Nintendo wins $2.1 million judgement in ROM website RomUniverse lawsuit

Take on Nintendo's lawyers at your own peril.


Having Nintendo's lawyers hit with a cease and desist order is never fun. You know what's even less fun, though? Trying to actually take on Nintendo's lawyers! This isn't like Link trying to take on Ganon. It's more like Zelda 2's "I am Error" guy trying to take on the King of Evil. RomUniverse's Matthew Storman was not deterred and tried to take Nintendo to court over ROM files posted to his site. You can probably guess that this didn't go well for him. The result is a judge ruling for Nintendo, awarding the company $2.1 million USD in damages and obliterating RomUniverse from the face of the planet.

RomUniverse, back when it existed
RomUniverse, back when it existed

The story comes from TorrentFreak, which offers a succinct summary of the whole saga. RomUniverse hosted hundreds of ROMs, some of which violated Nintendo's copyrights. Nintendo moved to sue in September 2019, citing the copyright violations, as well as Storman profiting off the ROMs through a premium service. Storman attempted to fight the allegations and took Nintendo to court, opting to defend himself. This ended badly for him, as Storman's site was shut down and Nintendo pushed for a colossal $15 million in damages.

U.S. District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall ultimately ruled in favor of Nintendo, citing Storman's deposition testimony, as well as the fact that he attempted to profit through the aforementioned premium service. Storman was ordered to pay $35,000 for each of the 49 copyright violations, as well as $400,000 in statutory damages, leading to the full $2.1 million amount. TorrentFreak has a full PDF of the ruling on its site.

To say RomUniverse is no more after this case is an understatement. The moral of the story is, don't try to take on Nintendo's brigade of highly-paid lawyers. And, if you absolutely have to try, at least bring a lawyer of your own.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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  • reply
    June 1, 2021 12:40 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Nintendo wins $2.1 million judgement in ROM website RomUniverse lawsuit

    • reply
      June 1, 2021 1:26 PM

      Had the chucklehead not tried to profit off access to Nintendo's IP, I might've been more sympathetic, but damn, he's hosed his whole life now with $2 million of debt.

      Ironically, if he developed a great little indie game, he could be successful enough to pay it all off

    • reply
      June 2, 2021 4:17 AM

      So he tried to claim he was a "service provider" under the rules of the DMCA. The judge scorched him though:

      Defendant also
      fails to provide evidence showing 1) the infringing material was stored by
      Defendant “at the direction of a user,” 2) Defendant did not “receive a financial
      benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity”; 3) Defendant had a
      designated DMCA agent during the infringement; and 4) the required information
      for DMCA notices was displayed on Defendant’s website, as
      required for protection under the DMCA’s safe harbors provisions.

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