Nintendo Sues ROM Site Into Oblivion

Nintendo Sues ROM Site Into Oblivion
Image: Nintendo

Back in 2019, we wrote about Nintendo’s efforts to shut down the website RomUniverse, which was hosting and even selling premium access to pirated copies of Nintendo games. That case is now over, the site is gone and Nintendo has been awarded $US2.1 million ($3 million) in damages.

As Torrentfreak report, RomUniverse’s Matthew Storman actually decided to try and fight Nintendo in court, and what’s more, to do so without an attorney. That did not go well for Storman, where his defence — based around ”disputing that he uploaded any files to said website” — was swiftly picked apart by Nintendo’s actual lawyers, who were able to point to Storman’s own sworn deposition where he admitted to…uploading ROM files to his site.

RomUniverse as it appeared in 2019, hosting not just Nintendo ROMs but also pirated movies and books. (Screenshot: Kotaku) RomUniverse as it appeared in 2019, hosting not just Nintendo ROMs but also pirated movies and books. (Screenshot: Kotaku)

While Nintendo originally sought damages of $US90,000 ($115,434) for each of the 49 games discovered on the website, the judge awarded the company $US35,000 ($44,891) for each, saying that since Storman had already shut down the website and was currently unemployed, that figure was sufficient. Nintendo was also awarded a single sum of $US400,000 ($513,040) for statutory trademark damages.

It’s important to note here that Storman wasn’t simply hosting pirated copies of Nintendo games, he was also selling premium access to them, where $US30 could get users faster access to ROM files. During the last year of RomUniverse’s operation, Storman says he earned between $US30,000-$US36,000 ($46,174) from these payments.

Comments

  • “Best Romsite”

    Having used Romuniverse before i can tell you that’s false. You were limited to how many roms/ISO’s you could download per day unless you wanted to buy a sub, Which is more than likely the cause of why Nintendo sued their asses.

    So many better rom sites out there. No idea why people supported this shit site.

  • He probably represented himself because no attorney was stupid enough to take his case. I can imagine how any conversations with potential attorneys went:

    “I’m being sued by Nintendo, they say I uploaded illegal rom files to my website”
    “Well…did you?”
    “Ummm, well…yeah, I did”
    “Okay, good luck with that one.”

    As a *very slight* defense of his premium service, I do understand that websites that offer downloads like that can have astronomical bandwidth costs, so he probably needed to cover that cost somehow. Having said that, he did seem to profit from it regardless. I don’t know how much of that $46,174 actually went into maintaining the site itself or whether that was the figure he earned *after* he took his costs into account. But yes, the fact he was earning money from selling access to illegally copied software probably made the situation worse than it otherwise would have been.

    Still, not much of a leg to stand on. He did the wrong thing, he got caught, and he got punished.

  • Damages, huh?

    Great, so you’ll actually make these games available again? Because I’d love to pay you to play them, Nintendo.

    Hell, I’ve kept the Switch Online sub over a year… for the two playable NES games and a heaping of shovelware garbage on the side.

  • I’m not terribly sympathetic to either. If people want to host ROM sites they really shouldn’t host them in a country where it’s easy for Nintendo to sue them. In Nintendo’s case, maybe the bastards should hurry up and make their own archiving project that people can officially purchase so that people don’t feel the need to illegally access ROMs. See Microsoft’s BC work for reference, which is at least something and it certainly prevented me from being tempted by the siren’s song of the high seas.

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