After All That, Nintendo Can't Even Get $50 A Month Out Of RomUniverse
from the time-and-money-well-spent dept
The saga of how RomUniverse, a site dedicated to offering ROMs for classic Nintendo games, came to its end is both frustrating and very dumb. Back in 2019, Nintendo launched a massive war on ROM sites, coinciding with the release of a mini version of Nintendo’s NES console. Eventually, the company’s sights turned to RomUniverse. Run solely by Matthew Storman, the site first tried and failed to crowdfund its legal expenses, made the lame argument that somehow the first sale doctrine meant that Storman could legally offer up digital versions of bought Nintendo games, only to see Storman represent himself in court and eventually lose. While Nintendo always had the law on its side, it was also true that sites like RomUniverse existed for a long, long time and Nintendo wasn’t injured enough by any of this for it to be on the radar prior to the ROM War of 2019. In fact, I would argue that ROM sites for a long, long time kept up the interest in these classic games that created a market for Nintendo’s classic console releases.
I would also argue that the whole thing was a giant waste of time and money, an assertion backed up by the fact that the victorious Nintendo reportedly can’t even get $50 a month out of Storman, despite court orders.
You can’t get blood from a stone, and you can’t squeeze a relatively measly $50 payment out of a guy whose primary source of income was the video game rom site you sued into oblivion. Earlier this year Nintendo’s 2019 lawsuit against website RomUniverse concluded with the site being shut down and Nintendo awarded $2.1 million dollars in damages. That’s $35,000 for each of the 49 Nintendo games found on the site plus $400,000 in trademark damages. The chances of Matthew Storman, who defended himself in court and whose only source of income was the now-defunct rom site, being able to pay those damages are incredibly slim. In a recent court filing obtained by Torrentfreak, Nintendo complains that Storman hasn’t made his court mandated monthly payment of $50.
As a result, Nintendo is seeking a permanent injunction against Storman to keep him from ever re-launching RomUniverse. That, frankly, may be what the company was after this entire time.
But that doesn’t make the futility of this whole legal enterprise any more sensical. Nintendo managed to legally pummel a single man who was, admittedly, infringing their copyrights. But one is free to wonder aloud if this legal route was really the only method Nintendo had for getting the site shut down. If Storman truly cannot manage a $50/month sanctions payment to Nintendo, there is no hope of them recovering the $2.1 million awarded in court, an amount that Storman also appears by all accounts to be unable to pay.
And so Nintendo has a legal victory without any monetary award, Storman’s own actions have resulted in his fiscal life likely being in shambles, and we all go on our merry way. Again, this is really how this had to happen?