Jul 23, 2018

Nintendo takes action over online emulators

In the internet age there has always been a demand for access to games and videos that pre-dated it. That demand is never higher than for retro games that populated our lives in the years just before the early noughties internet boom.

Chiefly among those games sought are the early Mario games from Nintendo. In fact, before Playstation and Xbox began their era of dominance in the console-gaming market, Nintendo was the gold standard. Save for some early 90s competition from Sega's Sonic, it had all of the most sought-after titles. Mario, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Punch-Out and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were the pinnacle of early computer gaming.

There is a tendency to look back and remember those games and wax lyrical about how much better than the current crop of video games they were (and still are). To scratch that itch a number of online emulators have been available online for the last 10 or so years. Often known as ROMs, they allow users to play classic Nintendo games from their PC (or in some cases, their tablet) that were previously available only on classic consoles that are no longer widely available.

Nintendo, however, has been less than accepting of this practice. It says that it is a clear breach of copyright, and that those operating the ROM sites are profiting from its original works.

It has now taken the step of issuing proceedings against two of the most popular ROM sites: LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co. The claim covers infringement of both copyright and trademark, and seeks injunctions effectively shutting down the sites, and damages in dizzying sums. Nintendo have sought $150,000 per reproduced Nintendo game (there are 140 across the sites) and $2,000,000 per trademark infringed (there are 40).

Jacob Mathias owns both websites via his company Mathias Designs LLC. While neither he nor the company has responded to the claim publicly, since the complaint was made LoveRETRO.co has been taken offline, and displays only a splash page saying that the site has been shut down until further notice, and LoveROMS.com has removed all of its Nintendo titles from its gaming archive.

It is unclear whether Nintendo will be satiated with such a move, or will press ahead with the action as a warning to other ROM/Emulation websites of what the future may hold for them.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.

in: Copyright, EU/International, Trade Marks

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