Nintendo Sues RomUniverse for Mass Copyright Infringement
Last year Nintendo made headlines worldwide when it filed a lawsuit against the popular ROM sites LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co.
The legal action effectively shut the sites down with many other platorms voluntarily following suit.
Not all game pirate sites were shaken up by the legal action though. RomUniverse, a site that’s been around for a decade, saw its visitor numbers rise and announced that it would continue to offer Nintendo ROMs.
Fast forward a year and Nintendo is now taking RomUniverse to court. In a complaint filed at a federal court in California, the Japanese gaming giant accuses the site’s alleged operator, Matthew Storman, of “brazen” and “mass-scale” copyright and trademark infringement.
“The Website is among the most visited and notorious online hubs for pirated Nintendo video games. Through the Website, Defendants reproduce, distribute, monetize, and offer for download thousands of unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s video games,” the complaint reads.
Nintendo states that the site, which has 375,000 members, offers downloads for nearly every video game system it has ever produced.
The complaint specifically notes that “hundreds of thousands of copies” have been illegally downloaded through RomUniverse, including nearly 300,000 copies of pirated Nintendo Switch games and more than 500,000 copies of pirated Nintendo 3DS games.
Users of the site can download one file per week for free. Those who want more have to sign up for a paid membership. After an “upgrade” of $30, members are allowed to download as many files as they want. This includes games, but also ebooks and the latest Hollywood movies.
As said before, RomUniverse wasn’t impressed by the legal threats Nintendo issued against other sites last year. This didn’t go unnoticed to the game publisher, which specifically mentions the operator’s defiance in its complaint.
“In 2018, around the time that Nintendo successfully enforced its intellectual property rights against other infringing ROM websites, defendant Storman bragged that his Website would continue to offer Nintendo ROMs,” Nintendo writes.
Through the lawsuit, which also lists a count of unfair competition, Nintendo hopes to shut RomUniverse down. The company also requests statutory damages of $150,000 per infringing Nintendo game and up to $2,000,000 for each trademark infringement.
This means that, with dozens of copyrighted titles and trademarks on the record, theoretical damages are well over $100 million.
Finally, Nintendo further asks for a permanent injunction ordering the site and its operator(s) to stop their infringing activities while handing over their domain names to the game publisher.
A copy of Nintendo’s complaint against Matthew Storman and any “John Doe” accomplices, is available here (pdf).