Nintendo Wins $16.81 Million Suit Against ROM Sites

A married Arizona couple will be responsible for paying $16.81 million ($US12.23 million) dollars to Nintendo of America after being accused of copyright infringement in federal court.

In July, Nintendo filed a complaint against Jacob Mathias and Mathias Designs LLC in the U.S. District Court of Arizona, accusing the two of operating the websites LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co, both of which distributed unauthorised downloads of Nintendo video games and software.

According to court documents obtained by TorrentFreak, Jacob’s wife, Cristian Mathias, was later named and added to the complaint following the original lawsuit’ filing.

Though the site was taken offline shortly after the complaint was filed, LoveROMS was one of the most popular emulation websites on the internet, bringing in 17 million visitors a month, according to the court documents cited by TorrentFreak. The site offered unofficial downloads for hundreds of retro video games from Nintendo and other publishers, along with emulation software to make the games playable on a computer.

According to the report, Nintendo’s original complaint suggested that Mathias Designs should be responsible for paying $US150,000 per Nintendo game hosted on the site, and $US2,000,000 for each violated trademark. This would have been the maximum awarded damages allowed by law, and with LoveROMs hosting hundreds of Nintendo games, the damages could’ve mounted to more than $US100 million.

Instead of arguing their case in court, the court documents cited by TorrentFreak say the couple acknowledged running the sites and entered into settlement talks with Nintendo. They ultimately agreed to the final judgement of $US12,230,000 issued on November 9th, according to the report.

Nintendo’s legal action against LoveROMs has led other emulation sites to reconsider their practices, with some choosing to go offline preemptively following the complaint. As Nintendo and other gaming companies work to monetise their back catalogues with new digital versions of classic titles, unofficial software downloads will continue to be a threat to their business model.

This story originally appeared on Business Insider Australia. Read the original here.


Comments

    LOL, stupid Nintendo. These guys will just file for Chapter 7 and go on their merry way. Another ROM host will spring up in its place. Waste of money.

      I dunno... the fact that they settled makes me wonder how much money they were making off the site, to justify a settlement like that. Maybe they actually have that much.

      If they were getting ad revenue from those visits at, what... industry standards between YouTube and Adsense vary at $3.50-$6 per thousand views, 17 million visits per month would mean roughly $60-100 grand per month. That's... not chump change.

      If they were doing those numbers consistently over the last decade or two, that's close to a million bucks a year, which could very well have ballooned past the 12 mil if invested wisely.

      If that napkin math is right, it'll probably have put them down to... just living very comfortably.

      Life after a bankruptcy isn't exactly merry...
      It has implications for the rest of your life. Remember all the "have you ever filed for bankruptcy" tickboxes your skimmed over when doing anything with money?

        I work in insolvency (albeit in Australia). Bankruptcy isn't as bad as a lot of people think ;-)

    I just wish Nintendo would stop trying to sue everyone and give the people what they want. They are never going to stop ROM sites popping up or the many many torrents.

    I don’t support piracy per se, but if game companies give consumers no legal way to play legacy games which are now impossible to acquire, then what option do people have?

      Well you can certainly find and buy the actual game from second hand or retro shops. Just that no one is willing to pay for it because it can be expensive for rare games.

        That still doesn't make Nintendo any money.

          It is not about making money. It is about protecting IP. If they own the rights to the game, they can do whatever they want regardless if it is out of print or not obtainable through any means.

          They own the title and no matter how people justify, unfortunately it is still piracy. ROMs are always illegal, just people trying to "backup" their purchase so they can play it themself, which then they distribute it to a "closed" group saying it is for whatever purpose and in the end it is available publically.

            Of course I understand this. Doesn’t make it any less frustrating when they basically hold legacy games to ransom or put them behind repacked paywalls

        While that is possible for some titles (and I do buy older game cartridges sometimes) - there are a huge number of games which are either rare, long out of print, or prohibitively expensive on the second hand market.

        The Australian second hand market is a huge rip off. Prices today rival or are higher than retail for those games (even taking into inflation) when going to licensed retailers. Even going to trash and treasure markets you’ll find nothing but overcharging resellers these days. Collecting in Australia is pointless.

          Supply and demand, pretty simple. short supply and high demand = being able to demand more $$$. You think its a rip off but ultimately someone is paying that kind of money, otherwise those items would be cheaper.

      The thing that this doesn't only affect those nefarious individuals that want to steal everything under the sun, but also those that purchased the consoles and games and are now, for whatever reason (console's fried, controller or cartridge is broken, or just simple convenience, etc.) no longer able to play them. If you forked out money it's understandable that some people may want to have access to the content they purchased.
      It's the same issue with people who legitimately purchased music or movies on physical media that is now deteriorating because the companies used cheap or deficient materials, or more troubling, designed these materials to fail after a certain time.

      The issue then, is that these companies want perpetual ownership of the content they create—beyond what is good and reasonable (look at Disney's copyright tactics), and the profits thereof, but will not allow the consumer that same privilege with the content they purchase. They want to keep selling you the same thing over and over again.
      Frankly, I totally understand why some people would turn to so-called "piracy" with the bullsh*t these companies pull.

    I wish someone would do like a Spotify type service for old games.

    I also wish they'd adopt a better 'use it or lose it' for IP so that if something was on sale but no longer is, the creator cannot sue until they put it back on sale and give fair notice.

    The moral of all of these stories is don't host a ROM/Torrents/Direct Download hosting site in the US, Australia, NZ, or the UK. Leave it for the Russians and China.

    If Nintendo want to curb this kind of behavior they should have included wifi in their Mini console series. I'd gladly pay a monthly fee to have a larger library of games than what's available out of the box. It's not like the onboard hdd was exactly filled to capacity

    Lets hope Nintendo put that money towards localising and releasing games like Mother 3.

    Guys come on take it easy!
    Nintendo may have lost a Wii Remote lawsuit at a Texas court last year paying $10 million dollars to iLife Technologies.
    But please do show some respect for Nintendo of America they won the case against Mathias LLC for copyright infringement and that Cristian Mathias has to pay $150,000 US dollars to Nintendo of America.
    Seriously people stop complaining and just be happy that Nintendo of America has won a $16.81 million dollar lawsuit case against Jacob and Cristian Mathias for copy infringement it is not a waste of money. Nintendo of America won this case and you should be thankful for them.
    If you guys don't give a flying fuck about Nintendo of America winning a lawsuit case against Mathias LLC for copyright infringement then shut your fucking mouth!

      Your post contains high levels of salt. If symptoms persist, see a doctor.

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