Emulators are handy tools for people who want to play games on platforms other than the usual console they’re intended for.
These are particularly useful for retro games and consoles, which are no longer sold, allowing users to enjoy the games they were hooked on decades ago.
However, many game publishers are less content with this practice. Nintendo, in particular, has repeatedly called out ROMS and emulator sites, both in and outside the United States.
This week, Nintendo took two of these sites to court. In a complaint filed at a federal court in Arizona, the game publisher sues LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co for copyright and trademark infringement.
Both sites are believed to be operated by Jacob Mathias and his Arizona company Mathias Designs LLC. They offer access to a wide variety of ROMs, including many Nintendo games.
“The LoveROMs and LoveRETRO websites are among the most open and notorious online hubs for pirated video games,” Nintendo writes in the complaint.
“Through the LoveROMs and LoveRETRO websites, Defendants reproduce, distribute, publicly perform and display a staggering number of unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s video games, all without Nintendo’s permission.”
In addition to the copyrighted games, the sites also distribute proprietary BIOS software, while using trademarked logos and characters, Nintendo notes.
While some ROMs sites may be hobby projects, Nintendo sees these two sites as professional operations that profit from its works.
“Defendants are not casual gamers but are instead sophisticated parties with extensive knowledge of Nintendo’s intellectual property and the video game industry more generally,” the company notes.
Through the lawsuit, which also lists a count of unfair competition, Nintendo hopes to shut both sites down. The company requests statutory damages of $150,000 per infringing Nintendo game and up to $2,000,000 for each trademark infringement.
This means that, with more than 140 copyrighted titles and 40 trademarks on the record, theoretical damages could go up to a staggering $100 million.
Nintendo further requests a permanent injunction ordering the sites to stop their infringing activities while handing over domain names to the game publisher. At the same time, Nintendo wants the operator of the sites to reveal the sources for the infringing ROMs.
The defendant has yet to respond publicly to the allegations and at the time of writing and both LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co remain online.
Update July 22: LoveRETRO has been pulled offline.
“Loveretro has effectively been shut down until further notice. Thanks for your patronage to date and we hope to get this figured out.”
LoveROMS, meanwhile, has removed all Nintendo titles.
Update July 23: LoveROMS has shut down as well now.
A copy of Nintendo’s complaint, obtained by TorrentFreak, is available here (pdf).