I’m sure we all knew this was the only outcome
A few months back, Nintendo was hellbent on stopping just about anyone who hosted a website that allowed users to download pirated ROMs of their games. Before you knew it, DMCA’s were sent out and multiple ROM sharing websites disappeared overnight. However, for two of the larger sites, LoveROMS and LoveRetro, Nintendo ended up filing a lawsuit against them. Both of which were run by Jacob Mathias and his wife.
Both sites are believed to be operated by Jacob Mathias and his Arizona company Mathias Designs LLC. They offer access to a wide variety of ROMs, including many Nintendo games
According to the lawsuit, both sites were notorious online hubs, and they weren’t looking to preserve gaming. Since the suit was filed, both sites have been taken offline. Attempting to go to either of the domains will now show an apology.
Today we found out, thanks to TorrentFreak, that Nintendo ended up winning that lawsuit, with the defendants agreeing to a $12.23 million dollar judgment in favor of Nintendo. In addition, they will have to turn over all ROMs they have that infringe on Nintendo’s properties, as well as their domain names. Though, I’m sure that due to some behind the scenes negotiating, that original judgment will be reduced. Needless to say, that this sets a precedence when it comes to ROM sharing. In a nutshell, don’t mess with Nintendo or they will essentially sue you out of existence.
So here we are again, questioning the legitimacy of ROMs as a whole. Sure, it’s understood that as long as you own a copy of a game, you are legally allowed to make a backup of it. Of course, that also means that backup shouldn’t be distributed to the entire internet. However, even with that practice being legal, there are companies, such as Nintendo, that regardless if you own the game or not say it’s totally illegal. Fair use laws or not. By now you’d think there would be a clearcut answer regarding ROMs. But there isn’t. On one hand, you could argue that as long as I own the original game, I can download a ROM and use it as I wish. Sure, that makes sense and you cite reasoning for downloading to not being able to do it on your own. However, that download has to come from someone else, who may or may not own that game. Which could also be argued that since that can’t be proven, you’re now downloading an illegal copy.
It’s a mess, for sure and one that isn’t going away anytime soon. Even still, handing out ROMs on the internet is one way to get caught redhanded.