The Japanese gaming giant filed a complaint at a federal court in Arizona, targeting LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co for copyright and trademark infringement.
With potentially millions of dollars in damages at stake, both sites quickly shut down, taking libraries of gaming ROMs with them. But for fans of emulators and retro-gaming, the bad news wasn’t over yet.
In an announcement last week, EmuParadise, one of the web’s longest standing emulator and ROM download portals, announced that it will no longer be offering game ROMs for download. After 18 years of service, EmuParadise had fallen, largely because of Nintendo’s aggressive actions elsewhere.
This chain of events caused shockwaves in the retro-gaming community, waves that are already beginning to widen. A statement just published by fellow gaming site TheISOZone indicates that it too will make a sharp exit from the scene.
“Copyright infringement laws vary from country to country, but the premise in a nutshell is that copyright infringement is the cause of monetary loss or damage to the copyright holder. With retro gaming, there are no ways of purchasing the games – let alone the systems to play them on – in a way that would still generate the copyright holders revenue. None whatsoever,” TiZ from the site said.
“This is why retro roms have always been a grey area. The distribution of their works, although frowned upon, were never actioned against as in a court of law that is what they would have to prove – monetary loss or damages. And they couldn’t – because it’s simply not true.”
While lawyers in various jurisdictions will queue up to dissect his take on the law, TiZ says that times are changing, perhaps in a way that will allow copyright holders to more easily demonstrate monetary losses.
“There are now growing ways of obtaining these retro titles through avenues which DO benefit the copyright holders and it seems clear due to recent events, that there are a lot more avenues in development,” TiZ says.
“This is why we decided to throw in the towel of our own accord. It was a good ride and it was a just ride, however it is clear that in the not so distant future, distributing retro titles could be a serious case of copyright infringement.”
TiZ isn’t optimistic that any legal offerings by games companies will get the formula right, so he’s suggesting that operators of retro sites could team up with copyright holders to target gamers in the right way.
“We have ideas on how the archiving of retro titles and the pleasing of the copyright holders should be done and would love to pursue it eventually,” he writes.
“We think the webmasters of retro rom sites should come together and work with the copyright holders. It does not have to be this hard – and criminals should not be made out of passionate enthusiasts.”
In short, TiZ would like to see a Spotify for retro games. However, he also says he’s aware of a new project, run by retro gaming enthusiasts, that could see TheISOZone’s ROM archives rebuilt and offered to the public.
So, another life lost perhaps……but it’s not quite Game Over yet.