Opinion: Me And CDP On Legal Threats

By John Walker on December 19th, 2011 at 5:50 pm.

A court, which no one will likely see over this.

You’ll likely remember that last week it was revealed that CD Projekt had hired a firm to send out letters to those they believed had pirated copies of The Witcher 2, demanding large sums of money. It’s a practice that is widely despised, due not only to its propensity for threatening the innocent, but more significantly, because it’s based on threats in the first place. A person receives a letter demanding an excessive amount of money (evidence for this story suggests in the region of €750, corrected from 900+ that was previously reported), or the recipient will be taken to court where they may end up paying a great deal more. These apparently necessary court cases will be dropped if the fee is paid. And that’s why I consider it such a serious issue. Never mind the severity of the act of piracy, this process subverts the legal process, avoids actually providing evidence and proving guilt, and depends upon scaring people into paying money they likely can’t afford. This is something I wanted to discuss with CDP themselves, who I thought had given unsatisfactory responses to other outlets who suddenly picked up on the story after RPS reported TorrentFreak’s week-old article. My discussion is below.

I want to stress that this is a personal article, between me and CDP, and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of all at RPS. At RPS we regularly argue between ourselves about matters of piracy and the like. They may agree with every word – no one’s around just now to check.

I contacted CDP, and ultimately Member of the Board and VP of Business Development, Michal Nowakowski, through their PR, beginning by asking a few questions.

We’re wondering why CDP have gone ahead with this action, when it’s well known that it’s extremely difficult to prove a crime via an IP address, and that so many false positives are inevitable. And whether they think such actions are merited when it is widely accepted that an unauthorised duplication does not equate to a lost sale? Are they concerned about how it makes their company appear, especially in light of the horror and condemnation with which Davenport Lyons’ actions were met with in 2008.

Here I had focused on the position of false positives, but this was written before any other sites had published other statements, and their focus on this area had yet to happen. In response I at first received the same statement that had been sent out elsewhere, But in light of RPS’s article having clearly caught their attention, more was to follow. That statement read,

“As you know, we aren’t huge fans of any sort of DRM here at CD Projekt RED. DRM itself is a pain for legal gamers – the same group of honest people who decided that our game was worth its price, and went and bought it. We don’t want to make their lives more difficult by introducing annoying copy protection systems. Moreover, we always try to offer high value with our product – for example, enhancing the game with additional collectors’ items such as soundtracks, making-of DVDs, books, walkthroughs, etc. We could introduce advanced copy protection systems which, unfortunately, punish legal customers as well. Instead we decided to give gamers some additional content with each game release, to make their experience complete. However, that shouldn’t be confused with us giving a green light to piracy. We will never approve of it, since it doesn’t only affect us but has a negative impact on the whole game industry. We’ve seen some of the concern online about our efforts to thwart piracy, and we can assure you that we only take legal actions against users who we are 100% sure have downloaded our game illegally.”

Clearly this simply confirmed that the action was taking place. Nowakowski’s reply came soon after. It is lengthy:

“Before we took this step, we have investigated the subject, spoke to other developers and publishers using the same method and company we are using, and are convinced that the method used by them is targeting only 100% confirmed piracy act cases. When we investigated the subject, we were made aware and looked into the infamous Davenport case, and again, we are convinced the methods used in our case are not going to hurt innocent people. After all the months since release piracy of The Witcher 2 was tracked, not a single person denied act of piracy when addressed with that subject. At least not to our knowledge.

On whether such actions are merited – I feel that we are really trying to do a lot in terms of being pro-consumer ie. By removing the DRM experience for the users, delivering a lot of free extra content, etc. These people do repay us by being with us, and also by showing their support by means of paying for our games and allowing us to make new ones in the future. The purpose of this action is not to get rich on piracy – believe me, the numbers coming through as a result of this action are petty to say the most. We do hope, however, they may be a sort of deterrent for future pirates; maybe they cannot afford to buy the game here and now, but if they want it really bad, maybe they will consider buying it when the price drop happens as it always does for all titles eventually. It will not fix the world, as nothing ever will, but maybe it will stop some of the most notorious pirates from downloading our game and sharing it further. As for the more casual pirates I want to believe they will eventually become our legal customers because of how we try to work on our customer’s satisfaction.

As for the unauthorised duplication not counting as a lost sale – I guess this is not so simple really. I agree in some cases people just download “whatever” to have a look but would not buy otherwise, but there are also quite a few people who have financial means, have interest but feel that they should not pay becaue it is out there for free. It is this last group that is the most problematic, and I do not feel fine with this way of thinking, and we have never officialy supported this kind of behaviour. Being DRM-free is not a shout to all the folks out there – “hey, come and take our game – it’s free.” It is DRM-free, which means we really had to go through huge efforts with our publishers to make this happen so that people can enjoy the game without the hassle that pirated copies are already circumventing. Am I afraid this makes us look bad? I do not feel we are doing anything wrong, as long as people targeted are really 100% confirmed pirates. So far nothing has happened in the past couple of months that would indicate otherwise.

I cannot go into details on how can we be sure such information is correct, as this is trade secret of the company working on that on our behalf, but as much as we could see the reasoning behind the method, it is actually leading so far only to 100% piracy cases.”

These were odd claims. Claims at which PC Gamer’s Graham Smith had raised concerned eyebrows when they’d arrived to them via a separate email chat. And they sat equally awkwardly here. To identify someone as a pirate via downloads, one must use their IP address. This is no new technology, and certainly not the subject of something that cannot be revealed for the sake of trade secrets. In fact, you can scare your own balls off by visiting here. It’s also the means by which false positives occur, for many and obvious reasons. So what possible technique could exist that allows more detailed, more accurate information? Because surely it would have to be something astonishing or illegal?

Meanwhile, in their statement to PCG, published after I’d asked my questions but before I’d received the reply, Nowakowski had explained that,

“For some reason the spotlight came down on CDP RED, however you should be aware this is something that about 95% of the games industry is actually doing. Pretty much all the major publishers and most of the independent developers.”

None of us at RPS could think of any examples of other publishers’ doing this in recent months, and we’d certainly never heard of an independent developer ever taking such action, so this comment struck us as strange.

And something else was bothering me about the generously detailed and candid reply – it wasn’t addressing my larger issue in the original article – simply that surely the act of threatening people for money is wrong? I got back in touch, wanting to appeal to the company to change their course of action, rather than simply ask questions. I sent this:

Hello there. Thanks very much for your candid response. I have a few questions and challenges regarding it, which I hope you don’t mind my putting to you.

Could you explain what this 100% accurate technique is, and how it works, and which company it is? You mention trade secrets, but obviously there must be a general methodology without explaining how it precisely works. Identifying someone by their downloading something from bittorrent can only be done by IP, and IP obviously cannot identify an individual. So I’m really interested to learn how this works. Especially with cases such as our commenters who’ve said they paid for the boxed copy and it didn’t work, so downloaded a pirated version. Could this system take this into account?

The other thing is, the issue for me doesn’t seem to be about inaccurate threats – those can be weeded out by the courts. It’s about that they’re *threats*. I realise you’re not getting rich from this, but I’m also aware that if I had to part with a few hundred Euros, that wouldn’t make your company rich, but it would cripple me on my low income. Do you accept that you’re sending people demands for significant amounts of money, with the threat that if they don’t pay up, they’ll have to go to court for a great deal more? When crimes are committed, the usual practice is to go to the police, and then the criminal is arrested and eventually goes to court. Circumventing the process of law, by threatening people to buy their way out of a court case, strikes me as something pretty awful to do. This is why we appealed for your company to stop this, and I guess I’m repeating that appeal here.

Also, you assert that most other publishers are doing this. I have heard of no examples in recent months. Could you name some for us? And finally, why are you only taking this action in Germany?

Many thanks – I really appreciate your time on this, and your patience with my stance.

This fell into the weekend, and so Nowakowski’s reply, directed through PR in the US, reached me this afternoon. He says,

“When it comes to methodology, while I cannot share exact details, it does in its essence rely on IP identification, however, we do take into account individual cases. And once implication of innocence is reported and proven (ie. Someone actually bought a legal copy of the game but downloaded a torrent version for whatever reason), we may waive the claims. In fact, there was a single (one) case like that, and that person was not ultimately fined, and everything was fixed very quickly via email with no hassle for that person. So there is also case-by-case individual approach which does eliminate error as much as it is possible. Taking into account the fact that this action really does not target staggering amounts of people as some sources in the internet claim, such an individual approach is in fact possible. I can only restate – we have not been made aware so far of any case of the innocent person who would be targeted and made to pay the fee or taken to court.

About threats – let me put it like this – when you get a speeding ticket or a ticket for causing a car crash or for any other felony – do you consider that a threat? Because it works pretty much in the same way. Maybe I am confused, but I do feel that not doing things that are wrong is a good way of staying out of trouble – there seems to be an implication that we are bad guys because we are trying to deter people who illegaly downloaded our game from doing that by means of this action. I am a little bit at a loss with this way of thinking. Especially since at the same time, we do take great pains, and even went to court to win the no-DRM case for the people, so that our customers can enjoy the game without any hassle. Also, I want to state clearly that this action is not circumventing the process of law as you are suggesting – this is actually a possible, fully legal action, allowed by the courts and state and regulated in a similar way as the speeding tickets are, for example. It beats me that, honestly speaking, we are being spoken badly about because we are trying to deter people from illegal access to our title.

As for the question of other publishers – I am not at freedom to share the names of these publishers. I can only confirm I have spoken to some of them who are using the service and to developers who do the same, and I do not assume that they’re taking similar action — I know this is the case. Why has our story been blown out of proportions? I do not know, but I do recognise this is a great to story to cover, and the only thing we can really do is to answer as honestly as we always do in everything that concerns our company and the games we make.

Regarding Germany – it is about access to accurate data, which is allowed by the state. Regulations do not work in a similar way in all the EU countries. Germany does. The process would be possible in many other countries, but in some, the Davenport case would be likely to repeat itself. We cannot allow oursleves to target innocent people. This was never the intention and never will be. The moment we hear innocent people have been targeted, we will take immediate action.”

I want to applaud CDP for the amazingly open and frank way they have responded to this debate, even though I personally am extremely against their actions, and disappointed to see there is no sense of contrition or remorse about the devastating effects such actions can have on an individual. It is great that they are so passionate about ensuring errant accusations are quickly dealt with. And yes, of course piracy is a crime, and no, I am not defending piracy – that is not the point here whatsoever. But when the punishment is so disproportionate, and the efficacy is so ridiculous, I struggle to see any other way to interpret such actions beyond threats for money.

It is not blackmail. But it is often perceived to be. And that, to answer Nowakowski’s confusion, is why the company is receiving such a hostile reaction.

Regarding the speeding ticket example – and clearly I’m speaking from the perspective of the UK, and don’t know the details of the rules in Poland – they do not compare. If I am caught speeding, I receive a fine of £60, from the government. If I pay it within two weeks I pay only £30. I also receive three points on my driver’s license. If I dispute the fine, I am allowed to challenge, and perhaps take the process to court to prove my innocence. That is not what is happening here. Here, this practice traditionally works by people receiving letters designed to scare them into paying an enormous sum, massively more than the cost of the game/film/CD they downloaded (usually justified by their also having uploaded, and therefore distributed the product – much easier to classify as a crime – but the fine in no explained way reflecting this). If they don’t pay the sum, then they will be taken to court, and will have to pay a great deal more, they are told. Possibly tens or hundreds of thousands. We haven’t seen a copy of the letters being sent out in Germany, and it’s possible that they are worded very differently, but what they will be saying is, “Pay this large sum or you will have to pay a very much larger sum.” Which is where those whiffs of blackmail appear. Even though, I very strongly stress, it is not.

It is for this reason that it is not as simple as the company simply trying to defend its product and discourage piracy. And for another. This doesn’t do anything about piracy. CDP’s own (unproven) estimate for piracy figures is 4.5 million. According to TorrentFreak they sent out a couple of thousand letters in Germany, although Nowakowski says above it’s not as high as is reported. Let’s guess at, for the ease of maths, 1,000 letters going out. That means when pirating the game you’d have a 1 in 4,500 chance of receiving a fine. A 0.001% chance. It’s not exactly a figure that’s going to scare people. Sure, it adds that frisson of fear, because there is a chance, and it’s unlikely that people are going to have a spare grand kicking around to get out of trouble. But 0.001%? That’s not a deterrent. It’s a lottery.

And this is why it looks like a cash grab, despite CDP’s protestations that they aren’t making serious money from this. (Although, let’s be clear – if it is 1000 letters, and the fine is €750, that’s still three quarters of a million Euro. I’m not so sure that’s a figure to be so easily dismissed.) Because it only affects an insignificant minority of those who have pirated, it will only likely stop that 0.001% of pirates from doing it again, and then, only catch those who hear about the story, don’t figure out the statistics, and get scared (a tiny minority). So no matter how accurate it may be (and the admission that there was one false accusation so far does rather knock down that “100% accuracy” previously claimed), it’s still completely ineffective. Let alone the opportunistic appearance gained from only conducting this in Germany because individuals’ privacy are already concerningly compromised.

Oh, and one other thought. Regarding the statement that if someone had bought it, then torrented it after, they would let that go. Why, CDP, is that okay, but someone who torrents it, then buys it, is not? Which is to say, why not send these people letters demanding the €40 for the cost of the game? Since the person who torrents to replace his purchased copy will be uploading just as much as he who pirated before buying.

Obviously there are very many who believe pirates deserve what they get. That was made clear by many commenters, and disgusted developers who got in touch with me. I believe that punishments should match crimes, not be based on fallacious claims of piracy equaling lost sales (the only basis for justifying the huge sums that’s ever been given), and certainly not appear to be scaring people out of money to avoid a proper judicious process of law. (One that the music industry keeps learning, to its cost, isn’t automatically on their side.) I understand CDP’s frustration. They see their product being taken without people paying, and they see it happening on a large scale. This upsets them, and they want to do something about it. It seems the situation is very unfair, as there is nothing that can be done about it. And doing things like this, things that really help no one, are a desperate attempt to do something.

And that is why I personally continue to plead with CDP to stop this practice. I believe there is a good reason why people are reacting so negatively to your actions. I believe your actions are wrong.

, , , , .

426 Comments »

  1. wccrawford says:

    Assuming CDP really does manage to only fine/sue actual pirates, what is your issue here?

    You claim that these fines impact the pirates’ lives negatively… But that’s the idea. Tit for tat, as it were. Would you rather they drop the fine aspect and simply take every single one of them to court, costing each of them much more time and money?

    No, it sounds like you would rather they turned a blind eye to piracy, instead. You’re asking them to just ignore it. You aren’t giving them a viable solution for the problem.

    They aren’t doing anything illegal, immoral, or unethical.

    Again, this is all assuming that they really do only catch pirates in their trap.

    If they do catch non-pirates, and don’t let them go, it’s another story altogether. But they’ve said they work with the person to let them provide proof, and have even had someone do so. You claimed they don’t show remorse, but they do… If they’ve hurt someone who didn’t deserve it. So far, they think they haven’t, and nobody has proved that wrong.

    • John Walker says:

      Well, what I’ve said in the article is, they should then charge them the £30/€40 for the game.

    • Premium User Badge bglamb says:

      So you *are* saying turn a blind eye to the crime! Just charge them for the product which they now own.

      Forcing them to pay for what they stole isn’t exactly punishment! Not to mention that they not only stole a copy for themselves, but enabled others to steal a copy too.

    • StevoRS says:

      @John Walker.

      That is the most narrow minded thing iv seen from this site in a long time. That’s right lets encourage piracy because you know what the worst thing that could happen is that you may have to pay for the game at full price and not be disciplined.

      The mind boggles at what your trying to suggest

    • Premium User Badge Keirley says:

      If they want to charge people hundreds of euros then they need to justify that practice. If we take a copy of the game to cost €40, then in essence by fining someone €750 they’re saying that that person’s act of piracy led to nearly twenty lost sales. They need to give evidence for this, and so far they haven’t done so.

      EDIT: and they also need to show, as John said, why there’s any difference between pirating after buying a legitimate copy and pirating before buying a legitimate copy.

    • StevoRS says:

      @Keirley

      The justification is that you have illegal obtained a copy of a protected game. Why do people get fined big sums of money for failing to produce tickets on buses or on trains? To stop people from doing it. If the worst thing that happened was that you got fined the normal price then your always going to go and try chance because the the deterrent is piss poor.

    • MattM says:

      I feel like 5-8x the price of the game should be the limit. When large companies engage in dishonest billing practices or violate the copyright of individuals they are never fined more in punitive damages than a few times the size of the original crime. That large a punishment is only obtained after the small guy does the extensive work of going to court. If the issue is resolved though company customer service you are lucky to get back what they owe you.

    • Premium User Badge bglamb says:

      ” they’re saying that that person’s act of piracy led to nearly twenty lost sales. They need to give evidence for this”

      They’re definitely not saying that. Read the article again. They’re saying it will act as a deterrent.

    • pepper says:

      No, John isnt doing that. He is saying that if they demand proportional amounts of money they should let it go through court in the first place. And doesnt germany have the ‘loser pays’ system anyway?

      I dont think CD Projekt’s practice is any better then Righthaven or other copyright trolls.

      And, if they would go to court their technique would be exposed(the ip tracking thingy). Which would be good, although their behaviour suggest that what they are using might not even be legal and thus the evidence they have might not even be allowed into court.

    • eldwl says:

      Chaps, aren’t you missing the point? Corporations can’t issue fines to Joe Public, that’s for governments to do, isn’t it? I’m not sticking up for either side here (two wrongs, and all that)…

    • Sheng-ji says:

      You guys need to understand 2 things :

      1. A demand for compensation can be negotiated – yes this is set high, but you can come back with a counter offer. If I knew I was bang to rights, I’d offer them a speedy resolution for the cost of the game. They may come back then with a much more reasonable offer etc etc.

      2. Damages do not have to be justified in the way you are suggesting – that’s why, if my legs get cut off, I may get £100k if someone else is to blame, yet the cost of changing my life to adapt to my new legless state may only be £10k

    • Premium User Badge Keirley says:

      @ StevoRS
      @ bglamb

      I’m not convinced CD Projekt should have the right to charge people arbitrary amounts of money simply as a deterrent.

      If I get fined for not buying a bus ticket then that’s a government body, or a corporation given power by the government, fining me as a deterrent. In this case it’s simply a company sending out threatening letters to people because they feel they are justified in doing so. There’s simply not the same level of legitimacy.

      So, in other words I don’t think they’re entitled to decide what to charge people and call that a deterrent. If they can prove that your act of piracy led to x amount of further pirated copies then perhaps (perhaps) a fine equalling the price of x amount of copies would be justified. Even then I’m not convinced, but I think it would be a better case.

    • strikerRD says:

      What most of you are failing to understand is that the court system’s function is to try and make sure that people are tried fairly. Here in the US we have a saying ( I don’t know if people in the EU also say this):
      “You are innocent until proven guilty”. Not the other way around.

      The problem with the letters is exactly what John Walker describes; it circumvents the legal system you are all so fond of and also forces potentially innocent people into a situation where they have to prove their own innocence rather than have the Prosecution prove their guilt in court. Here’s the excerpt i’m referring to:

      “And once implication of innocence is reported and proven (ie. Someone actually bought a legal copy of the game but downloaded a torrent version for whatever reason), we may waive the claims. In fact, there was a single (one) case like that, and that person was not ultimately fined, and everything was fixed very quickly via email with no hassle for that person. So there is also case-by-case individual approach which does eliminate error as much as it is possible”

      The problem is their “100% elimination” method, as far as everyone knows, is completely false. Even after John Walker asked him to explain how it worked but he just side-stepped the issue. We all know IP’s are not reliable. Didn’t you all hear about that 62 year old Grandma whom some music company tried to charge like 2,000 smackers just because someone who previously used her dynamic IP downloaded some music. The method described doesn’t accurately finger pirates. Sorry, but anyone who goes around the court system to get what they want legally is full of shit. Likely they won’t be able to prove anything anyway because that 100% claim is probably total bullshit. I feel the same way about that “Witcher 2 has been downloaded 4.5 million times” Really? Can you prove that? I’d really like to see for myself.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Also you should know there is a massive difference both legally and in what rights you have between a government issued fine and compensation for a civil infraction

      A government fine is exactly that – you have to pay and unless you can prove you shouldn’t have been issued it, that is pretty much that.

      Compensation is more like any other business transaction. They made an offer – if you don’t want the product (You are not a pirate) You walk away. If you do want it (You know you are bang to rights) you negotiate and find a level that both parties agree to.

      @StrikerRD – as I tried to explain ceaselessly last time – innocence and guilt are applicable to criminal law – no-ones a criminal in this case, it’s a civil case – if it goes to court, the onus is on CDP to prove to the courts their case.

    • Tyshalle says:

      I think that if they’re going to do this, charging only the price of the game is a pretty stupid idea. If you want to talk about a lottery, this is one where you have a 1 in 4,500 chance (using JW’s math) of having to pay for the game. At least charging 20 times the retail price is serious enough that it will cause people to freak out. It’s significantly more of a deterrent than “Haha, we caught you, now pay for what you stole and then go on your way!” There’s literally no deterrent in that idea, John Walker, and I suspect the reason you would argue with such faulty logic is because you are so incredibly biased against this practice in general that it’s tainting all your rationality.

      Not that I’m saying I’m all for this practice. I have to admit, the whole thing rings a little shady to me, too. I also seriously doubt some of their claims (such as most indie companies following this practice, or this being 100% effective and top secret, etc.), but I’m having a hard time doubting their sincerity. I honestly just feel like they’re in an awkward position, wanting to figure out a way to fight piracy that doesn’t infringe on their paying customers. Certainly they tried the carrot, what with their DRM-free game loaded with extras if you bought the game legitimately. And the end result was massive amounts of piracy. So now they’re trying the stick. Sure, it looks less wholesome, and deservedly so. But I dunno. I don’t blame them, not really.

      And besides, 750 euros is probably nothing compared to how much your average pirate makes off with in a given year. I have a friend who I know for a fact pirates every major (and quite a few minor) game that comes out, not to mention music and movies. If he suddenly got hit up with a $1000 fine or something, I’d look at that as justice, personally. I certainly wouldn’t feel sorry for him.

    • strikerRD says:

      Sorry for double post but:

      I feel like this is yet another situation where a corporation is infringing on people’s personal right to privacy. I understand alot of you feel that pirates should have to pay their fair shake too, whatever the reason they downloaded is; however, there’s no argument here. It’s just not CDP’s place to be handing out fines/letters like this. They aren’t the government.

      Also, I find the speeding ticket argument kind of unsettling because he seems to believe that it’s perfectly justified to take matters of the law into their own hands.

      here’s an idea, let’s just publicly execute copywrite pirates on the BBC every night at 7. I mean, who cares about the law, right? Those “pirates” have to pay.

    • strikerRD says:

      Sheng-Ji:

      I understand what you tried to explain fully. Let me explain myself:

      The threat letter is circumventing the court system by having the customer prove their innocence to CDP rather than CDP proving their guilt. So far we’ve seen no evidence of justification for their actions, just “we have trade secrets”.

      That’s all I meant. Of course in court the burden would be on CDP to prove guilt. I’m merely refering to the threat letters and how they are… circumventing the legal system ( must’ve typed that like 5 times by now, heh)

    • Espio says:

      Wow this comment thread exploded so I’m just going to remove most of my comment :x

      The fine is crazy, if I had pirated the witcher 2 I would be looking at just sending them my computer to pay off the fine, considering I’d have had to have even less money than I do now to consider pirating it in the first place

    • akeso says:

      Frankly if they actually believe they can 100% prove the crime they should be forwarding this information to the local D.A. so that larceny charges can be filed.

      The only reason they used this current system is that no court in the world is going to find that there is property to return.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      @ StrikerRD and that’s literally my only issue with this practice – they are going the same way as clamping companies in that they try to pretend that the pirate has no choice in the matter. If they explained the situation fully they would however be literally to only law firm in the world to do so!

      I blame the fact that no-one gets educated in the basics of law and our rights in most if any countries during their teen years.

    • strikerRD says:

      “And besides, 750 euros is probably nothing compared to how much your average pirate makes off with in a given year. I have a friend who I know for a fact pirates every major (and quite a few minor) game that comes out, not to mention music and movies. If he suddenly got hit up with a $1000 fine or something, I’d look at that as justice, personally. I certainly wouldn’t feel sorry for him.”

      Your logic is flawed because nobody lost anything when he downloaded those games because obviously your friend is not interested in video games enough to pay for one.

      Please, people, can we stop treating a pirated copy like a lost sale. It’s not just not realistic.

    • Premium User Badge jrodman says:

      I’d like to suggest we avoid re-debating whether or not piracy is similar to a theft. I know where I stand on that, but it gets debated a hundred times a second on the internet. Let us instead look at this issue knowing that these letters are sent to people identified solely on IP addresses. Is that acceptable? Why or why not?

    • strikerRD says:

      Jrod:

      The problem is we’ve been over that. The answer is no, it’s not okay. There are people who agree, but they are not arguing/thinking in terms of the law.

      Also: we have a great need to re-discuss piracy as theft. As it stands, corporations claim “anything you download is a sale we lose” so we’re all supposed to just go along with that, no arguments? Why? because they have more money than I do?

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      If they actually catch a pirate and can somehow say with 100% certainty that they pirated the copy, I think it’s completely fair for them to demand the price of the game. It is just as if you had walked out the front door of a store with something – a clerk can, instead of calling the police, simply tell you to pay for it and avoid the complication of law enforcement. For that clerk to demand 20 times the cost of the item or face the law is extortion.

    • Julio Biason says:

      Problem here is “assuming they will fine/sue the actual pirates”. If the method of identifying pirates is so accurate as they claim, why not take it to the court, where the real damage to pirates is?

      Thing is, the method is not accurate as they say. As put in the article, IP -> Person is flawed in different levels.

      They know the method is flawed. So they send random letters with blackmail-like words expecting to scare actual pirates, even if that means burning some poor peasant life, instead of having the balls to go to court and taking the frack for their own mistakes (e.g., suing innocent people that can prove they never did such thing).

      Yes, pirates should be taken down for stealing from companies. But companies should also have the balls to back up their own claims (in this case, “you are a pirate”).

    • Julio Biason says:

      @DigitalSignalX: The only problem is that walking out of the store with a box will result in having one box; if you put a piece of software on a torrent, it can be replicated endlessly.

      I tend to think that the “supposed number of copies that the digital version stole” is too high but, at the same time, given enough time, can be proved right.

    • Premium User Badge jrodman says:

      strikerd: pretty sure you and I already agree on the theft issue, but it seems to always bring out angry folks who insist on the opposite. And then nothing of interest is said. Make the points you want though, of course, good luck.

    • UB says:

      Just a quick thought on the level of money being demanded here.

      The instinct is ‘well the game costs £40, so they should ask for £40′. Ignoring potential (hard to prove) arguments about number of copies ‘distributed’ by torrent sharing while downloading, you have to remember that in order to make contact they’ve had to send these letters in the first place. To send these letters they’ve had to contract (you’d presume) a firm of lawyers at some stage. Lawyers generally don’t come cheap.

      Thus it seems logical to me that they’d demand amounts way above the normal asking price to cover the now higher cost base of the game.

      Is the amount demanded still too high? I’ve fortunately not had to hire a law firm to hunt down those who’ve slighted me so I haven’t a clue.

      Are they right to even be demanding it in the first place? Argue away, I’ve done my bit.

    • zerosociety says:

      I’ve been a huge supporter of CDProjekt, and applauded their decision to go DRM free – prompting me to grab the Collector’s edition of Witcher 2 — because you vote with your pocketbook. But after this? No more CDProjekt titles for me.

      It’s not blackmail, but it’s pretty damn close to extortion.

    • Archonsod says:

      “and they also need to show, as John said, why there’s any difference between pirating after buying a legitimate copy and pirating before buying a legitimate copy.”

      They don’t. Funnily enough downloading the game is perfectly legal; you only infringe copyright when you also upload it. Hence having a legitimate copy is somewhat moot – unless the license also permits you to distribute then you’re still breaking the law (conversely if you only download without uploading you aren’t, even if you don’t own the game). It’s surprising the publishers don’t actually shout about that one – if there’s one thing that would kill P2P networks like Bittorrent, it’d be having everyone leeching rather than sharing.

    • ZillaRacing says:

      The information is good, John Walker, but im not buying your logic. How would all this be worth CDP’s time if they just charged the pirates retail cost? And where would the punishment be? How many people is that going to deter? Lets steal this game… Why not? Worst case scenario would be that i’d have to buy it anyway… Does that make sense?

    • derbefrier says:

      Personally I think the letter should read more like pay the 60 bucks for the game you stole or we are going to take you to court and seek additional damages. You have 30 days to respond before any further actions take place. I don’t thinly what they are doing is bad its comparable to catching someone stealing something from a store than saying pay up or we will press charges. But you don’t have to pay anything unless a court orders you to do so. So if you think something fishy OS going on make them take you to court. I had a similar thong happen at my apartment complex I was accused of messing up some property they asked for money I said I guess I will see you in court and they dropped it. I thinly the big numbers are being used to scare people.and it will probally work to some degree.

      I don’t agree with the stance you seem to take on piracy, that its okay in certain situations or that it doesn’t result in lost sales both of which are just bullshit exuses for stealing.

    • Kadayi says:

      @John Walker

      “Well, what I’ve said in the article is, they should then charge them the £30/€40 for the game.”

      In short no. It’s not about recouping the value of the product alone it’s about acting as a future deterrent. If the fine is simply the cost of the product then you might as well pirate Vs buy it because at worst you’ll end up paying the retail price in the end if you’re caught (‘my bad, here’s your money’). A lot of that money is likely to be the administrative fee of the action (legal costs aren’t cheap). There’s no logic to CDP eating those costs Vs the pirates paying them.

      The fine for say not having a TV licence or Road tax is substantially more than those things cost legally. Same principal.

    • Kent says:

      I think that the idea of charging people massive amount of money and destroying their lives, with or without the law is unacceptable.

      I think a persons small amount of money should be far more sacred than the big corporation that cries because they lost 5% of their sales to piracy that equals to about 30000 Euros or so.

      Pirates are not thugs that go out on the streets, right outside your apartment and screams like pigs because they’re so intellectually challenged that they cannot spell subtlety right. Pirates are not adult men that goes home and beats their wives or thieves that steal stuff from the grocery store. These are just teens that probably have really cheapskate parents with no allowance, and even if it’s adults it is probably adults that cannot get a sodding job in this forsaken piece of shit world you shitheads created for us.

      So fine fucking job mates. Keep on the repressive measures for you will not be satisfied until the common man is chained by his every guilt to your precious law system. “Oh, you stole a computer game as a kid, well you get the axe then boy.” That way we ensure that they will NEVER pirate again.

      No seriously, fuck you.

    • tetracycloide says:

      No they emphatically do not show remorse. In he case where they falsely accused someone and worked it out via email they pretended as if a threat of 750 euros was “no hassle for that person.” I don’t care how fast that was resolved, the specter of a large settlement or a protracted legal battle is a huge hassle. Furthermore they continually point to the fact that no one is contesting the letters as evidence of 100% accuracy which has obvious issue to anyone looking for circumspection. How hard do you think they are looking into payments received to verify that person was actually guilty? Lastly the whole thing is bullshit on its face. If they could prove 100% then they should be filing with a court, not sending letters. If they want to offer a settlement then that would be different. As is the only explanation for not filing is because filing costs money and they can’t really be 100% sure. So they don’t file because they cannot guarantee a return on investment (which they could if the 100% figure were actually accurate since here would be no risk).

    • Kadayi says:

      @Kent

      So because there’s no violence then it’s all acceptable? Is speeding ok if no one gets killed?

      Also how does someone (hypothetically) having no money qualify them for a free pass to luxury entertainment goods?

      @tetracycloide

      You only need to go to court if you dispute a fine (not to have a fine instigated). If you’re caught speeding for instance and given a ticket by a police officer, it only goes to court if you dispute it (where you might then be fined more by the judge). Obviously the emphasis is on you to prove your innocence Vs the evidence the police have.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      @Kent – but the lives of the graphics artists, programmers, testers etc – the talent in our industry – it’s fine for their lives to be destroyed when studios go bankrupt. I’m not going to argue that every instance of a pirated game is a lost sale, but equally I hope you’re not going to argue that piracy has zero impact on sales.

      Piracy costs jobs and destroys lives.

      And for the record, the men who bought the economy to it’s knees and destroyed countless lives aren’t thugs shouting in the streets either – shall we just forgive and forget them too? After all, the ability to spell subtlety is the mark of whether someone should be subject to the laws of the land.. right?

    • Craig Stern says:

      Just wanted to pop in and say that although I loathe piracy*, I agree with John that CD Projekt really shouldn’t be doing this. Among other things, I am skeptical that they can really know with absolute certainty who did or did not pirate their game; the thought that even a single legitimate user would have to go through a song and dance to prove his innocence with the threat of a lawsuit hanging over his head is rather repulsive to me.

      I’m also a little surprised that they would analogize their letters to government fines; the better analogy would be to an offer to settle a claim out of court, which the courts actually encourage (at least here in the U.S.)

      *except in limited circumstances, such as when a player loses the ability to play a game he or she legally paid for and has to torrent it in order to maintain a working copy.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      @Craig Stern

      I wouldn’t even count it as piracy if you own a licence to play the game – you’ve just downloaded it from a different source!

    • Ryn Taylor says:

      If someone broke into my house and stole something, and then later I figured out it was my neighbor, would I have the right to circumvent the police and directly demand of them that they pay me back what it was worth twenty-fold?

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Nope, and that’s because your neighbour would have comitted a CRIMINAL offence – burglary, theft, breaking and entering are criminal acts and subject to criminal law. That is what the police get involved in.

      Piracy is a CIVIL offence. The police do not get involved in civil law, it’s not their job. If my neighbour built an extension without planning permission which overlooked a previously private bedroom window and my property lost value as a result, if I went to the police, they would tell me to bugger off, they couldn’t give two hoots – because it is a civil infraction. And yes, in that circumstance I would begin by sending them a letter pointing out my problem and requesting that they tear it down. I might even tell them my required level of compensation if they don’t in that letter.

      Please stop equating civil and criminal law people, and this goes to RPS and CDP too – it only shows your ignorance of the issues at hand.

      This is why every schoolchild should take a mandatory basic law class.

    • Archonsod says:

      “It’s not about recouping the value of the product alone it’s about acting as a future deterrent.”

      And when did CDP get the right to determine suitable deterrents? Isn’t that what we have courts for? What CDP are doing is the equivalent of you or I taking a baseball bat to the neighbour’s car to deter them from parking in our space.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Wow, and directly after my last post too – Taking a baseball bat to a car is a CRIMINAL OFFENCE

      CRIMINAL OFFENCES DO NOT EQUATE TO CIVIL DISAGREEMENTS

      repeat that 100 times to yourself before you post anything!

    • Casimir Effect says:

      Think I have to come down on CDPs side in this one. By the sound of it they are doing all they can without being malicious and yet that is how people are trying to paint them:
      Not just checking IPs but going through cases individually means far fewer false positives.
      Only doing it in Germany where there is more data available means they have set themselves a required level of confidence in their methods and aren’t going below it.
      Dropping case against person who proved innocence.
      Hopefully deterring piracy on the whole (at least in Germany. That is where your figure of a 0.001% falls down Mr Walker. That figure of 4.5m lost was worldwide. I imagine that taking the numbers in Germany alone will drastically reduce the number of pirated copies such that 1000 pirates receiving letters is actually a decent percentage).
      And then as a company on the whole they are still on the side of anti-DRM and are a small developer compared to many. I’d rather see them do things like this than the company fold. Look at GSC.

      I’ll happily keep on buying their games in the future because I know one thing – I’ll get to play their games and be safe from any legal action. It really is a very simple fucking concept.

    • ThTa says:

      @strikerRD
      “Here in the US we have a saying ( I don’t know if people in the EU also say this):
      “You are innocent until proven guilty”. Not the other way around.”

      I’m sure you held no malice in these words, but since it’s the second time I’ve heard someone question whether we do within a short timespan, I feel the need to respond with a firm “Yes, we do.”
      To imply we don’t have such a principle is highly offensive to me, as it would completely undermine any fair system of justice. (For reference, in Dutch it’s “Onschuldig tot het tegendeel bewezen is.”, which translates to “Innocent until the contrary has been proven.”)

      As such, I also find their speed ticket comparison very flawed. Because here, while the fine may be issued without prosecution, the aforementioned principle still applies. As such, you are allowed to request any evidence on the transgression, the speeding, their failure to supply said evidence would abolish their case. (Which makes their “trade secret” method impossible to maintain) And should you contest it, it is their task to prove you are guilty in court, not yours to prove you are innocent.

      I’m aware such matters are different in civil cases, but this was just to illustrate that their comparison holds no merit.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      @ThTa – exactly! Of course, if CDP do take anyone to court they will have to prove that the person did beyond any reasonable doubt pirate the game, it might not be called innocent until proven guilty, but the concept is the same.

      Also they would have to release their evidence if you requested and if they took you to court and did not send their full evidence in a reasonable time, their case will be invalidated anyway.

    • Kadayi says:

      “And when did CDP get the right to determine suitable deterrents? Isn’t that what we have courts for? ”

      Costs + damages. This is action being carried out by another company and it’s they who are setting the price. I doubt their legal time is cheap.

      @ThTa

      I’m fairly sure when they contact the people they inform them as and when they were alleged to have downloaded the game. It’s then up to the accused to disprove that information (‘it can’t of been me because I was in Barcalona at the time, here’s my hotel stub’)

      It’s not necessary for the police to explain how a police camera works in order to secure a conviction. They have the footage, that is enough. From a legal perspective, no legal firm is going to play a shell game over something like this, because invariably people will dispute it and the financial consequences of false accusations would be horrendous. If they say they have a 100% method for tracking, my legal inclination is to accept that as a given. They aren’t gambling on this.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      You do understand that you have every right to (If you were bang to rights) negociate the level of compensation with them? You are well within your rights to sent them a cheque for 1p and tell them you consider that adequate compensation.

      Of course that would be more of an insult that anything and thus the case probably would go to court, so you’d have to talk to them and agree on a compensation.

      @Kadayi – Nope, the police absolutely have to show the courts that their camera was of an agreed design and that it was properly maintained. Also, believe me, no matter how cleverly the lawyer has worded that letter, the court will require CDP to provide enough evidence that the piracy took place. If you wanted to show evidence that it didn’t, that’s great but if you showed up to court with nothing in a t-shirt and shorts and do not attempt any defence of yourself, you can still walk away the winner.

    • ThTa says:

      @Kadayi

      Actually, they would have to explain their system to some extent. Not in the sense of “This is exactly how our camera works”, but in the sense of which tools they used, as in “We used a high-speed camera, here’s the photo.” They would need to prove said camera is capable of recording suitable evidence through any available means. (In this case, the footage and various studies during and after R&D would suffice. So, well, actually, yeah: They would have to explain exactly how/if their camera works, if it is contested.)
      Stating “We detected you comitted a crime on such and such” holds no merit, nor does “We used a camera”, because for all we know, said camera had no conclusive footage and they’re going by the colour of your car.

      Right now, CDP’s method seems to be “Our secret special camera detected you on such and such”, without disclosing the footage of said camera and (potentially thereby) proving whether it is accurate. I’m not saying it isn’t accurate, but I’ve no reason to believe it is, either.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I’m not sure why anyone would view this as a threat or a ticket–bizarre way to view it–when what it sounds like is an offer for an out-of-court settlement. I don’t know all the intricacies to such a settlement in my own country, let alone Germany, but it boils down to one party giving money to the other to avoid a lengthy, costly, and/or embarrassing trial. You often hear of them when discussing sexual harassment; companies often don’t give a damn about whether anyone was actually harassed, but simply want to avoid the negative publicity associated with a trial.

      CDP is almost certainly not going to be able to recoup court costs from a pirate–and as we’ve established they aren’t going to be able to prove very many cases–but this route offers a way to get the guilty to pay up. And why would the innocent do so? If Germany is a loser pays nation, and the person in question actually did not download the title, then what’s the danger? Couldn’t they then receive damages from CDP? As for a hardcore pirate, the last thing they would want is to have their PC used as evidence in a court trial.

      Saying that CDP shouldn’t do this–especially when they are adamant that they are not rushing in and are not shaking people down, and no one has provided any evidence to the contrary, despite all the backlash–is basically saying that the innocently accused are too stupid to defend their rights. And if the people who pay or are brought to trial are guilty of theft–and that is what this is–then who gives a shit about the impact the settlement or fine has on their lives? They knowingly committed a crime.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Drinking with Skeletons has just written beautifully what I’ve been trying to explain since the first story!

    • Kadayi says:

      @ThTa

      They only need to outline the general principles, and they only need to do that in a court. They don’t need to make their methodology general knowledge to the public . As long as the methodology satisfies the Judge and any experts the courts may appoint to assess it, that’s as far as it needs to go. Again though I’ll reiterate, if they weren’t confident in their method, they wouldn’t be pursuing the actions.

    • ThTa says:

      Oh, and I absolutely agree with you, Drinking with Skeletons.
      I just think CDP’s current interactions on their methodology and reasoning are a bit offputting.

      And Kadayi, yes, I’m aware they would only need to prove themselves to the jury, judge and/or appointed expert(s). But your initial post appeared to imply it was not necessary at all, my apologies.

    • Kandon Arc says:

      @Kadayi

      “From a legal perspective, no legal firm is going to play a shell game over something like this, because invariably people will dispute it and the financial consequences of false accusations would be horrendous. If they say they have a 100% method for tracking, my legal inclination is to accept that as a given. They aren’t gambling on this.”

      Davenport Lyons is a pretty huge example that legal firms are well aware how faulty their methodology is. Their business model doesn’t require it to be, all they need to do is take money from those scared into paying and ignore those who challenge them. http://www.solicitorsjournal.com/story.asp?sectioncode=2&storycode=17301&c=3&eclipse_action=getsession&eclipse_action=getsession&eclipse_action=getsession

    • Kadayi says:

      @Kandon Arc

      “Before we took this step, we have investigated the subject, spoke to other developers and publishers using the same method and company we are using, and are convinced that the method used by them is targeting only 100% confirmed piracy act cases. When we investigated the subject, we were made aware and looked into the infamous Davenport case, and again, we are convinced the methods used in our case are not going to hurt innocent people. After all the months since release piracy of The Witcher 2 was tracked, not a single person denied act of piracy when addressed with that subject. At least not to our knowledge.”

    • Kandon Arc says:

      @ Kadayi

      Yes and? They have given us no evidence to suggest that their methodology is any more accurate than Davenport Lyons was. They probably can’t as I’d imagine that the legal firms write NDA’s into their contracts. Until they give a full explanation of how they prove guilt, I can only go on the established practices of the industry.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      @Kandon Arc:

      On the one hand, you’re right: the law firms don’t really need to care about how correct they are if they are confident they can just scare people into paying. But if the innocent actually contest false accusations–y’know, exert their rights–then the scheme fails.

      Everything CDP have said suggests that they are using the company as a middleman and are actively involved in determining the veracity of these findings. That no one has come forth about being innocent victims is telling, especially since so many people on the internet are inclined to be supportive of them and the matter is one of proof.

    • Kandon Arc says:

      @Drinking with Skeletons

      “On the one hand, you’re right: the law firms don’t really need to care about how correct they are if they are confident they can just scare people into paying. But if the innocent actually contest false accusations–y’know, exert their rights–then the scheme fails.”

      No, they just drop the law suit and move on.

      “Everything CDP have said suggests that they are using the company as a middleman and are actively involved in determining the veracity of these findings. That no one has come forth about being innocent victims is telling, especially since so many people on the internet are inclined to be supportive of them and the matter is one of proof.”

      The phrase; “At least not to our knowledge.” suggests the exact opposite to me. After all there’s no way their legal team has the manpower to deal with a mass mailing campaign; which is why there are law firms that specialise in this.

      Furthermore many will pay even if they are innocent because to many people 750 euros is better than months dealing with a court case.

    • Wulf says:

      What I’ve learned today:

      People are stupid about technology.

      Knowledge that’s been validated today:

      People are incredibly stupid about technology.

      /sigh

      Gamers, what will I do with you?

      Anyway, the problem here is that this ‘system’ that they have is rife with the potential for false positives. If I had to put a number on it, I’d say that every mail they send has a 90% likelihood of being a false positive, and a 10% likelihood of actually hitting a pirate.

      Here’s why:

      - Unsecured routers.
      - Hacked routers that were only secured by WEP.
      - So-called ‘friends/neighbours’ who’ve figured out a router’s security.
      - Malware-based botnets that P2P all sorts of shit around the ‘net.
      - And the biggest of all – IP spoofing.

      All of these mean that the person whose IP they have could be completely innocent, and given the nature of these things, the likelihood is that they are. Pirates aren’t the brightest people around, of course not, and most of them don’t even know how to apply a crack, but technology has made it easy for them to remain hidden amidst a crowd of innocent people.

      What they’re doing here is like placing a bomb in a café. Sure, one of those people might be a spy or a terrorist, and you have a feeling that one of them may just be, but there are lots of innocent people who’ll get caught up in your mad rampage too – and those people will be injured because of your actions. This is the nature of technology, it’s nebulous and unsure, and this is why the Internet remains the free thing it is. It’s nebulous, it’s untrackable, and to make the point: The Internet is ephemeral.

      Everyone is assuming that every IP automagically leads to a pirate, but that’s idiocy. You should know better. The fact of the matter is that there’s a 90% chance that that IP address will lead to an innocent person.

      Here’s one of the points John was making: I’m a poor person who doesn’t do piracy, and one day I get a threatening letter. I have to seek legal advice, and that legal advice actually costs money. The legal advice may cost almost as much as what they’re asking, so I’m at a loss. I stress over this which affects my health, and finally I decide to fight it for pride alone. So I’m a little more miserable for this, and I’m out some money because of the unethical, unconscionable actions of one particularly dirty little company.

      That’s great.

      Look, people. This is SOPA all over again. It’s attacking Youtube for the people who upload pirated videos. And if you’re smart enough to grasp why SOPA is a bad thing, then you should bloody well be smart enough to figure out why this is a bad thing. And you have some pretty damn poorly defined ethics if you base this contextually upon who’s committing the crime.

      “Oh, it’s the American government doing this thing. That’s bad. We must stop them!”
      “Oh, it’s a European developer doing this thing. That’s good. We must support them!”

      This is mostly to do with how much people think this will impact them, because one thing I’ve learned about humans in general on my time on this planet is that most humans are really, really frickin’ self-interested. Self-interested navel gazers who spend most of their time not even realising that a world exists outside of their own little sphere. Does that hit close to home? Good! Geez, some of you need some sense knocked into you.

      Whether it’s the American government pulling crap like this, or a European developer, it doesn’t matter. This stuff is decidedly NOT COOL. It’s not cool because of the false positives, it’s not cool because it relies on punishing innocent parties for the actions of guilty ones, it’s not cool because the people who’re doing it damn well know what’s going to happen and all they care about is that some people might pay them – pirates or not.

      How anyone… anyone can stand by and think that this is okay is beyond me.

      Well, why don’t you bloody well go and support SOPA whilst you’re at it?

      Either that or wake up and set your contextual ethics aside! It doesn’t matter who’s doing something that may target people who’re innocent of what they’re being damned for, it doesn’t matter what the source is. But if people are going to suffer for the wealth of a company or companies, then that’s something that we should take a stand against. Whether it’s SOPA or CD Projekt RED.

      And frankly, that contextual ethics like this exist in our little subculture disgust me.

      Really, I want one of these days for this little group of gamers I’m a part of to actually make me able to say that I’m proud to be a gamer, rather than to say that I’m disgusted with most gamers.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Kandon Arc

      “They have given us no evidence to suggest that their methodology is any more accurate than Davenport Lyons was.”

      Why do they need to give ‘us’ evidence? They’ve clearly explained their approach & shown CDP their methodology and CDP are convinced as to the legitimacy of it (that’s why they’ve given them the work). If there is a question over that approach it’s something that needs to be brought up in court by someone who has received a demand, and then independent experts can then be called in by a judge to ascertain the veracity of their methodology if it’s under dispute.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Oh wulf, once again we disagree!

      Firstly, I’d like you to justify your 90% 10% split, because I imagine it also to be a 90% 10% split, but the other way around. Here’s why. 90% of gamers I know, from a video game club started in the mid 80′s and hosting a diverse range of backgrounds do not know what an IP address is. Nearly all of then cheerfully admit to piracy. Now given that 90% of 50 or so gamers don’t know what an IP address is, when they hit that bit torrent link, what do you suppose the chances are that they’ve adequately shielded it?

      Now, lets look at your equation of this to SOPA. I disagree – the thing is, until a court has ordered a pirate to pay money, the pirate doesn’t have to do a damn thing. Even then, there are ways, if he is genuinely impoverished to have the compensation cancelled.

      SOPA – the problem everyone has with it is that it happens without any kind of fair trial. The websites are shut down merely on the say so of a coorporation. Do you see the difference? It would be likr CDP being able to accuse you of piracy and take money from your bank account without any comeback from you, without that fair trial.

      And please, if you live in a country where there is no legal support, no free legal advise, etc etc then I feel bad for you. Most countries in the world – even North god damned Korea have a legal aid system.

    • Kandon Arc says:

      @Kadayi

      You’re right. They owe us no explanation at all. However as a spokesman for CDP has taken the time to engage with John (which I fully appreciate), it is clear that CDP wants to justify its actions to its customers. I’m just trying to explain that until CDP give us an answer better than “We’ve checked them out and they’re cool” than I have no way of knowing that their new company is any better than DL. And unless there’s some super secret way of 100% accurate testing that only these legal firms know about, rather than their traditional methods that have been repeatedly criticised, then I can’t with good faith continue to support CDP.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      @Wulf:

      I don’t think anyone has suggested that this process is 100% accurate (except for CDP and their mystery partners, who are delusional and lying, respectively). What some of us have been saying is that what they’re doing is neither illegal nor unethical.

      Again, offering an out-of-court settlement is not illegal and not uncommon. CDP is not knocking down people’s doors, strapping them into chairs, and then interrogating them beneath naked light bulbs for hours on end. If a person does not pay, then CDP can either drop it or enact legal proceedings. And this is a very simple matter of proof! Did they download the file from someplace other than a legitimate online retailer? Then they pirated it! Did they not? Then there’s no way that there can be evidence to show that they did, and nothing will happen to them! In fact, their accusers will probably be forced to pay damages!

      The people who get up in arms over this kind of stuff are the people who don’t believe that anyone ever does anything wrong but that no one should exercise their rights anyway because the system is inherently biased against them. Wrongly accused of a crime? Don’t defend yourself, just pay the fine, because defending yourself is a pain in the ass! And if you go to trial, these lawyers will magically generate incontrovertible proof against you! Besides that, who has the time or resources to go to trial, even though if you are innocent there is always a very real possibility of getting damages for your trouble and, if you are the defendant, you have the right to a court-appointed lawyer? Who has time to exercise the rights that their ancestors, friends, neighbors, etc. have protested, fought, and died for?

    • Kandon Arc says:

      “Who has time to exercise the rights that their ancestors, friends, neighbors, etc. have protested, fought, and died for?”

      People desperately trying to work as another recession approaches? Being accused of a crime is not a nice experience, particularly when you have no idea what’s going on, and a well respected legal firm is informing you that they have evidence against you. People routinely fall for all kinds of scams, but that doesn’t suddenly mean the scammers are being ethical does it? At the end of the day I don’t believe it’s ethical for a company to knowingly threaten innocent people with a law suit and neither does the SRA, which is why Davenport Lyons and ACS Law have been called on it.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      To be fair, Kandon, ACS were done because they never had any intention of taking anyone to court and dropped every case whenever there was any resistance from the accused.

      No evidence of that happening in this instance.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      The argument is surely for better education as to the law and your rights.

      Even the fact you wrote “Being accused of a crime” is proof that there is not enough knowledge on the legal process in the public’s hands.

      See the bit I wrote above in capitals if you are confused as to why I’m calling you ignorant Kandon

      Anyway, I know it’s not nice, being accused of something you didn’t do…

      Welcome to one of the drawbacks of being part of a society. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=rDjRauwE2AQ#t=30s

    • Kadayi says:

      @Kandon Arc

      I don’t think they are here to justify their actions, more clarify the situation. Personally I have zero issues with them pursuing pirates (piracy is a problem for the games industry). If they are confident that the approach used works, until such time as some false positives actually show up I really don’t see the problem tbh. Right now there’s a bunch of screamagers in this thread declaring that ‘it just can’t be done’ but until that’s been demonstrated in a court of law with reference to an actual case, it’s simply speculation on their part. Please feel free to continue get all ‘righteous’ over this though.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      @Kandon Arc:

      But at some point we have to say that citizens have some responsibility for their own well-being, even if it’s inconvenient, disruptive, or whatever. What if CDP’s only recourse was to officially press charges? Right now we wouldn’t have a bunch of people complaining about letters, we’d have a bunch of people going to court, no questions asked, and I imagine that the accused would ultimately be far, far worse off than they are now.

      And think about it: CDP is being almost infinitely more reasonable about this than many (most?) companies would be. You think that EA would even respond to a personal inquiry, let alone provide the frank and open response that our good Mr. Walker received? For all the talk of them being shady extortionists, they are being far more open and upfront than they have to be, and, in my experience, that’s a strong indicator that they’ve thought this through more than their detractors would like to admit. Confidence and openness are signs of strength, of having done what you were supposed to do and being able to prove it. If they suddenly go quiet when asked about this, I’ll be more inclined to think poorly of them.

      (EDIT: I realize that “Pressing Charges” isn’t the right term for a civil offense case, but I got caught up while writing the post. I’ll leave it there to show my ignorance, but a more correct phrasing, if perhaps not the most technically accurate, would be “Take them to Court.” Apologies.)

    • Kandon Arc says:

      @FunkyBadger

      This is why I said in another comment that I would have liked to see John ask if they had taken anyone to court yet. I haven’t heard about it if they have and can only conclude thus far that they are using the same tactics. Of course when I see court cases crop up about this I will happily change my mind, though it won’t assure me that their methods are any more accurate than others.

      @Sheng-Ji

      I was speaking from the point of view of one receiving a letter. After looking at the ones DL sent out, I would sure feel like I had committed a crime if I had received it.

      If this was simply a case of an honest mistake on the part of these companies than your comments about ‘life sucks’ might be applicable, but these companies are intentionally targeting innocent people. Fine, shit happens, and while it would be lovely if everyone knew better, it doesn’t mean that these guys are anything other than tools for taking advantage of people’s ignorance.

      @Kadayi

      Okay, you take CDP’s word for it; that’s fine. However;
      1) I have never said I support, agree with or defend piracy, nor that I fail to recognise it as a problem.
      2) It’s not scaremongering to point out that these practices have historically been very dodgy in practice.
      3) Such a classy last sentence.

      EDIT:@Dancing with Skeletons

      I feel I should make something clear – my main problem is with the legal companies that make a business out of this practice. I am against CDP only because they employ them, not because I believe they carry out these actions personally. I’ve already said how I appreciate CDP’s candidness on this; however that doesn’t mean that I can accept answers like “We’re sure it’s 100% accurate” without an explanation of why.

      I would prefer it if they took every case to court:
      1) They would lose most of them, as judges have typically looked on IP addresses as insufficient evidence of guilt.
      2) No one would pay up out of ignorance.
      These reasons are why they don’t go to court though.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      @Drinking with Skeletons – well apart from joining the ranks of people whose comments are always to be read, as everything you say is important and put reasonably along with Lars W…. something and someone else – don’t worry about it – I’ve done that plenty too! I really get annoyed with the:

      “it’s like” …. then something overly emotional and completely out of all sense of proportion type comment.

      Usually equating a civil dispute to violent crime!

      @ Kandon

      intentionally targeting innocent people

      Come on, you don’t think that’s a little over the top?

      And if the extent of the collateral damage is some hurt feelings and a few minutes of your time penning an email pointing them in the direction of your receipt, who cares. Its worth it for the right to complain to a company when they’ve wronged you.

      Or am I intentionally targeting poor innocent Schwepps when my 10 pack of coke has an empty can and I write them an angry letter (It was the fault of some freeloader in a shop)

      Also the court process is long – it cold be 6 months before the first cases are heard

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      I haven’t heard about it if they have and can only conclude thus far that they are using the same tactics.

      Lets be perfectly straight here and say you choose to draw that inference. it’s far from the only one. Could be that everyone has paid up, for example. Given the pace of information exchange though, I’m sure it will become apparent one way or the other fairly soon.

      Chuckles, just noticed this upthread, most people are: “Self-interested navel gazers who spend most of their time not even realising that a world exists outside of their own little sphere.”

      Wowsers.

    • rocketman71 says:

      This is the mafia all over again, plain and simple. Wulf totally nailed it, except I think his 90% is too high. But as long as the innocent percentage is higher than 0%, this is completely unacceptable. Fact: person in a car connects to a wi-fi, cracks it (it may take two minutes for a standard router), and downloads some game from there. A month later, the letter arrives: pay or else. HOW CAN ANYONE DEFEND THAT?.

      For those that can (Kadayi and sheng-ji, unsurprisingly), I’d love to see you in that situation. Do you guys know that Davenport-Lyons even sued a grandmother who didn’t even have an internet connection?. AND SHE PAID.

      John may not want to say it, but I’ll do. This is blackmail for some / many / whatever percentage it is of the recipients of that letter. And I hope that anyone that is OK with that receives ten of them.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I’d simply write them a very polite letter showing my GOG receipt.

      Now let’s say I hadn’t bought the game (nor pirated it) – I’d request their evidence.

      Now if they don’t send me any evidence, case closed, they now have nothing to present to court as I’m sure you understand, refusal to show me evidence invalidates it for submission.

      If they did, and let’s not be fooled – everyone EXCEPT CDP have claimed that the evidence MUST be IP based, so it could be anything – a doped copy of the game reporting back to base etc etc, I’d prepare a robust and straightforward defence. I’d also fax them a filled out counterclaim form for the small claims court, along with a letter requesting £89 for my time – that sum was chosen based on my estimate of 2 hours work put into this so far (£32p/h) and the cost of my as yet unsent small claims court application (£25). I would explain that this is my home working rates, should they follow through with taking me to court, my counter claim could rise drastically as I would have to find childcare and as a heavily disabled individual, getting out and about is significantly harder for me, so every hour I have to spend out of home will add £250 to my claim. Added to the fact that they will now see that my defence, which I have to submit to them blows their “proof” wide open, they will have no choice but to drop their claim and pay me £64 in compensation for my time.

      See, it’s not rocket science – Oh and by the way – do you have a reputable source for your claim that a grandma paid? I would suggest perhaps she should apply to whatever state she lives in for a carers allowance – she clearly need help and sadly it sounds like her mental faculties have faded to the point that she needs assistance with day to day life.

      Oh and just for kicks and giggles, lets do the scenario where I had actually pirated the game and their evidence is conclusive.

      I’d phone them with a counter offer – £xxx, the maximum I can afford without leaving me in debt or without food, heat etc. I’d be polite, courteous and demonstrate regret. I’d emphasise that it was a mistake and I would most certainly never do it again. I’d emphasise my personal situation, sending them photocopies of my bank statements to back up the fact I could not spare any more. They now know that if they press for more in court a judge will argue that I had adequately demonstrated I could not be reasonably expected to pay any more and thus it will be thrown out of court – so they wouldn’t have much choice but to accept my offer.

      I could easily engineer that offer to be about the cost of the game ;) I mean I’m a pirate, I’m sure I’m up to a bit of light number fiddling and a few white lies right?

      Note that one of the things the mafia do is commit criminal acts to get their own way/earn money – these lawyers are not committing criminal acts, no matter how much you squeeze your eyes together and wish upon a star that they are. Little rocketman, if you wish hard enough, just maybe the world will be just the way you want it to be.

      You know, I saw the saddest banner above a house the other day – Happy 30th Grandma. Now apart from being a horrendous example of teen pregnancies, it neatly makes the point that using an undefined term like “Grandma” while very emotional, doesn’t necessarily mean Old Aged Pensioner.

      So anyway, back to your final flung little tantrum. I too hope I get ten letters, that’s £640 of easy money for me, plus a few thousand for harassment – Just after christmas, what could be more perfect – I might take that winter trip to New York I’ve been dreaming about – maybe LA too – and I really should go to Yellowstone… Oooh Vegas too…. hmmm please wish harder little rocketman, I’d love ten letters please!

    • Deano2099 says:

      So far none of these claims have gone to court. I’d actually bet they won’t prove a single case in court actually. If that happens, then this whole process is truly despicable.

      But I think what’s important is that in 6 months John follows this up and sees the result. Because people will have forgotten by then. And it’s only when we know if they genuinely intended to take people court, or to just threaten them, that we’ll know how bad this is.

      Still, nice to see that 800k is pocket change to them isn’t it?

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Deano – I think it’s far more likely that they accept tiny amounts of compensation compared to what they’re asking – see my example above as to how these things play out.

      Also, that really was some poor journalism by RPS – and you guys know I don’t normally criticize you – I’d expect that kind of statement:

      “And this is why it looks like a cash grab, despite CDP’s protestations that they aren’t making serious money from this. (Although, let’s be clear – if it is 1000 letters, and the fine is €750, that’s still three quarters of a million Euro. I’m not so sure that’s a figure to be so easily dismissed.)”

      from Kokatu or the daily mail, but not you guys, come on, integrity before riling emotion!

    • Consumatopia says:

      Wow, Sheng-ji really types a whole lot of words (in multiple edits!) completely missing the point. If you received one of these letters and you’re innocent, the fear that should run through your mind isn’t “oh no, I have to spend time responding to this” (or even money, because, hey, maybe you want to get legal advice from someone more credible than Sheng-ji’s barely coherent trolling) it’s “oh no, what if I can’t prove to CDP or a court’s satisfaction that I didn’t pirate this?” Sure, call up CDP and plead your case for a bit–but if they don’t buy it, there’s a chance you could pay much more than €750 if you still want to fight it. How much of a chance? Heck if I know, but I’d need someone more credible than comments in an RPS thread to give me advice on that matter.

      The uncertainty this imposes on the potentially innocent is the problem here.

      Mailing automated demands to thousands of people to pay you €750 or face the threat of paying much more, while apparently legal, is a scummy thing to do. It’s actually a bit scummier if the threat itself isn’t really a serious one.

      I’d have to hear more about what CDP is doing here before I purchase anything else from GoG.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Let’s make one thing clear – I’m not giving legal advice – I’m giving my opinion. I was asked what I’d do – in a roundabout way and I responded – I don’t need you to believe in my credibility, I’m happily confident enough in my knowledge not to care if you approve of it.

      So the point was that I should be scared if I got one of these letters, yet you criticise me because I wouldn’t be scared. Or I’ve missed the point because I wouldn’t be scared. Whichever it is.

      But in my opinion, the civil law system is pretty good through out the western world, so I wouldn’t be scared. Now I’m sorry that my confidence threatens you to the point that you have to call me names, but that is my opinion and I won’t change it because you hold a different opinion to me.

      And here’s the dirty little secret about debates – you don’t have to change your mind either – we can put forward our differing points of view without forcing ours on our opponents!

      So please don’t take my advice – as it was never meant to be advice. However if you can prove that the civil law system in my country doesn’t work this way, present your evidence. (The UK)

      Or take the debate where you wish to go.

      And for the record, I edit my posts up until the point where someone replies, otherwise it would just me me replying to me replying to me etc. I will always, and go ahead and search if you care enough and don’t believe me edit a post back if someone’s response ends up not making sense because of an edit I’ve made – I like to do things properly on these forums and post editing deliberately to spoil the point of someone below is a dirty trick

    • Consumatopia says:

      Still missing the point: the problem isn’t that you’re confident, the problem is that you don’t seem to understand why it might be reasonable for other people to lack this confidence–in other words, why these might be intimidating threats, even to innocent people. The problem is the intimidation factor, not the eventual legal outcome.

      Well, that’s not the only problem. The other problem is that your last couple posts have been dripping with unwarranted contempt for other people in this thread. You’ll even stoop to “bad journalism” because the writer doesn’t agree with you. Perhaps you should learn your own dirty secret.

      Re: multiple edits–didn’t intend to imply dishonesty, merely verbosity.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I have been saying all along, one of the issues here is that we should all have compulsory basic law education -so that when we do, heaven forbid, find ourselves in a position of being accused of something – a crime or a civil infraction that we didn’t do, we understand the process, understand where help can be given to us for free if we need it etc.

      But, I’m sorry, that statement by John shocked me, it is sensationalism journalism – maybe not at it’s worst, but it’s not good. I’ve come to expect better. It’s not that he doesn’t agree with me, it’s that he ignores the very likely option that many people who are paying, pay much less than the 750 Euros, and throws terms like three quarters of a million around.

      Lastly (last edit too) when someone wishes that (what clearly to them is a horrible thing) to happen to me, I do treat them with a little contempt.
      His whole post was basically – I hope nasty things happen to you. I feel like he treated me with contempt and anger – I only feel like I disrespected him to be honest.

    • Consumatopia says:

      General legal education might not be a bad idea, but it only does so much good. We have general mathematics education, but we still make pyramid schemes illegal. Most people would benefit legal advice when they receive a threatening letter from a major corporation. Not all of those people will qualify for help (and if every company with pirated materials was issuing these letters, society couldn’t afford to give out that much free legal advice.)

      I don’t think it’s John’s job to speculate on how much more or less people end up paying on average.

      Your position is that nasty things should happen to lots of other people. Except pensioners. Pick on grandma all you want, but leave genuinely old people alone, I guess. Except you don’t think these things are actually nasty. Except it still offends you when other people wish these non-nasty things upon you. Offense that lasts for many paragraphs. Well, whatever, but just as we shouldn’t take any of your words as legal advice, I don’t think I’ll look to you for discussion advice, either.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Funny because I thought it was exactly Johns job to ensure he is fully aware of the facts before writing about it rather than reaching for the sound byte friendly extreme, even in an opinion piece.

      I guess we disagree on many things, and you clearly don’t understand my position at all – that’s my failing – maybe I was so verbose my point was drowned in words.

      My position is not, as you assert, that nasty things should happen to people. My position is that a letter like this is not actually a nasty thing to happen. Stop assuming people receiving them are incapable of standing up for themselves. That is both insulting and patronising.

      Also I hold the position that although this may not have been dealt with in a perfect way, it is a refreshing change to the DRM attitude which punishes honest customers and does not work. It is my position that even if only a few people are scared off from piracy, it has already proved it works better than DRM and should be considered as a valid alternative.

      Finally it is my position to applaud CDP for trying something different, no matter how it ends up.

      And on the subject of your “barely coherent” last paragraph

      If someone believes it is nasty and then wishes it on me – even though I am well aware it isn’t all that bad – their intent was to wish a horrible thing on me. Intent is everything.

      If you slipped a liquid into my drink believing it to be cyanide, when it was almond essence – your intent was to murder me and even though all you did was make my water taste more pleasant. I would be very angry at you because you intended to murder me!

      So it was when rocketman wished something on me he clearly believed to be a nasty thing to happen. Even when it was not. In my opinion.

      Look mum, only two edits!

      I also don’t think you grasp what the problem with pyramid schemes are – or I’ve misunderstood you because you seem to be saying despite widespread mathematics education, we are still foolish enough to outlaw a business practice which relies on conning a lot of people.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Any “facts” about money collected by CDP at this point is only speculation.

      “My position is not, as you assert, that nasty things should happen to people. My position is that a letter like this is not actually a nasty thing to happen. ”

      I understand you’re saying this. You don’t understand that not everyone has (or could ever have) the same bold confidence in their ability to deal with the legal system that you do. Having interacted with you at length, I’m not sure how warranted that confidence is, but that’s your call.

      This is intimidating behavior, probably directed at least some innocents. Honestly, if this is the alternative, I would prefer DRM.

      This thing being wished upon you, nasty or not, is exactly what you advocated happen to other people, so for you to take such great offense is kind of comical. It’s like rocketman saw you slipping the liquid into other people’s drinks and tried to slip it into yours.

      Despite (purely hypothetical!) general legal education, I still think we should punish–in the marketplace if not the courts–intimidation of the innocent even if the innocent “should” know better.

      I think I’ve repeated myself enough. I understood what you were saying. You’re good at typing! Have a good morning over there.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      We can certainly look at records of hundreds of thousands of similar compensation requests and look at the compensation actually paid. You know.. someone some where may have bundled that information into an easy to access resource designed especially for journalists… Say the government run publications on the subject…

      Anyway..

      It’s like rocketman caught me slipping liquid into peoples drinks and thought it was cyanide – yet I knew all along it was almond – He then tried to slip it into my drink – he tried to murder me, I wasn’t trying to murder them.

      And that is as far as I will take that particular analogy, have no fears.

      So before you leave the conversation – how would you regulate the sending of letters warning of civil action? Because clearly you don’t want each individual entity (company or individual) freedom to compose the letter in the way they see fit, just incase a few people have their feelings hurt, or feel intimidated etc

      And let’s be clear – if you read some words on a piece of paper and it hurts, frightens or intimidates you – you have the power inside yourself not too feel that way, you just don’t feel hurt, intimidated or whatever – it really is that simple.

      Feeling intimidated is not the same as being intimidated. I am a petite woman who spends 99% of my time in a wheelchair. I have a baby, who right now travels on my wheelchair. My face is generally at hip level. The other day, in the post office queue, a large man stood very, very close to me – intrusively so. I felt intimidated. Yet he was not trying to intimidate me. I did manage to not feel intimidated, I just imagined what it must be like to be him – he probably hadn’t noticed me!

      So I’ll clarify my question to you: what controls should we put in place to ensure that some people do not potentially feel intimidated. I put forward my answer – better education so they realise they are not actually being intimidated. What’s yours?

    • tenseiga says:

      Ex pirate here. Go easy on pirates, some of us don’t (didn’t) have the money and sometimes the damn thing isnt even available in my region! (Fallout3)

      Having said that the most appropriate thing I can think of is a person sneaking into a movie theater and watching a movie and is caught at the end of it. The manager of the movie theater demands 10x the price of the ticket or a lengthy court battle costing a lot of money. What WOULD you do? Charge for the movie? charge 2x the price of the movie? I mostly have a problem with private corporations setting arbitrary “fines” along with legal threats of more fines. Today this publisher is asking 10x, tomorrow publisher might ask for 100x the price of the game? If the government inmy country says ‘you can only charge a max of 5x the price of the product stolen” I would accept that as the price I have to pay for stealing something. Because for priacy and regular theft ONLY the government and NOT the property owner can set the fines.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      tenseiga, do you not see though that they can ask for what they want – you don’t have to pay it – if you knew you were absolutely bang to rights and wanted to avoid court, you would negotiate with them. That’s how it works! They will try to get as much out of you as possible, so of course they start high!

      Remember they are not fines and if they use the word fine on a letter, they will get a large slap on the wrist – only the government can fine you!

      It does seem that even CDP want to “go easy” on the ones they catch but have no money – it seems they are targeting the guys who are comfortably well off, who have plenty of disposable income yet still pirated their game.

    • tenseiga says:

      Sheng-ji,
      Hey you know what that is? Extortion/blackmail! “I know you did something wrong, you could go to the cops and face the fines or you could pay me and we could keep this between us.” Although this brand of justice is useful for very minor petty cases it cant be done on the scale that it is being done on here. Scary looking lawyers and legal notices and court summons and threats from big companies IS getting out of line. He says they are regulated but i really dont see regulation anywhere. I am all for fining pirates and punishing them for their crime as prescribed by law and government (which is the only enforcement body I will accept).

      Note: I really appreciate DRM free games and the efforts this company is going to to try and protect innocents (if its true. They are still much better than UBISoft etc) but I cant accept a big guy bullying a little guy.

    • Premium User Badge RobF says:

      But *people* don’t work like that. You’re presenting how you’d deal with things as some sort of “this is how it works!” and it’s not.

      People pay because people get scared easily because they’re people. They don’t think “ooh, you know, I’ll just argue this”, they shit bricks and pay. CAB’s are full of people who end up in situations like this, people who end up paying off debts that aren’t theirs, people who end up paying fines that aren’t theirs and it is never ok for people to be placed in that situation.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Blackmail is the crime of threatening to reveal information true or false unless you pay them money. That’s not happening here.

      Extortion is obtaining or attempting to obtain money through coercion.

      Coercion usually refers to the threat of physical violence, duress etc but can involve threats of a non violent nature, in very rare cases.

      I guess you’re claiming that the threat is of further financial losses if they win in court. I think if you attempted to report them to the police for extortion, you would be told in no uncertain terms that it wouldn’t count as a threat because they will not be the ones to penalise you financially and what they are telling you happens to be true.

      So really they are not guilty of extortion either.

      What they are guilty of is not informing you of your rights. They don’t tell you that they stand almost zero chance of beating you in court. They don’t tell you that if they don’t beat you, they will be liable for your legal costs.

      But no law firm ever will do that – it’s your responsibility in this world to know your own rights!!!

    • Sheng-ji says:

      If you are so timid that you would pay a debt that wasn’t yours, then you need help to survive in this world. Fortunately, that help is there. Last July, when I used the CAB, I had to make an appointment, I got one the same day – they’re not exactly full. It does take a rather splendid level of dimness to not even try to challenge it.

      Seriously, it is OK if you believe someone has infringed your civil rights to challenge them. (Notice how that statement now works both ways)

      I agree it’s not a great thing to get a letter like this, but it happens. Of course we could all go back to local, personal service and drop 10 years from our life expectancies again – sure, and guess what – still get accused of things we didn’t do!

      And let’s be really honest now – I mean really honest. If you use IP masking software and pretend your IP is different to that which really it is – you are basically committing identity fraud. That innocent person who got the letter, got it because of the pirates action, the pirate trying to conceal who they are. It is the pirates fault. Nuff said.

    • Premium User Badge RobF says:

      No, they don’t need “help to survive in this world” because it’s a perfectly natural reaction to being threatened. I’m happy you’re above all that, I’m sad that you can’t appreciate that not everyone lives up to some completely arbitrary standard you’ve decided upon.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Well, I guess you should all be thankful that there are people in the world like me – After the conman has ripped off 5 people, I’ll be the one who gets him convicted. I’ll be the one who stops him ripping of anyone else.

    • Premium User Badge RobF says:

      What *are* you talking about now?

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Apparently it’s perfectly natural to pay a demand that comes through the door, even when you don’t actually owe it – according to you. I would suggest that makes fertile ground for conmen – they could just send a whole bunch of letters off and reap the rewards. Then they send one to me and I challenge it – stops them in their tracks. I uncover the evidence, report them to the police, and thats a few less people who will get conned!

      Of course that’s not the way the world is, because normal people don’t pay bills they don’t owe, or fines they don’t owe or anything else. The special people who would do that need help. It’s not normal, by any stretch of the imagination.

    • Premium User Badge RobF says:

      I hate to break it to you but people doing irrational or bizarre things is, actually, fairly normal. It’s one of those “people” things.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Might I suggest that paying 750 Euros that you don’t owe is so bizzare and / or irrational that, in order to stop that person doing something as serious and damaging to their wellbeing again, they should be given care and support – perhaps long term care in the community.

    • Premium User Badge RobF says:

      You can suggest whatever you choose, it won’t make a damn jot of difference to how people behave and it won’t make you in any way right.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      The law agree’s with me, I guess you can continue to rage against the machine whilst simultaneously patronising those who you seem to think are incapable of defending themselves, but one day you’ll have to grow up.

      Oh, I’m sorry – was your mum or a close family member or friend conned and lost their life’s savings. I’m sorry, perhaps I shouldn’t have been so blunt with you. There there, maybe if you had of phoned her a bit more, you may have prevented it, but it’s not worth blaming yourself now.

    • Premium User Badge RobF says:

      Again, I’m forced to ask… what are you talking about now?

    • Kadayi says:

      2) It’s not scaremongering to point out that these practices have historically been very dodgy in practice.

      It is when they’ve already addressed those issues in the article.

    • Lightningproof says:

      Sheng-ji, these stupid and irrelevant analogies you enjoy pulling out of the vast green fields of your imagination may make sense in whatever bizarre reality you appear to inhabit, in which people can apparently turn emotions as base and instinctual as fear and intimidation on and off like a faucet. Here, though, they just make you seem like a condescending, ivory tower prig. Debate with a bit more grace, thanks.

    • Zrzosaar Xun 12 says:

      Tell me one thing.
      If you’d be hired by someone for a month and that person would refuse you to pay your wage that you should get according to agreement between you, would get 20x compensation for him not paying you?
      Or actually, since work for that person is your sole source of income and that person modified your behaviour by promising to pay you and had you work for them personally, it’s much worse, so would you get a 50x compensation?

      If not, why do you support such outrageous discriminating privileges that the copyright lobby bought for themselves?

    • Sheng-ji says:

      @Lightningproof – I will try my best to explain it in a graceful way. I can’t promise to not come across as ivory towered or condescending because such perceptions come from your own mind.

      Firstly let’s establish the kind of emotions one cannot control. You mentioned yourself the base emotion. The base emotion is the sudden gutwrenching fear we get if suddenly confronted by a snarling bear, or any beast – if we notice an 8 legged arachnid near us in the shadows, if we are to suddenly and unexpectedly start to fall etc.

      These base emotions are generated by signals reaching an area of the brain called the Amygdala. The Amygdala is an interesting part of the brain. It is close to the spinal cord, thus signals can reach it quickly from external stimuli – signals from our senses for example. It also attaches to the hypothalamus – the part of the brain which controls our sympathetic nervous system allowing it to quickly issue responses to external stimuli – for example: See spider on hand – shake hand to flick spider away.

      Most interestingly of all it connects to and indeed controls our memories. Any new memories are formed through the Amygdala and thus all memories have emotion attached to them.

      Now, moving away from these base instant reaction emotions, which to a large extent are genetic, we need to look at emotions which are generated through other means – namely our memories. Why am I so sure that there can be emotions like fear which don’t come directly from our senses – well in this case it’s easy! The fear is being generated from reading a piece of paper. No-one in the world has a genetic fear of black squiggles on a white sheet – so the fear must come from what is read. Reading is one of the more complex tasks our brains allow us to do, so the signals have already been extensively chewed over in the brain before the fear is generated.

      The only other way then of generating emotion is for the Amygdala to access other area’s of our brain and ask them “What should I feel”. Obviously, your memories is one area asked, but also your logic and reasoning area’s are asked too. In fact, pretty much every area of your brain is referenced before the Amygdala chooses the emotion you feel.

      Right, that’s a lot of quite dry stuff, so let’s just keep that in context while I get to the real meat of my point. That, except for those base emotions, you can pretty much at will select the emotion you will feel at any given moment.

      I would not be surprised to learn that humans have been controlling their emotions since before we could be classified as humans. (Creationists may want to ignore that statement – it’s not important to the rest of my post) How else did early man face mammoths with little more than weighted sticks. But focusing on the here and now, I would like to examine the mind control techniques of buddhist monks and modern western medicine. They both work exactly the same way, though they use different language which may please different people.

      The Buddhists, at least those who live in Shan Xian monastery – with whom I am most familiar would tell you that every emotion you feel is thanks to your addiction to that emotion. It’s easy to understand this when we think of the emotional states of happiness, joy, peace etc but surely no-one is addicted to feeling angry or frustrated?

      Well the Buddhists argue that yes you are and that these emotional states release chemicals in your body which are desired by receptors in your body. By allowing the “anger” chemicals to interact with these receptors, you feed them and more appear, giving you a stronger hit next time you are angry. This becomes a vicious cycle.

      They would train you in meditation techniques which interrupt your emotional state and by starving the receptors, they die away until you have no more left and are instead feeding the ones which thrive on positive emotions.

      Eventually they will tell you that you will reach a state where you realise that all you have to do is not be sad or angry or fearful.

      OK so maybe you think that sounds like New Age hokum – not a problem, lets look at the Western medicine version of the same thing. We are going to be looking at the science of Cognative Behavioural Therapy – which I shall refer to as CBT from now on.

      CBT has great success in treating depression, anger issues etc. It is very much replacing psych led therapy for these issues, leaving them to focus on the more seriously mentally ill. CBT, without getting into the science behind it, is goal oriented – if you have anger issues, you will set yourself goals to achieve each week.

      For example, you may set yourself the goal to not scream and shout in your car if you are cut up. Achieving your goals week on week allow you to slowly change the way you deal with life until eventually you no longer have the issues for which you needed it.

      Note that the basis of the therapy involves you choosing a different emotion to feel – when that car cut’s you up, you are not going to feel angry as that makes you scream and shout – you may feel frustrated instead – thats a good first step.

      Now that I have shown two different ways in which people learn that they actually have full control of their emotions, I’d like to offer you the little tidbit that you already can completely control your emotions. You will do something in your life – maybe you have a dangerous or nervewracking job – Pilot, Stage actor, stock broker, ER Nurse etc – maybe you have a hobby which meets that description – martial arts, paragliding etc. Maybe you just like to walk close to the edge of a steep drop when you walk your dog – whatever it is – you already can control your emotions in a certain circumstance where most others would go to pieces! You already can proove to yourself this can be done and if it can be done in that aspect of your life, why not all aspects?

      I hope I have made my point with more grace. Thankyou for reading all of this!

    • Sheng-ji says:

      @Zrzosaar Xun 12 – If you had lost your house as a direct result, you may be entitled to a “multiplier” of thousands. If your baby starved to death, 10′s or 100′s of thousands.

    • Sooty says:

      Sheng-Ji you’re very vocal, and I respect the amount of thought you have put into this issue, but I came here just to say that you could probably turn down the condescension down a few notches. That is, back down a few notches it just went up with your latest lengthy post which I will choose to describe as a diatribe against what you perceive as poor opponents and debates. Of course, if you really have no interest in persuading others and are just sharing your opinion because you enjoy feeling superior or any other reasons, then feel free to continue.

      Edit: On a side note, since you’ve been particularly vocal in criticizing John for this piece, I’d just like to share that for myself I am extremely glad that John did this piece and provided a place for conversation to take place.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      @Sooty – I agree I have been very condescending to some people. I tend to choose my tone based on the tone chosen to address me. Of course that has started to turn into a vicious circle as people react to how I posted previously and I will attempt to stop it.

      I would say though, no matter what you think of me an all of the rest of my posts here, that last lengthy post was intended to be nothing but informative. I couldn’t care less whether other peoples opinion agrees with mine on the CDP thing, I was trying to supply the facts so at the very least people could make a better informed opinion, but the last post I really would like you guys to understand that we are not a slave to our emotions and we really can control them! Maybe my post here will probably not ever get through to anyone because of the context it has been posted in, but I promise you, there was nothing bitter about it – It was lengthy because I hold a genuine enthusiasm to share something which can really help people.

      EDIT: On the John thing – the rest of the piece was good – it was that one statement I felt was a problem. It has been the first and only time I have criticised him or any writer here – Most posts on the issue I get accused of fanboism as I defend them with some passion against similar criticism.

    • Consumatopia says:

      We can certainly look at records of hundreds of thousands of similar compensation requests and look at the compensation actually paid.

      Only if you assume that this process will go as previous requests have, which depends very much on the legal strategy and intentions of CDP and whoever they’re working with.

      It’s like rocketman caught me slipping liquid into peoples drinks and thought it was cyanide – yet I knew all along it was almond – He then tried to slip it into my drink – he tried to murder me, I wasn’t trying to murder them.

      Except nobody tried to murder anyone. He just wished upon you the situation you wished upon others.

      “So before you leave the conversation – how would you regulate the sending of letters warning of civil action? Because clearly you don’t want each individual entity (company or individual) freedom to compose the letter in the way they see fit, just incase a few people have their feelings hurt, or feel intimidated etc”

      I said this above, but I’ll repeat myself “Mailing automated demands to thousands of people to pay you €750 or face the threat of paying much more, while apparently legal, is a scummy thing to do. It’s actually a bit scummier if the threat itself isn’t really a serious one.” I’m not the civil law expert that you apparently think you are, but the way I intend to regulate this is to stop buying from any company doing this.

      “And let’s be clear – if you read some words on a piece of paper and it hurts, frightens or intimidates you – you have the power inside yourself not too feel that way, you just don’t feel hurt, intimidated or whatever – it really is that simple.”

      You spent an great deal of time going over this, but it’s completely irrelevant. If I point a gun at you, and you refuse to be intimidated, that’s great, but I’m still engaged in intimidation. It’s still intimidation even if it’s actually a toy gun. The solution is not general gun identification education so people know not to fear my fake gun, the solution isn’t for people to stop fearing guns, the solution is for me to stop pointing my fake gun at people. If because of some loophole I’m actually legally permitted to keep doing this, then others around me should try to verbally or economically convince me to stop doing that.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      @Consumatopia Well, I actually think we agree on one thing – One party feeling intimidated or not is entirely disassociated on whether the other party attempted to intimidate the first.

      You give the example of a gun – you are attempting to intimidate me whether I feel intimidated or not

      I say that whether a recipient of the letters feels intimidated or not, the letters are not intimidation

      By the way – I am making a real effort to tone down the condecention, it would help me greatly if you could be less passive aggressive. Thanks :) – I am here refering to statements like “the civil law expert you think you are” etc etc

      Also you do understand that pointing a gun at someone comes under criminal law and I have tried to explain endlessly, you can’t compare the two.

    • Consumatopia says:

      I say that whether a recipient of the letters feels intimidated or not, the letters are not intimidation

      And I’d say that given the large number of people they send these to and the disproportionate potential of the threat, they are. Especially if, as in previous cases, there is no actual intention to go to trial–if you’re just bluffing, essentially.

      By the way – I am making a real effort to tone down the condecention, it would help me greatly if you could be less passive aggressive.

      Okay, I’m guessing you saw my failed reply. The second time around I thought better of a couple things I said. Apparently that was a mistake.

      In any event, you are one of the last people I would ever take advice from. You have not demonstrated behavior worth emulating.

      Also, whether something is engaged in intimidation is not a matter of legal definition–at no point did I assume that criminal and civil law are equivalent. I would just say that the legal system has many problems, as any formally defined legal system must in our moral world, and therefore we should rely on social norms outside the system to fill in the gaps.

      To put it another way, there are lots of legal ways to be a jerk. Society is better if we avoid giving money to jerks, even the legal ones.

    • Sooty says:

      @Sheng-Ji: Fair enough, and thank you for making the effort!

      @Consumatopia: And thank you for bringing back the issue of ethics, though it’s underestandably discussed in less depth since it is incredibly murky territory. Your latest posts seem to suggest that you believe that intimidation is wrong, but yet “intimidation” is not a fixed concept (as Sheng-Ji handily shows by denying that the letters are intimidation). Your earlier posts instead suggest that it is the fact that some innocents could be intimidated that is the problem with CDP’s actions, and to this I agree.

      The mere possibility that CDP could harm (or perhaps just simply inconvenience) innocents is already problematic for their case. CDP clearly believes that their actions are justified, but they fail to demonstrate any acknowledgement that they are transferring burden off their customers onto people who may be completed unrelated to the whole situation. I completely agree with you when you said earlier that DRM may be preferable. Afterall, why can’t CDP just put DRM in their game, acknowledge that they are inconveniencing their customer base and reward them accordingly? Why not just completely remove DRM and leave piracy as it is as opposed to taking any action at all?

      In the end I think we must recognize that game developers cannot have their cake and eat it too when it comes to piracy. I’m not sure why CDP was so keen to announce their actions so openly. This can be for any number of reasons – to intimidate potential pirates, to share their opinions about piracy, to build trust, to pre-empt controversy in the future when it is discovered they are doing this, for justice so on and so forth. The gaming community at large is now beginning to provide their reactions, and CDP should be prepared to deal with the ongoing scrutiny. I’m not so sure if we really should try to influence CDP to change their decision, but I know I _will_ try to do so at least in the safety of my armchair.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Also, Sheng-ji, I know you aren’t editing your posts to be dishonest, but when those edits occur between when I’m starting my post and when I click reply (which you have no way of knowing), it greatly adds to confusion. Yes, I’m somewhat guilty of this as well, we should both stop.

      Here’s the thing, your level of confidence in your understanding of the legal system is pertinent to the discussion–not in an ad hominem way, but because I don’t think your view takes those lacking such confidence into sufficient consideration. So I have to make reference to that confidence, but I have no idea how well-placed that confidence is.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      @ Sooty – I have assumed that CDP had convinced their investors it would be a selling point to provide a DRM free product, but the investors made it a condition of investment to use this mystery company and aggressive pursuit of pirates. It seems a very likely scenario to me.

      @ Consumatopia – Please know that I do respect your principles greatly and nothing I write is designed to try to change your mind. I thought you had made an incorrect assumption about equating civil and criminal law when you wrote

      “The solution is not general gun identification education so people know not to fear my fake gun, the solution isn’t for people to stop fearing guns, the solution is for me to stop pointing my fake gun at people”

      Which was you using a criminal law example to rubbish my solution for a civil law issue.

      @ Everyone again

      Now we are talking about the ethics again, you can read my proposed solution – how CDP could have achieved the same effect but maintaining a “positive ethical account” for want of a better term on page 4 of these comments (at the moment). I wrote

      I guess – and you may remember me as one of the defenders of the practice – they could contact the user with no legal demands in the initial contact but make it clear that they are gathering evidence and any statement the user gives may be used in court.

      Then, if they aren’t satisfied, they could issue an accusation, lay out their evidence and inform the individual they are considering the level of compensation they require.

      Finally they could then issue a letter giving the 750 euro as the required amount and explaining that the individual has every right to allow a court to consider evidence and set the level of compensation instead, however if they choose to use legal help or they are found to be guilty of the piracy, they will have to pay legal fees.

      This would as far as I could see achieve the exact same thing but in a more open manner.

    • Consumatopia says:

      When I said “If because of some loophole I’m actually legally permitted to keep doing this”, my intention was to avoid the issue of legality.

      Your proposed solution is an improvement, though I’m not sure what you mean by “choose to use legal help”.

      I suspect the civil law system is just too blunt an instrument to solve this problem. An innocent person receiving your letter is still stuck with a choice of paying the 750, paying for legal advice or trying to take care of it themselves as you would and hoping for the best. I think I’m with Sooty–DRM is a more ethical approach here. Better to inconvenience customers than to frighten strangers.

    • Zrzosaar Xun 12 says:

      The founder and one of the bosses of CD-Projekt – Marcin Iwiński – was cracking and selling pirated games as a member of warez group “Katharsis” under nickname of S.S. Capain. He was earning money by selling developer’s games without permission and he got away with it.
      He even gave his home address and phone number in demos playing before the pirated game runs:

      So that people could order pirated games from him.
      ftp://ftp.scene.org/pub/mirrors/amigascne/Scrollers/K-Groupstext/Katharsis/Katharsis-LetsStrip.txt

      Now he’s lying in interviews about how he was importing and selling original American games on market on Grzybowa, but in the good old 90s he’d brag in Gambler magazine about how they put DRM on their cracked games so that other pirate groups couldn’t sell them too.

      Maybe he should now pay several hundred thousands of Euro for every game he cracked and was selling back then? And maybe the company which he founded using his money gained on pirating should be confiscated?

    • RegisteredUser says:

      People keep overlooking the structure of these fines.
      It is not 750 EUR they want for the GAME.

      Usually (going by a C&D a relative received for a single album download) the split is more like 500 EUR lawyer costs(this is why they are such mass-suing juggernauts, because it’s friggin’ easy money out the butt for them..post stamp and a word chain letter + whatever else in work for 500 EUR in return, something a lot of the people they sue haven’t got left over in 2+ months) and 250 EUR actual fine-fine.

      So the 2/3 lawyer 1/3 fine alone shows that it’s all about the lawyer feeding frenzy, who I suspect egg on all the publishers etc strongly, just as much as lobby the government to keep giving them access to this kind of gravy train mechanism in the future.
      The sad truth is that anyone who faces “the machine” that is the legal system is mostly, and rightfully so, deathly afraid of it. Mostly, even if you win anything, you pay more than you “save” by winning.
      Which is sad, pathetic, and in no small part also caused by system clogging by the very people sending out these C&Ds.

      All you “booo pirates must die” whiners keep forgetting that this is not something that only effects 1-2 100% pure evil individuals. Seriously.

      As for deterrent: there is something I have no issue with. I am not against fining someone for something wrong. But the proportion of what 750 EUR mean to person X and to person Y can vary so wildly, it is not even funny. And this is where the actual problem sits.

      Pirates tend to not pirate things because they are bored with spending their millions the normal way and need the thrill of the illegal download. At least not the vast majority of people I have ever known.
      Once they got into solid work and pay and could afford Season boxes of series etc, they bought them. They often admitted that most the stuff they pirated wasn’t that crucial for them to have in the first place, etc.
      All of the things we have argued before and the braindead dey-dook-eer-jeeebs piracy is evil shouters keep ignoring.
      Anyway. Paying three times as much as a game is worth is one thing; paying 10+ times as much is insane. Especially because unlike all your 100% inapplicable real world problems, you cannot ride 100 buses at the same time without a ticket, but you can very well do all of that with downloading.
      Also there aren’t any $1-2000+++ buses like some application suites people/teens might pirate because they are into 3D modeling early on and can’t get access to the software in any other way than by download. Then they enter the labor force with those skills already trained, the economy BENEFITS. Suing their family into the ground first, because under IP logic their having an illegal copy they could never afford creates some virtual butthurt or personal offense(or, yes, of course, is illegal) or w/e, is just plain shortsighted.

      All of this has been going on for decades and there is no black and white way to argue this, ESPECIALLY from the side of all these disgusting white knighty “there is only 100% right or 100% wrong, and you pirate scum are the latter”.

      So, in TL;DR: 2/3 of costs in the fee are from and for lawyers who thus have a major vested interest in keeping this scheme going. Do not overlook this.

  2. Premium User Badge bglamb says:

    So hypothetical question: Would it be better for all of the confirmed pirates to be just taken to court and fined tens of thousands of pounds?

    How about if they were all arrested?

    Suddenly being offered a £750 get-out-of-jail-free card seems less like a threat and more like a present.

    • Synesthesia says:

      well, that’s certainly what they want it to look like.

    • Premium User Badge lasikbear says:

      Would they be fined ten of thousands of pounds? Thats the other issue here, the idea that they would be is strongly suggested by the letter sent out, but is anyone sure that would happen? Same with them going to jail, would that happen? What if the pirate won?

    • Spad says:

      It would be better if fines there were originally designed to deal with large-scale commercial piracy were not applied to individuals pirating single copies for themselves and not making any money from it.

      This is why, in the US for example, if you upload a unauthorised copy of a copyrighted work to a single person, then you could potentially be hit with a fine of $150,000 which is *grossly* disproportionate to the crime.

      The purpose of fines is to punish people, but right now, the fines (and in some cases prison sentences) for non-commercial copyright infringement are utterly destroying people’s lives; it’s akin to being caught speeding and having to pay £60,000 instead of £60.

    • Premium User Badge jrodman says:

      Well seeing how piracy is not an arrestable offense in most jurisdictions, because it’s a civil matter…
      I think we can skip that scenario.

      A lawsuit over this matter is also pretty egregious, because the suit itself is a huge burden, and it can be mistargetted just as easily. In that circumstance as well there is a motivation to ‘settle’ even when innocent, because the process of proving that may be too expensive.

      So i guess it’s a fair question: are threatening letters like this actually more problematic than actual lawsuits?

      The main reason I see that they are is because the bar is so low to mail them. They cost a lawyer’s time to draft the text (sunk cost), some technicians to trawl the IP addresses (amortized across thousands) and a stamp. That’s it.

    • UmmonTL says:

      The thing is that if they were actually taken to court here in germany then CDP would most likely not be able to get anywhere near that amount. I’m not really well versed in our laws and if someone wants to correct me please do.
      As far as I know, even if found guilty the fine you pay goes to the state. CDP would be reimbursed for their loss which is 50€ unless you are found guilty of distributing it. The latter is of course what they are going for but I doubt they could reasonably prove that you actually distributed the game to hundreds of people. The big money in these cases comes from you having to reimburse them for their lawyer and case related expenses and here I have no idea what exactly you can actually be held accountable for. One thing I am reasonably sure about though is that in a lot of cases there are mitigating circumstances and if for example the “thief” is a little kid and the parents live on welfare then the money CDP gets out of it is pretty much zero.

      The reason they go after people in germany is because our ISP’s are allowed to store your connection data for a certain amount of time. Not all ISP’s do this because luckily it’s not mandatory (yet) and it costs them money to do so and selling the data is NOT legal (afaik). The data can be used for legal battles though and since you are held accountable if you don’t secure your network the excuse that someone else must have done it is not quite so easy to make.

      Anyway my point is that I highly doubt CDP would get anywhere near 750€ in more than maybe 10% of the cases. And the people this hurts aren’t the big bad software pirates or even the assholes who download it despite having the money for the game. It’s the uneducated and poor who don’t realize how empty the threat is and don’t have a legal protection insurance they can ask.

    • Premium User Badge lurkalisk says:

      This isn’t a bad deal, but the point of the law should not be petty retribution, it should for prevention and restitution. As such, fining these people twice the cost of the game (you know, prevention) sounds like the reasonable route, but when has a thing like this ever been reasonable?

      Also, this is a common tactic in America to deal with petty theft. Say, if you steal a loaf of bread from market (and they catch you), they’ll likely demand a few hundred dollars not to call the police.

    • Consumatopia says:

      The stupid thing is that those ridiculous, sky-high fines (in the U.S., at least) probably means we end up punishing fewer pirates. If we punished internet piracy like highway speeding (almost everyone knows it’s wrong, almost everyone has done it in their life) then the legal process would be much cheaper and faster, and it would be reasonable to prosecute vastly more pirates. Most people have gotten or know someone who’s gotten a speeding ticket. I don’t know anyone who’s been prosecuted for IP theft. If instead of issuing speeding tickets, we just arbitarily picked a couple of speeders and gave them five or six digit fines, nobody would take speed limits seriously.

  3. Tei says:

    To me, any money put to persecute gamers, is money not invested on the quality of the product.
    Is a waste of time.

    The defining trait of pirates is that “don’t care”. You can burn some pirate alive, and all the others will never know about it. So is a fucking waste of time.

    So wen the devs are not using money to make games, but are using to pay lawyers, I get angry.

    The Witchers 2 was a letdown. I am going to buy The Witcher 3? No. and I will tell other people to avoid The Witcher 2 and any future game from this company.

    • Premium User Badge bglamb says:

      Ummm…..this process is making money, not spending it.

      So The Witcher 3 should be all the better for it, non?

    • Gundato says:

      The thing people tend to forget is: Developers (and publishers) matter too. That’s right, there is a supplier to the games we all consume.

      As a developer, you are putting a large chunk of your life into a game. As a publisher, you are putting a lot of money into a game. To see your hard work pirated so much hurts. I doubt anyone agrees that there is a 1:1 ratio between pirated copies and lost sales, but I also doubt there is anyone who feels that no pirate would ever have bought the game if they couldn’t steal it. The real ratio is in the middle. And, if you work your ass off, you don’t want to SEE those numbers.

      I am sure we have all had our moments of helplessness. When we felt like there was nothing we could really do. So, we try to take any degree of control, if only to act as a security blanket.

      Same deal with DRM and lawsuits. It won’t stop the dedicated pirate (just like all the locks in the world can’t stop a thief who REALLY wants to get in your house), but it can stop the idiots (the car thief who tries a door, sees it is locked, and goes to the next car, rather than smashes a window).

      Now, do you leave all of your doors unlocked because “there is no point” and “it is a waste of money”? I mean, why should you buy a deadbolt if someone can just kick down your door? Same principle here.

      But, by that same token, you don’t get a shotgun and a string and rig up a security system to kill anyone who breaks down your door. You need to find a middleground.

      As far as CD Projekt goes: I fully approve of their approach (assuming they do what they are saying they are doing), but the cost is obscene. I could understand a bit of a penalty (maybe 2x the cost of the game new?) but when they are going for 3 or 4x the cost of the collectors edition, something is wrong.

    • strikerRD says:

      So you don’t condone pirates “breaking” the law… but you approve of multi-million dollar companies breaking the law?

      Okay. Good to know i’m living in this world with a bunch of lunatics.

    • V. Profane says:

      @bglamb do you think this company with the super-secret fool-proof pirate finding technology and the lawyers are working for free? Or even commission only?

    • chackosan says:

      @striker: Your statement would carry a lot more weight if you mentioned how CDP are in fact, breaking the law. They’re most probably breaking some unwritten code of good conduct concerning producer/consumer relations, but the law is another matter entirely.

  4. Lobotomist says:

    I live in the country where pretty much everyone pirates. And the ones that buy the game are viewed as suckers…

    But I believe in developers , especially in CDP and have preordered the game 6 month before it was published, for full price mind you.

    Next CDP game, i am going to pirate.

    I really dont get what they tried to do. They worn shiny white armor and saved the princess than went home and started beating the poor ?

    And in any way , court settlements should be made illegal.

    Here a ritch man drove over a kid with a Jeep, than he settled with the family for lot of money and they dropped charges ?! Money is the new justice …

    If someone stole your games , pirated them. Sue them trough justice system. Let them serve jail or whatever legal penalty for theft.

    What you doing CDP is blackmail, corporate bullying.

    But you are going to get Black Flagged

    • wonderpookie says:

      Out of curiosity – in which country do you live?

    • Lobotomist says:

      Croatia

    • noilly says:

      I don’t see how this follows: Company X does something I don’t like so therefore I can justify stealing from them? How about simply not purchasing or pirating the game?

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      Two things:

      1. Court settlements are not feasible for every crime / case.

      2. Court settlements are pretty much necessary to keep the justice system from becoming totally clogged and ineffective. If every case (especially civil actions, like these here, not penal charges) that comes up has to be fought out infront of a judge, there won’t be any judge available for more important cases.

    • Lobotomist says:

      I am bit overreacting.
      I love CPD and it greatly hurts me they (or should i say the “suits”) decided to act that way.

      People at CDP greatly deserve the money for the masterpiece they made.

      As for justifying stealing:

      I see it this way.
      From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep. You have been stolen from.
      In supermarket, at work, at bank , in pub … etc

      Somewhere along the line men is stealing from me and you. And that is “legal”
      Circumventing the law with blackmail settlement , is legal?

      How is that not stealing ?

    • Kadayi says:

      “I am bit overreacting.”

      No shit.

      People pirated, people got caught and now they’ve been fined. Given they clearly don’t care about the welfare of developers where as claim you do, why do you feel sympathy for the pirates? They’re criminals. Games are entertainment products, not essential human rights.

    • Lobotomist says:

      I do care about welfare of developers.
      But when you put 60$ for a game. Not even 0.0000001$ ends up in the pocket of people that worked on the game.

      In fact , game industry have became known for its horrible treatment of its working force.

      But on other hand people like Bobby Kotick are swimming in money.

      When I put money for indie developer, at least I know that people like Notch are getting the money. Not some corporate investor firm.

      I tell you, I feel no remorse pirating Modern Warfare 3
      In fact , i did it even though i didnt want to play it at all.

      Yet I also went and bought humble bundle. Although I dont want to play (and own (bought)) most of the games there.

      So , you can be a rebel and a crook. Copying games that you want and paying for ones you feel deserve it.

      Or be a good boy and put money in Bobby Kotick pockets

    • chackosan says:

      Sounds like a lot of rationalisation going on. So because only 0.0000001$ ends up in the actual developer’s pockets, the solution is to take that small amount away? So they can see the light and start their own indie company which will inevitably do well and make them lots of money, I assume.

      noilly has it right. If you want to make a stand against a dev/publisher, just ignore their products. Pirating is just self-serving indulgence, it’s better if we’re at least honest about it.

    • Kadayi says:

      “But when you put 60$ for a game. Not even 0.0000001$ ends up in the pocket of people that worked on the game.”

      You want to back that statement up with some evidence please?

    • Agnol117 says:

      @ nolly:

      It’s simple. People want to “protest,” but they don’t want to give up their shiny toy.

    • Lobotomist says:

      First off I never said i am a saint. Nor did I say that what I am doing is right.
      So save your preaching.

      Morality is not crafted by laws of commerce.

      It is what you feel is right.
      And I feel that EA and Activision do not deserve my money. They are making enough as it is.
      CDR(despite this crappy incident) deserve my money. So does any independent developer.
      And I go long way to deliver that.

      Nobody is getting hurt really.

      Just rich are not getting even richer. Well pardon me for that :P

    • Kadayi says:

      Wow, just wow. There’s so much broken in that statement it’s not even worth the time to address tbh.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      You’re telling us about morality now, Lobotomist?

    • Premium User Badge wyrmsine says:

      “People pirated, people got caught and now they’ve been fined.” – Kadayi

      The problem is there’s no evidence of that statement being true. The absence of that proof renders the actions of CD Projekt tantamount to extortion.

    • Lobotomist says:

      I said, i am no teaching or preaching morality.

      60$ is to much for some games.Especially If you are not from UK, or US.

      Yet I surely have bought more games than you this year.

      Honestly. All this pirating debate is wrong.
      People that can will buy the game. People that cant will not.

      Majority of people that play pirated games, would never buy these games even if they couldnt pirate them.

      So whats lost or stolen?

      Nothing.

      Its just greedy publishers making excuses for the game that sold badly because it was bad and overpriced.

    • Verity says:

      If the game is “overpriced” as you say, act as noble people should and just don’t buy it. People who can’t afford fancy, overpriced cars don’t really steal them from some villas, do they?

      CDP can do what they want, I don’t see a problem and as someone has said before, you cannot charge the value of the game if you catch a thief – fine one even 10x as much, fine by me.
      All people here are crying hard over this, no more CDP games ever, and yet a month will pass and all of you will forget, especially if the next game will be widely regarded as great – you’ll be the first to get it. Gamers in the essence, the weakest activist force ever.

  5. applecado says:

    Also, with speeding you are presented with photographic evidence that you sped. This isn’t the case here, they are saying we _think_ you stole

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      This is the crux of the issue. The government’s methods and fines are open to public scrutiny and can be changed by the democratic process if they become particularly unpopular (or indeed fines stay at reasonable levels because of the threat of voter backlash if they didn’t).

      Even very serious cases can be thrown out if it is found that evidence was collected improperly. Yet CDP state they can’t justify their demands for significant amounts of money because it is a trade secret. If they are unwilling to provide evidence then by default we cannot trust their assertions. Otherwise it is to invert the principle of innocent until proven guilty.

    • LionsPhil says:

      +1 to this thread.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Yes, but do remember you are under no obligation to respond to the letter in any way what so ever, unlike a speeding ticket of any other government imposed fine.

      And if they levelled an accusation at you then failed to provide you with their full evidence, the case would be flung straight out of court.

    • DodgyG33za says:

      According to the law in England and Wales: “A person commits theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it.”

      So even if they did have proof, it would not be of the act of stealing, since it doesn’t meet the definition in any country whose law is based on English law. Which is a few.

    • NathanH says:

      Interestingly, at least in the UK, unless they have changed the system in the last few years, the “pay up or bad things will happen to you” letter for speeding does not contain the evidence, it just contains the claim that they have the evidence. So it’s actually quite similar to what’s going on here.

  6. Jumwa says:

    To add to a point: speeding tickets exist to save lives. Piracy threats exist to defend theoretical profits. The difference in motives and goals is broader then the disproportionate gap between the sums demanded.

  7. akeso says:

    The best part of this article is the pictures; each one made me chuckle more than the last.

    Your comments about a speeding ticket being issued from the government is spot on. If CDP believes that someone pirated their game and can prove it then they should forward the information to the local D.A. so that a larceny charge can be issued and investigated.

    This system they currently have amounts to nothing more than litigation based digital vigilantism.

    Frankly they should be more Batman and less Witcher; let the courts do their jobs instead of acting as judge, jury, and executioner :D

  8. Tei says:

    Pirates pirate games and nobody can do anything about it.

    But I will die happy if we hunt the people that as caused that all these videos have a “age check”.

    Killing one person is stealing one person 30 years of his life.

    Creating these stupid rules is stealing maybe 30 minutes of life from maybe 30 million persons. So is literally like killing 6 o 9 persons.

    I propose DEATH PENALTY for the creators of these rules.

    The tragedy of commons. Assholes live happy make the life of everyone a littel worse, maybe stealing 9 billions of dolars in wall street. These people live happy and the law do nothing. Then we put in jail one person for stealing a cow. Or like that UK kid, for linking to warez copys of games.

    Most politicians today are morons useless that know nothing about technology, and make his ignorance as public as possible because are proud of it, and feel make then feel cool, like “a average joe”. Love his ignorance. So stupid laws about copyright pass every day, with big corporations predating our societies to increase profit every quarter. More and more and more, theres not end of this predatory beavior.

    Someone, somewhere, sould put a end to this, we are driven by assholes to a horrible society.

  9. FCA says:

    Thank you for following through on this. Interesting arguments from both sides. Small facts: back in the day, when I torrented software (shame on me, more on that later) I’ve been on the receiving end of legal threats from other game companies (I remember receiving a letter from the legal representative of Bethesda), however they were easily laughed away (different legal system). It is also quite easy to fully determine who was using a certain time: go through the ISP. If the ISP complies with a request for data (a dickish move by the ISP, and depending on the legal system system, could be required by law, or be illegal), but they keep databases who they assigned IP’s to (required by EU law). In Germany, you are responsible for what happens from your IP (so no open access points), so this fully determines who was torrenting.

    Myself, I’m torn on this issue. I think the point of government fines vs. companies doing this is a good one, but the government (at the moment) isn’t doing anything at the moment, so I can see why companies resort to this.
    For the effects on pirates: as a former (repented) pirate myself I see different reasons for pirating software (as CDProjekt is apparently aware of also):
    1. The person who doesn’t have the money.
    2. The person who doesn’t want to pay for “free” stuff.
    3. The compulsive demoer.
    Fear might keep them in line, but what’s needed is a mentality shift. I think CDProjekt with their DRM stance is certainly contributing on one hand, but on the other hand, their actions against individual pirates gives it a certain David vs Goliath view they cannot hope to win. A far better move would be to charge the amount the game cost at the time of launch. Then a pirate not wishing to pay would seem like the dick.
    As for the amount of money they make on this: I think most of the money will go to lawyers, as sadly seems the case for most cases involving them.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Speaking as another former pirate, the idea of fear acting as a preventative measure is just silly. Even if a publisher such as CDP had used their black arts to find my ip, it would probably have been ineffective, as I was a student and therefore subletting and moving houses one to two times a year. I always just gave some money each month to the landlord or sub-letter who actually had a contract with the ISP. So any legal threats would have most likely arrived after I had moved out.

      In any case, the concept of “lost sales” is bizarre and unmeasurable. I stopped pirating games once I got a job and could afford them, and I started buying dozens a year once I discovered digital distribution sales. All of my gaming friends have also stopped pirating games for the same reason.

      My experience is of course anecdotal, but I doubt it is very unusual. CDP is targeting a group that is primarily composed of people who can’t afford games and have no hope of paying fines without serious difficulties. Fining speeders isn’t the right analogy. It’s more like fining homeless people who are guilty of theft. Except those sentences are normally commuted into community service.

    • DodgyG33za says:

      Just because you know an IP doesn’t mean anything. Three people live in this house, with about ten devices that use the internet. The former is not unusual, even if the latter is.

      Sending me (the owner of the account) is extortion because they have NO WAY of knowing which of the occupants of the house may have been streaming, EVEN IF their IP = account mapping is perfect.

  10. Dolar says:

    I am pretty sure their method is the one used by that company that put out the fake Deus EX torrents. That is they are the ones that put out a torrent of the game, but it was modified to report statistics and usage. The Deus Ex one served as a demo like then opened a browser asking pirates to take a survey and offering the game at half price to them.

    This is how they are saying they are 100% sure on piracy rates, It is likey one of the trusted people on one of the big torrent sites was either caught, and his id is being used by this company to release these “Trap” torrents, or people are impatient and these guys will have the torrents up before others would have.

    But that is the big secret, that is what is going on, and why they feel they are so sure. It is also why they won;t give a stright answer

    Here is the story about the Deus Ex thing http://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-company-pirates-deus-ex-in-controversial-experiment-111010/

    • Premium User Badge jrodman says:

      Interesting. In the long run, these types of “attacks” seem to only make the pirates smarter. Ie we’ll probably end up with verification methods for torrent crack validity.

      It seems akin to what many small labels do, actually, although they just put up a really good quality torrent of their music, because they don’t want low quality rips to scare off customers. They typically think it’s good for sales without including any traps.

      Then again, music fans may be a distinct behavioral set from game players.

    • caliwyrm says:

      “am pretty sure their method is the one used by that company that put out the fake Deus EX torrents. That is they are the ones that put out a torrent of the game, but it was modified to report statistics and usage. The Deus Ex one served as a demo like then opened a browser asking pirates to take a survey and offering the game at half price to them.”

      What I don’t understand about ‘honey pot’ traps is how they’re accepted in the court system? If Company_X puts up their own torrent (or authorizes someone to do it for them,, say a tracking firm or law firm) then they are offering it up for download. If it ends up being some crippled version of the game then how can you be charged with copyright violations? It would be like the store owner charging people with theft if they used the “leave a penny/take a penny” jar by the cash register..

      If there method is 100% accurate wouldn’t EA/THQ/Every publisher on the planet be beating a path to their door to use it themselves? But that’s the rub.. WE know they’re full of crap and so do they.. Say I live in an apartment with 3 other people.. Would they sue all 4 of us if one of us downloaded their game? Would they sue just the person who’s name is on the bill?

      I too was once on the wrong side of these extortion letters. I bought a legel product for a legal reason out of Canada. It just so happens that this product could also be used to hack sattelite cards. A year after buying it I got served with a nice little letter demanding $3500 or they’d take me to court where they claimed they would ask for 5x that amount. My prospects were spend probably $4k to prove my innocence by paying a lawyer or pay their extortion. I contacted them personally to ask how they could PROVE I used the device in the way they suggest. In the end, I let my anger get the better of me and told one of their phone reps where he could stick his demands.. Never heard from them again

    • HothMonster says:

      @jrodman

      there have been studies that show that the people who pirate the most music are also the people that buy the most music. I would not be surprised to learn that this carries over to gamers. I can think of 10 gift purchases I made in the last 2 weeks that would never have happened if I hadn’t pirated a game only to find out that I love it and its worth my money, so much so that I spent extra money on it just to share it with other people (and hey devs need christmas presents too).

    • gwathdring says:

      I would expect the correlation to be stronger with music than games though, because I feel like there is a stronger sense of brand loyalty in the music industry as well as a stronger sense of re-playability. I would be very interested to see the results of rigorous study on the matter, though.

    • HothMonster says:

      @gwat

      I could just as easily argue it either way, but yes we need more honest studies. I guess we have to wait for the Swedish government to get around to doing this one too because tehy are the only people who seem to be willing to look at this without bias.

  11. Sheng-ji says:

    I guess – and you may remember me as one of the defenders of the practice – they could contact the user with no legal demands in the initial contact but make it clear that they are gathering evidence and any statement the user gives may be used in court.

    Then, if they aren’t satisfied, they could issue an accusation, lay out their evidence and inform the individual they are considering the level of compensation they require.

    Finally they could then issue a letter giving the 750 euro as the required amount and explaining that the individual has every right to allow a court to consider evidence and set the level of compensation instead, however if they choose to use legal help or they are found to be guilty of the piracy, they will have to pay legal fees.

    This would as far as I could see achieve the exact same thing but in a more open manner.

    • gwathdring says:

      I like that idea. It gives customers more opportunity for personal appeal (and for that matter, legal appeal) in the event of wrongful accusations.

  12. diamondmx says:

    In their defence – their claim of 100% accuracy is not blemished by the single case of ‘bought then pirated’, as the person did pirate the game – which is technically the same crime.

    I think these companies should take the pirates to court, and that monetary damages for piracy should be much lower than they currently are. They should be relative to damage caused, not designed as a punative statement to others.

    If the companies who were pursuing these cases fined a pirate £100-5000, it would probably be fair in the mind of the public – unpleasant to the person fined, and not life-ruining. It’s the fact that the cases suggest a damage value of six figures or more that makes the prosecution seem ridiculous and unjust – a value which is so far out of the realm of possibility that it cannot be true. How can your average adult have possibly given that money to all the companies he pirated from *combined*, let alone a single company, when that person will likely not make that kind of money in decades or a lifetime.

    Simply put, due process and fair punishment is what people expect, even to copyright violators.

    • akeso says:

      Most courts have found that the barrier to entry is the sale and not downloading the product. The minority opinion that the barrier to the to entry is in fact DRM and therefore the crime only occurs when an individual uses a circumvention program or system (a.k.a. a “crack”).

      Considering there was no DRM then the only barrier was purchase. By downloading the product after having purchased it he never technically committed a crime since he had already paid for the product.

      I am not sure about Germany, but in the United States I know that distributing this content wouldn’t technically make him guilty of any crime either unless he was distributing a circumvention tool.
      In this case, the only individuals who can be held liable for a crime is those who install and play the game without having provided the required purchase for entry.

    • diamondmx says:

      Interesting point, Akeso. I concede that I don’t know the details.

    • gwathdring says:

      But since there was no DRM, by distributing the product to others he was assisting them in circumventing the payment barrier. He was also violating his distribution rights granted by the licensing of the sale.

    • HisMastersVoice says:

      It’s easy to block seeding if you want to. I did so when I downloaded a copy Red Faction: Guerrilla, since the one I bought refused to work under any circumstances.

  13. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    2011: the year that consumers became suspects.
    The year that people felt it was ok to let a corporation scan through your personal files and transmit stuff back to the mothership.
    The year that Americans felt it was ok to start censoring the internet.
    The year that games developers felt it was ok to police and fine their audience.

  14. Unaco says:

    If what is here is correct then it’s perhaps unfair to single out CDP for this, when other companies appear to be doing it.

  15. Lobotomist says:

    BTW , one more things on Pirates and DRM

    DRM never stopped any game from being pirated. Even the laughable Assasin Creed “Always On” DRM was cracked in manner of weeks.

    People that pirate will pirate the games.

    There is only one trick that really works:

    Namely you should disrupt the 0Day release.
    After zero day, warez groups lose interest and no good crack is ever made.

    And best way to do that is to make protection similar to Serious Sam3.

    Where crackers think they cracked the game, but in fact they didnt. Making their 0Day release invalid.

    Alas the only way to really stop pirating is in the way Valve is doing it.

    Offer games that are comfortably and easy delivered with great service + cheap prices.
    You maybe dont stop pirating, but you kill at least 50% of it.

  16. SiHy_ says:

    Good luck RPS. I’m not touching this one with a 10 foot clown pole.

  17. alms says:

    It’s hard for me to believe that in a time of economic distress, with young people struggling to find a job and the average buying power ever dwindling, that someone would go around asking people 750 € like it’s pocket change, and also claim they’re not making any money on it. It would only be moronic to risk the image of your firm and alienate today’s buyers, for no reason other than to send a message to “future” pirates.

    I believe them to be smart people and that can only mean they’re blatantly lying.

    The choice of going after pirates in this way is disgusting in itself, and that alone is sufficient to make me decide to never buy a game from these people. But to try and talk themselves out of it while at the same time insulting the intelligence of everyone involved, well I can only hope this thing turns into a massive backlash on CDP.

    • chackosan says:

      It’s hard for me to believe that in a time of economic distress, with young people struggling to find a job and the average buying power ever dwindling, that these people own powerhouse PCs capable of running The Witcher 2, but not enough money to afford the game itself.

      Of course, it’s entirely possible they have extremely cheap computers and pirated the game merely out of uninformed optimism, but somewhat unlikely.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      My PC is four years old. Wasn’t even a “powerhouse” then. It runs TW2 just fine.

      I’ve since lost my job and got another (much lower paying) job.

      Having a pc, in this day and age, is hardly a sign of affluence. Hell, in this day and age, for many people, a pc isn’t even a luxury item. It’s the kind of thing, like say a car, that someone of limited means would scrimp and save for. A poor person can have a pc and still be a poor person.

      Thus, your counterargument is invalid.

    • chackosan says:

      Sorry to hear about your job problems, dude (and I mean that sincerely, not as some form of sarcasm). And that computer’s pretty impressive! Mine was decent when I bought it a year ago. and I wouldn’t call my frame-rate on TW2 ‘just fine’, even without all the bells and whistles.

  18. zeroskill says:

    Instead of scaring people into giving them money (and seriously, who are the people that use TPB and other sites to get games anyway? Kids that don’t have any money? Students?) CD Project should start using their brain and come up with innovative ways to reward and encourage people to buy the game. Coming up with creative solutions and offering better services to your customers is how you build customer confidence and not by bullying money out of innocent people.
    People that have so little creativity and intelligence when it comes to offering services like CD Project don’t deserve any of my future money. Look at what Bethesda does with their upcoming Skyrim Workshop project and moding tools. This will encourage people to buy Skyrim for future years to come. Do I really have to mention Gabe again, who sais the way to battle piracy is by offering a better service to your customers…

    • Wut The Melon says:

      “innovative ways to reward and encourage people to buy the game”
      DRM-free and loads of free bonus content that’s normally only found in CE’s clearly isn’t enough for some…
      “Look at what Bethesda does with their upcoming Skyrim Workshop project and moding[sic] tools”
      Witcher 2′s Red Engine SDK due for free release in 2012.
      Of course you needn’t have quoted Gabe Newell, whose Steam indeed offers good service and prices, because it seems to me CDProjekt already does that. Though it, like any form of DRM, also has it’s bad times at which it’s making just playing a game harder than it should be…(Steam offline mode not working, having to look up on the internet how to install Skyrim from disc instead of by downloading…I still prefer GOG.com’s approach, personally)

    • Wut The Melon says:

      Sorry, comment originally posted here unintentionally.

    • chackosan says:

      What WUT said. A DRM-free marquee title, which is something few other AAA games can boast, was enough incentive for me to buy the game. Very unlikely that CDP will even bother sniffing around in my country, so I doubt there’ll be a false positive in my near future.

  19. Xander51 says:

    This was a great read. I agree with the notion that pirates should be asked for the purchase price of the game first. If that’s ignored, then I think it would be more reasonable to move forward with an escalated threat.

  20. matnym says:

    You only have to pay £60 for speeding?! In Sweden we have to pay at least £200.

    • wonderpookie says:

      I got *TWO* speeding tickets in the space of 20mins once upon a time (I desperately needed a poo!) – that £120 out of pocket hurt like hell. I’d kill myself if I had had to pay £400!

    • Premium User Badge Morlock says:

      60 quid is the retail price for that extra speed.

  21. bagga says:

    I think both you and Nowakowski handled this unusually well.

    I am concerned that CDP will cause more harm with the punishment than the crime. I think it’s safe to assume that people who torrent at least tend towards being poor, even if many of them can technically afford the game. I’m pretty poor myself. If I was coerced into paying €750 it wouldn’t just spoil Christmas, but I would be ruined by bank charges and negative interest that I couldn’t meet. I would not be able to afford rent or food without taking high-interest loans and credit cards. Quite likely this would ruin my life. At a guess, out of those 1000 people, at least a few hundred must be like me.

    This seems to be completely legal behaviour, but ethically? Why not track them down and charge them for a copy of the game? What gives you the right to demand any punishment you like for an injustice to you?

    Obviously there are complications to this issue. The damage done to CDP’s employees. The nonessential nature of the thing being stolen. But putting that aside and looking at this action in itself, this is a textbook example of a company leveraging its financial and legal advantages against people in a ruinous way. If this were any other industry than this we’d call foul in a heartbeat.

    And tactically, putting ethics aside too, previous attempts to dissuade pirates by making examples of some did not work at all. They’re on the wrong side of evidence on this one. If anything this will only make some previously loyal customers more likely to pirate. Me, for one. I loved Witchers 1 and 2. But if I had to choose between a few hundred people getting beggared and me never playing another Witcher game, I don’t think there’s much of a choice. If CDP are intent on following this path then I won’t be buying anything from them again.

    • Premium User Badge Llewyn says:

      Less than a week after GSC’s closure, with the corresponding severe impacts on the people who were working there, I have absolutely no sympathy for those suffering the consequences of taking things they’re not entitled to.

  22. Jimbo says:

    The first half of your article is solid. The back half is very shaky indeed. The difference between zero chance of consequences and a small chance of quite bad consequences is all the difference in the world. The phrase ‘make an example of’ exists for exactly that reason – you don’t need to punish everybody to get people to behave themselves, or even a lot of people, as long as the consequences are strong enough.

    “Oh, and one other thought. Regarding the statement that if someone had bought it, then torrented it after, they would let that go. Why, CDP, is that okay, but someone who torrents it, then buys it, is not? Which is to say, why not send these people letters demanding the €40 for the cost of the game? Since the person who torrents to replace his purchased copy will be uploading just as much as he who pirated before buying.”

    Why do you think? One of those scenarios proves you always had the intention of paying for their game and not just illegally taking a copy, while the other scenario does not. You can’t get out of a theft charge by offering to pay for what you stole after the fact. The company offering to let people off of a piracy charge for the shelf price would just greenlight everybody else to help themselves and only ever pay for anything if they get caught. It would in fact encourage piracy rather than deter it.

    “Hi. We have no records on you.”

    I guess I’m ok! *phew*

  23. tentaclesex says:

    Maybe in Germany, any old jerk can give someone a speeding ticket!

    • codename_bloodfist says:

      The whole thing about Germany is weird. Roughly a year ago they passed a piece of legislation that was designed to protect privacy and prevent tracking through IP addresses. In particular, the idea was that the ISP should not store IP address owner’s name for longer than a day (or something along those lines) and that this information could only be accessed on a person-by-person basis after receiving a green light from a public prosecutor. This would allow the persecution of more serious criminals (e.g. child pornographers, terrorists, etc.), while leaving your average Fritz anonymous. I don’t know if the laws changed, but unless they haven’t this reeks of cheap scaremongering by people who didn’t even bother to do their homework.

  24. Premium User Badge Keirley says:

    I have a real problem with them saying that they can be sure that someone has pirated their game. Even if you can track a download to a specific IP address there’s the very real possibility that someone else other than the person accused was responsible for the act of piracy.

    You can say ‘you are responsible for your internet connection, including who uses it and for what’ but that’s just not feasible in a lot of cases. I rent a room in a house shared by three other tenants, two of whom have live-in partners that aren’t on the tenancy contract at all. There is no way for me to monitor or control what they do with our shared internet connection, even though the connection is in MY name out of necessity.

  25. The V Man says:

    This is really just insane. Let’s start with that nonsensical speeding ticket example:

    “…when you get a speeding ticket or a ticket for causing a car crash or for any other felony – do you consider that a threat?”

    No, it’s not a threat – in that case you have been caught, in person, committing a crime. You must be present to be charged. It doesn’t work like that with IPs – you cannot definitively prove the person you are charging committed the crime.

    If someone spoofs your IP and *you* get the letter it’s tantamount to having your car stolen and getting charged for whatever crime the person who has your car committed (technically you could sell your car and the example still works, worryingly). Holding someone responsible for something you can’t conclusively prove they did or did not do, is wrong. Plain and simple.

    Unfortunately a court may not see it that way for any number of reasons – least of all ignorance and/or misinformation as to how technology works. There are also cases where people are held accountable for things they had no control over – one such incident was before a critical problem was discovered with a specific model of car that could result in the gas becoming stuck and the vehicle accelerating uncontrollably. In this case people died tragically and the poor gentleman driving the defective vehicle was charged for manslaughter, lost everything, and imprisoned for years before the defect was confirmed, and he was freed.

    Such justice.

    On a personal note: I will not be purchasing anything from CDP again. I will also avoid their affiliates and any company even remotely associated with them. I will not condone or support this type of bullying, scaremongering and absolutely abhorrent behaviour.

    I really hope it was worth the lost customers CDP. Better hope you make out well enough in this scam to recoup the lost sales you’ll be seeing.

  26. CedaVelja says:

    No reasonable person would ever be 100% sure of anything.

    For a company that made its name on being fair and reasonable this just doesn’t sound like them, this sounds like something they were forced to do by their publisher or someone else who had stake in their game. Or other game developer who forgot to mention that when they sue pirates they dont make a point of explaining to pirates that they are the ones personally suing them.

    I agree completely with John Walker, it is not their place to “fine” anyone, what they are doing is appalling, completely legal but still appalling.

  27. GrandmaFunk says:

    For the speeding ticket analogy, I think “citizen group X emails driver Y telling him that they saw him speeding and demanding to be paid off or else they’ll take their complaint/info to the cops ” is more the equivalent of what CDP are doing.

  28. gwathdring says:

    I agree with you about the letters, but I very much appreciated this part of CDP’s response:

    “As for the unauthorised duplication not counting as a lost sale – I guess this is not so simple really. I agree in some cases people just download “whatever” to have a look but would not buy otherwise, but there are also quite a few people who have financial means, have interest but feel that they should not pay becaue it is out there for free. It is this last group that is the most problematic, and I do not feel fine with this way of thinking, and we have never officialy supported this kind of behavior.”

    And since it is impossible to definitively prove intent in such cases, I would lean towards assuming all people who intentionally download a file illegally and can be positively identified can be reasonably punished for piracy. Then it becomes a matter of punishing said pirates in a likewise reasonable way … this mass-mailing thing is not that way.

  29. Premium User Badge Keymonk says:

    Can you really call the guy who owned the game he pirated a false positive? Sure, he had a reason to do it (and was left alone as a result), but he -was- a positive because he did pirate it. He just had an excuse to get out of it. So no, this does not count as a case wherein he was wrongly accused. He was rightfully accused, but had an excuse/reason.

    Not that I’m saying it’s okay to mass-mail and all that – but this is not a false positive.

  30. Blackcompany says:

    Well done, John. Well done indeed sir. Kudos for sticking with this. And for sticking up for your own beliefs despite backlash.
    .
    I support John 100% on this. I also agree with him.
    .
    John is not turning a blind eye to piracy. He is not supporting piracy. Piracy is a crime. For criminal activity we have court systems, legal procedures and systems of punishment. If CDP Red feel someone is guilty of piracy, they must file charges and dispute the matter in court. This is the legal means by which you accuse another of a crime against your person or entity, corporate or otherwise.
    .
    CDP steps around the law. They try to live outside of the law. This might not be blackmail. Might not. It is definitely extortion.
    .
    Please understand John’s position – and my own. The guilt or innocence of the alleged pirate is immaterial. It is a matter for the courts, for the legal process. By no means and under no law of which I am aware is permissible for CDP to circumvent the law, dream up some arbitrary sum of money and then threaten people in order to convince them to pay that sum. This practice might – might – not qualify as blackmail, but it borders on extortion.
    .
    It is not the guilt or innocence of the alleged pirate John is discussing here. It is the practice by which CDP is trying to prosecute people outside of the law. That is the matter up for debate, not the alleged guilt or innocence of a hypothetical pirate.

    • Rusty says:

      Not exactly. CDR has a civil case against pirates; the local government – in these cases, apparently the local German government – has a criminal case. It’s the same act, but different causes of action. For example, if I were to punch you in the nose, the government could throw me in jail for it – that’s the criminal case. However, you could also sue me for the damage I did to your nose, and conceivably get punitive damages for my being a nose-punching twat – that’s the civil case. Same punch, two different cases (causes of action, more specifically).

      You could also offer to settle your civil case against me for less than your full damages, to save time and avoid the uncertainty of a trial – and if you had me dead to rights, I’d probably agree. That appears to be what CDR is doing.

  31. DiamondDog says:

    Interesting. There are many more people here with a better grasp of this so my thoughts are redundant. All I will offer is, the candid nature of Michal Nowakowski’s replies make me hope that there isn’t a knee-jerk hostile reaction to CDP. The internet doesn’t take much to work itself up into a frenzy. I don’t like it, but I don’t think CDP have suddenly turned into a consumer hating evil corporation.

    If they really are working on individual cases then I really hope they make sure innocent people aren’t getting stung by this.

  32. Galefury says:

    750€ is way too much, something like 200€ would be reasonable IMO. But other than that I don’t see anything wrong with what CDP does, assuming everything Nowakowski said is true.

    - They warned people they would do this.
    - They tried to eliminate all reasons to pirate their game, releasing it without DRM at a reasonable price.
    - They seem to care about not threatening innocent people.

  33. der jester says:

    They probably have to charge a 750 fine to pay for their piracy investigation company, which still makes no sense. I think they’d actually make money if they uploaded their own torrent of the game that included a note that say “Hey, if you pirated this, can you consider paying for it? Here’s a link to buy the game from us.” No paying a third party to make your company look bad. I can’t imagine this has resulted in more sales for them. They’re basically charging pirate so they can pay someone to “investigate piracy” and give them bad PR.
    I don’t pirate because it’s easier for me to go to steam and buy something. I know the majority of the my payment is going to content creators instead of middle men that don’t enhance my experience at all, plus I don’t have to figure out if something is a game and not a virus, or if it’s actually going to work or not.

    As an aside, I think it’s funny that speeding, which is a crime because you might kill people, carries a fine of 60, and pirating a video game (arguably a victimless crime [I said arguably!]) is more than 12 times the fine.

  34. codename_bloodfist says:

    Very nice interview. To make it perfectly clear though, if an angry revolutionary mob was chasing after this kind gentleman, I would be the last person to speak in his defence. A man who sees this course of action as justified is not a man worth any respect. –copyright holder of several works

  35. Tim Smith says:

    CDP is completely justified to do what they’re doing. You’re obviously mentally deficient if you don’t get the idea of a deterrent. Deterrent. Deterrent. DETERRENT. And you’re there going “This doesn’t do anything about piracy.” How is what they’re doing hard to understand? If you pirate something, you deserve what you get, fuck ya.

    • Premium User Badge RobF says:

      Or maybe people just grasp things like, I dunno, taking things through the courts and innocent until proven guilty as the basis of a pretty reasonable society to exist in and not allowing corporations to ride roughshod over people for the sake of their continued existence.

    • codename_bloodfist says:

      Yes, Tim, and the people in Texas are executing criminals as a DETERRENT. DETERRENT! Guess what, genius? It doesn’t fucking work.

    • Tim Smith says:

      @codename_bloodfist I agree with your analogy anyway.

    • Premium User Badge jrodman says:

      codename bloodfist:
      Well… deterrence is more complex than that. It works in some cases, when the result is quite scary, and the action is not emotionally charged, and the action is not very necessary, and the committer is well informed and capable of estimating risk reasonably.

      In the death penalty case, multiple parts of this break. We give the death penalty for violent crimes that are nearly always emotionally charged, which means reason is typically not engaged. Additionally, in such circumstances people can typically not make good risk estimates.

      In this piracy case, the result is fairly scary — it’s unclear if it is scary enough to work. They’re trying to get the committers well informed, but we’ll see how that plays out. I doubt most people will be. Additionally, I very seriously doubt they will be willing to see it as a significant risk until someone they personally know is sued — and talks about it.

    • RakeShark says:

      Actually, we execute people in Texas because we don’t feel like feeding them 3 squares for 40-60 years.

      It’s a practical problem. Death is no deterrent to the stupid/crazy/drunk.

  36. Rusty says:

    I understand and to some extent share the outrage. However, it might be worth distinguishing between a crime and a tort. The act of piracy is both. What CDR is doing addresses the tort. I don’t know much about civil law torts, but in common law (UK/Canada/most of the US), the standard of proof is pretty different and a lot of the stuff you see on TV about the rights of the accused doesn’t apply.

  37. MrPo0py says:

    Thank you for bringing this to light. Game Journalism needs more coverage of these kind of things.

  38. SalsaShark says:

    I feel bad as i was quite vocal in my support for the things CDP were doing. I’m sure those baby killing pirates cost them billions but their unethical behavior has cost them a loyal customer in me.

  39. mr.ioes says:

    “It is DRM-free, which means we really had to go through huge efforts with our publishers to make this happen so that people can enjoy the game without the hassle that pirated copies are already circumventing.”
    Oh yeah, thanks. Thanks for badly implementing a copy protection (6-45 fps drop!) and being so generous as to remove it after a week.
    Thanks CD Projekt.

    Also, I don’t believe that the people who payed 700+ € will be your future customers.
    Oh, and another lie. The money CDP earns through those letters isn’t a “petty sum”.

    And before I forget: “We’ve seen some of the concern online about our efforts to thwart piracy, and we can assure you that we only take legal actions against users who we are 100% sure have downloaded our game illegally.”
    I downloaded it illegaly to get more fps. But I also bought it full price. I bet people like me are counted in this statistic too. I am a pirate? Don’t feel like it.

    “It beats me that, honestly speaking, we are being spoken badly about because we are trying to deter people from illegal access to our title.”
    Simple. Charge 150€ instead of 700€ like it was done with Gothic 3 (and Two Worlds?) and EVERYTHING is fine.

    You are potentionally ruining people’s lifes (given that e.g. a child downloaded it and parents who barely live by their income have to pay). This doesn’t sound like a superfictional scenario to me.

    CDP sure lost me as a customer after having bought both Witcher games if they continue this dubious practice.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      You are potentionally ruining people’s lifes

      Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

    • RakeShark says:

      Don’t go in there, you’d best beware, don’t feed the bears.

  40. Galefury says:

    Regarding the claim that others are doing it too: searching for software on the linked German website gives 10+ results, among them DXHR, Dungeon Siege 3, DIRT 3, Gothic 4 and Tropico 4. So the list doesn’t seem to be huge, but they’re definitely not the only ones.

  41. Premium User Badge jrodman says:

    I’d like to understand the method of identifying people better. If the system is “trust us” combined with threatening legal letters which could border on extortion, I will not trust. In fact, I’d like to better understand the legal relationship between cd project and gog.com. Maybe I should not give gog.com any more money.

  42. vecordae says:

    I understand, as an alleged human being, how frustrating it is to see a bunch of teenagers and twenty-something smirking to themselves about anything, let alone how they stole a copy of the video game I cobbled together out of fortran and hate. CDP is made out of people and sometimes people want to get back at those they feel have wronged them.

    This isn’t the way to do it. Contact that legal firm, cancel your contract, and hire some proper investigators or work with the constabulary to get this done properly.

  43. Premium User Badge Lambchops says:

    I’m honestly not sure where to stand on this. I don’t really know the legal ins and outs of it at all. For example would piracy court cases in the UK (I appreciate Scotland and England may actually differ in regars to this sort of thing) be civil or criminal? I guess it depends on whether piracy is considered as “theft,” which would be criminal and the presumably subject to some sort of limited fine/custodial sentence.community service depending on what was deemed appropriate or whether it’s seen as adebt owed and therefor a civil case which would go through small claims and be pretty much entirely pointless to pursue for such a small amount of money.

    Like I say i don’t know where the law stands on this sort of thing beyond a vague recollection that facilitating piracy can be met with jail times and fines (seem to remember someone getting charged for creating pirate copies of films on his mobile).

    From an ignorant standpoint I’d certainly sending letters demanding large sums of cash seems disproportionate and doesn’t appear to be going through proper legal channels (at least it wouldn’t be in the UK and that is presumably why it isn’t happening). Seems to me that if you could indeed verify that someone was pirating (lets leave the issue of whether this is possible or not to the side for now) then charging for the cost of the game + any legal fees incurred by the company to start court proceedings seems the fairest way to do things. That way the person accused has a chance to defend themselves if innocent (and the company filing the claim will be left with the court fees, which should deter them from starting procceeding unless they are genuinely 100% sure about the piracy) and will presumably have to pay back enough money for it to be a detterent (I’ve no idea how much court fees would be).

    i’m just making that up as I go along but it seems to fit with my sense of what is fair.

  44. HothMonster says:

    End Piracy! but not like this :(

  45. Paul says:

    I love CDP and The Witcher franchise. I despise people that pirate those games. But I do not condone this. I hope CDP will stop doing it, and so will other publishers and devs.

  46. Drake Sigar says:

    I was going to point out what a crock of shit the speeding ticket example was, but you seem to have everything covered. Good show old chap (though the last quarter of the article looked iffy). I haven’t seen such bogus reasoning since CCP Games heavily implied a virtual pair of jeans should cost the same as a real world pair of jeans.

    CD Projekt ask why they’re the ones being targeted. It’s because they had an abundance of goodwill built up from a sterling reputation, and they’re throwing it away for a crazy experiment that is deeply and morally wrong, on a whole other level compared to the despicable business practises of modern corporations.

  47. Dariune says:

    Im kinda behind CDP on this one.

    Im not sure their scare tactics are ok. Much better would be to send a letter / email / whatever saying we believe you might be pirating our software, please prove you arent or we may have ot take legal action etc.

    But i understand why they are doing it and feel it is justified. I dont think its ok for someone to pirate a game, see if they like it and if they do then buy it. There is enough material on games to be able ot get a good idea of its quality and if you dont like the game, do not buy from that developer again.

    Same as everything else. The company did not intend for the consumer to try before they buy so i dont feel its up to the consumer to steal the game, try it and then decide. Not to mention that there are plenty of people out there just pirating it, playing it without any intentions of buying it.

    I know quite a few and im vocal with my disapproval. If you want something … buy it! Support the company and hope that products you want keep getting made.

    • HothMonster says:

      On the flip side what about all those games that I would have put in the “meh looks interesting but I don’t want to get burned” category but I instead pirated and loved and therefore bought a copy for me and my lady as well as several additional copies for friends on steam sales? I know quite a few indie devs that would be out of quite a few copies of there game if I didn’t help myself to a free demo because I didn’t think it was worth 15$s to find out if I like it.

    • Dariune says:

      @HothMonster I would say the following.

      That first off all, whether you like the way the developers sell their game or not, its not up to you to pirate it first and maybe buy it later. As i said, there is enough material about the game for you to get a fairly good opinion of what its like and whether you will buy it or not.

      And secondly I think people who pirate a game and then buy it are fewer than those who pirate a game and then dont go on to buy it. I have nothing ot back that up, its just opinion.

      Its stealing. I understand the arguents to say that its ok. I just dont agree with them. And just because you can steal a game doesnt mean its ok regardless of how you justify it to yourself. (Not you particularly, you the general you)

    • HothMonster says:

      I understand what you are saying and fully understand that piracy is a problem. I just don’t think all the effects of piracy are bad and think it would be rather stupid to throw the baby out with the bathwater because no one wants to have an honest discussion about the matter. And by “no one” I mean the RIAA, MPAA, and the foreign(to me) equivalents who continue to cloud the debate and only help to polarize people.

      As far as it being the devs choice as to how I preview the game….yeah I get it but I got a pile full of broken dreams from being a child of the 80s spending his minimum wage salary on steaming piles of horseshit that were advertised well. Let alone the broken games that no one ever got around to fixing. I look at it like this, if I am curious about a console game I will borrow it from a friend (as I did on PC back in the day when DRM was a piece of paper you could loan someone) and try it, torrenting is the modern pc equivalent. Even still I sometimes get suckered into buying horseshit, I’m looking at you Homefront, piracy is my consumer protection. I spend a massive amount of money on games a year, if I can filter out a few bullshit titles (or good games I just don’t like) I am gonna do it. But am fully aware this makes me an outlaw and a badguy in the eyes of many.

      Cue “whatever you want to say to justify your filthy habits you dirty whore” comments in 3.2.1:

  48. V. Profane says:

    I’d rather have had DRM on the Witcher 2 than them pulling this shit.

  49. doggod says:

    Thankfully i no longer live in Germany,
    on a side note are you also responsible for what happens if a thief steals your car and proceeds to mow down people ?

    Anyway currently in Ireland
    “The Data Protection Commission has given Eircom 21 days to respond to its decision to instruct the operator to halt its ‘three strikes’ policy against music piracy”

    In 2008 Eircom basically decided to allow as part of a court case settlement
    ( I believe it was out of court )
    that it would impliment a ‘three strikes’ policy against music piracy” where the music industry basically said this ip address downloaded such and such

    Another company UPC a cable operator fought the same claims made by the music industry and won because the court did not believe it was possible to equate an ip to a person with 100% reliability.

    Full article here
    http://www.siliconrepublic.com/comms/item/25072-eircom-has-21-days-to/

    Im a customer of CDP but to me this action makes them as bad if not worse than the pirates they believe they are defending themselves against. If their methods are 100% effective give the matter straight to the courts of the land to sort out.

    These days I’m beginning to feel less and less for any company that hides behind a EULA. I cant understand why they even continue to use the language of lawyers in them when everyone of them boils down to “F*ck you we have your money you don’t have a leg to stand on”.

  50. Dariune says:

    Double post