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German ISPs Block Romslab Due to Widespread Game Piracy

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As part of a voluntary agreement with copyright holders, German Internet service providers must block structurally infringing websites. The list expanded recently with Romslab, a site that offers links to pirated games and emulators such as Yuzu and Ryujinx. Official records redact the name of the game company that requested the blockade, but several signs point in the direction of a 135-year-old Japanese corporation.

romslabThree years ago, German Internet providers agreed to voluntarily block the most egregious pirate sites.

The ISPs teamed up with copyright holders and launched the “Clearing Body for Copyright on the Internet” (CUII), which is now responsible for handing down blocking ‘orders’.

While CUII doesn’t rely on court judgments, there is some form of oversight. When copyright holders report a pirate site, a review committee first checks whether the domain is indeed linked to a website that structurally infringes copyrights.

If a website overwhelmingly hosts or links to pirated material, the site can be nominated for a blocklist entry. This can apply to torrent sites, streaming portals, search engines and direct download hubs, as long as piracy is front and center.

Romslab Blocked

The voluntary system has not yet resulted in a massive blocking wave. Thus far, only nineteen sites have been blocked, with game download portal Romslab as the latest addition.

In a decision that was published a few days ago, CUII concludes that Romslab is a structurally infringing website. The site, which offers links to pirated games and popular Nintendo emulators including Yuzu and Ryujinx, should be blocked.

“The request for a recommendation to block the ROMSLAB website is justified. The website is a structural copyright infringing website (SUW). There is a clear infringement of copyright. The blocking is reasonable and proportionate,” CUII concludes.

romslab

This isn’t the first video game-related site that has made it onto the German blocklist; Nsw2u and NswGame were added previously.

Romslab isn’t specifically targeted at a German audience. The site is most popular in Iraq and the United States. According to CUII, the site had 161,330 German ‘visitors’ between March and August last year, less than 1,000 per day.

Mystery Applicant?

CUII doesn’t mention the claiming party or the infringed game title by name. Instead, it writes that the game is “created by the game developers ***** and ***** and the composers of the music *****, *****, *****, *****, *****, *****, ***** and *****”.

romslab cuii

It doesn’t take much imagination to take an informed guess, however. The paperwork references article 15 of a foreign copyright law, quoting a ‘work for hire’ section that matches article 15 of Japan’s copyright law. That happens to be the home country of Nintendo.

Added to the fact that the two previously blocked game sites specifically targeted Nintendo content, combined with Nintendo’s site-blocking efforts in other countries, the 135-year-old company would be our pick.

Not the First Romslab Block

There are more leads pointing to the Japanese gaming giant if we dig a bit deeper. Romslab was previously blocked in Italy, and a publication from the local telecoms watchdog AGCOM specifically mentions Nintendo as the rightsholder there.

italy romslab

Romslab.com is also blocked in Spain since last year. It’s not clear who requested that blockade, but Nintendo is a likely candidate. In Spain, Romslab’s sister site Repacklab.com was also blocked in February of this year.

In addition to the site blocking efforts, Romslab also had its Twitter account, Facebook page, and Subreddit suspended or removed. The site’s Patreon is still online.

With Romslab, the German site blocking list has now grown to nineteen entries, and we presume that more candidates are already in the pipeline.

The websites listed for blocking in Germany since 2021 include: s.to, canna.to, nsw2u.com, newalbumreleases.net, bs.to, streamkiste.tv, kinox.to, cine.to, serienjunkies.org, taodung.com, israbox, jokerlivestream, serienfans.org, filmfans.org, buffstreams, sci-hub, NSWGame, Megakino and Romslab.

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