Nintendo isn’t pulling any punches where piracy is concerned, an exclusive new report from TorrentFreak reveals. A California federal court has ordered one Matthew Storman (of now-defunct game download portal ROMUniverse) to nix all pirated Nintendo ROMs in his possession and keep a new hosting website from ever going online. This includes “all unauthorized Nintendo games or other unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s intellectual property including movies, books, and music” and refers to permanent deletion of all related particulars. He is to file the corresponding declaration by August 17 or face penalties arising from perjury. The injunction was issued on August 5 by judge Consuelo B. Marshall.
Nintendo of America sued Storman in 2019 for copyright infringement and federal trademark infringement; resulting damages amounted to $2.1 million. Storman represented himself in court, but lost. Still, the website remained active. Storman spoke with Nintendo’s legal team behind closed doors and was convinced to shut it down. Two years later, the Central District of California ruled in Nintendo’s favor and granted the million-dollar summary judgment against Storman and the numerous John Doe involved with ROMUniverse, as reparation for every pirated Nintendo ROM downloaded from the hosting site. All seemed peachy for a while until Storman announced ROMUniverse was making a comeback. Fearing further infringement, Nintendo requested the court to issue a permanent injunction barring Storman from making another ROM-sharing site using pirated files he conspicuously still owns.
The California district court reevaluated charges and formally agreed on the injunction. “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,” Judge Marshall wrote. Nintendo had to make the request twice, since the first was deemed unnecessary. At the time, it seemed Storman’s compliance was genuine. The Los Angeles native is also legally unauthorized to use, reproduce, or imitate Nintendo’s trademarks in any form or manner, in connection to a website.
The United States federal courts have been relentless against piracy in recent years, as Nintendo strives to crack down on every single ROM-sharing website still actively servicing customers. In 2018, Nintendo’s legal department filed a lawsuit worth $12,230,000 in damages against married couple Jacob and Cristian Mathias, the owners of game download websites LoveRETRO and LoveROMS. Unlike Matthew Storman, the operators of both portals were fully compliant and cooperative with law enforcement; they agreed on a consent judgment and entered settlement negotiations with Nintendo to avert potentially injurious legal ramifications. An Arizona judge awarded the gaming giant their requested amount in November of the same year.
Jacob and Cristian Mathias were handed an injunction compelling them to take down both sites, which they did without question. The couple likely received lower payouts in exchange for settling; however, Nintendo still demanded a much higher number to discourage other ROM-hosting portals from continuing. Many did pull back in response, but Matthew Storman’s ROMUniverse was among the few who thought it clever to persist. (It truly comes as no surprise he genuinely considered relaunching ROMUniverse in clear defiance of past courtroom decisions.) In fact, Storman was a rare case of pirate who was cheeky enough to claim he broke zero laws sharing unauthorized content online, only to be obliterated in court by Nintendo’s legal associates. It remains uncertain if Storman will indeed delete all pirated files at his disposal in due time, or risk massive fines and extended jail time for repeatedly ignoring court-issued mandates.