An Arizona couple have been ordered to pay Nintendo a whopping $12.23m (Ł9.5m) in damages for running a pair of sites which offered pirated ROMs.

Jacob and Cristian Mathias admitted copyright and trademark infringement for operating LoveROMS.com and LoveRetro.co until July this year, when Nintendo intervened.

The sites, registered under Mathias Designs, a company set up by the husband and wife, offered pirated versions of games such as Mario Kart 64, Donkey Kong Country, Pokémon Yellow and Super Mario World.

Both websites were pulled offline when Nintendo threatened legal action, and replaced with a notice saying they were undergoing maintenance.

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The eyebrow-raising $12.23m ruling, originally discovered by TorrentFreak, has likely been set as an example to deter others. (And indeed, a number of other ROM sites have since vanished from the internet.) Whether the Mathiases will have to actually pay the full amount is not known, however - other cases have been quietly settled behind the scenes for much less.

On paper, though, this is a huge win for Nintendo. The couple have taken down their sites, admitted culpability, agreed to pay damages, and must now also relinquish any Nintendo games and hardware still in their possession.

Head to LoveROMs.com now and you'll be greeted with a simple message, titled "Apology to Nintendo":

"Our website, LoveROMS.com/LoveRetro.co, previously offered and performed unauthorised 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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Tom Phillips

Tom Phillips

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