Bold: Matthew Storman, Sans Lawyer, Counter Sues Nintendo For False Allegation Of Copyright Infringement
from the rom-com dept
The ongoing fight between Nintendo and RomUniverse continues! While most of the targets of Nintendo’s ire in its war on ROM sites folded to the company fairly quickly, RomUniverse’s Matthew Storman boldly chose to fight in court. That led to Nintendo suing the site for copyright infringement. Storman attempted to crowdsource his legal defense, failed at that, and has been fighting this battle without legal representation. That likely explains the site’s lame argument that somehow first sale doctrine makes the Nintendo ROMs on its site non-infringing, as though owners of game cartridges could copy the content to the site and resell or give them away there. The court saw through Storman’s argument and allowed the trial to move forward.
Which brings us to the present, in which Storman has not only responded to the lawsuit by claiming, again, that first sale doctrine protects him, but has now added a claim that he had no idea infringing files were on the site at all, and has demanded that Nintendo pay him for false claims of infringement. This reply was supposed to be due to the court in January, but the judge delayed that due date… so that Storman could attend a Federal Pro Se Clinic, where he got advice on how to represent himself.
After the brief delay, Storman filed his answer to the complaint at the California federal court. Still without an attorney, he maintains his innocence and denies all allegations of piracy and infringement.
The site operator states that he is unaware of any infringing content that was uploaded to the website. And if there is any, these uploads may be legally protected by the first sale doctrine.
This is not going to work. Claiming ignorance as to the infringing material is fairly laughable. The first sale doctrine argument is a likely loser as well. And the fact that RomUniverse sold memberships in order to get around download limits makes it so as Storman was profiting off of the infringing material. That Nintendo didn’t request takedowns of infringing ROMs, giving Storman a chance to comply and stay on the right side of the law, is annoying, but it doesn’t suddenly make his other legal arguments any more valid.
Storman goes on to claim, perhaps not entirely without merit, that RomUniverse is actually good for Nintendo.
In an attempt to turn the tables, Storman argues that Nintendo profited from his site. RomUniverse.com and the associated NDSUniverse.com, serve as free advertising vehicles for the gaming company which generated profit from it, for which the site owner never received a penny.
“Copies on the Website originally from Nintendo when seen by users is a positive advertising asset to Nintendo. It is part of an implied contract with Nintendo over the last 10 years. This advertising asset can be calculated and measured by Nintendo in cooperation with Defendant,” Storman adds.
It’s an argument we’ve made ourselves and it probably has some legs. The problem here is that there is no implied contract and Nintendo is well within its rights to sue for copyright infringement, even if that infringement has benefits for Nintendo.
The real bonkers part of this, however, is Storman’s counterclaim for damages from Nintendo.
Instead of compensating Nintendo, Storman wants the gaming company to pay up instead. He demands $150,000 per copyrighted work for the false allegations of infringement, as well as $2,000,000 for each false counterfeiting claim.
On top of that, Storman also wants Nintendo to “permanently approve all copying, distributing, selling, performing, displaying, playing, or otherwise using any copy of an [Nintendo] copyrighted work, or any derivative thereof.”
I don’t even know where to begin. Storman’s play isn’t going to work. Whatever lessons he learned in the Pro Forma classes, his actions aren’t a good advertisement for those classes. RomUniverse, whatever its benefits to Nintendo, pretty clearly was a purveyor of infringing material. The site made money off of it. Nintendo, whatever you think of the company, is well within its rights here.
It’d be best if Storman would realize he’s digging his hole deeper and cut his losses.