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ROM pirate takes on Nintendo sans lawyer, gets told to pay $2.1M in damages

Nintendo has been awarded a $2.1 million summary judgement against the owner and operator of now-shuttered pirate site RomUniverse.

Nintendo has been awarded a $2.1 million summary judgement against the owner and operator of now-shuttered pirate site RomUniverse.

As reported by Torrentfreak, US District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall sided with Nintendo after finding that RomUniverse, which offered illegal access to a number of Nintendo titles for a monthly fee, amounted to "willful infringement." 

The site was owned by an LA resident called Matthew Storman, who claimed it generated between $30,000 and $36,000 in revenue during 2019. In a bid to have the case dismissed, Storman denied having uploaded any files to RomUniverse -- despite having already admitted to doing precisely that in a previous deposition.

"Defendant filed a declaration in opposition to the Motion wherein he declares that he ‘denies and disputes that he uploaded any files to said website and at no time did he verify the content of said ROM file’, which is directly contradictory to his sworn deposition testimony wherein he testified that he uploaded the ROM files onto his website,” said Judge Marshall.

Storman -- who notably chose to defend themselves in court -- ultimately failed to win the judge over, resulting in Nintendo being awarded $35,000 in statutory damages for each of the 49 copyrighted works uploaded to RomUniverse alongside a combined $400,000 in trademark damages. 

Nintendo had initially been seeking up to $150,000 per copyright infringement, and as much as $2 million per trademark infringement, but the judge suggested such a sum would be inappropriate.

"Considering Defendant’s willful infringement, the Court finds $35,000 statutory damages for each infringed copyright […] would compensate Plaintiff for its lost revenue and deter Defendant who is currently unemployed and has already shut down the website," concluded Judge Marshall.

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