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California Judge Awards $9mil In Piracy Damages

California Judge Awards $9mil In Piracy Damages

October 5, 2006 | By Jason Dobson

October 5, 2006 | By Jason Dobson
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The ESA, the video game industry's trade body, has announced that a federal court in California has ordered defendants to pay in excess of $9 million in damages for Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violations, including trafficking of mod chips and a device called HDLoader, which allows copies of games to be downloaded directly onto the hard drive of a game console.

The ESA reports that the ruling came down on September 11 from Judge Claudia Wilken of the U.S. District Court in Northern District of California. Judge Wilken awarded $3,750,200.00 in damages against corporate defendant Divineo, Inc., and Canadian resident Frederic Legault. She also awarded $5,791,400.00 in damages against corporate defendants Divineo U.K. and Divineo SARL, and French resident Max Louarn.

The ruling follows the December 2005 decision by the US District Court of the Northern District of California, which ordered Ohio resident Steven Filipiak to pay over $6 million in fees for violating the DMCA. The act, which was enacted in 1998, prohibits the manufacture, distribution and sale of products or services that circumvent technological protection measures designed to prevent unauthorized access to, and copying of, copyrighted materials.

Mod chips and HDLoaders are key elements in facilitating video game piracy because they allow people to play illegally copied games on illegally modified video game consoles, commented Ric Hirsch, senior vice president of Intellectual Property Enforcement for the ESA. This Court order is very important because it recognizes the significant damage that mod chips and HDLoaders cause the entertainment software industry and delivers the clear message that trafficking in circumvention devices that enable game piracy will result in heavy penalties.


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