In the fall of 2019 Nintendo sued the website RomUniverse in United States District Court in California. The lawsuit, much like a previous action Nintendo filed against LoveROMs.com and LoveRETRO.co, was based on alleged copyright and trademark infringement due to the website’s distribution of ROMs for use in emulation.
During the proceedings Nintendo alleged that their copyrighted video games were made available for download on RomUniverse, and that Matthew Storman, the owner of the website, had made money by selling “Premium Memberships for $30 per year to get access to unlimited downloads.”
Nintendo eventually won $2.1M in damages in May of 2021, after filing a motion for summary judgment against RomUniverse. At that time the Court denied Nintendo’s request for a permanent injunction, which would have shut the website down. In late June Nintendo sought a motion for reconsideration of its request for a permanent injunction after RomUniverse missed a payment.
On August 5, 2021 United States District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall issued an additional order granting Nintendo new relief. In that order Storman is required to “permanently destroy all unauthorized Nintendo games” and “file a declaration…with the Court certifying his compliance with these terms no later than August 20, 2021.”
While it’s clear that Nintendo’s intellectual property rights have been violated by RomUniverse and other emulation websites like it, Nintendo is often criticized for not making many of its earlier titles available in an easy or legal manner. In addition, the amount of damages Nintendo was granted in this case and in the case against LoveROMs, where Nintendo won a $12M judgment, may be seen as excessive. Although these websites did make profits off of Nintendo’s work rather than simply making ROMs available for free. It’s also true that the payments Storman is supposed to make are relatively low, at $50 a month. This could mean Nintendo and Storman negotiated a payment scheme such that the full judgment amount may be mostly to deter other emulation websites and set an example.
What do you think about this issue? Is Nintendo too aggressive in punishing their fans for wanting to play unavailable games or are they simply protecting their IP from those trying to profit off of it? Let us know in the comments below or on the Boss Rush Discord.