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Games firm woos ISPs on shopping file sharers

Wants standard grass fees

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Zuxxez, the games firm suing 500 UK file sharers, has begun negotiations to have ISPs cut the prices they charge for grassing up file sharers under court order.

UK law allows ISPs to charge to cover the costs of retrieving the addresses of file sharers identified by snooping copyright holders. But the prices they charge vary wildly and the fees are usually passed on as part of the fines copyright holders demand of file sharers they catch distributing their software.

While some ISP's charge nothing to hand customer records to investigators, others have been found to charge up to £75.

Dirk Hassinger, sales director at Zuxxez, which also has a stake in the Topware gaming brand, said: "The court order [that copyright holders must use to get ISPs to hand over their addresses] says that ISPs have to give out their addresses and they have to charge reasonable fees.

"It's very difficult to found out whether it's reasonable. We are trying to negotiate with them and bring their charges down. We are negotiating with the ISPs to get the file sharers to pay less."

"It's a funny situation," he said, because he was responsible for the fines being levied against the file sharers in the first place.

Five hundred UK file sharers are facing £600 fines for distributing the Topware game Dream Pinball 3D over peer-to-peer networks.

But, said Hassinger, the fines were necessary to cover the legal costs of identifying and warning the file sharers. Charges were also necessary to cover legal costs of £250 per file sharer to solicitor Davenport Lyons, and the cost associated with finding the file sharers in the first place using a firm called Logistep.

"We want to give the file sharers notice that they have done something wrong and give them a ticket, not make them bankrupt," said Hassinger.

"Different ISP's charge different amounts. My personal opinion is that they make a business out of it. It costs nothing in Germany because the police make the requests. We are not very happy with it."

File sharers are challenged in the UK under civil law but, said a spokesman for the Internet Services Providers' Association, "law enforcement is not an ISP's job".

"They get their costs recovered. It's not a way to make money," he said, adding that different ISP's had to do different things to access their customer records.®

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