Earlier this summer, Nintendo went after a pair of ROM sites. Both LoveROMs and LoveRETRO quickly shut down after Nintendo’s accusations of “ill-gotten gains”. Due to the site’s high traffic, the company accused Jacob Mathias and his wife of profiting off their history. The couple immediately sought a settlement with the Japanese game maker, which led to today’s decision. Rather than going to court, the pair agree to pay $12.2 million in damages. In addition, they’ve admitted to direct copyright and trademark infringement and have received a permanent injunction. In any Nintendo copyright lawsuit, that’s likely going to be the result.
If you’re not familiar, a permanent injunction is a legally binding order placed on a party over the course of a legal proceeding. In this case, Jacob Mathias must hand over the URLs of both his ROM sites to Nintendo and agree to never infringe on Nintendo’s copyright again. Breaking this ruling could lead to more than a fine for the guilty parties.
While the $12 million fine seems like a lot on paper, it’s possible the couple could actually be paying far less to Nintendo. Since they made a deal with the company, it’s possible that they negotiated for a high dollar amount on paper while accepting less money behind the scenes. This is a preventative measure to ward off other would-be ROM sites from getting off the ground.
Speaking of, this lawsuit has had repercussions far beyond the Mathias’ bank account. Just two weeks after the lawsuit was filed, EmuParadise voluntarily took down its own ROM downloads. The owners cited in an open letter to visitors that they couldn’t afford to do legal battle with the House of Mario. In a way, one Nintendo copyright lawsuit topples several would-be problems. While this line of action will never stop a dedicated downloader, it does push ROM sites farther into the background. Soon, the public might just have to buy the fabled Game Boy Classic to play Pokemon Red during class.
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