Important Note: This article contains my opinion which you may not agree with. Please comment in a civil way!
ROM websites hosting retro (and not so retro, in the case of PS2/PSP) games have been around for years and many of us have used them at least once. However, Nintendo has now decided to sue LoveROMs and LoveRetro in a move that, in my opinion, is somewhat futile.
What happened? Is downloading retro ROMs illegal?
LoveRetro, a less popular ROM site, has been taken down until further notice.
On the 19th of July, Nintendo sued Mathias Designs LLC and its owner, Jacob Mathias, who are thought to be behind LoveROMs and LoveRetro. LoveROMs is quite a popular ROM piracy website that hosts ROMs and allows you to play them online. It also hosts copyrighted BIOSes as some some emulators (GBA/PS1) function better with an original BIOS. On the other hand, LoveRetro is a less popular website that hosted roughly the same things. Nintendo has sued for $150k per illegally hosted game and $2m for every trademark infringement, this is when a trademark is used in an unauthorized way.
Nintendo is telling you “Don’t copy that game cart!”. The warning apparently didn’t reach Jacob Mathias
As the websites apparently hosted 140 copyrighted games and infringed 40 trademarks, Jacob Mathias is being sued for a total of $100 million which is a pretty large sum of money. Jacob Mathias isn’t a well-known person in the piracy world and a quick Google search doesn’t return much about him or his net worth so it is doubtful that he has the money to actually pay up if he’s made to do so.
We must remember that downloading game ROMs, especially of games that you don’t own, is illegal as copyright stays valid for 75 years in the USA. According to Nintendo, even dumping your own games and using them for personal use is illegal however that is considered by some to be a gray area. Even though downloading old games is illegal, part of the reason why people do it is because they can’t legally purchase old games at a reasonable price or at all so there is that side of the story.
Will this affect you?
As things currently stand, it probably won’t unless you were an avid fan of LoveROMs or the lesser-known LoveRETRO. Currently, LoveRETRO has been shut down while LoveROMs is still up without any ROMs for Nintendo consoles regardless of their creator/publisher.
ROMs for Nintendo consoles on LoveROMs are no more!
Abandonware websites have been sued in the past and when one is taken down, others take its place. Furthermore, many other websites hosting old ROMs are still up so the effect of this lawsuit will be minimal at best.
It is always important to buy games, even old ones, from legal sources if possible. Nowadays, websites like GOG are available so that there’s no excuse for pirating some old PC games! That being said, websites that legally sell ROMs for old consoles aren’t available which makes ROM piracy a thing that’s unlikely to stop anytime soon.
I'm a girl that's liked technology from day 1. Mostly interested in the PSVita/PSP scene but I've always modded my stuff when it's possible, that is :)Contact me via DM at @KawaiiAuroraA on Twitter if you have any questions/concerns about my articles or if you have any article requests.