RomUniverse To Attempt To Crowdfund Legal Defense, Which Isn't Going Well At All

from the lie-with-infringers... dept

We recently discussed Nintendo's lawsuit against RomUniverse, part of a longstanding war on ROM sites that seems less than absolutely necessary given just how much cash the company is raking in from its retro consoles and titles. Several commenters pointed out that RomUniverse, while proclaiming that it's a source for those who long ago purchased Nintendo games to preserve those purchases, also engages in plenty of other less than ethical behaviors. This includes offering up books and movies alongside the ROMs, for which it can't really make the same claims. In other words, while Nintendo itself might not be the best paladin to slay RomUniverse, it's not as though the site is on the side of the angels.

Given all of that, you would expect the operator of RomUniverse, Matthew Storman, to try to limit the damage here. That certainly doesn't seem to be Storman's plan, however, as he has both publicly stated he will fight the suit and is attempting to crowdfund his legal expenses.

The operator has added a donation option to the RomUniverse homepage and also launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe, setting a goal of $100,000 to assist with the defense.

“RomUniverse.com was founded in 2009 under the notion that users like you should have easy access to the content that you purchased and the ability to relive those childhood moments. It is because of this, that I am asking for your help,” Storman writes.  “Now I know what you’re thinking, this one person is going to take on one of the largest console/gaming manufacturers in the world? And the short answer is YES,” he notes.

To be clear, he's probably wrong. There is a multitude of risk factors here. For starters, ROM sites have always operated on the wrong side of copyright law. Even if we would advise companies like Nintendo that they should leave them alone, they certainly don't have to. RomUniverse can put up as many banners as they like stating that downloads should only occur if the user has purchased an actual physical cartridge previously, but that doesn't suddenly make offering the copyrighted game content not copyright infringement.

Add to that the possibility that the owners of the other types of media RomUniverse makes available might see all of this going on and decide to get their own piece of the lawsuit pie and this huge Nintendo lawsuit could suddenly morph into a multi-plaintiff apocalypse for RomUniverse. That's all the more so possible given Storman's public statements.

And, finally, if RomUniverse is really relying on crowdfunding to power its legal defense, it seems that nobody bothered to show up to its fundraiser.

On the GoFundMe page, Storman notes that he’s not “greedy” or a scammer. He merely wants to defend his rights and those of others in this “unknown” landscape. In the meantime, the site remains online.

While some people may have donated to the site directly, thus far, the crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe hasn’t gained any traction. After two days, the donation counter is still at $0.

For perhaps other reasons, the page for the GoFundMe for RomUniverse now returns a "Page Not Found" splash page. RomUniverse's site now is soliciting direct donations instead.

There are enough clouds on the horizon here that Storman should probably go into damage control mode.

Filed Under: copyright, crowdfunding, matthew storman, roms, video games
Companies: nintendo, romuniverse


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Sep 2019 @ 7:53pm

    Now I know what you’re thinking, this one person is going to take on one of the largest console/gaming manufacturers in the world? And the short answer is YES

    “The long answer is, ‘I’m going to take on a 130-year-old multinational corporation worth billions of dollars and lose so badly that all of my descendants will disown me just to stay safe’.”

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Quantum Adequacy, 24 Sep 2019 @ 7:57pm

      Re: plus "entirely on the wrong side of well-established law"

      I notice that you're not disputing Timmy here, even though it's what I state every day, and at me you start howling that I'm for censorship by copyright.

      So again, you piratey-fanboy-trolls are totally inconsistent.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2019 @ 8:04pm

        Blues motto: entirely on the wrong side of well-established law

        “So again, you piratey-fanboy-trolls are totally inconsistent”

        So much projection. Isn’t that right pirate balls?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Sep 2019 @ 8:04pm

        I said on the previous article about this situation that I would’ve been more than happy to defend RomUniverse under different circumstances.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Gary (profile), 24 Sep 2019 @ 8:15pm

        Re: Re: Trollshit

        and at me you start howling that I'm for censorship by copyright

        Because you are pro-censorship. And Pro-Corporation. Two things that most here in the TD comment section find abhorrent.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Sep 2019 @ 8:24pm

          It’s a funny thing, though: He whines about how we paint him as pro-censorship via copyright, but he has never actually denounced the practice.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2019 @ 8:16pm

        Re: Re:

        And you usually flat out disagree with what Geigner says, and the fact that both Stephen and apparently you agree with him this time... is supposed to prove what, exactly? Moral victory?

        you start howling that I'm for censorship by copyright

        Which you are. Unless at some point the entities calling for SOPA and FOSTA, e.g. the RIAA and other "grassroots" groups they fund, suddenly stopped being corporations?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Quantum Adequacy, 24 Sep 2019 @ 7:53pm

    Commercial-scale infringer should have set aside some ill-gotten

    gains for this inevitable day of reckoning.

    Pirates will pay only for access to stolen goods worth tens of thousands, won't give a cent to help now.

    As you can imagine, I'm wrecked with compassion.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Sep 2019 @ 7:56pm

      Pirates will pay only for access to stolen goods worth tens of thousands

      Funny, most torrent sites I know of don’t charge a damn thing for their magnet links.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Quantum Adequacy, 24 Sep 2019 @ 7:59pm

        Re: WELL had you READ the background, you'd know this one DOES.

        You Schnurrbart.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Sep 2019 @ 8:05pm

          Is that some new segment of the furry fandom that I wasn’t told about? Geez, the Furluminati never tells me anything…

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2019 @ 8:18pm

            Re:

            Casual googling brings up Wiktionary, which defines it as German for "mustache".

            ...Yeah, I don't fucking know.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2019 @ 12:44am

            Re:

            Probably because the LGBTQ+2 community rejected them.

            What about Hermaphrodites? Is "H" going to be added?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Sep 2019 @ 5:25am

              Why don’t you go ask the High Council of Gays, which you probably think exists~?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2019 @ 7:33am

                Re:

                If it is just gays, why all the extra letters and number?

                No one is keeping you up to date it seems. How are the rest of us supposed to know?

                If they aren't going to keep us informed, they have no right being offended.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Sep 2019 @ 7:41am

                  Your ignorance is not their responsibility.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                    identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2019 @ 12:22pm

                    Re:

                    The silent H in LGBTQ already stands for heterosexual.

                    His ignorance is not our responsibility.

                    And for some reason, there hasn't been a group actively campaigning against hermaphrodites being recognized as fully functional humans with the same rights as everyone else.

                    All those letters in the alphabet soup pop up not because we've found a new way for humans to exist, but because a segment of humanity finds a new group to persecute due to their differences.

                    Today, we are all Homo.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Sep 2019 @ 2:23pm

                      When you want to pass yourself off as “persecuted” because you’re heterosexual, ask yourself whether you’d be denied service, targeted for violence, or oppressed by the government based only on your sexual orientation. If the answer is “no” (and it will be), you’re not being persecuted. And disagreement with, and moral condemnation of, anti-gay attitudes is not persecution.

                      Gay Pride was not born of a need to celebrate being gay, but of gay peoples’ right to exist without persecution. Instead of wondering why there isn’t a “Straight Pride” movement (or trying to start one), be thankful you don’t need one.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • icon
                        PaulT (profile), 26 Sep 2019 @ 1:25am

                        Re:

                        "Instead of wondering why there isn’t a “Straight Pride” movement (or trying to start one), be thankful you don’t need one."

                        There have been a few recent attempts to start some kind of "straight pride" parade. Almost all of them seem to have been very thinly-veiled white supremacist rallies.

                        Society is telling these guys they are not welcome, but it's not for the reasons they want to believe it is.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2019 @ 2:18pm

                    Re:

                    Just like laws then?
                    We are supposed to know. Even the secret ones.

                    I guess you just can't take a little ribbing, just like to give it.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                      identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2019 @ 6:31pm

                      Re: Re:

                      I remember this comment made by bhull242 from some time back:

                      I’m not entirely sure why this comment got flagged. It sounds like it’s just saying that there is no universally accepted distinction between sex and gender in the same way that there is no universally accepted definition of “patent troll”, along with a quip making fun of the many acronyms for the LGBT community. Nothing terribly offensive or trollish about that.

                      To this day I don't know what alternate universe he lives in where he thinks that people et al won't find any attempt to question the constantly-expanding acronym as a offense worthy of death by stoning. Incidentally there's apparently two Qs, two As and two Ps in the acronym now. Goodness knows how they decided which letter decides to go first ("how dare you prioritize allies over asexuals!"). I suppose it's a question they'll have to figure out for themselves after they've finished closing the arguments from TERFs about transsexuals, and the gays/lesbians who think that bisexuality isn't really a thing.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2019 @ 1:59am

                    Re:

                    Here I thought part of all the groups uniting was them taking responsibility of informing us ignorant people of their existence and right to be treated as a normal human being, if not, shut up about zis zat and ze ozzer zing.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Sep 2019 @ 4:46am

                      Here I thought part of all the groups uniting was them taking responsibility of informing us ignorant people of their existence

                      No, the point of different groups of queer people uniting under one metaphorical banner/tent was to create a larger group of people willing to look out for and fight for one another’s interests. Informing and educating the general public is a small part of that mission — and it is something no queer person is ever required to do.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2019 @ 4:44pm

                        Re:

                        Nor are you required to respond to OOTB, yet you feel it is in our best interest to do so. I think you do a disservice to yourself, as well as everyone else you think is too ignorant to figure OOTB out.

                        I am an ignorant motherfucker who can, does, and will learn, OOTBs' job depends on him not learning.

                        When new things are invented/proposed, people need to be informed or they will remain ignorant. You don't make up a new word and then call others ignorant because they have never heard it before.

                        IMHO, your priorities are a little mixed up.

                        You might never change my mind, but I would have a new understanding and if you had half a brain that remained open, you would too.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                        • icon
                          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Sep 2019 @ 6:40pm

                          When new things are invented/proposed, people need to be informed or they will remain ignorant.

                          If someone informs you of the new thing, they do not become your personal professor on the matter. Ask a trans person about being trans, sure — but don’t act as if they’re required to be your one, only, 24/7 source of information on the subject if they give you an answer. You have access to the Internet; fucking use it.

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2019 @ 5:32am

              Re: Re:

              You'll have to ask the lesbians who say that "men aren't women tho" to clear that.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2019 @ 8:06pm

          WELL had you READ the background, you wouldn’t be blue balls

          Hey bro? Do you smell toast?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Annonymouse, 25 Sep 2019 @ 4:04am

            Re: WELL had you READ the background, you wouldn’t be blue bal

            If it is toast I bet it's burnt.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              A-Sbeve-Or-Two (profile), 29 Sep 2019 @ 10:22am

              Re: Re: WELL had you READ the background, you wouldn’t be blue

              No. All I smell is Blue Ball’s Blue Waffles. Gordon Ramsay wouldn’t approve of the trolling menu being served.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 25 Sep 2019 @ 12:17am

        Re:

        To be fair to his lunatic ravings, in this case ROM Universe was apparently a paid membership site. But, that's more a case of a stopped clock being correct than any new insight.

        But that, along with the fact that they were promoting new content rather than older ROM files on their front page, is why they're almost certainly going to lose this lawsuit and there's no reason for anyone to support it over more worthy causes. Whatever other valuable services they were providing, this particular site was clearly promoting piracy for profit over any other motive, so we're best letting them face the consequences and saving out battle for the next site that's being attacked for less black and white issues.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Sep 2019 @ 5:26am

          To be fair, they were always going to lose the lawsuit. Infringement is infringement no matter the reason for it. But yes, the whole “we’re selling memberships so you can download Switch games” thing makes the site wholly indefensible.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2019 @ 8:09pm

      Re: Commercial-scale idiocy

      What’s great bro, is that you seem to be labouring under the delusion that anyone here is defending this doofus. Have you tried not being an ignorant motherfucker? I hear that helps a bunch.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 24 Sep 2019 @ 8:18pm

      Re: Commercial-scale Troll

      As you can imagine, I'm wrecked with compassion

      Compassion for a big corporation exercising it's Right of Censorship. A Right granted under Cabbage Law.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2019 @ 8:22pm

      Re:

      I'm sure you'll have no problem proving exact damages, then, instead of the statutory garbage you like to pull out of your ass so much.

      Personally, I think it's funny that you guys still haven't let go of the trope that donations and Google ads have made millionaires out of site owners. How much money did you manage to wring out of The Pirate Bay, again? Was any of the fine money paid to the artists who were "stolen" from? What's that, you say? The site is still running, the IFPI couldn't find a single "million" that was "stolen", and the money "stolen from artists" was instead used to fund even more litigation?

      Gads, but you're an insufferable prick.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 24 Sep 2019 @ 11:59pm

      Re: Commercial-scale infringer should have set aside some ill-go

      "Pirates will pay only for access"

      Wait, wasn't your old complaint that pirates won't pay anything? Now you're saying they will happily pay for reasonable access? As in, a "pirate" is a paying customer so long as the offer is of a value reasonable to them?

      Why, it's almost as though you're agreeing with the central thesis that you've relentlessly attacked everybody on this site for over the years!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    mrtraver (profile), 25 Sep 2019 @ 5:28am

    Shades of RIAA vs. Thomas

    I see parallels to Jammie Thomas fighting RIAA - an unsympathetic defendant who is clearly guilty of violating the letter of the law. This won't end well for anyone (except the attorneys).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 25 Sep 2019 @ 5:39am

      Re: Shades of RIAA vs. Thomas

      Not at all. Thomas was a single mother who probably couldn't have afforded to buy all the music she downloaded, who was suddenly being held accountable for millions in supposed losses because a handful of files remained shared after she downloaded them. This case, however, appears to be a for-profit site that's offering many thousands of files.

      If you think these are even remotely the same thing, you've been buying into RIAA propaganda.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2019 @ 8:05am

    What I find hypocritical is the NES Classic from Nintendo, used Pirate ROM files to run the games. The iNES header gave it all away.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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