Nintendo wins $2.1million in legal case against ROMUniverse owner

The defendant closed the website during 2020

Nintendo has successfully won a $2.1million lawsuit against Matthew Storman, the owner of illegal romsite ROMUniverse.

Storman owned and operated the site which allowed users to download ROMs until last year when he closed it at the request of Nintendo. TorrentFreak initially reported on the case over the weekend.

Nintendo’s lawsuit claimed Storman had uploaded and distributed pirated Nintendo games and profited from the premium accounts he sold to users.


Storman denied the claims, arguing that he had broken no laws, because he hadn’t uploaded ROM files himself. A statement that clashed with Storman’s previous confession that he had indeed uploaded ROMs.

Nintendo requested $15million in damages and a summary judgment against Storman. US District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall ruled in favour of Nintendo. However, the amount awarded in damage fell short of Nintendo’s initial demand.

The original Nintendo 64 games console

Storman also tried to file a counterclaim against Nintendo claiming that the “plaintiff misrepresented their copyright, trademark and unfair competition claims against the defendant”.

Storman argued Nintendo had to prove each file downloaded by users was actually theirs and playable. The court decided Storman’s counterclaim was too similar to his defence, and dismissed it.

Judge Marshall denied Nintendo’s request for a permanent injunction against Storman, which could have prohibited him from ever owning or running a website again.


The judge recognised that the defendant had shut down ROMUniverse: “the plaintiff failed to show any threat of future infringement and the evidence demonstrated the defendant ‘Has abandoned his business’.”

Judge Marshall ruled Storman to pay $2.15million in damages to Nintendo for the damage caused by ROMUniverse.

Super Mario World
Super Mario World. Credit: Nintendo

You can find a breakdown of the case here, which includes how Judge Marshall decided on the settlement figure.

The now-defunct ROMUniverse shared and hosted ROM files of retro games. ROM is an abbreviation of Read-Only Memory, which is a software image of the ROM chip which contains video game data. Copying files from the ROM chip allows users to play games using an emulator.

Emulation itself isn’t illegal, as users are able to transfer and create digital versions of ROM files from games they already own. However, sharing ROM files online is illegal, and is considered an act of video game piracy and copyright infringement.

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