go all out on a fangame like AM2R, they would likely not be the ones who would issue a wimpy DMCA claim, rather the head honchos in Japan, Nintendo Co Ltd (Also known as NCL) would be the ones who would launch the takedown, and they wouldn’t just go after one filesharing website, they would go after ALL of them, and slap a much more devastating Cease and Desist order to get the offending product taken down ASAP. Then after that they would also need to strike down the blogspot website that documented every step of the fangame in the first place, taking out the source of the “problem”.
Yet here we have a very vague letter from a supposed lawyer, from a smaller branch of one of the biggest gaming companies in the world, instead of a more professional letter from NCL. And to top it all off on why NCL would be the one who would go after this if they had an issue with this, just look at any Nintendo Content ID claim, which almost always come from Nintendo (AKA Nintendo Co LTD) and NOT Nintendo of America. Consider the japanese-focused nature of the Nintendo Creator Program whitelist, (where tons of NA/EU exclusive first party games are absent yet tons of Japanese only games are on the list) and it should give you a fairly good idea on who would be in charge if Nintendo truly did have an issue with this project. It should also be noted that the small amount of Mario ROM Hack video takedowns from last September were also issued by Nintendo/NCL, further proving my point. (Speaking of which, copyright takedowns from Nintendo are VERY rare if I may add, considering how NCL usually issues an ID match and nothing more unless they have a serious issue with the video.)
Of course, there’s always the slim chance that this is an odd action from NOA themselves, due to the nature of jurisdictions and all that, (along with the fact that NCL could easily order them to perform a DMCA/C&D if needed, seeing how the NA branch is the closest to the website host) but considering all the contradicting evidence from the Jason Allen case and the fact that the game only got massive public attention just now thanks to major media outlets when the blog has been live for eight years now, I highly doubt it. For now, just wait and see what happens, and take this whole “NOA hates fangames” conspiracy with a grain of salt until NCL or the higher ups at NOA give a concrete confirmation on the takedown. Likewise, you should take this with a grain of salt as well, since we don’t know for a 100% fact that this did or did not happen. With the law firm being confirmed as real (but at the moment, no evidence that they actually were the ones who took it down), we’ll just have to hope and wait for NOA/NCL/The firm to issue an official statement.
Oh, and one last note: A free demo has been available for years now. If this was truly offensive to NOA, they would takedown the demo and they would have done it right after it was launched, not when the full game came out and it suddenly got popular. Food for thought… (Note: Sega apparently did this with the Streets of Rage Fangame, and while I’m not saying that this is an IMPOSSIBLE action, it’s a rather odd set of events nevertheless that you’d think they’d be super aggressive towards. For example, my point of “why not just a C&D from NCL to eliminate it ASAP?” still stands.)