Codemasters sets legal dogs on file-sharers
Colin McRae videogames firm barks cash demands
Codemasters has fired off legal threats and cash demands to net users who it accuses of illegally distributing its videogames over P2P networks.
People have been hit with multiple demands for hundreds of pounds in settlement, or face a lengthy legal battle.
The development means a payday for Davenport Lyons. The London-based rights protection law firm was behind similar tactics aimed at net users who it accused of sharing Dream Pinball 3D earlier this year.
Codemasters' lawyers have obtained a court order under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act for ISPs to hand over an unknown number of customer details.
It is known that BT and PlusNet subscribers have been targeted. PlusNet has posted advice to its users in its blog here.
Davenport Lyons employs a Swiss firm called Logistep that offers "anti-piracy solutions" via a modified version of the Shareaza P2P client. It does the digging on the lawyers' behalf and claims the user identifications it sells are "fully accurate".
A worried recipient of several of Codemasters' letters denied any wrongdoing in an email to The Reg. He wrote: "I have received a letter... saying i have downloaded a file called Colin McRae Dirt for the Xbox 360 and they want me to pay £511 to them.
"Having checked my computer to my knowledge I have not downloaded any such file and do not have it on my computer. They sent me 5 letters all about the same game but with different IP addresses and different times. I'm not sure what to do they want a response in 14 days and they want me to sign saying I did it and won't do it again."
The time that Logistep links a customer to an IP address is key; in a dynamic IP address pool, getting it slightly wrong could easily mean identifying the wrong person.
The Codemasters demands also accuse their recipients of committing a criminal offence by file-sharing. No such offence exists for copyright infringement for non-commercial use.
Involving such a high-profile games developer, the case raises a lot of questions about the legal climate on file-sharing. Codemasters has not responded to our calls and emails. Davenport Lyons' receptionist told us that its lawyers don't talk to journalists about this matter. ®
@Some random AC
"As much as I think tactics used are flawed - if you steal something you steal it.
People like to use cuddly fuzzy terms around their theft but it's still theft."
No it's not, it's copyright infringement, it doesn't matter how much you've convinced yourself it's theft it's simply not, it does not fit under the definition of theft or under laws surrounding theft, it fits under the definition and laws of copyright infringement.
"By their reasoning getting cable for free isn't a form of theft."
If you're talking about cable TV then congratulations you've beginning to understand it, that it isn't in fact theft. If you're talking about cable internet then yes it is theft because you deprive the company of bandwidth in much the same way that theft of a CD deprives a store of that physical CD.
"Stealing identities isn't a form of theft."
No you're right, it's a form of fraud.
"Stealing corporate data isn't theft."
Again, well done you're slowly beginning to get this, it comes under corporate espionage, intellectual property laws and so forth depending on the particulars of the case.
Insisting copyright infringement is theft is no more legitimate than me claiming your idiotic comments are paedophilia. Paedophile.
Now, here is my situation, i apparently downloaded it twice, which i didnt, and to top it off, i actually purchased the game on one of the said dates, and moreover still have the receipt.
I did run an unsecured wlan at the time, but that was due to a fault in my router, which i have since binned.
I am no longer with the isp, and will never return.
i have contacted Davenport Lyers via email, and they have said i only need to respond to one. But, the money isnt the issue, the signing that i did it, is, as i didnt. Anyone with any advice, pls, pls feel free to post
According to some reports the IP data was obtained under the provisions of RIPA - I was under the impression that RIPA only provides for data being made available for the prevention of "Serious crime" or terrorism? Please correct me on this.