Legal Threats Endemic Among Games Pubs

By John Walker on January 16th, 2012 at 10:55 am.

Fishface.

Last week we celebrated CD Projekt RED’s decision to back down from the practice of demanding cash settlements from alleged pirates. The gambit, that subverts the legal process of innocent until proven guilty, and is based on threatening people with spurious lawsuits with only flimsy, unreliable IP evidence, has been condemned on many occasions, and when tried in the UK led to some rapid backtracking. Many have viewed it as extortion, frightening people into paying fees in the region of €800 in order not to have to go to court to prove their innocence or argue against the notion of piracy equating to lost sales. And as TorrentFreak revealed yesterday, it’s something being done by a huge proportion of the publishing industry.

Currently taking advantage of Germany’s appalling privacy laws, TorrentFreak alleges, are Koch Media, Techland, LucasArts, Square Enix, Codemasters, Kalypso, Daedalic, dtp entertainment, and Aerosoft.

The dubious practice involves hiring specialist law firms who trace IPs to see whether they have been downloading their clients’ selected products, and then fire off a scary letter to the address associated with that IP. The inherent failings of such a technique hardly need expanding, since an IP address no more usefully identifies a person than the number of a public payphone people happen to be walking past. (While most of those vocally against this affair only focus on the very likely possibility of inaccurate accusations, I also believe that even an accurate identification is still a morally corrupt practice. The use of threats, fishing for large chunks of cash on the basis of spurious lawsuits with which they’re usually desperately hoping you won’t proceed, demanding vastly inflated sums (most of which are taken by the lawyers, it’s worth noting), is as wrong as any alleged piracy. You may disagree and believe these people deserve what they get. I believe that such immoral action is flat-out wrong, and a crime is only identified after proof is presented.)

Alleged by TorrentFreak, the games currently in question are Atari’s Alone In The Dark, Test Drive Unlimited, and Test Drive Unlimited 2; Techland’s Dead Island and Nail’d; Daedalic’s (and in turn LucasArts’) Euro distribution of Tales Of Monkey Island; Square’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Just Cause 2; Koch’s distribution of Techland games and Ubisoft’s Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, Agrar Simulator 2011, as well as both Painkillers; Codies’ Operation Flashpoint: Red River and DiRT 3; Kalypso’s Airline Tycoon 2, Tropico 3 and 4; dtp’s Cities XL 2012; Aerosoft’s City Bus Simulator, Airbus X; and many others.

With legal firms taking about 3/5 of the “fines”, and an average fee of €800 being demanded, it means the publishers are pulling in a tidy €300 per person on average. With thousands of letters being sent out at a time, that means potential hauls of a good half million Euros, minimum, each time. As I previously explained, internationally with a 0.001% chance of receiving a letter when pirating a game, it’s not a deterrent in any meaningful form. Some will be scared by rumours, sure, but not many. It seems to me it’s a rush to make some cash, and a sop to shareholders to give the impression of doing something, until either a ruling is won in the favour of a pirate, or everyone’s reputations are too badly threatened by the public’s awareness.

Of course games publishers are not the only people involved in this cash grab. Germans are being plagued by multiple law firms representing those from film, television and books. We’re hearing from many receiving these letters, and some who are prepared to take them to court. We will keep you up to date with their progress.

RPS would like to see every publisher and developer involved in this disturbing business follow CDP, and stop immediately. We’ve contacted all of them to ask if they are willing to defend the practice, or whether they will also call a halt to it all. And we certainly be getting back to you with their responses.

Edit: We’ve heard back from Ubisoft that they no longer pursue such claims. They gave us a statement saying,

“Ubisoft has not issued any legal claims similar to those mentioned in the Torrent Freak item in over 3 years”

According to the data we’ve seen, Ubi have not directly pursued this since hiring a firm to collect on three games in 2007, so we’re delighted to make it clear they’re not in the current round. We’re finding out if they’re aware of Koch’s actions with their games.

Atari also replied explaining,

“Atari is not targeting consumer file sharers in Germany or any other jurisdiction in Europe.”

However, the figures we’ve seen show that Test Drive Unlimited 2 was being pursued last year by lawyers Schwarz/Kelwing/Wicke/Westpfahl. We’re asking for more details about this confusion.

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113 Comments »

  1. MellowKrogoth says:

    Thanks for bringing these dirty practices to the light.

  2. Cryo says:

    I’m just amazed that somebody would pirate Alone In the Dark or Kane & Lynch 2…

    • Hulk Handsome says:

      You’d be less amazed if people actually paid for them?

    • Knufinke says:

      Hey Kane & Lynch 2 is awesome. It shits all over you because it loves you. It’s like a gentle kick in the balls. I adored every mental second of it and the game was absolutely loathesome. It has the best endboss ever and the boss itself was quite underwhelming, it’s just… just… it’s a beautiful piece of excentric bullshit.

      I’m trying to make sense here, stay with me. God I’m terrible at this, sorry.

    • bill says:

      There actually seems to be clear evidence (which i can sympathise with) that people tend to pirate things they don’t expect to be great. If you look at the top pirated movies over the last few years they mostly consist of ones that are either “huge blockbusters aimed at young men” or “poorly reviewed movies that people don’t want to risk paying for”.

      I mean, if you’d been reading about how terrible Uwe Boll’s movies were and became intrigued, would you be more willing to shell out the cash to find the truth, or would you put that cash towards a sure thing like Batman Rises?

    • alundra says:

      Exactly my very first thought, of the bunch only DXHR is worth anything with Batman AA coming up second. The real deal here are companies trying to blame their failures on piracy rather than taking responsibility of the shit they are dumping on us.

      In the end, it still is the same terrorist tactic, trying to scare people into paying instead of taking them to court.

    • InternetBatman says:

      @Bill In games that attitude finds its truest example in Crysis. It’s a game that is downloaded eleventy billion times a year because people want to see if it runs or stress test their system, not because they want to play it.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      HAHA! Yes. Crysis (though I do own it) was the first game I fired up to test my new system. It ran awesome. Them I quit.

      Done the same with every system. Have never actually played the game beyond the first 15 minutes.

    • ShrikeMalakim says:

      @InternetBatman: Which is kinda sad. I quite enjoyed Crysis single-player. It was a corridor shooter, sure, but dem were some mighty wide corridors.

    • Hulk Handsome says:

      @DXN I can’t disagree more. I bought it for $5 after a friend kept recommending it and I still feel ripped off. Has to be one of the most boring, pointless games I’ve ever played. The camera style and aesthetic are the only things I liked about it, everything else was tedious, sloppy or just plain boring.

  3. DestructibleEnvironments says:

    What’s wrong with your faaaace!

    All PC developers obviously need to get rid of DRM and switch to steam. End of ze fable.

  4. Sergey Galyonkin says:

    This practice is several years old. My friends from Germany received this kind of letter because his daughter supposedly downloaded some movie. He replied that he is ready to take it to court, because he is sure in the end they will pay him and never heard from any of these legal firms ever since.

    It is bullying with a license.

  5. Jumwa says:

    I find it absurd that the punishment for piracy is so grossly out of proportion with comparable crimes. At least in this country, if you get caught shoplifting (you know, stealing an actual product from a company that they are then missing, not just copying it) you face the nuisance of arrest. Hypothetically they can fine you at your court appearance, though judges wont bother if the root cause of your stealing in the first place was because you were a poor sod (they tend to think fining the poor for stealing only pressures them to steal again; radical sorts).

    But… therein lays the importance of an actual, fair judicial proceeding. You get your day in court, evidence is presented against you, if found guilty a trained and experienced judge will levy a ruling that is reasonable and in proportion to what you did and are able to bear.

    However, judges and the legal system (in this country at least; Canada; I can’t speak for other countries) tend to be far more reasonable and realistic than the angry internet commenters and corporations seeking an easy payoff.

    • NathanH says:

      On the other hand, being convicted of shoplifting will probably give you a criminal record, which could cause you far more significant problems depending on your job.

      To be honest even if you’re guilty in these piracy cases you’re probably better off not paying the compensation they demand. You’d have a decent chance in court, although it’s risky, but you’d definitely be better off negotiating the level of compensation. These sorts of civil cases often seem to start with very high demands but a willingness to go lower.

    • drdss says:

      Unless you’re a 60 year old celebrity chef doing the shoplifting of course, in which case you just go to the papers claiming it was due to being abused as a child, and start spinning it into free publicity.

      Cynical, me?

    • AlexV says:

      Actually they’re doing almost exactly this for shoplifting too:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/watchdog/2011/04/civil_recovery.html

    • Jumwa says:

      @NathanH

      It’s definitely not a perfect system, and yes, giving a criminal record to someone who has financial problems only exacerbates the issue and makes them more likely to reoffend. It’s something I’d like to see changed, because the courts themselves have no control over that.

      It’s easy for people to rage online about punishment and what an offender deserves, but having grown up poor, and watched people I know go through shoplifting proceedings, then struggle with a criminal record for the rest of their lives complicating their efforts to earn a decent living. So yeah, it sucks, but so does this.

  6. Dasos says:

    This is actual journalism, and it’s FANTASTIC.

    • John Walker says:

      Credit for that goes to TorrentFreak, really.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Second hand journalism is news analysis right?

      Great news analysis then, it’s actually got a “I think X is wrong/right” too, so it’s totally like news analysis.

    • Unaco says:

      I’ll put this here as well, since it’s relevant to ‘RPS’s Investigative Churnalism Journalism’ on this case.

      Just to point out… But several people already pointed this out when the original CDPR story broke, over a month ago, and were largely ignored. Here and, here. Also, this isn’t some big scoop by Torrentfreak. The German law firm, Rechteinhaber, is quite open about what they do, and have been sending out letters for months, advertising the fact on their website.

      Shame on you RPS for piling on CDPR and singling them out when they were far from being the only ones, and getting so late to reporting this. And shame on TorrentFreak for taking their time… they must have known about this for months! Why would they hold back for so long?

  7. Lobotomist says:

    There are companies like CDP that actually care about consumer , and than there are these other companies like Atari, Lucas, Ubisoft

    • John Walker says:

      Uh, CDP were threatening people too, until people made a fuss. Let’s see if those other companies will do the same.

    • Lobotomist says:

      Agreed on that. And actions should be made, and generally work. But…

      What I meant is that CDP generally cares about players. While Atari (especially, but others too) are just few investors that doesnt know, care or understand gamers.

      Dont think they even know this site exists

    • Bonedwarf says:

      I bought the first Witcher. Want the second but after CDP’s actions, nope, not happening. Could have gotten it over Christmas during the sales.

      Fact is there is SO much good stuff out there, any company that pops up on my radar and acts like a dick, and that’s what CDP did, then they get knocked off the list and someone else gets my money.

      And before some cock waving anti-piracy sycophant comes in and starts blathering, it has nothing to do with defending piracy, and EVERYTHING to do with not wanting to fund a company who think abusing the legal system is acceptable.

      Just because you disagree with one side, that being CDP’s actions, doesn’t mean you automatically side with the other. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Any idiot should have learned that in kindergarten.

    • Burning Man says:

      What I like about CDP is that they discussed why they were doing it openly, while they were still doing it. Their answers were human and not full of marketing garbage. And then they rescinded it because they realized that their playerbase really really didn’t like it.

      Try getting any of the publishers mentioned to do any of these things.

  8. Casimir Effect says:

    That 0.001% figures was absolute crap by the way as the figure of 4.5 million downloads was worldwide while this stuff is only happening in Germany. You need to re-adjust after making a guess based on how many downloads occur in that country, and I imagine that will make the 4.5 million shrink quite a bit.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      John’s journalistic talents seen to shrink as RPS grows, sadly. He is basically calling for the abolition of a companies rights to sue an individual, even if they’ve been proven to have wronged the company.

      While that may have a great draw to the uneducated masses, thus boosting the popularity of his website even more and pocketing him even more money, as does throwing out wildly inaccurate figures based on speculation – sadly it is making RPS the equivalent of the Daily Mail. He’s identified an audience and he’s pandering to them to the point of making up facts.

      Sad.

    • KikiJiki says:

      Sheng-Ji, I’m going to have to assume that you’re trolling for a reaction here, since the alternative is a bit worrisome.

      You say that individuals have been proven to have wronged a company, and this argument is terrible because of two facts in how these cases are worked.

      1) An IP address is not an individual, it’s an address which can be shared by many people as in real life.
      2) There’s no reliable way of proving that any particular pirate has actually directly damaged the company accusing them of doing this (please note the use of the word reliable).

      There’s nothing wrong with John reposting an article from TF and giving his own input into it, and it’s not pandering to anyone particularly.

    • Zakski says:

      an IP address isn’t proof of anything really.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Neither trolling nor looking for a reaction, just voicing my opinion.

      I am well aware that an IP address only accurately identifies someone if they haven’t used software to conceal their identity, however, John’s statement:

      ” I also believe that even an accurate identification is still a morally corrupt practice” proves that even if IP addresses were 100% accurate, his stance would still be exactly the same. Thus he disagrees with, from what I can tell the practice of a company suing an individual if that individual has wronged the company. Which is a really stupid argument if taken to it’s natural conclusions.

      I don’t think it’s inaccurate to conclude that piracy hurts the gaming industry and I don’t think it’s wrong to conclude that an individual pirate who has downloaded a game and played it for free, uploaded it to other users and facilitated others playing it for free has undoubtedly wronged the company. Damaged is debatable, but wronged is not.

      EDIT: And you are correct that there is nothing wrong with him reposting an article and adding his own comment to it, but when he presents figures that are inaccurate, it’s hardly stellar journalism. I’m not criticising his point of view, only the way in which he presented it.

    • John Walker says:

      Actually, Sheng-ji, attitudes like yours are extremely common in response, so were I pandering I’d be writing about how great all this is.

      That figure is accurate, since this practice is in no way limited only to Germany. It happens to be having a heyday there of late, but is frighteningly common all over the world.

      And for someone so astonishingly angry because a statistic is slightly confused, you might want to give a sliver of evidence for any of your extraordinary claims about how piracy is definitely hurting the games industry. If you’ve this evidence, then you must share it!

    • Unaco says:

      Frighteningly common? Got a source for that?

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I’ll quote myself as you clearly didn’t bother to read what I wrote.

      Damage is debatable, wronged is not.

      If you have released a game and that game is being distributed without your permission and without you recieving the payment you asked for it, you have been wronged.

      EDIT: It may be astonishing to you how angry people seem to be, though how you can assume I’m angry at all when the only evidence you see is a passage of text – I mean, your response sounds pretty angry too, but I don’t believe for a second that you are – but while it may be astonishing to you that I seemed angry from your publishing of an inaccurate/misleading statistic, the simple fact of the matter is that the practice of doing so by anyone with journalistic muscle, as you know you have, causes reactions. In this case, you may very well get more German citizens issued with these letters because they believe your shoddy maths and come to the conclusion that 0.01% is a risk worth taking.

    • Dariune says:

      My opinion sits right in between that of RPS and Sheng JI.

      I dont agree with the current method being used to bully potential pirates. I feel both the bullying and the fact that these pirates are only potential are the two main problems.

      There would need to be a conclusive means of locating people who pirate software or there would need to be a more tactile means of communicating with potential pirates.

      Im of the mind set that pirating is not a good thing. Im sure there are cases where individuals have pirated something, liked it and then bought it but I would say that this occurs far less frequently than someone who could buy a game merely pirating to have some £££s.

      Therefore i do feel that steps should be taken by companies to prevent this happening.

      On a side note, I think its fine that you express your opinion but just because this is the internet, there is no need to be so abrupt when people challenge it.

    • D3xter says:

      They’re not “sueing” anyone brah, they’re just sending letters to random people, hoping that it’ll catch, some of those random people sometimes even turn out to be old ladies without internet: http://torrentfreak.com/retired-computerless-woman-fined-for-pirating-hooligan-movie-111222/ or dead people: http://betanews.com/2005/02/04/riaa-sues-deceased-grandmother/ (although they did sue in the second case, but it was the same “IP-based” method of doing it).

      If this would involve going through the legal procedures, costing them something and a judge and everything being involved and them having to PROVE that the person did what they claim they did it would be another matter.
      That’s the problem, it doesn’t have to be factual or true, they could aswell throw a brick through people’s window saying “pay up, or else!”

    • D3xter says:

      They’re not “sueing” anyone brah, they’re just sending letters to random people, hoping that it’ll catch, some of those random people sometimes even turn out to be old ladies without internet: http://torrentfreak.com/retired-computerless-woman-fined-for-pirating-hooligan-movie-111222/

      //BREAK because I’m not able to paste more than one link in a single post without “awaiting moderation” and that comment further up will still be “awaiting moderation” 3 days from now//

    • D3xter says:

      // CONTINUATION //

      or dead people: http://betanews.com/2005/02/04/riaa-sues-deceased-grandmother/ (although they did sue in the second case, but it was the same “IP-based” method of doing it and they have a lot more leeway to do that for millions and ruin people based on it in the US).

      If this would involve going through the legal procedures, costing them something and a judge and everything being involved and them having to PROVE that the person did what they claim they did it would be another matter.
      That’s the problem, it doesn’t have to be factual or true, they could aswell throw a brick through people’s window saying “we know what you did, pay up, or else!” sometimes even just scaring people into paying up or parents doing it anyway because they’re scared about their children knowing they use the internet or whatnot.

    • alundra says:

      Sheng-ji what the f**k are you talking about??? This is not about companies’ right to sue an individual, it’s about them taking the law in their own hands and blackmailing civilians in exchange for not taking them to court.

      If that is not circumventing law, then I don’t know what is.

      At any rate, you seem to give a f**k about this behavior and probably think in the eye of the law companies should above common people any way.

      Damn industry shillers plagging RPS.

    • Kaira- says:

      @D3xter

      Might there be some other source for that “retired, computerless woman sued and fined”-article? There is no sources in the TorrentFreak article, and I don’t really trust TorrentFreak to bring unbiased articles on the table.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Firstly Dexter, my “brah” That’s one hell of an accusation! While I quite agree that IP addresses are not the way to do this, it’s hardly random. How many pirates know how to effectively shield their IP addresses? 1%, maybe 2? So it’s not quite random is it?

      Also I can’t find any mention of the court case your link refers to in any german press.

      Plus I don’t think you realise what suing someone involves – here’s a tip – exactly what’s happening here!

      Secondly alundra, look up what blackmail is before you use the word again.

      John:

      Let’s pretend, for a second that your statistic is actually accurate and pull a few more choice quotes from the article shall we?

      “that subverts the legal process of innocent until proven guilty” – This is a clear confusion between civil and criminal law – either you are ignorant of the differences or chose statements which are highly emotive but knowing that they were inaccurate in order to provoke a response. Either way, poor journalism.

      “and is based on threatening people with spurious lawsuits” – Are you the grand arbiter of what is spurious and what is not. Because clearly the companies, who see themselves as the victims do not think it is so, neither do their law firms believe that the local judges will see it that way. Have you seen these letters? Are they actually threatening or have you used that word to help hammer home your point, truth be damned?

      “Many have viewed it as extortion, frightening people into paying fees in the region of €800 in order not to have to go to court to prove their innocence or argue against the notion of piracy equating to lost sales.”

      Where to start. The notion that this is extortion is very valid and I wish that this had been the focus of your article as this is the real issue here. Do you have examples of the letters to publish? However you then go on the link people paying with innocence, have you even heard of one innocent person paying? If so, to quote yourself, you must share your evidence!

      All that just from the first paragraph!

      Let me ask you a question. How would you change it so that justice could be served without a letter being sent which may be perceived by those who are ignorant of the civil legal system as extortion?

    • D3xter says:

      Oh look, you are argueing against someone using a “wrong statistic” but make up your own right there on the spot, aren’t double standards great? xD

      According to this study: http://www.scribd.com/doc/76711532/AA-Research-Note-Infringement-and-Enforcement-November-2011 pirates apparently aren’t as stupid as you think them to be and they’re catching on. 15% of them hiding their IPs because of increasing legal attacks against file sharers in the US, most of them using VPN services or third-party proxy services.

      But you’re also forgetting the people that either leave their routers unprotected (because they know fuck all about it) or are still using WPA (which can be cracked by anyone slightly knowledgable within 6-10 minutes by now, there’s even piss-easy guides to follow on the internet, ergo –> “free internet” and someone elses IP address), and you would be surprised how many people are still using it… Not to talk about the statistical outliers mentioned in the two articles I posted above of people NOT ACTUALLY OWNING a PC being accused, how the fuck does that happen in the first place?

    • jhng says:

      While I don’t much like this practice, I do think it is worth sparing a thought for the very difficult position the publishers find themselves in.

      They are faced with a situation where there is unquestionably widespread infringement of their IP. By no means every act of infringement is a lost sale, but it must be the case that a proportion do represent lost sales (even if an infringer may only have bought it six months later in a Steam sale) since the act of infringement is indicative of a potential unmet demand. So each infringement may or may not be damaging individually but, in aggregate, it is likely that it is damaging to some extent.

      This gives rise to a ‘thousand cuts’ issue. Any damage done by infringement is likely to be the result of the aggregation of a very large number of infringements each of which is individually negligible. However, the existing legal framework (which is designed for taking on a few major infringers on a case by case basis and made a lot more sense when being an infringer meant having a massive printing press in your basement) allows for no effective way of presenting an aggregated response to the issue. In this context, I can see why publishers jump on any practice — like the German one — that seems to offer a commoditised approach for mitigating the damage.

      EDIT: Also — in response to a few of the comments above — please note that approaching someone before suing them and offering not to sue them if they do a deal is not blackmail. Most judges would be seriously pissed off if you sued someone without giving them advance warning and giving them an opportunity to resolve the matter without Court action. In fact, in the UK, if you want to have a reasonable prospect of recovering your legal costs when suing someone it is pretty much obligatory to give them advance warning.

    • D3xter says:

      @Kaira: Certainly, here’s a news paper article about it: http://www.taz.de/!84352/ Just put it through the amazing Google-translating-machine!

    • Sheng-ji says:

      At dexter – I used a speculated stat yes, however, I presented it as such whilst opening up the floor with a question to come back and provide another speculation! Also I’m not a respected journalist nor do I claim to be.

      15%, well that’s loads higher than I thought – we are in agreement though that using measures such as
      proxycap and your-freedom are not effective in hiding your IP?

    • D3xter says:

      Another great piece about the puzzle is the double standard regarding this practice. If they have the IP address of someone they are supposed to “prove” that they didn’t do it. (and that might prove decidedly hard if one isn’t dead for a few months or an old lady without WLAN or a computer)

      There was another nice story posted by TorrentFreak about this a while back, remember the russian tool/service everyone can use to check IPs against monitored free torrent trackers called “YouHaveDownloaded”? Well, some people checked it against parts of the French government (which is using the “three strikes” rule on top of all…) and found out they HAD downloaded: http://torrentfreak.com/zut-alors-french-government-deny-bittorrent-piracy-allegations-120101/

      Guess what they said in response? “We didn’t do it.”
      And TorrentFreak puts it rather well at the end of their article:

      “One of the main problems with IP address-based evidence is what happens when someone is wrongfully accused. There is no simple way of refuting the claims and it’s down to the defendant to prove their innocence.

      It’s all well and good for the Ministry of Culture to say “it’s impossible to share files from our IP addresses” but will that standard of rebuttal be acceptable coming from the man in the street faced with an accusation from HADOPI? Hardly.

      So, if the Ministry of Culture is completely innocent let’s see them held to their own standards. Let them show their citizens how proving a negative, that something didn’t happen, is done. They’re not going to find that easy, even with their limitless resources.”

    • John Walker says:

      Sheng:

      It demands money, using fear, before any proof of guilt is presented. I’m happy with what I wrote.

      The lawsuits are spurious based on their history in court. Decisions have gone both ways, and some judgements have been terrifying, especially for the more powerful music industry.

      Yes, I’ve seen letters.

      Imagine you received one of these letters, but it was a visitor or relative who may have done the downloading, but you don’t know. Would you prefer to pay €800 for it to go away, or have to find thousands for legal fees, with the potential of a fine of tens of thousands or prison time? No, I do not have evidence of an innocent person paying in my hands, but I’m also conscious of the likelihood of its happening. It’s the fear that it causes that upsets me, and we seem to be in agreement about the similarity to extortion. However, I absolutely cannot call it extortion or I will be the one being sued, by a large number of powerful law firms.

      And as for what my actions would be, they would be to establish research to see if piracy has any financial effect on sales, either positive or negative, rather than assuming something and acting on it by whatever means I can find, no matter how morally dubious.

      I’d also suggest that, in future, if you believe there is something factually inaccurate in something I’ve written, you email me with polite corrections. Snotty, self-righteous comments make you appear like a prick I’d want to ignore, rather than someone with information I can learn from.

    • Casimir Effect says:

      @John
      Sorry, but that figure is not accurate. Although this sort of thing happens worldwide, your entire basis for the figure comes from that CDP story. In that story you took a previous figure they had released with regards to how many times TW2 had been pirates worldwide, then you took a decent guesstimate as to how many letters had been sent out to German suspect alone and found the figure you now use globally. Statistics don’t work like that.

      And that’s to say nothing about all the alleging going on by Torrent Freak and all the unsubstantiated figures flying around otherwise. Even that estimate from CDP about TW2 being hit 4.5m times is based off a ridiculous assumption of everyone (all 4.5m) having internet speed such that they could download it in only a few hours. So that figure is likely to be far lower too.

      There is a lot of Bad Science going on here and Ben Goldacre would be pissed. (And as a scientist is obviously pisses me off too, which is why I’m sticking with this point).

    • jhng says:

      John’s post above about the fear factor throws up a really interesting and problematic issue.

      One of the things you really notice when you are on the inside of IP enforcement (trade marks in my case, not copyright before you flame me) is that the mere fact that you are calling from a law firm instils fear in individuals/smaller businesses — I have faced cases where I have got in touch with people for purely amicable reasons (e.g. with a commercial proposal or asking a favour on behalf of a client) and had to first work through the other person’s instinctive fear and worry over being called up by a lawyer.

      This leads to a real issue when representing our clients, because how can we effectively represent our clients when dealing with potential infringers if the mere act of communication can be perceived as an aggression/bullying?

      A large part of the problem is of course public perception which is heavily conditioned by the TV stereotype that all lawyers are either demonic sharks hellbent on terror and exploitation or mythical paladins like Erin Brokovich/Mark Darcy — in truth most of us are just very normal professionals helping our clients run their businesses as effectively as possible, just like accountants, recruitment consultants, marketing agencies or any other professional services business.

      However, I think that there is also a role to play for education here. At the moment, there is very little treatment of law in public education both during formal schooling and in terms of wider public awareness promotion — where legal issues are very often suborned and turned into political gambits.
      Perhaps RPS could do a little bit by helping point people towards the small amount of public awareness material that is out there (e.g. the handy brochures and so forth put out by the Intellectual Property Office — http://www.ipo.gov.uk)

    • deejayem says:

      Come on, ladies and gents – keep it classy. One of the reasons I read RPS comments is that people barely ever call each other pricks.

    • bsplines says:

      I think in this matter there is a very obvious question that needs to be answered.
      What happens when someone ignores the letter or outright refuses to pay?
      Does the lawyer firm sue him or they do not pursue it further?
      And if they do, what’s the outcome of these trials?

    • Joshua says:

      @bsplines

      there are several organisations spefically set up to deal with these letters. Their advice is to ignore it.

      It works. No people threatened with these letters have actually been taken to court (or atleast, I never heard of it, and neither did websites like Torrentfreak who usually deal with these issieus). Beingthreatened.com is the site to look for, apperently

      Therefore, it has never been proven that any of the people who were send the letter actually downloaded anything, by the rules of the law.

      Also… this:http://torrentfreak.com/acslaw-anti-piracy-lawyer-suspended-for-2-years-120116/

  9. rocketman71 says:

    Or the lack of responses.

    If they were afraid of answering what they think about SOPA, I doubt they’re going to talk about this (arguably even worse) practices.

  10. Sarah83 says:

    Live in the UK. Consider Germany’s privacy laws appalling.

  11. Jimbo says:

    I really don’t think you can subvert the legal process by threatening to use the legal process. The ‘legal process’ they are allegedly subverting is 100% available to you at every stage and you are under no obligation at all to pay the ‘fine’ / settlement offer. If innocent people are genuinely terrified of the legal process then that’s clearly a problem with our legal process which urgently needs addressing – game publishers are not responsible for that.

    Let’s face it, your actual position on this is that you just don’t see piracy as a ‘real crime’ which is deserving of serious punishment, full stop. As evidenced by your (blatantly counterproductive) suggestion the other day that they should just fine pirates the price of the game. How is that even punishment? Why would anybody pay retail price if they knew the worst possible consequence of taking it illegally would be that they are asked to pay retail price?

    I know that a decent chunk of RPS’ traffic will be coming from people who actively practice game piracy -and many, many commenters openly defend and excuse it here on RPS- so perhaps you have a conflict of interest on this issue, but is there *any* mechanism for punishing piracy which you would be happy with?

    • Sergey Galyonkin says:

      Punishing piracy is a bad idea. Companies should care about customers, not pirates.

      Best solutions include games that are practically immune to piracy, like any MMO or, pardon my french, those Facebook games. You could also offer games that are much better when played legally, like Starcraft.

      Publishers should always apply cold logic and not emotions to such kind of decisions. Emotions tell you “dem be steeling ma’ games, kill dem!” but actually you should make games that cannot be stolen.

      I don’t like Farmville as much as everyone else here, but if Zynga can figure it out, sure everyone in “real” games industry can figure out way to make money of games without having to resort to bullying.

      Also, there is funny story about Torchlight in China, where they actually encourage piracy to improve brand awareness, so they can later launch Torchlight MMO there :)

    • Colthor says:

      @Jimbo
      “How is that even punishment? Why would anybody pay retail price if they knew the worst possible consequence of taking it illegally would be that they are asked to pay retail price?”

      You’re begging the question that people only pay for things because otherwise they’ll be punished.

    • Harlander says:

      Holy crap, someone used “begging the question” properly!

      *confetti rains down*

    • Jimbo says:

      I agree with what both of you are saying to an extent. They shouldn’t punish piracy just for the sake of punishing piracy and no, not everybody would steal just because they knew there were no consequences.

      However, I strongly believe that maximising sales for mid-high budget games does require at least some deterrent for piracy (and I don’t mean DRM, which is pretty much a completey waste of time and money) and I strongly believe that if we removed any deterrent from shop-lifting tomorrow then incidents of shop-lifting would go through the roof and sales would fall through the floor. In the long term, a purely honour based economic system just isn’t sustainable, or at least not the optimal.

      Apart from the comparatively unpiratable game models you’re talking about (which are fine, but they aren’t plausible for all types of games or all publishers), the PC market is kinda in that position already: there are currently no consequences for piracy at all and it isn’t even stigmatised in some gamer communites (like this one). We’re running an honour-based system and the market has suffered badly as a result (unless you really like Facebook games and MMOs I guess). The only people still buying games are doing so on principle, and it really isn’t many people anymore – I feel like I’m paying for ten other people/parasites to enjoy the game every time I buy one. The market for AAA PC exclusives has pretty much ceased to exist as a result of piracy going from requiring some effort to requiring no effort at all. Anybody who truly believes that freely available torrenting of games hasn’t had an overall negative effect on the PC game market is only kidding themselves.

    • John Walker says:

      I really strongly resent the accusation that I might have written this, and formed my opinion, to cynically appeal to a particular group. It is my impression that most disagree with my position on this matter, and as such making it in no way appeals to a majority. I write this stuff because I passionately believe that is is wrong, and I have a public platform from which to say that. At no point does, “This will win me some readers!” cross my mind.

      I do sometimes think, “I wonder if this will get picked up by Reddit?”, which would bring us a readership spike. But the pattern of that is completely unpredictable, and certainly not a motivation to write the piece in the first place. Please stop making such rude claims without evidence, and especially without even asking me first, since I’m here to respond.

      And to answer your question, the reason I have said that being asked to pay is a reasonable response is because in unauthorised duplication, nothing is stolen or lost. Having the person pay for the game seems a reasonable reaction, and settles the matter. I’m afraid I don’t really believe in the “a decapitation for an eye” principle.

    • deejayem says:

      John: “nothing is stolen or lost”

      Forgive me, John, but that’s a rather naive statement in the context of modern economics. Nothing was materially stolen or lost during the financial crisis of 2008 (the world didn’t suddenly become less mineral rich or farmland less fertile) – but I imagine all of us felt the effects nonetheless.

      Economics isn’t based on material belongings any more, it’s based really on units of rather more nebulous things like trust, effort and time – which we choose to quantify as money.

      Edit: Sorry, to complete that thought – piracy represents the theft not of an object but of the rewards that the creators ask for the portion of their life they put into creating it. In the same way that you can’t get away with credit-card fraud by just repaying the money, you shouldn’t be allowed to get away with piracy just by paying the retail price.

    • Sergey Galyonkin says:

      @Jimbo I do in fact like MMO – not in “grind your way to next dragon” way but more in like “play with other kids” way.

      But that’s not the point I was talking about. I used to work in games distribution in country with highest piracy rate in Europe – Ukraine. You can guess which games sold worse – those with awful DRM-schemes. But which games sold better? Why, those with multiplayer stuff, DLC stuff or at least with Steam activation. So if I can’t play the game with other kids, I at least can brag about playing game to them :)

      Anyway, my point was is that trying to fight piracy is a waste of both resources and money. Piracy in current form means sharing, and sharing is so important for human survival, that we can not fight it, nor we should fight it. You’re basically taught to share stuff since childhood and no amount of lawyers and laws can avert this.

      Also, I do understand that some genres are easier to “pirate-proof” than others. But guess what, some genres are easier to port to consoles, easier to sell to mass audience, easier to market. It is just business, not all genres are born equal :)

      And since we see a lot of RTS and competitive FPS taking over “watch an 8 hours interactive movie” genre, I’m totally fine with it.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      I think that piracy is morally wrong, regardless of the economic effects on game developers, publishers and retailers. I think that issuing legal threats to unproven pirates is morally wrong. I beleive both should be more effectively legislated against, because all laws should be based on moral concerns, not finance.

      Sigh. That would be nice.

    • soldant says:

      @deejayem – Whether something was lost or not is debatable, but nothing was “stolen”. When you steal something, you deprive a person of that thing. If I steal your shovel with the intent to deprive you of it, I’ve stolen it from you. If however I had a magical copying machine that created an exact duplicate of your shovel, and I took that duplicate, I haven’t stolen anything from you. You still have your shovel. I have a copy of your shovel. I did not steal your shovel.

      Thus, copyright infringement is NOT theft. It is NOT the same as stealing the physical disc from the store. It is NOT the same as stealing a handbag or a car. Copyright infringement is copyright infringement, it has nothing to do with theft at all. The analogy that it “deprives them of the rewards” is not correct because they didn’t have those rewards to begin with. They don’t own the “rewards”, you can’t take the rewards from them, they’re not a “thing” to take. Thus, nothing was stolen from them. That doesn’t make it less of a crime (copyright infringement was created specifically for these kinds of things) but it isn’t theft.

    • NathanH says:

      Piracy is kinda like getting onto a half-empty train without paying for a ticket. It doesn’t really harm anyone at all on a case-by-case basis, but I still want to tear out their innards.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      @NathanH: Agreed. If you’re not being literal, that is.

    • deejayem says:

      Hi, Soldant. Sorry, I think you’ve missing my point rather – possibly because I didn’t make it very well. What I’m trying to say is that as the nature of wealth changes – becomes increasingly divorced from possessions – so do the terms of reference for ownership and deprivation, and the calculations for what is lost become correspondingly more complicated.

      Whether or not we choose to label piracy as fraud, stealing or theft is beyond the scope of my argument. The point is that a person is deliberately and unjustly denied something that they could reasonably expect to have earned, and I don’t see how permitting that is in anyone’s best interests.

      Modern legal systems recognise this, which is why we have such concepts as suing for loss of reputation or earnings.

      Having typed this, I realise I’m guilty of going off on a tangent from the original topic of the article, so I’ll shut up now.

      Edit: Having said I’ll shut up … should also add that because this is a nuanced issue, I’m much happier seeing it handled through civil action for the time being than criminal action. The criminal laws being proposed at the moment to deal with piracy (SOPA, etc.) are almost universally loony, precisely because we haven’t yet fixed the terms of reference.

    • Jimbo says:

      @JW You are -I think quite obviously- mistaken if you believe you are speaking against the majority on this issue, at least judging by the number of comments agreeing/disagreeing with you on this article and the last one. It doesn’t even seem close to me. Responses disagreeing with you are not uncommon, but they are not the majority either.

      I don’t need to ask you if you have a conflict of interest here – I *know* that you have a conflict of interest here, for the reasons stated. Whether you are being swayed by it is a different issue (I don’t know the answer to that either way and didn’t claim to), and I imagine asking you about that would be a waste of time, because frankly, who ever agrees that they are being swayed by a conflict of interest?

      I cannot believe you are seriously suggesting ‘pay the retail price’ as an appropriate penalty for piracy. It doesn’t settle the matter at all and I can’t think of any other part of law which operates in that way. Fines have to exceed prices for what should really be quite obvious reasons. Any company which adopts your policy would be giving a greenlight to everybody -even people who currently obey the law and pay for their games- to just help themselves to their products in future. In effect what you’re saying by suggesting this policy is ‘I do not believe in piracy being deterred’. If you applied this weak attitude across society it would pretty much stop functioning within a week.

      If any company were foolish enough to endorse piracy in this way, and tell me the worst they will ever do is fine pirates the retail price, then I will instantly stop purchasing that company’s games. A company that a) stupid and b) disrespectful to their paying customers, does not deserve to remain in business.

    • alundra says:

      On the contrary Jimbo, it is you who is -I think quite obviously- mistaken. Mr. Walker is speaking for the majority here, it’s just that the minorities, those who shill for an industry who for the most care, give a crap about their customers, are louder, specially because the rest are just afraid to voice their opinions, either because they either get discriminated against, like Mr. Walker, or because they are afraid of being at face point as pirates, you know, they old if you are not with me you are against me retarded argument used by those serving private interests.

      All you care about is to go on an inquisition like witch hunt, the fun thing is, you use the same speech used back in the witches time, then on the reds time, terrorists, hackers, etc…

      You should write 1984 part 2.

    • morbug says:

      @Jimbo: Interestingly enough Microsoft used this method on Windows XP. When I used a pirated copy ages ago and was discovered I got the option to buy a license for a nice price (a bit cheaper than retail actually). I bought the license and thought it was pretty brilliant really.

      EDIT: My point being: They made a pirate a paying customer. And I’ve remained a paying customer since then.

    • Jimbo says:

      Try again, alundra. I said he was speaking for the majority – John is claiming that he isn’t. I can’t understand the rest of your post, so I can’t really respond to the rest of it.

      @morbug: I’m not surprised you found that brilliant. There was no downside for you being a pirate in that scenario and, by comparison, the honest customer was punished twice over (once because they had zero chance of ‘getting away with it’ and avoiding payment altogether, and twice because they apparently had to pay more than you ended up paying anyway). You might see how the honest customer in this situation may conclude that they would just be better off pirating the software next time out.

    • alundra says:

      @Jimbo

      I stand corrected, and I apologize.

      (note to self, do not read RPS after a hard day of work)

  12. Fadobo says:

    Being German, this is not really news to me. Unfortunately it seems to be “business as usual” for at least 5 years now. I know multiple people who got letters like that. Some paid, some simply ignored it. Never heard of anybody I personally knew really going to court over it, but I read online some people did.

    The problem is, that the letter is aimed at the person having the contract with the telecommunication company. So if a kid downloads something, the letter will be accusing the father/mother. In court it’s supposed to get really messy, with judges deciding if parents have to supervise what their kids are actually downloading on their computer.

    • Arona Daal says:

      Kids downloading is never the Problem,Its not about “Theft” or about “Copyright Infringement”.
      It would be about Kids uploading without License as it always is.
      Also the first Letter usually clearly states that its all about uploading (there are usually several Letters per suspected Pirate over a large Time).

      For example the amount of Money demanded is supposedly achieved by using License Fees for licensed Uploaders (i guess Steam or similar Digital Distributors).
      Its the only Way for them to legally plausible achieve such high Damage Claims.

      I surfed some of the Forums of German Associations against the so called “Abmahnindustrie” (the specialized Anti-piracy Law Firms) and one of the relevant (and quite interesting) Court cases was essentially this:

      They sued a Woman, and lost the Case , as she could prove that she was using a so called “Leecher Mod” (which prevents uploads ,but allows downloading).

      It was an older case so im not sure how this is handled these Days.
      The Results of other Court Rulings are mixed and vary greatly from Judge to Judge.

      Edit: there seem to be still 2nd and 3th Tier Letters going out from the CD Project Lawyers.
      Either they are a bit slow or they want to finish up the ones they already catched.

  13. Colthor says:

    “I believe that [...] a crime is only identified after proof is presented.”

    These letters are threatening action in a civil court, not a criminal one. Nobody’s being accused of any crimes.

    I don’t know enough about it to properly understand the differences, but do know they’re considerable.

  14. Unaco says:

    Just to point out… But several people already pointed this out when the original CDPR story broke, over a month ago, and were largely ignored. Here and, here. Also, this isn’t some big scoop by Torrentfreak. The German law firm, Rechteinhaber, is quite open about what they do, and have been sending out letters for months, advertising the fact on their website.

    Shame on you RPS for piling on CDPR and singling them out when they were far from being the only ones, and getting so late to reporting this. And shame on TorrentFreak for taking their time… they must have known about this for months! Why would they hold back for so long?

  15. FFabian says:

    “…then fire off a scary letter to the address associated with that IP. The inherent failings of such a technique hardly need expanding, since an IP address no more usefully identifies a person than the number of a public payphone people happen to be walking past.”

    It’s not so easy. German laws says that you’re ultimately responsible for your internet access and have to secure it with “appropriate measures” (=WEP/WPA for WLAN). You can’t claim “everybody could have used my Wifi ’cause I have no password”.

    If you can prove that your secured WLAN was tampered with (or hacked) and someone illegally used it you’re of the hook.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      Then the publishers are responsible for access to their games, and should be required to prove that their DRM was not made poorly with the intent to allow the distribution of demos at no cost or liability to themselves and produce great word-of-mouth and grab greater mind-share among their target audience. Bear in mind, if Windows piracy was stamped out today, Linux would be the Number 1 operating system tomorrow, and the leak of an early build of Deus Ex: Human Revolution lead to to a vast amount of free coverage.

      Critically, they don’t even have proof that the router was even involved, many torrent sites will add bogus IPs to their peer lists, to mess with tactics like this and make their torrents look healthier than they are. I am also very sceptical about how diligent the companies are in ensuring the time they claim the IP was downloading at are accurate to the second. A pirate with a variable IP can change it in seconds, then Granny down the road logs on and catches the flak.

      The balance of evidence does not support the companies, thus anyone accused should be able to win a civil case without saying a word. Saying they have to be computer savvy enough to know how to access records for router use or know exactly what everybody in their household, and any friends or relatives who want to use their smartphone or DS in the house, do online just to prevent liability to a megacorporation is ridiculous, it’s an intolerable burden to put on a private citizen, the same as it would be intolerable for McDonalds to have to defend themselves if someone pirated over their open wifi.

      More succinctly, German law is wrong, places an unreasonable burden on individuals that it does not place on businesses, and encourages abusive behaviour.

  16. deejayem says:

    John, to hold you to your own standards, I think you ought to produce some hard evidence for the financial gains supposedly accrued by publishers by sending out these letters – especially if you’re then going essentially to accuse them of using this as a cash grab.

    I’d be very interested to know how many of these fines are paid – how many are challenged, how many go to court, and how many are simply ignored.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      A cash grab does not automatically imply a successful cash grab. Is borderline blackmail only objectionable if it actually worked?

  17. Lobotomist says:

    People are their own worst enemy

    There is a scary trend. Especially at younger people. To take up arms defending rights of large companies , higher elements of power, governments, ritch – against small people , and individual rights ( foolishly , their own rights )

    You must realize
    It doesnt mater if said people were pirating or not.

    What is the bottom line here is that companies are using corporate bullying methods to circumvent the law and extort money – usually from very poor people that can not afford any defense.

    Today its about pirating. Tomorrow, who knows where it will spread if we dont fight for our rights as citizens ?
    (SOPA , PIPA comes to mind)

    But its pointless as i said.

    For some reason the masses are always supporting the oppressors. Its a phenomenon often investigated in political sciences…with no much result.

    • Kaira- says:

      What is the bottom line here is that companies are using corporate bullying methods to circumvent the law and extort money

      How excactly are they circumventing the law? Piracy is, if I recall correctly (feel free to correct, I am no expert!), a case of civil courts, not criminal courts – two sides settle their disputes either out of the court or in the court, where the court decides what happens based on the evidence presented by both of the sides.

    • alundra says:

      How excactly are they circumventing the law?

      Yeah, you are right, common people are guilty until proven otherwise, and corporation’s have the legal duty of blackmailing people into submission.

    • bill says:

      Problem is simply the unequalness of the sides.

    • Kaira- says:

      @alundra

      This being the civil court (at least in Germany), there is no guilty – just two disagreeing parties.

      “and corporation’s have the legal duty of blackmailing people into submission”

      Oh wow. Yes, let’s just make it so that companies can’t contact people otherwise than just saying “thank you”.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      Just look at all the poor and middle-class (which is really nowadays just “poor warmed over”) in the US voting Republican. It’s a party of big business, and you’ve got the little guy voting for it over and over.

      (No, I’m no Democrat, just an unaffiliated liberal/progressive/modern human being)

    • alundra says:

      there is no guilty – just two disagreeing parties

      LOL!!, are you for real?? how can you even say “two parties” when talking about David and Goliath??

      Oh wow. Yes, let’s just make it so that companies can’t contact people otherwise than just saying “thank you.

      Oh poor itty bitty companies, so hapless and feeble in the face of those evil people trying to bang them in the ass. Let’s just take away each every legal right of those devils’, both as consumers and natural persons, only then poor itty bitty companies will be able to make some spare change….

    • Kaira- says:

      “LOL!!, are you for real?? how can you even say “two parties” when talking about David and Goliath??”

      Are David and Goliath now not two parties? Your argument boils down to “my opinion is the fact”? Right.

      “Oh poor itty bitty companies, so hapless and feeble in the face of those evil people trying to bang them in the ass. Let’s just take away each every legal right of those devils’, both as consumers and natural persons, only then poor itty bitty companies will be able to make some spare change….”

      So, if I am able to parse this incoherent rambling, you suggest that companies are only able to make money if they are stripped from all their rights. Or maybe you try to suggest that let’s take all the rights from customers, which is far from where I stand, but it’s always nice seeing some strawmen.

  18. bill says:

    It seems to me to not really be a piracy issue.

    It’s the age old lawyers are bastards and little guys have no chance against big guys issue.

  19. Palette Swap says:

    I might have missed it in the comments or a previous article but I’m really surprised your ISP can give away your name and address so easily to someone who is not the government but just happens to be a third party looking to make a quick buck by threatening you with lawsuits?

  20. Unaco says:

    This comments been awaiting “moderation” for several hours, due to having more than 1 link in it. So here it is, with 1 link in it…

    Just to point out… But several people already pointed this out when the original CDPR story broke, over a month ago, and were largely ignored. Here. Also, this isn’t some big scoop by Torrentfreak. The German law firm, Rechteinhaber, is quite open about what they do, and have been sending out letters for months, advertising the fact on their website.

    Shame on you RPS for piling on CDPR and singling them out when they were far from being the only ones, and getting so late to reporting this. And shame on TorrentFreak for taking their time… they must have known about this for months! Why would they hold back for so long?

  21. V. Profane says:

    Bulling is rabbit in the internets.

  22. dr.castle says:

    From the CDP article:

    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

    Guess CDP was fairly accurate on this point at least

    • johnpeat says:

      This article very-much focusses on Germany – it seems laws there specifically make this easier than in other countries.

      It’s been done in the UK (by movie companies in particular, through Davenport Thievingbastards) but UK courts have already slapped-it-down sufficiently that it’s unlikely anyone else would actually try the ‘going to court’ bit of it, ever again!

  23. johnpeat says:

    I disagree that IP addresses are like “walking past a public phone box” but there is an issue where bandwidth is shared around flatmates or friends and family.

    They must be aware that a great deal of these letters will be sent to parents, who will assume their kids guilty of whatever is being alleged and pay-up. The thought that this could result in a few beatings isn’t far form the back of your mind at this point either (possibly without any justification?)

    End of the day they should follow proper legal procedure – if they’re convinced they have binding evidence, take people to court and let the legal system do it’s thing.

    This “pay up or else we’ll actually find our if we’re right or not’ approach is wrong-headed. It would be like fining teenagers for being teenagers – without even knowing their age – because they’ll probably vandalise something at some point and – well – they were near that phonebox weren’t they?

    • johnpeat says:

      Just to extend that, Microsoft play on a similar issue when it comes to the endemic theft of money which is the “FIFA Scam” on XBOX.

      I’ve no idea how many parents must just have their credit card plugged-into the XBOX and pay whatever fees their kids run-up – but I’ll bet a staggering number of them will have been robbed of money under the GoldPack Scam and not even realised it’s happening.

      MS continue to deny it’s their problem – continue to say it’s phishing or people giving-away their details but I know for a categoric fact it’s not and when you extrapolate the number of people who’ve been affected (including MS PR people!!) it’s not hard to realise that MS are pocketting money which is the result of criminal activity.

  24. Megadyptes says:

    Oh great another John Walker shitty article about piracy.

  25. Kelevra says:

    I’ve been trying to find an anti-piracy RPS article, but I’ve come up short. Granted I haven’t looked very hard, but can someone point me in the right direction?

    • jaheira says:

      If there is ever an anti-piracy article on RPS (and I would like to see one) I doubt it would be writen by John. The rest of the hivemind seem content to leave the topic to him.

  26. kud13 says:

    huh, as usual, late to the debate (comes with living on the other side of the pond, i suppose)

    I’m pretty sure the point of these articles is not to be pro-piracy, but rather to point out the wrong “solutions” that publishers are trying to use to deal with the problem.

    be it DRM, surveillance software ala origin (and the related “you buy a license, not a game” debate), or, in this case–using the threat of legal action to effect a settlement from an inherently more vulnerable party–all of these are attempts by publishers to find loopholes in the existing legal scheme that would allow htem to exert pressure onto those who already found a way to do so–the pirates.

    the big issue that really needs to be adressed, is the reform of the copyright legislations. the only thing that has been done to the copyright regime of the 19th century to accomodate the advance of the digital age was WIPO’s initiative to consider all software to be “literary works”, and use the exact same system to enforce copyright.

  27. INCA says:

    @Sheng-ji

    After making me read through your tirade, I feel wronged in some way. May I sue you now? I can’t prove you wronged me but…it’s debatable.

  28. andy torrentfreak says:

    Just a quick response to ‘Unaco’ who accused us of “holding back for months” on news.

    We only became interested in CD Projekt because of a combination between a) their stance on DRM and b) their announcement that they would “watch torrents”. We then needed to find proof that they were chasing internet users in Germany.

    Once that was found it took us about a week to come up with an article.

    We extensively cover lawsuits and threats of lawsuits all over the world and since there is only two of us writing at TF (neither fluent in German) this country has admittedly been less of a priority.

    To the person who said they would prefer a source other than TF for the ‘hooligan’ story, our source was a partner in the lawfirm that defended the woman, so it’s fairly credible ;)

    Cheers

    ah, just to add. Someone asked what can happen when people don’t pay up these ‘fines’

    http://torrentfreak.com/copyright-trolls-auction-off-e90-million-in-file-sharing-settlements-111208/

    • Prime says:

      I love the way everyone here who has a gripe has this vastly skewed viewpoint that they put forth as absolute truth without ever the courtesy of perhaps giving it some critical thought first. Used to be I quite liked coming here to learn from people more knowledgeable than I was on certain issues. Nowadays we’re just as likely to hear from the vocal minority who think they know everything, or are simply rude, and that’s getting very tiresome.

      Considering RPS readers of this ilk probably chased Quinns away from the site, turning relentlessly on this fine talent simply because of one disagreeable review after months of praising his every word, I’m starting to wonder just how the other writers find the enthusiasm and strength of character to keep going. Poor old John can’t seem to post anything now without being immediately jumped on and accused of sloppy journalistic standards. The temptation to just give us the middle finger and go do something more rewarding must be huge. :(

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