Emulation has always come under fire from the major platform holders. It's a lightning rod for controversy due to the fact that while the emulators themselves are legal, distributing the ROMs across the internet without the platform holder's consent definitely isn't. That point was hammered home recently with the latest lawsuit that Nintendo won against a ROM site.
TorrentFreak is reporting that Nintendo managed to win the lawsuit that it had filed against the owners of LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co. The website owners, married couple Jacob and Cristian Mathias, were hit with a $12 million dollar settlement after pleading guilty to copyright infringement charges by Nintendo.
The report notes that, after Nintendo initially filed the complaint against the couple back in July of this year, the owners of the ROM sites didn't seek to drag things out in the court of law by trying to battle against the very litigious Nintendo -- a company, which I might add, has been in quite a few big lawsuits over the years and has come away victorious in a number of them.
Nintendo doesn't have a perfect record in the courtroom, though. It did bite the bullet in a case last year, where the company was sued by iLife for infringement on the motion control design for the Wii. The company sued Nintendo for $144 million for infringing on a patent they had filed for motion-based technology. Nintendo fought against the judgment, but it's somewhat ironic that the shoe is now on the other foot and Nintendo is now suing a ROM outlet for copyright and trademark infringement. This time, however, Nintendo came out victorious.
It wasn't just that the sites distributed ROMs of Nintendo's games, it's also that the site carried the BIOS files for Nintendo's hardware, which is what enables emulators to read ROM or ISO files. Several days after Nintendo originally filed the lawsuit against the couple, they pulled down both LoveROMS and LoveRETRO. The lawsuit from Nintendo had a chilling effect on the emulation community, resulting in sites like Emulation Paradise and The ISO Zone to also shut down their download sections for ROM files.
Nintendo began getting litigious against ROM sites after the Nintendo Switch was hacked earlier in the year and emulation of the hybrid device became possible. There's currently a working Nintendo Switch emulator out in the wild at this very moment, and it's capable of playing games like The Binding of Isaac and Super Mario Odyssey all the way through. Obviously this could hurt Nintendo's bottom line if the majority of gamers began forfeiting buying the Switch and its games and instead just downloaded the emulators and the ROMs/ISOs from ROM sites.
The news about the $12 million dollar settlement was not well-received in the emulation community, which sees Nintendo as bullying the Mathiases into financial submission. Some believe that the high-price on the settlement is to scare off other ROM sites from also hosting Nintendo games. Given that Nintendo is desperately trying to get back into the console war race to catch up with the PS4 using the Switch, it's not surprising that the company is going after ROM sites.