Court Orders RomUniverse to Destroy Pirated Nintendo Games and Keep Offline *TorrentFreak

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A California federal court has ordered the operator of now-defunct pirate site RomUniverse to destroy all copyright-infringing games within two weeks. The court initially denied the request for a permanent injunction, but changed its stance after Nintendo warned of a potential return of the site. The $2.1 million summary judgment still stands.

Two years ago, video game giant Nintendo filed a lawsuit against game download portal RomUniverse.

The website facilitated mass online copyright infringement of many popular Nintendo titles, according to the lawsuit filed in a California district court.

RomUniverse Pro Se Defense

Site operator Matthew Storman, a Los Angeles resident, disagrees with the allegations. Without a lawyer, he decided to defend himself in court. In his view, the site was not breaking any laws and he asked the court to dismiss the case.

Nintendo vehemently disagreed and pointed out several flaws in RomUniverse’s defense, with which the court agreed. That meant Storman had to face the charges, as well as millions of dollars in potential damages.

RomUniverse initially remained online. That eventually changed but last summer, after discussions with Nintendo’s legal team, the operator agreed to shut it down. The gaming company later sought summary judgment amounting to millions of dollars in compensation for the damages it suffered.

$2.1 million in hack-related damages

In May 2021, U.S. District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall ruled on the matter, largely siding with Nintendo. The court granted a $2.1 million summary judgment against operator RomUniverse, for infringing the game company’s copyrights and trademarks.

Nintendo didn’t get everything it was looking for. Judge Marshall denied a permanent injunction against Storman because Nintendo failed to demonstrate that he suffered irreparable harm. Moreover, the fact that Storman had already shut down the site showed that there was no imminent threat of further infringements.

While Nintendo was satisfied with the award of damages, it asked the court to reconsider the denied injunction. Among other things, the company was concerned that RomUniverse might not be shut down permanently. Mr Storman himself has admitted that the site may make a comeback in the near future.

Nintendo gets its injunction

After considering the matter again, Judge Marshall now sees enough grounds to issue the injunction. In an order issued late last week, RomUniverse’s potential return is repeatedly cited as a significant factor.

“Plaintiff’s evidence demonstrates a threat of continuing infringement based on Defendant’s representations that it can relaunch its website which previously contained Plaintiff’s copyrighted games. Accordingly, Plaintiff demonstrates irreparable harm warranting an injunction for Plaintiff’s copyright infringement claim.”

Although Mr Storman said a relaunch would occur without any Nintendo titles, the court finds an injunction appropriate as the Japanese company could otherwise suffer “irreparable harm”.

Destroy all pirated games

The injunction specifically prohibits the operator of RomUniverse from copying, distributing, selling, or even playing unauthorized copies of Nintendo games. The use of Nintendo’s trademarks, logos or names in a “confusing” manner is also not permitted.

Finally, Judge Marshall also orders the destruction of all pirated Nintendo games that are still in Mr. Storman’s possession.

“Defendant will permanently destroy all unauthorized Nintendo games or other unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s intellectual property, including movies, books and music no later than August 17, 2021,” Judge Marshall concludes.

romunivers injunction

A copy of U.S. District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall’s order is available here (pdf)

Timothy C. Mayo