Nintendo regularly goes on the offensive by taking action against pirate sites and services.
The gaming company has sued several sites that offer pirated games, including RomUniverse, which it took to court two years ago.
The website facilitated massive online copyright infringement of many popular Nintendo titles, according to a complaint filed at a California district court
Nintendo said that RomUniverse made things worse by profiting from these copyright infringements by selling paid premium accounts that allowed users to download as many games as they want.
The site’s operator, Los Angeles resident Matthew Storman, clearly disagreed with these allegations. Without an attorney, he decided to defend himself in court. In his view, the site wasn’t breaking any laws and he asked the court to dismiss the case.
Nintendo picked this defense apart and found the court on its side. This meant that Storman had to face the charges, as well as millions of dollars in potential damages.
Since then, the case progressed with a few bumps in the road. Last summer, Nintendo requested further evidence as part of the discovery process, including tax records, communications, and download statistics. Storman initially said he couldn’t provide the information due to a medical issue and asked for time to recover.
Site Goes Offline
Both parties eventually met at the end of September when RomUniverse’s operator produced some tax documents. However, he was still working on the download statistics and Discord communications. Then, a week later, he informed Nintendo that he no longer had access to this information. Around the same time, the website and the Discord channel went offline.
This was the last straw for Nintendo, which believed that Storman willingly destroyed evidence and expressed little faith in his cooperation going forward. The company, therefore, asked the California federal court to grant summary judgment, holding the operator liable for direct and secondary copyright infringement.
Nintendo argued that it’s entitled to $15 million in damages, as it’s clear that RomUniverse broke the law. However, in a new filing, Storman sees things differently.
RomUniverse Opposes Summary Judgment Request
The site operator is still defending himself in court. In his opposition brief, he argues that Nintendo’s case isn’t as strong as the gaming company would have people believe.
“RomUniverse denies and disputes that it offered for download and distributed pirated ROMs of thousands of Nintendo games,” Storman writes.
While RomUniverse certainly appeared to offer many pirated games, Storman denies that he uploaded any. In addition, he notes that titles of downloads may not always be accurate.
“Defendant denies and disputes that he uploaded any files to said website and at no time did he verify the content of said ROM file. A file with a title of Mario Brothers does not mean that said file contains Nintendo’s copyrighted video game.”
Others Had Access
In the motion for summary judgment, Nintendo pointed out several ‘infringing’ statements that were made by RomUniverse on Discord and Twitter. Storman denies that he made them, and argues that others had access to the accounts.
The same applies to the website itself. Storman writes that he wasn’t the only person with access to the site, and other staffers could have posted content as well.
“Defendant, and other admins had control of every aspect of the website and its accessibility. Every Admin had access equally,” he argues.
All in all, the RomUniverse owner concludes that Nintendo is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law. As such, the motion for summary judgment should be denied.
Nintendo was quick to respond to this request. The gaming company wholeheartedly disagrees and says that Mr. Storman did upload pirated games, using the deposition testimony against him.
“Mr. Storman’s infringement was undoubtedly willful. He concedes, for instance, that he uploaded pirated ROMs — which were identified as ROMs of Nintendo’s videogames — to RomUniverse, and that he obtained those ROMs from other pirating websites.”
“Then, despite receiving multiple notices that the content on RomUniverse infringed Nintendo’s copyrights, Mr. Storman continued to upload and distribute the Infringing ROMs. That is willful infringement,” Nintendo adds.
Nintendo hopes to resolve the matter swiftly. And even if the court sides with Storman in this instance, the trouble isn’t over. The case will then continue to trial where Storman will be up against deep pockets and a team of heavyweight lawyers.
A copy of Storman’s response and opposition to Nintendo’s motion for summary judgment is available here (pdf). Nintendo’s response can be found here (pdf)