Five 'top' games publishers are cracking down on thousands of illegal file sharers who have been circulating their games for free. The companies plan to send out letters to thousands of supposed pirates, demanding £300 (?378) to settle out of court.
The publishers, dubbed 'the world's biggest' by The Times
and 'Top 5' by The Daily Mail
, include Atari, Topware Interactive, Reality Pump, Techland and Codemasters. Atari and Codemasters we'll accept as 'high up there''. Reality Pump, Techland and Topware, if you've never come across them, are responsible for the upcoming Two Worlds
, Call of Juaraz
and Dream Pinball 3D
The companies have hired the services of Davenport Lyons, which has already successfully won anti-piracy cases for Topware.
The exact number of people targeted is somewhat unclear. The Times
reports that 25,000 addresses have been requested of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) through the High Court, with 5,000 having already been acquired. Davenport Lyons itself states, ?Several thousand names and addresses have already been ordered by the High Court of London to be released by the ISPs concerned.? It also claims that another application will be sent off in relation to a further 7,000 addresses.
The companies in question will apparently initially target 500 people who ignore the letters for legal action.
A partner at Davenport Lyons, Roger Billens, said, ?Our clients were incensed by the level of illegal downloading. In the first 14 days since Topware Interactive released Dream Pinball 3D
it sold 800 legitimate copies but was illegally downloaded 12,000 times. Hopefully people will think twice if they risk being taken to court.? He did not state where he got the piracy figure from.
This follows the announcement that Isabela Barwinska, an unemployed mother of two, was the first person in the UK ordered to pay damages for uploading a game for illegal download. She has been ordered to pay Topware £16,000 (?20,180) for the illegal distribution of Dream Pinball
. Quite how an unemployed mother of two, who is understood to have made no commercial gain from the piracy, is expected to pay the £16,000 is unclear.
It was for piracy of Dream Pinball
that four gamers were forced to pay damages last month
. Those four, however, failed to turn up in court and so lost the case by default.
The evidence supporting applications to court for addresses is compiled by Logistep in Switzerland, dubbed ?forensic computer experts? by Davenport Lyons. It has been suggested
, however, that due to inaccuracies in the company's technology, Davenport Lyons will not pursue file sharers who it expects to turn up for their hearings. SPOnG has contacted Davenport Lyons for confirmation on whether Ms Barwinska attended her hearing.
After initially providing comment, ELSPA has withdrawn its statement. Official comment is expected later today. The Times
reports, however, that a 'source close to' ELSPA said that, ?most publishers would be reluctant to bring legal actions against their ?core market? and would be likely to look for other ways to minimise losses due to piracy.?
Recently the music industry entered into an agreement with several major ISPs
to work together in cracking down on pirates without pursuing legal action. Instead, the ISPs will impose sanctions such as slowing internet connections. Given the problems surrounding legal attacks on filesharers, this could be a more promising approach for the games industry.