Nintendo of America filed suit on Sept. 10 against RomUniverse, a ROM website that has been providing access to illegal copies of Nintendo IP in addition to other video games, books, and film on a massive scale. They are seeking $150,000 for each copyright infringement and upward of $2 million for each trademark infringement. The complaint describes the severity of RomUniverse’s activities as such:
According to the Website, as of the date of filing this Complaint, hundreds of thousands of copies of Nintendo games have been illegally downloaded through the Website including nearly 300,000 downloads of copies of pirated Nintendo Switch games and more than 500,000 copies of pirated Nintendo 3DS games.
There exist a number of ROM websites (albeit malware-ridden) that skirt by only offering access to ROMs of old video games, but RomUniverse has an apparently growing and expansive collection of new and old content. What also differentiates RomUniverse from the small players is that this website sells premium accounts “for faster downloads, unlimited downloads per week and 20 downloads at a time” of said illegally accessed content, reportedly for $30/year. It takes a lot of gall to run an operation like this — and especially to think the axe will never fall.
Meanwhile, in a UK high court, Nintendo has successfully argued this week for five major UK ISPs to block or impede access to four websites that are illegally distributing Nintendo Switch games. And last year, Nintendo sued LoveROMS and LoveRETRO for $100 million, which resulted in a $12 million settlement.
This is all par for the course for Nintendo, and you can’t blame them for exercising their legal right. A person can make an argument as to why downloading a ROM of a 25-year-old game isn’t that big a deal, but there is zero acceptable reason to be downloading brand new Nintendo Switch games — or to be charging people premium fees for the privilege to do so.