Nintendo issues major DMCA to Garry’s Mod—but it looks fake

The developers of Garry’s Mod made an official announcement stating Nintendo issued a DMCA takedown notice for workshop items using the company’s IP, confirming that most if not all of it would be taken down. Less than a day later, however, it looks like the takedown was fake. 

On April 24, Facepunch Studios posted an update to the official Garry’s Mod Steam page noting the team was “working on removing all Nintendo related stuff from Steam Workshop” for the game. With roughly 20 years of community uploads to sort through, the devs asked the community to help them by deleting their published Nintendo content and “never uploading them again.”

Heavy being led along by a sandwich.
The developers seem to have fallen for a trick. Image via Valve

“Honestly, this [DMCA] is fair enough. This is Nintendo’s content and what they allow and don’t allow is up to them,” the gmod team said. “They don’t want you playing with that stuff in Garry’s Mod – that’s their decision, we have to respect that and take down as much as we can.”

This announcement upset the gmod community and prompted several users to take a closer look at the situation since they noticed inconsistencies in some of the early takedowns Facepunch started back in February. In a breakdown posted on Feb. 13, prominent Nintendo gmod modder brewsterkoopa put out a PSA to note someone or a group of “trolls” were actively flagging workshop mods to try and get them taken down.

Brewsterkoopa and other affected modders quickly ruled out these takedowns as being officially from Nintendo because the Harry Potter community on gmod was hit with an official DMCA from Warner Bros., forcing them to shut down various Hogwarts roleplaying servers two years ago. Because the groups behind those servers were contacted directly by members of the gmod dev team about the situation and Nintendo previously issued an official DMCA to Valve, barring the Dolphin emulator from launching on Steam in May 2023, these new Nintendo DMCAs looked a bit fishy.

Over the next several months, brewsterkoopa and others documented this situation, noting that someone named Aaron Peters was behind the takedowns and was already infamous for DMCAing NSFW art in various communities on behalf of Nintendo dating back to at least 2020. More evidence was added thanks to the Fraymakers community, which also stated Peters was issuing takedowns on behalf of Nintendo for the fighting game’s workshop. On Feb. 28, some affected modders received DMCA emails from Valve’s team sharing the contents, showing that an email mentioning Aaron Peters and not actually affiliated with Nintendo of America—based on the address included—was used to file the claims.

Even with evidence of something shady going on with the claims, dozens of Nintendo mods continued to vanish from the gmod workshop until Facepunch released the official statement. Now, as a result of the community bombarding the studio, the team has confirmed it is investigating the validity of these DMCA claims. 

“Yes, we have got your emails and dmss, we have seen your threads, we’re doing our own investigations,” Facepunch owner Garry Newman said. “We need to take these things seriously (particularly from Nintendo), but we also can’t let people misuse DMCA takedowns.”

Other games like Fraymakers and Team Fortress 2 are facing similar misuse of Valve’s DMCA tools, potentially via the same individual or group. Despite this investigation, the community warns there’s no guarantee removed mods can be restored, recommending that users back up projects now just in case. 

Even though this entire situation looks fabricated, Nintendo could still step in at any point and take action to have content based on its IP purged from gmod’s workshop. The company has actively taken down videos from content creators showcasing mods and recently won a legal battle against the team behind the biggest Nintendo Switch emulator, earning $2.4 million in damages while shutting the project down.

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