An upcoming collection of Game Boy Medabots games allegedly appears to illegally use a Game Boy Advance emulator in its code. Medabots Classics Plus utilizes code from mGBA but doesn't credit the original creator anywhere, including in open source disclosures.
What is Medabots Classics Plus and how is it allegedly illegally using mGBA?
Medabots Classics Plus is an upcoming collection of eight Medabots (known as Medarots in Japan) games, spanning from the Game Boy through to the Game Boy Advance. According to endrift, the creator of Game Boy Advance emulator mGBA, said collection uses code from their emulator but fails to credit them "anywhere, even in the open source disclosures". As endrift points out, this would mean Nintendo is "shipping a pirated emulator in a third party title". As evidence, endrift points to the fact that the title "contains strings matching settings names unique to [mGBA]".
In a followup tweet, endrift says they've contacted Nintendo of America and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, sending what they call a "moderately alarmist-sounding nastygram" to Nintendo with the subject line "Pirated software on Nintendo eShop". A user asked endrift if Imagineer and Nintendo "have to release the modified source", to which endrift replies that they do, but "things built on top of it are fair game for closed source".
What does this mean for Imagineer, Nintendo, and mGBA?
Obviously, it's not a good look at all for Imagineer if they're found to be using pirated code for a Game Boy Advance emulator. The fact that Imagineer doesn't credit endrift anywhere in the disclosures means that at best, they've overlooked something major, and at worst, they've pirated software without the developer's consent. What's more baffling is that mGBA's EULA contains terms for licensing the software for commercial usage. The GitHub page for the emulator provides an email address to contact for commercially licensing the software, so Imagineer could have found a way to use the emulator without pirating it.
Naturally, this also doesn't look good for Nintendo, although as the platform operator, they're not directly responsible for the situation (until/unless they receive a DMCA notice). Nevertheless, Nintendo absolutely won't want pirated software on the eShop, so if Imagineer doesn't correct the problem, it's hard to imagine relations between the two companies being unaffected. As for mGBA, if Imagineer has pirated the software, then endrift will likely be hoping for credit at the very least. We've contacted endrift for comment on this story and will let you know as soon as we hear more.