Don’t get me ROM!

Video game preservation isn’t a DIY project, but at least now it’s legal

Marc Whipple of the Legal Inspiration! Blog
Marc Whipple is a real intellectual property lawyer and blogs at Legal Inspiration! (where this post is being cross-posted) and one my favorite Twitter friends (at @legalinspire) even though when we finally met in person I absolutely did not recognize him and I am certain it’s me, not him, I’m just not good with that kind of thing.  Anyway, sometimes he writes stuff I can’t write, as opposed to won’t write, and this is one of those times and here’s what he wrote, which I think is great. He also wrote this, which I think is nuts, but it’s the least I could do to pass it on: Please note that while the author is a licensed and experienced attorney, nothing in this post constitutes specific legal advice. It is provided for general educational purposes only. The author has made an offer of pro bono consultation related to the subject matter of this post. This may be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING in some jurisdictions.

If you are into vintage video games, you probably know about “ROM Sites.” ROM sites are websites where you can download the ROM (Read Only Memory) code for classic cartridge or board-level games, such as Nintendo Entertainment System cartridges or arcade cabinet games like “Spy Hunter.” They’re not really different in kind from websites or torrents where you can download more modern software which was available on disk or CD-ROM. They’re just a little more arcane because you have to not only download the ROM code (which has been “ripped,” or copied from the ROM chips to a computer hard drive) but download and run “emulator” software, which allows your modern PC to run code written for much, much older hardware. It’s entirely doable, but requires a little effort and tech know-how.

Recently, Nintendo sued one of the better known ROM sites, loveroms.com, and won a 12 million dollar judgment against them for copyright infringement. Here’s a copy of what was the front page of loveroms.com from the complaint:

Here’s what’s on the loveroms.com front page now:

Our website, LoveROMS.com/LoveRetro.co, previously offered and performed unauthorized copies of Nintendo games, in violation of Nintendo’s copyrights and trademarks. LoveROMS.com/LoveRetro.co acknowledges that it caused harm to Nintendo, its partners, and customers by offering infringing copies of Nintendo games and has agreed to cease all such activities. To access legitimate Nintendo games online, please visit www.nintendo.com for information about the Nintendo Game Store.

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