Developer of 3DS iPhone emulator says he's confident Nintendo won't serve him a DMCA takedown

Folium home screen on iPhone
(Image credit: Future)

The developer of an upcoming Nintendo 3DS emulator for iPhone has told iMore he’s not worried about any potential problems from the gaming company, even after Nintendo issued more than 8,500 DMCA notices in a single day.

Jarrod Norwell is planning to charge $4.99 for Folium once Apple approves the emulator for the App Store — but there have been concerns about whether Nintendo would issue another takedown request because of this planned pricetag. In an email, Norwell told iMore he sees no problem charging for Folium. “Seeing as though everything is GPLv2 or later and clean room, a price tag is perfectly legal.”

The GPL (General Public Licence) is a series of guarantees that allows users to modify and share free software however they wish. Norwell has had a copy of the license on his GitHub page for Folium since it launched in March — though Nintendo may not see it like this.

The company has recently been issuing thousands of takedown requests over Yuzu, a discontinued Switch emulator that shut down in March due to copyright infringement and privacy claims. On May 1, Provenance, a multi-system emulator that’s in development for iPhone, was also sent the same takedown request because it included Yuzu — although its developer, Joe Matiello, told iMore that it won’t affect the app’s rollout. The Switch emulator has since been removed from Provenance, clearing the way for the app to be made available on the App Store soon.

Although Norwell is within his right to submit Folium however he wants — there’s a chance, however small, that Nintendo may issue a different takedown request once the emulator is made available, mainly because he’s planning to charge for it.

Regardless, we’ll likely find out what happens soon, as Norwell plans to submit the app for review in the near future.

Uncharted Territory

Looking at Apple’s emulator guidelines, it doesn’t state whether a developer must make an emulator free, or whether they can charge for it. Retro gaming emulators have been allowed on the App Store for a month, leading to several being released for iPhone and iPad. For example, Delta is a multi-system emulator that was at the top of the app charts for several weeks after it came out on April 17. Provenance is currently in testing and is expected to be made available in the coming weeks.

The difference between these two emulators and Folium is the plan by Norwell to commercialize his 3DS emulator. Perhaps the reason why we’ve not heard Nintendo issue takedown requests for Delta is because it is free to download. It’s unclear if Folium will be taken down soon after it’s made available on the App Store because of its price. Yet it’s going to be interesting to see where commercialized emulators stand for iPhone and iPad, and if companies like Nintendo will have an issue with these types of apps in the future.

We’ll likely find out the outcome soon, once Folium is available to download in the coming weeks.

More from iMore

Daryl Baxter
Features Editor

Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use everyday to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.

Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64 and Daily Star.