Nintendo is bringing the hammer down on two ROM sites for their “mass” copyright infringement of Nintendo games.
Many gamers who play primarily on PC are familiar with the world of emulators and ROMs. Emulators serve as a type of virtual console, letting players effectively replicate, say, a SNES or GameCube on their PC. ROMs are the games themselves, downloaded as “Read Only Memory” files that can be played by running an emulator.
Emulators often lag a generation or so behind current consoles, and it takes a little computer knowledge to set one up properly, so most games used played through emulators tend to be ones made for older consoles that are hard to find nowadays, or games that released exclusively in Japan and are hard to find legitimately. While it’s not illegal to have a ROM of a game—theoretically, if you own a game and have the right hardware, you could create a ROM yourself off the cartridge—distribution of licensed ROMs certainly is. And now, two of the biggest ROM distribution sites have run afoul of Nintendo.
LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co are two of the biggest hubs for pirated games, and Nintendo has just filed a hefty lawsuit against each. Both sites are owned and operated by Jacob Mathias and his company, Mathias Designs LLC. While they offer a wide variety of ROMs, many of the most popular ones are Nintendo games, and the sites use Nintendo characters and branding to advertise.
In a complaint filed at an Arizona federal court, Nintendo held both sites accountable for their use of Nintendo licensed property.
“The LoveROMs and LoveRETRO websites are among the most open and notorious online hubs for pirated video games,” Nintendo wrote (via TorrentFreak). “Through the LoveROM and LoveRETRO websites, Defendants reproduce, distribute, publicly perform and display a staggering number of unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s video games, all without Nintendo’s permission.”
The lawsuit includes a screenshot of one part of LoveROMs’ website, which has a background with Warp Pipes and Question Mark Blocks ripped straight out of Nintendo’s Mario games.
Nintendo’s demands are hefty. While ultimately, Nintendo hopes to shut both sites down (citing “unfair competition”), the company also seeks statutory damages of $150,000 per game and up to $2,000,000 for each trademark infringement. With the number of trademark infringements and copyrighted titles found on both sites, the total damages come out to well over $100 million.
As a result, both LoveROMs and LoveRETRO have been pulled offline. Going to either site now displays a message that each site has been “shut down until further notice.” Before the shutdown, the LoveROMs Facebook account mentioned that “all Nintendo games have been removed from the site,” confirming that the site’s closure is in relation to Nintendo’s lawsuit.