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Billion-dollar company Nintendo awarded $2.1 million after suing ROM seller

Popular ROMs repository ROMUniverse must pay Nintendo after a judge's ruling in a copyright infringement case.

Published onJune 1, 2021

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C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
  • A judge’s ruling in a copyright infringement case didn’t work out so well for a popular Nintendo ROMs repository site.
  • The owner of ROMUniverse must pay Nintendo $2.1 million.
  • Nintendo originally wanted $15 million from ROMUniverse.

If there’s one thing Nintendo is passionate about — besides constantly delaying the expansion of the Metroid franchise — it’s suing people. The notoriously strict company throws DMCA notices around without abandon and seems to love being in courtrooms.

But Nintendo really seems to delight in taking companies to court that deal in Nintendo ROMs. One such case just closed in Nintendo’s favor (via TorrentFreak), with popular site ROMUniverse forced to hand over $2.1 million to Nintendo. This is another win for Nintendo in its never-ending attempts to stop retro console emulation.

Related: Emulation on Android: Beginner’s guide for classic console gaming on your phone

Of course, in this particular situation, it wouldn’t have been easy for Nintendo to look the other way. Unlike some other ROM sites that fell under attack from Nintendo, ROMUniverse was actually charging for “premium” access to its collection of ROMs. For $30 each month, ROMUniverse subscribers could download the vast collection of ROMs on the site faster than non-paying visitors. This business model differs from most other ROM sites, which leave everything up for free but make money indirectly from on-page ads.

ROMUniverse owner Matthew Storman disputed the accusations, choosing to represent himself in court. He argued that he never actually uploaded any of the ROMs, so he shouldn’t be at fault. US District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall didn’t buy it, though.

However, Judge Marshall did significantly decrease Storman’s financial penalty. Nintendo wanted $15 million from ROMUniverse, but the judge thought that was too much. She concluded that ROMUniverse’s presence didn’t significantly harm Nintendo’s business (the company made record profits last year). Besides, the site is no longer online, with Storman removing it in the middle of the trial after discussing the matter with Nintendo’s lawyers.

Obviously, there are still plenty of other sites out there that host Nintendo ROMs. But ROMUniverse will no longer be one of them and Nintendo has another $2.1 million to throw on the pile.

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