Feeds

Court slaps UK BitTorrenters with landmark damages award

Copyright ambulance chasers open up new market

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

The Central London County Court has ordered four BitTorrent users to pay a video games company £750 interim damages following a landmark victory by no win, no fee copyright lawyers.

The final damages could run to £2,000, plus costs of up to £1,500, the Evening Standard reports.

The decision will cause salivating among intellectual property lawyers at Davenport Lyons, the London firm that brought the case on behalf of games producer Topware Interactive. It's thought its campaign is targeting at least 500 individuals. Davenport Lyons reportedly said it intends to bring more cases this week. The firm's representatives were not immediately available for comment.

None of the four filesharers were represented in court last week to contest the accusation that they had illegally shared the game Dream Pinball 3D. The no-show meant the court was forced to find in favour of the plaintiff.

It's the first time one of the firm's antipiracy campaigns has come to court. The level of damages indicates UK judges are sympathetic to the view that copyright infringment via peer to peer networks can cause greater damage to rights holders than the retail cost of their product, because the number of times it has been shared by an individual is unknown. Dream Pinball 3D costs £8.99 on Amazon.

Davenport Lyons has pioneered a new market in tracking filesharers online and then contacting rights holders to suggest they sue. The firm is also pursuing hundreds of alleged illegal downloaders of Colin McRae DiRT after persuading Codemasters to take up the sabre.

The evidence of infringement Davenport Lyons presents to rights holders is similar to that being collected by the BPI on behalf of the UK record industry [user agent, timestamp, file name, IP address]. Davenport Lyons does not then pass the information to ISPs in the hope they will ask subscibers to stop illegally downloading copyright material, however.

Instead, it obtains a court order demanding ISPs hand over their subscribers' personal details, which it then uses to approach individual filesharers directly. Sheffield broadband provider PlusNet received a court order for its customers' details last year, and wrote about the incident here.

Davenport Lyons' nastygrams to its targets threaten criminal prosecution and a civil lawsuit if they do not pay hundreds of pounds within 14 days.

The witchfinding BitTorrent-tracking programme is outsourced to Swiss firm Logistep, which promises its findings are "fully accurate". Because the four defendants did not show up to the High Court, the veracity of the evidence went unchallenged this time.

It's a great business for lawyers to be in, as the process is at least part automated: some of the net users accused of infringing Codermasters' copyright last year received more than half a dozen separate demands for cash. Davenport Lyons later told The Register that it only wanted its targets to pay up on one of the charges its system had fired at them.

It looks like the filesharing nastygram could be a nice little earner for Davenport Lyons for some time, especially if it manages to keep turning up people who can't or won't defend themselves. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.