Nintendo ‘Wins’ $12 Million From Pirate ROM Site Operators

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The owners of now-defunct ROM sites and have agreed to a $12 million judgment in favor of Nintendo. The operators, a married couple, admit to both direct and indirect copyright and trademark infringement. Both parties requested the court to sign off on this unusual judgment, which will end their legal battle.

This summer, Nintendo made it totally clear that websites offering access to its retro-games and ROMs will not be tolerated.

The Japanese game developer filed a complaint at a federal court in Arizona, accusing and of massive copyright and trademark infringement.

Faced with millions of dollars in potential damages, the operator of the sites, Jacob Mathias, swiftly took the platforms offline. The legal action also led to the shutdown several other ROM sites, who feared they could be next.

It quickly became clear that the Mathias and his wife, who was later added to the complaint, were not looking forward to a drawn-out legal battle. Instead, they engaged in settlement discussions with Nintendo, hoping to resolve the matter without too much bloodshed.

Today we can report that both sides have indeed reached a deal. They agreed to a consent judgment and a permanent injunction that will resolve all outstanding disputes.

Paperwork obtained by TorrentFreak shows that Mathias and his wife admit that their involvement with the websites constituted direct and indirect copyright and trademark infringement, which caused Nintendo irreparable injury.

However, on paper, the married couple won’t be getting off cheaply. On the contrary, they actually agreed to a judgment that exceeds $12 million.

“Plaintiff is hereby awarded judgment against all Defendants, jointly and severally, in the amount of $12,230,000,” the proposed language reads.

Unsigned final judgment

It seems unlikely that the couple has this kind of money in the bank, or that a jury would have reached a similar figure. So why the high amount?

We can only speculate but it’s possible that Nintendo negotiated such a high number, on paper, to act as a deterrent for other site operators. In practice, the defendants could end up paying much less.

It wouldn’t be the first time that a judgment in court is more than what the parties agreed to privately. This happened before in the MPAA’s lawsuit against Hotfile, where a $80 million judgment in court translated to $4 million behind the scenes settlement.

In addition to the monetary judgment, both parties also agreed on a permanent injunction. This will prevent the couple from infringing Nintendo’s copyrights going forward.

They further have to hand over all Nintendo games and emulators they have, at their own expense. On top of that, the permanent injunction requires them to sign over and to the Japanese company.

The documents have yet to be signed off by a judge but considering that both parties agree with it, that should be a formality. After that, it’s game over.

Update November 27: The court signed the permanent injunction and judgment, which means that the case is over.

Here are copies of the yet-to-be-signed permanent injunction (pdf) and final judgment (pdf).



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