The website, which also allows users to download movies and books, stands accused of enabling massive online copyright infringement, including that of many popular Nintendo titles.
“The Website is among the most visited and notorious online hubs for pirated Nintendo video games. Through the Website, Defendants reproduce, distribute, monetize, and offer for download thousands of unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s video games,” the company wrote.
RomUniverse profited from these copyright infringements by offering paid premium accounts that allow users to download as many games as they want, Nintendo further alleged.
The site’s operator, Los Angeles resident Matthew Storman, clearly 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.
Since then the case has progressed with a few bumps in the road. Last summer, Nintendo requested further evidence as part of the discovery process, including tax records, communications, and download statistics. Storman replied that he couldn’t provide this due to a medical issue and asked for time to recover.
After some back and forths in court, both parties eventually met at the end of September. Storman produced some tax documents but said that he was still working on the download numbers and Discord communications. A week later, however, he informed Nintendo that he no longer had access to this information.
Around the same time, the website and the Discord channel went offline, and both remain unavailable today.
Nintendo believes that Storman willingly destroyed evidence and has little faith in his cooperation going forward. The company, therefore, asks the California federal court to grant summary judgment, holding the operator liable for direct and secondary copyright infringement.
“This is a straightforward video game piracy case, and the material facts are undisputed,” Nintendo informs the court.
“For over a decade, defendant Matthew Storman owned and operated the website RomUniverse.com. He populated the website with pirated copies of thousands of different Nintendo games and distributed hundreds of thousands of copies of those pirated games.”
Nintendo also highlights the evidence that disappeared a few days after the court ordered the operator to hand it over.
“After refusing and then being ordered to produce key evidence, Mr. Storman instead destroyed it. That evidence included communications with his website administrators and data showing how many times each of the pirated video games had been downloaded.”
According to the gaming giant, it is crystal clear that for many years Storman both uploaded and distributed Nintendo’s games, resulting in many copyright and trademark infringements. Instead of taking the case to trial, it wants the court to issue a summary judgment.
In order to compensate for the massive damages Nintendo claims, the company requests $4.41 million in copyright damages and $11.2 million for trademark infringement, bringing the total to $15.61 million.
In addition to the damages, Nintendo also seeks an injunction to prevent further copyright infringement. Among other things, that would require Storman to destroy all pirated game copies and hand over his domain names.
Storman has yet to respond to Nintendo’s request and will have the chance to oppose it before the court makes a decision. That said, a legal battle between one man and a giant multi-billion dollar company generally doesn’t end well for the former.
Nintendo’s memorandum in support of the motion for summary judgment is available here (pdf)