RomUniverse owner previously fined $2.1M, now ordered to destroy pirated Nintendo content

Jimmy2x

Posts: 39   +4
Staff
Bottom line: For many, older NES titles are nostalgic time machines that take us back to our early days of gaming. Unfortunately their age doesn’t mean we’re entitled to take what we want, and doing so can lead to costly legal consequences. A California court has ordered the owner of the previously well-known website RomUniverse to destroy any copies of Nintendo games and other IP obtained and distributed illegally.

ROMUniverse Logo Image

Matthew Storman, the owner and former operator of RomUniverse, was sued by Nintendo of America in 2019 for more than $150,000 per copyright infringement and $2 million per trademark infringement. In May 2021, a judge ruled in Nintendo’s favor, awarding the company $2.1 million based on filed trademark infringement claims.

Following the decision, Nintendo sought a permanent injunction against Storman and RomUniverse. Storman had previously argued that Nintendo suffered no actual damages and questioned the timing of the company’s original game copyrights.

The initial injunction request was denied by the court, stating that the company failed to show it suffered irreparable harm based on Storman’s actions. However, a judge later revisited and issued the injunction, having determined Storman clearly demonstrated a continued threat of infringement. The injunction states that Storman (or any person working with Storman) are prohibited from any activities related to copying, distributing, selling, performing, displaying, playing, or otherwise using any Nintendo copyrighted work.

ROMs are copies of an original game that are transferred from game cartridges (or other media) and moved to a computer or other system. Once moved, the ROM can be accessed using specific emulation techniques and software to run the game as if it were being run on the original game system.

Without permission or consent, this misuse of a company’s intellectual property can serve as grounds for lawsuits and other legal action. Sites such as RomUniverse provided users with access to hundreds, sometimes thousands, of illegally distributed ROMs.

RomUniverse.com was taken offline in late 2019 following Nintendo’s lawsuit. But this was not the first time Nintendo has pursued a ROM distribution site for damages; in November 2018, the company was awarded $12 million in another settlement with former ROM sites LoveRoms.com and LoveRetro.co.

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Dimitriid

Posts: 1,301   +2,550
What's next. "Nintendo gets judge to order former rom universe owner to deliver Nintendo's legal team newspapers every day crawling on all fours and dressed in a dog costume"?

Wouldn't be surprised, they just want utter humiliation and apparently also want to make an enemy of all of their former fans, And by the way if you're still a Nintendo fan after reading news like this, don't ever talk to me again.
 

DrSuess

Posts: 149   +140
What's next. "Nintendo gets judge to order former rom universe owner to deliver Nintendo's legal team newspapers every day crawling on all fours and dressed in a dog costume"?

Wouldn't be surprised, they just want utter humiliation and apparently also want to make an enemy of all of their former fans, And by the way if you're still a Nintendo fan after reading news like this, don't ever talk to me again.
If he does a ordered and doesn't continue to infringe on Nintendo's or anyone else's intellectual property nothing will be next.
 
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yukka

Posts: 1,003   +158
It’s not a given right to copy and distribute games made by a company, no matter if you disagree that they haven’t made them all available to play on current hardware or are seeking to sell them again to make profit. They are their games and their property.
 

Jimmy2x

Posts: 39   +4
Staff
Purely my $.02...it's a tough situation I can see both sides of.

It's easy to say a company like Nintendo is being greedy, vengeful, spiteful, petty, etc. For example, when they clamped down on Storman for missing his first $50 monthly payment...did they miss the $50? I'd bet no. But letting it slide sets the wrong precedent for future cases, discussions, etc. That can be important down the line.

I can see where there's little sympathy for the larger corporations...but it becomes much more important when you start applying those same rules to the small development shops that have much more to lose. Those same laws that Nintendo of America is leveraging will provide protection for the small four man indie teams who develop a hit title and rely on that revenue to pay their bills, develop follow on titles, etc.

Regardless of how it shakes out--I'm sure this won't be the last time we read about something like this.
 

redhat

Posts: 173   +226
I am not against ٍstrong sentences but why the court is determined to strictly enforce the law with small businesses/ individuals whereas, when big companies steal monopolize and destroy the competition the court becomes semi court or Acting court
The law applies only to the poor
 

maxxcool7421

Posts: 64   +89
What's next. "Nintendo gets judge to order former rom universe owner to deliver Nintendo's legal team newspapers every day crawling on all fours and dressed in a dog costume"?

Wouldn't be surprised, they just want utter humiliation and apparently also want to make an enemy of all of their former fans, And by the way if you're still a Nintendo fan after reading news like this, don't ever talk to me again.

Hey I stole your car and banged your wife and drank your shitty beer and wine... and you said it was ok here. ^
 

cliffordcooley

Posts: 13,059   +6,375
I could understand this. If there was still a market for Nintendo to sell them. I might want to revisit old games, I once played for a minute or two. But no way in hell am I going to pay for them.
 

Norsiiii

Posts: 87   +111
It’s not a given right to copy and distribute games made by a company, no matter if you disagree that they haven’t made them all available to play on current hardware or are seeking to sell them again to make profit. They are their games and their property.
Yes, and on that basis an injunction against their copying and distribution by unauthorized parties is justified, however, millions in "damages" is not. That is entirely punitive
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 650   +497
I don't have an nintendo account - but wouldn't it make sense for them to have a retro subscription - people will still pay for re-masters on the switch
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 650   +497
I did a search Fitgirl just put out a pack of retro games - and she is super popular I believe - I will stick to paying for PC games
 

yukka

Posts: 1,003   +158
Yes, and on that basis an injunction against their copying and distribution by unauthorized parties is justified, however, millions in "damages" is not. That is entirely punitive
True. Looks like they had agreed a payment of $50 a month ongoing. Seems a reasonable agreement to reach. $600 a year. There should be something punitive shouldn’t there?
 

NightAntilli

Posts: 787   +994
This makes me want to post NES ROMs everywhere possible.
Honestly, that's what he should do. He has nothing more to lose at this point. He has a debt he can likely never repay, and they are still squeezing him. He should upload everything to the permaweb to teach them a lesson.

There's a difference between protecting your property and abusing your power.
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,808   +1,423
As annoying as it is we are not entitled to Nintendo’s property.

I love Nintendo games. In fact I think Nintendo is the best games company around. But I’m fully aware of who they are. They don’t really love any of us, they just love our money.

If you want to pirate that companies property and make profit from it then you do not have the moral high ground no matter how you slice it, nobody is entitled to other peoples games.

And remember whilst Nintendo may be big and scary, smaller games developers are not and the same laws that protect Nintendo protect small devs.

You either believe that people who make games should be able to protect their products or you don’t.

 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,808   +1,423
I don't have an nintendo account - but wouldn't it make sense for them to have a retro subscription - people will still pay for re-masters on the switch
Nintendo has exactly this. If you pay for Nintendo online you get access to the NES and SNES collections for the duration. This is used to advertise Nintendo Online.