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Report: Game publishers demanding pirates pay up in Europe
Report: Game publishers demanding pirates pay up in Europe
January 17, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

January 17, 2012 | By Eric Caoili
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    6 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Several European distributors and publishers, including major firms like Koch Media and Codemasters, are allegedly demanding cash settlements for hundreds of euros from suspected game pirates.

The news comes a week after Polish developer CD Projekt RED suspended its own legal attacks against people it believed to have pirated copies of The Witcher 2, as it feared the policy would squander the good faith of its fanbase, and that it might mistakenly harm a loyal customer.

Opponents of the practice argue that the basis for these accusations and demands, which often rely on recorded IP addresses for pirated game downloads, are weak evidence. They argue that companies are intimidating their targets to pay, whether the accused are guilty or not.

Filesharing news blog TorrentFreak claims dozens of publishers and distributors for both popular and lesser-known releases have demanded cash settlements from Europeans. It said local distributors Koch Media, dtp entertainment AG, and Kalypso Media GmbH were the worst offenders.

The site alleges that Atari has sent settlement demands for several hundred euros for titles like Alone in the Dark, Test Drive Unlimited, and Test Drive Unlimited 2. It says Codemasters is demanding 800 ($1019) from suspected DiRT3 and Operation Flashpoint Red River pirates.

Distributor Koch Media is also said to have pressured suspected pirates of Square Enix's Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Dungeon Siege III, and Final Fantasy games to pay 800 each. Koch has also supposedly sent settlement letters for Dead Island, Prison Break: The Conspiracy, and others.

"We discovered that not only are new games being targeted but older ones too, possibly to bring in extra cash from games well past their sell-by date when it comes to generating profit from more conventional sources," says TorrentFreak reporter Enigmax.

Calling the companies' IP address-based anti-piracy evidence "flimsy," the writer adds, "It would be great if the companies listed above followed CD Projekt's example and reconsidered their support for these horrible settlement letters."


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Comments


Tom Baird
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While it's better than the situation in the Music Industry (suing for millions of dollars for a few dozen songs in some situations), there seems to be a very large disconnect between value of what was stolen and amount demanded in the settlement. Most of these games are < $20 new, where they are demanding in excess of 50x the new value of the product. I feel it turns a defensive action to prevent the theft of your product(which I feel there is nothing wrong with them doing), into what at least to me appears to be a sleazy cash grab(Trying to extort exorbitant sums, with the threat of taking them to court).

Tomas Majernik
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Tom Baird - the thing with the songs is that there is minimal sum the court have to grant You for copyright infringment. What do the publishers do is they sue You for each and every song instead of whole album and claim minimal sum of money for each song - this way they can multiple it several times (or even hundreds of times).

A S
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Nah I think it's justified, they are essentially foregoing their right to prosecute for prior licensing offences. What you are "buying" for your money is not just the game (in fact you may not even be buying the game) but the fact that you will not be sued for Copyright infringement. It should also be noted that unless this settlement also confers ownership you'd still have to buy the game or be liable to be sued again.



If you're innocent you should stand up to them. If you're not (piracy is a crime after all) then maybe you should consider the path of your life that led you to this point.

Alex Leighton
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The problem is, most people simply don't have the ability to stand up to publishers, because they're offering the people they've targeted a choice between paying up a large sum of cash up front or being bankrupted by legal fees. So no, this is completely unjust.

Tomas Majernik
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"You are buying the fact that you will not be sued for copyright infringement."? You can`t be serious about this, can You? You are buying a product and the right to use, just like you buy a butter and your right to eat it (or do anything else you would like to do with it). You still can be sued for copyright infringement after you bought a movie for example, if you share it with other people, if you stream it for profit, if you claim it is your own work, if you make changes into the product, if you make a copies and sell then and so on. So "buying a right not to be sued" is completely wrong understanding of the law.



Secondly, if they somehow knew this and this person was violating their copyright, they should`ve first told the person to stop, even through the court. This is completely normal. Let`s say there is an article here on Gamasutra and someone copy it on his webpage without permission. First of all You tell the person/company to remove the article from their webpage and/or buy a licence from You. And here You have clear evidence of copyright infringement, which I doubt You have when it comes to original case - downloading the video games. So, there is, let`s say standard procedure of how to deal with these things.



And lastly, the sum is much bigger because of damages - those are paid for breaking the law (copyright infringment), to put the things in the state before the law was broken (like You smash a window and you pay for a new one), to punish the wrongdoer (let`s say a big international comapny would pay more for a same crime than a pensioner), plus You pay unjust enrichment and so on. That is why it is hard to count these damages, because You have to consider individual circumstances for each case. I would therefore love to hear how did they count those numbers...

Jonathan Osment
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These publishers continue to over look the real source of their income loss and begin to accept that not everything online equates loss of profit or sale.



For starters, used game sales by exploitative retailers should be their real target. This is guaranteed loss of income, as opposed to hypothetical loss of income via "file sharing" (not piracy) over the internet.



Secondly, the term "pirating" is misconstrued. Making infinite copies without loss of physical matter or space over an invisible network of information in which it can and sometimes is shared should not be called pirating. The word has a negative connotation and really stems from the idea of taking physical property from one through force. It is file sharing in which the original still remains with the owner. It is an entirely different beast and or problem depending on how you look at it. There have been and continue to be positives associated with it along with the negatives.



The solution is something publishers hate to approach. Adapting their own technology to match what is used today. Change expectations, develop for a new medium and continue to INNOVATE not restrict for the sake of "milking it" for what its worth at that point in time.

Why are few PS3 games pirated? The size and scope of bluray games can discourage any pirate. The most easy solution is to push for a storage medium that can hold many gigabytes of data. Developers can and will use all that space if allowed or it is incentivized. The sheer size of a game would make it not worth the effort to even download for most. IT is the most user friendly source of DRM you can imagine, especially if it streams from a disc. PC users also have options which can be activated or registered. Online play is huge and often the bane of any file sharer.



Common sense and knowing who your real enemies are. It is not the file sharers or the users.


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