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  1. 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) Court Orders RomUniverse to Destroy Pirated Nintendo Games and Stay Offline
  2. Nintendo Fears Relaunch of Pirate Site So Asks for Legal Protection Nintendo won a $2.1 million summary judgment against the operator of the pirate site RomUniverse last month. The California federal court denied a permanent injunction, however, noting that the site had already shut down. Nintendo now asks the court to reconsider this decision, as there are signs that RomUniverse may relaunch after all. Nintendo regularly takes legal action against pirate sites and services. The gaming company has sued several sites that offer pirated games, including RomUniverse, which it took to court two years ago. The download portal, which also offered movies and books, was accused of massive online copyright infringement. Even worse, Nintendo’s complaint said that the site also charged users for access to premium features. RomUniverse Fought Back The site’s operator, Los Angeles resident Matthew Storman, clearly disagreed with these allegations and without an attorney decided to defend himself in court. In his view, the site wasn’t breaking any laws so he asked the court to dismiss the case. Nintendo picked this defense apart and found the court on its side. This meant that Storman had to face the copyright infringement charges, as well as millions of dollars in potential damages. The RomUniverse site initially remained online but last summer, after discussions with Nintendo’s legal team, the operator agreed to shut it down. But that didn’t end the case. $2.1 Million Judgment Nintendo was pleased to see RomUniverse offline, but the lawsuit continued. The gaming company moved for summary judgment and demanded millions of dollars in damages. Last month, 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. Nintendo Asks Court to Reconsider New court filings reveal that Nintendo isn’t planning to let the permanent injunction go just yet. The company has filed a motion for reconsideration arguing that, under the recently implemented Trademark Modernization Act, there is a ‘mandatory’ presumption of irreparable harm for trademark infringers. Perhaps just as crucially, Nintendo is worried that RomUniverse hasn’t shut down permanently and could make a comeback in the near future. In a signed declaration, Nintendo’s lawyer William C. Rava says he spoke with Mr. Storman over the phone earlier this month. At the time, RomUniverse’s operator didn’t rule out a comeback. However, he did offer assurances that this would be without any Nintendo titles. Nintendo Fears a Comeback Still, this potential relaunch has the Japanese gaming giant worried and it believes that a permanent injunction preventing such a comeback is warranted. “Defendant’s threat to continue to operate RomUniverse to distribute videogame ROMs, using the same website he used for the past several years to mass-infringe Nintendo’s copyright and trademark rights, necessitates the entry of an injunction,” Nintendo informs the court. In addition, the motion highlights that Mr. Storman has already disregarded previous legal obligations. The court previously awarded sanctions that required a monthly $50 payment, but this money has yet to come in. “This failure to make even the modest $50/month payment, an amount that he proposed and agreed to, demonstrates that Nintendo has no adequate remedy at law for Defendant’s past or future infringement and underscores the need for a permanent injunction.” RomUniverse Wants Damages Scrapped Nintendo’s concerns are not the only remaining issue, Mr. Storman himself has also filed a motion for reconsideration. According to RomUniverse’s founder, the court erred in awarding $2.1 million in damages. Mr. Storman contests that Nintendo suffered actual damages and also questions whether game copyrights were registered on time. Both motions are opposed by the other side, so it is ultimately up to the court to decide who’s right and wrong. At the time of writing, however, the RomUniverse website remains offline. — A copy of Nintendo’s follow-up to the motion for reconsideration is available here (pdf). We also have a copy of Storman’s motion for reconsideration (pdf) and Nintendo’s reply (pdf) Nintendo Fears Relaunch of Pirate Site So Asks for Legal Protection
  3. Nintendo has requested a $15 million summary judgment against the owner and operator of RomUniverse. The gaming company accuses the man, a Los Angeles resident, of profiting from mass-scale copyright infringement and destroying important evidence. The RomUniverse site and the associated Discord channel have gone offline. In September 2019, 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 Nintendo said that RomUniverse made things worse by profiting from these copyright infringements by selling paid premium accounts that allowed users to download as many games as they want. RomUniverse’s Defense 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. Nintendo picked this defense apart and found the court on its side. This meant that Storman had to face the charges, as well as millions of dollars in potential damages. 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. Lost Evidence 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. RomUniverse, when it was still around 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. Summary Judgment “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. $15+ Million 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) Source: TorrentFreak
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