For those not familiar with the concept, ROMs can be used with an emulator of a Nintendo handheld or console to allow people to play titles for free as if they were playing on the original hardware. It's a way that you can play games like Super Mario 64 on your PC, phone, PSP, or almost any other open device with enough power.
The lawsuit documents found by TorrentFreak highlight the exact grounds of the lawsuit including distributing "the proprietary BIOS software for several of Nintendo’s video game systems," "unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s video games," and even " make extensive use of Nintendo’s registered trademarks, including the Nintendo logo and the most recognizable Nintendo video game characters, to encourage visitors to download and play unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s copyrighted works."
Nintendo also outlines in the document that they are seeking reparations of $150,000 for each of the 140 titles hosted and then a further $2m for each of the 40 trademark infringements. This totals out to Nintendo seeking $101 Million from these two sites.
Nintendo is taking this matter a step further too as they've demanded that the sites immediately cease operating, which both already have, turn over their domain and also reveal the sources of who provided their site with ROMS. This could be Nintendo attempting to stop the creation of ROMS at the source, or even to scare ROM creators into stopping their practices.
We have reached out to Nintendo on further information following the close of loveROMS and loveRETRO and will update this article as more information becomes available.
Update: After reaching out to involved parties and others in a similar position TechRaptor received a response from the owner of one of the biggest emulation websites. The questions and answers have been listed below.
TechRaptor: What do you think of Nintendo taking legal action for these sites hosting this content?Owner: Nintendo is well within their rights to take action. The question here is, should they have that right, especially when it comes to IP that they are not exploiting? Today, copyright is at a 70 year+ term. Most of the games we played as children will never enter the public domain until we're dead. If you poll the people, most regular folks would be in favour of shorter copyright terms. The way we arrived here is because of lobbying and special interest groups wanting to keep these creations locked into the private domain.
So Nintendo can do this because they are supported by the law. But we're all probably a lot poorer because of it.
T: Do you think that ROM sites should begin to take preemptive action to protect themselves against Nintendo?O: Yes, they should. It's just not worth it for any of us. We do this for the love of retro video games. It's enough pressure that we often get C&D's and legal threats from various groups. Our hosts often get letters threatening them with legal action.
However, to be sued to the point of bankruptcy and beyond? No thank you.