Meme Run is certainly a title that's prompted plenty of debate since it arrived on the Wii U in North America, and the latest twist in its brief history came yesterday when it was taken down from the eShop. Little information came from developer Ninja Pig Studios, though it updated its official website to change the game's product information - no longer saying available on Wii U, a link for a free PC and Mac download was actually a Rickroll.
That trolling aside, we're yet to receive concrete information from Nintendo of America after enquiring about the takedown. Details seem to have emerged via Reddit, however, as the individual that owns the copyright to the Trollface imagery - a user called Whynne on DeviantArt - has stated that he issued a DCMA takedown notice to Nintendo, having struggled to make progress with Ninja Pig Studios earlier in the year. Below is his original post.
Hello Reddit. There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the disappearance of Meme Run from the eShop, so I thought I'd help clear things up since its creator doesn't seem to want to acknowledge it publicly.
A handful of you might remember me, but (hopefully) most of you probably have no clue who I am. To keep it brief, I own the copyright to the Trollface image, and seeing as the image was the 'star' of Meme Run, I sent a DMCA takedown notice to Nintendo and want to try and settle the matter amicably. I don't really intend to have a discussion on fair use or explain my motivations beyond the fact that my business with other parties compels me to make sure that instances of copyright infringement are addressed and resolved. Typically the result in these matters is simply having the use of the image be credited, recovering some kind of monetary compensation, or simply have it removed from the work.
To that end, takedown notices are a necessary first step to quickly open a direct line of communication with the offending party and work on remedying the situation.
I did try to reach out to the creator earlier this year and obtain the information I needed, but he claimed that he was not at liberty to speak about his relationship with Nintendo or any of the particulars regarding the game's sales data. My lawyer had been busy working on another case (which I am actually not at liberty to talk about lest I void the terms of our agreement) and I prefer to let him handle the matter of my legal representation, so I sort of dragged my feet on actually setting this in motion so he could wrap up our current case.
So, whatever you may have thought of Meme Run, its absence might only be temporary. For those of you who were hoping to pick it up and missed their opportunity, I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.
As detailed in the post, it's possible that agreement will be reached on crediting the copyright and providing monetary compensation for the game to return, or the matter could move forward in other ways.
The copyright owner does go on to answer some enquiries in this thread - he explains that he doesn't typically pursue every use of the image, and that he does have agreements with various companies to sell merchandise with the image. It's also clarified that the game was taken down the day after his DCMA was sent to Nintendo, suggesting his was the only notable copyright claim against Meme Run.
Quite how this'll pan out is unclear - there are legal processes to be followed and potential settlement; in the best case scenario there'll still be a future decision for the developer and primarily Nintendo, ultimately the platform holder, over whether the game will return to the Wii U eShop. Ninja Pig Studios has also, as mentioned previously, had to withdraw from publishing a game called Jumpy Cat over similar issues in the past.
It's not often an eShop game gets taken down, evidently, for breaching copyright on Trollface imagery, yet Meme Run seems to have made that a reality.
Thanks to Mike Marra for the heads up.