Nintendo's ROM Site War Continues With Huge Lawsuit Against Site Despite Not Sending DMCA Notices
from the nintendon't dept
Roughly a year ago, Nintendo launched a war between itself and ROM sites. Despite the insanely profitable NES Classic retro-console, the company decided that ROM sites, which until recently almost single-handedly preserved a great deal of console gaming history, need to be slayed. Nintendo extracted huge settlements out of some of the sites, which led to most others shutting down voluntarily. While this was probably always Nintendo’s strategy, some sites decided to stare down the company’s legal threats and continue on.
One of those sites was RomUniverse, which not only refused to shut down, but essentially boasted that it wasn’t scared of Nintendo’s legal attack dogs and would continue on. That stance is about to be put to the test, however, as Nintendo has filed a copyright lawsuit seeking enormous damages against the site.
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.
Now, to be clear, there is nuance to our stance here. Does this constitute copyright infringement of Nintendo’s property? Hell yes. Can Nintendo sue over this on solid legal grounds? Of course! Should it do so? Well, that’s a more complicated question. You have to wonder just exactly what Nintendo is going to get out of all of these lawsuits. Yes, it may succeed in shutting down this and other sites. But does that mean those that use ROM sites are suddenly going to buy a Nintendo console, retro or otherwise? It’s not obvious that the answer to that is “yes.” Instead, those pirates will probably just not play Nintendo games at all. Or, more likely, will find another venue for ROMs, and rinse and repeat that process as Nintendo goes on its whac-a-mole expedition.
And, given that Nintendo only recently really invested in making retro games available on its consoles, these sites actually did preserve gaming history for millions of people who would otherwise have never played these aged titles. Not to mention that ROM sites are also a place for home-brewed games on these older consoles, which themselves are not infringing.
And, finally, if Nintendo really just wanted to combat piracy in all of this, why not at least start with the DMCA process?
RomAdmin from RomUniverse informed us that he hasn’t received anything from Nintendo, no recent takedown notices either. The site does respond to takedown notices.
“We’ve always immediately taken down questionable material, per their take down notices,” RomAdmin told TorrentFreak.
Instead, Nintendo went straight to the nuclear option, with a lawsuit asking for potentially over $100 million in damages. Again, it can do this, but given how much money the company is already raking in off of retro gaming… why?