The background legal debate around ROM sites, emulation, and their status as game preservation has been in discussion for several years now. Nintendo has always been fiercely protective of their intellectual property, as is their right. Earlier last year, they filed a number of lawsuits against a certain site by the name of RomUniverse. In that lawsuit, a decision was reached in May 2021 to award Nintendo $2.1 million in damages from the site. The owner of RomUniverse, Matthew Storman, refused to quit, and now we’ve ended up here, with the state of California’s federal court ordering RomUniverse to destroy all of their Nintendo ROMs in the current lawsuit.
Here’s the judgment:
“Plaintiff’s evidence demonstrates a threat of continued infringement based on Defendant’s representations that he may relaunch his website which previously contained Plaintiff’s copyrighted games. Accordingly, Plaintiff demonstrates irreparable harm warranting an injunction for Plaintiff’s copyright infringement claim.
“Defendant shall permanently destroy all unauthorized Nintendo games or other unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s intellectual property including movies, books, and music no later than August 17, 2021.”
Storman and RomUniverse were compelled to pay back the $2.1 million in damages via $50 monthly payments, which would, by my calculations, take an estimated 42,000 months, or 3,500 years. Ouch. Once Storman and RomUniverse defaulted on a monthly payment, Nintendo brought them right back to court, with the added fear that the site would relaunch based on some comments that Storman had made. US District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall had initially ruled in Nintendo’s favor the first time around but didn’t grant a permanent injunction. That has now been granted, and so RomUniverse has been ordered to destroy all of their Nintendo ROMs.
What do you make of this decision in the RomUniverse vs. Nintendo lawsuit? What side of the emulation and game preservation debate do you fall on? Would Nintendo’s attitude towards locking away older games and preventing them from being accessible need to change? Leave us a comment down below with your thoughts.