We recently discussed Nintendo’s lawsuit against RomUniverse, part of a longstanding war on ROM sites that seems less than absolutely necessary given just how much cash the company is raking in from its retro consoles and titles. Several commenters pointed out that RomUniverse, while proclaiming that it’s a source for those who long ago purchased Nintendo games to preserve those purchases, also engages in plenty of other less than ethical behaviors. This includes offering up books and movies alongside the ROMs, for which it can’t really make the same claims. In other words, while Nintendo itself might not be the best paladin to slay RomUniverse, it’s not as though the site is on the side of the angels.
Given all of that, you would expect the operator of RomUniverse, Matthew Storman, to try to limit the damage here. That certainly doesn’t seem to be Storman’s plan, however, as he has both publicly stated he will fight the suit and is attempting to crowdfund his legal expenses.
The operator has added a donation option to the RomUniverse homepage and also launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe, setting a goal of $ 100,000 to assist with the defense.
“RomUniverse.com was founded in 2009 under the notion that users like you should have easy access to the content that you purchased and the ability to relive those childhood moments. It is because of this, that I am asking for your help,” Storman writes. “Now I know what you’re thinking, this one person is going to take on one of the largest console/gaming manufacturers in the world? And the short answer is YES,” he notes.
To be clear, he’s probably wrong. There is a multitude of risk factors here. For starters, ROM sites have always operated on the wrong side of copyright law. Even if we would advise companies like Nintendo that they should leave them alone, they certainly don’t have to. RomUniverse can put up as many banners as they like stating that downloads should only occur if the user has purchased an actual physical cartridge previously, but that doesn’t suddenly make offering the copyrighted game content not copyright infringement.
Add to that the possibility that the owners of the other types of media RomUniverse makes available might see all of this going on and decide to get their own piece of the lawsuit pie and this huge Nintendo lawsuit could suddenly morph into a multi-plaintiff apocalypse for RomUniverse. That’s all the more so possible given Storman’s public statements.
And, finally, if RomUniverse is really relying on crowdfunding to power its legal defense, it seems that nobody bothered to show up to its fundraiser.
On the GoFundMe page, Storman notes that he’s not “greedy” or a scammer. He merely wants to defend his rights and those of others in this “unknown” landscape. In the meantime, the site remains online.
While some people may have donated to the site directly, thus far, the crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe hasn’t gained any traction. After two days, the donation counter is still at $ 0.
For perhaps other reasons, the page for the GoFundMe for RomUniverse now returns a “Page Not Found” splash page. RomUniverse’s site now is soliciting direct donations instead.
There are enough clouds on the horizon here that Storman should probably go into damage control mode.
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