Nintendo files lawsuit against emulator sites

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The emulation of old console games on PC is a complicated subject, and one we've written about extensively, as in this piece on The ethics of emulation: how creators, the community, and the law view console emulators (opens in new tab). Nintendo's approach is a more straightforward one. They don't like it.

Two ROM-hosting websites, LoveROMs and LoveRETRO, are the target of a recent lawsuit by Nintendo (a pdf of which is hosted at TorrentFreak (opens in new tab)). There's a lot in that 27-page filing, but here's an explanation of why these sites in particular have been chosen, out of all the similar sites that exist.

"The LoveROMs website alone receives 17 million visitors each month. Such visitors are drawn to the website by the widespread availability of free, unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s video games and other highly valuable intellectual property. The resulting popularity of Defendants’ LoveROMs and LoveRETRO websites has allowed Defendants to reap substantial ill-gotten gains, including through donations and the sale of advertising on the LoveROMs and LoveRETRO websites."

In response LoveROMS has removed all Nintendo games, although games for other consoles remain available there, while LoveRETRO "has effectively been shut down until further notice." However, the lawsuit calls for a lot more than that. Nintendo are after statutory damages of $US150,000 for each Nintendo game hosted on the sites and up to $US2,000,000 for each trademark infringement, as well as a handover of the domain names and the sources of their ROMs.

At this point it's fun to bring up the fact that the version of Super Mario Bros. for sale on Nintendo's Virtual Console was found to be a ROM that someone at Nintendo had downloaded off the internet. If you're not up on that story, here's Chris Bratt (formerly of Eurogamer, currently running People Make Games (opens in new tab)) to tell it.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games (opens in new tab). He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun (opens in new tab), The Big Issue, GamesRadar (opens in new tab), Zam (opens in new tab), Glixel (opens in new tab), Five Out of Ten Magazine (opens in new tab), and Playboy.com (opens in new tab), whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.