A California federal court has ordered the operator of the now-defunct pirate site RomUniverse to destroy all copyright-infringing games within two weeks. The court initially denied the request for a permanent injunction but changed its position after Nintendo warned about a potential comeback of the site. The $2.1 million summary judgment still stands.
Two years ago, gaming giant Nintendo filed a lawsuit against the game download portal RomUniverse.
The website facilitated massive online copyright infringement of many popular Nintendo titles, according to the complaint filed at a California district court.
RomUniverse’s Pro Se Defense
The site’s operator, Los Angeles resident Matthew Storman, 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 vehemently disagreed and pointed out several flaws in RomUniverse’s defense, with which the court agreed. This meant that Storman had to face the charges, as well as millions of dollars in potential damages.
RomUniverse initially remained online. That eventually changed but last summer, after discussions with Nintendo’s legal team, the operator agreed to shut it down. The game company subsequently requested summary judgment amounting to millions of dollars as compensation for the damages it suffered.
$2.1 Million in Piracy Damages
In May 2021, US District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall ruled on the matter, largely siding with Nintendo. The court granted a $2.1 million summary judgment against the RomUniverse operator, for infringing the game company’s copyrights and trademarks.
Nintendo didn’t get everything it was after. Judge Marshall denied a permanent injunction against Storman, as Nintendo failed to show that it was suffering irreparable harm. Additionally, the fact that Storman had already shut down the site showed there was no imminent threat of further infringements.
While Nintendo was happy with the damages award, it asked the court to reconsider the denied injunction. Among other things, the company was worried that RomUniverse hasn’t shut down permanently. Mr. Storman himself admitted that the site could make a comeback in the near future.
Nintendo Gets Its Injunction
After taking a second look at the matter, Judge Marshall now sees enough grounds to issue the injunction. In an order issued late last week, the potential comeback of RomUniverse is repeatedly cited as an important factor.
“Plaintiff’s evidence demonstrates a threat of continued infringement based on Defendant’s representations that he may relaunch his website which previously contained Plaintiff’s copyrighted games. Accordingly, Plaintiff demonstrates irreparable harm warranting an injunction for Plaintiff’s copyright infringement claim.”
Although Mr. Storman said that a relaunch would happen without any Nintendo titles, the court finds an injunction appropriate as the Japanese company might suffer “irreparable harm” otherwise.
Destroy All Pirated Games
The injunction specifically prohibits RomUniverse’s operator to copy, distribute, sell or even play unauthorized copies of Nintendo games. Using Nintendo’s trademarks, logo’s or names in a ‘confusing’ manner is not allowed either.
Finally, Judge Marshall also orders the destruction of all pirated Nintendo games that are still in Mr. Storman’s possession.
“Defendant shall permanently destroy all unauthorized Nintendo games or other unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s intellectual property including movies, books, and music no later than August 17, 2021,” Judge Marshall concludes her order.
A copy of US District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall’s order is available here (pdf)
Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.