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PC Games (Games) Your Rights Online

London Lawyers Demand £600 For One Game 404

Posted by kdawson
from the tip-of-the-iceburg dept.
Barence writes "A PC Pro reader has received a demand for a £600 out-of-court settlement from lawyers claiming to have forensic evidence that he illegally downloaded a PC game on BitTorrent. The law firm, Davenport Lyons, is acting on the behalf of German games distributor Zuxxez, creator of the game in question, Two Worlds. The PC Pro reader was given no prior warning to stop file sharing, unlike the usual 'three strikes and you're out' approach adopted by the music industry. The reader says, 'To add insult to injury it [Davenport Lyons] didn't pay enough postage on the letter and I had to collect it from the sorting office at a cost of £1.30. This also used up most of the two weeks that it allowed for a response.'"
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London Lawyers Demand £600 For One Game

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  • by autocracy (192714) <slashdot2007.storyinmemo@com> on Friday May 09, 2008 @10:23AM (#23349692) Homepage
    I would call that horribly ineffective service. I hope the court would agree. You should never pay to know you're sued ;)
    • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Friday May 09, 2008 @10:55AM (#23350160) Journal
      I would absolutely agree that they've demonstrated incompetence at best, and have wilfully wasted time before the deadline at worst - to me this throws into question a lot of things about their case. Where did the evidence come from, for example? I've actually been wondering about that for a while when people are found to have 'x' infringing content on their machine; how do the lawyers know what you have downloaded? At what level are they monitoring us, and who are they cooperating with to do so?
      • by Hatta (162192)
        Pretty much any file sharing program (especially bittorrent) shares back what it downloaded. It's pretty trivial for someone to try to download a file, and make a note of what peers are offering up data.
        • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:40AM (#23350822) Journal
          This is partially why I was questioning their competence - they aren't trying to sue for distribution, they're suing for the act of having downloaded the game. If they simply jump onto the torrent and write down the IP addresses of the peers they have no evidence of anything other than the fact that the peer appeared to be sharing that file and possibly that they uploaded the sections that the lawyers' machine received. They have no idea whether the file was downloaded or placed there legitimately, and if they want to sue the user for distributing that copy then they should make that clear in their case.

          Again, I would question their competence for trying to accuse someone of making an illegal download without sufficient evidence - all that they have evidence of is 'making available' (and we all know that that has been called into question recently) or perhaps of uploading to their machine. If they do, in fact, have evidence of downloading then I would question what further corroborating information the ISPs have been providing.

          Reading back this post, I realise how weasel-worded it sounds and how much it is based on seemingly insignificant technicalities, but to be frank that is exactly how litigation is often performed and large companies have proved time and again that they have no interest in the spirit of the laws beyond the extent that they are of benefit to them. All I suggest is that we take the same attitude in return.
      • by JaJ_D (652372) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:35AM (#23350752)
        Just to clarify.... INAL

        From my understand a legal document is only considered "legal" when it is signed, sealed and delivered (know this is true for contracts, think it is also applic with documents like this - inferred contract?). So since the letter didn't have enough postage, technically it wasn't delivered

        So my gut feeling would be that the letter isn't legally binding. Would be fun to argue in court

        Jaj
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by m.ducharme (1082683)
          In my jurisdiction, service is legal if you can prove that the other guy received it. In this case, the fact that he had to pay for part of the postage would constitute proof of receipt. I know that when dealing with other firms, a fax confirmation sheet is enough to show that the other office received the document, whether or not they ever printed it off their fax machine. The same would apply to e-mails where a return-on-open message is received.
        • by Reziac (43301) * on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:23PM (#23351518) Homepage Journal
          Making sure the defendant won't have time to respond is an old and oft-used trick. I would guess that's what happened here -- the letters were *deliberately* underpostaged, so that in no case would the defendant have the full two weeks to decide what to do. Whether this is still a binding letter probably varies by jurisdiction. In some areas, merely a "reasonable attempt to notify" is required, NOT an actual delivery.

          A similar trick I've personally seen used for a sheriff's sale, where a member of that sheriff's department wanted to ensure that he would be the only bidder present, and that the owner would be unable to redeem his property: Legal notice of sale has to be posted in a public place. So... the legal notice was posted on a building at the fairgrounds. Which are technically "public" but in fact were locked and inaccessable for the whole notification period.

          • by somersault (912633) on Friday May 09, 2008 @01:13PM (#23352274) Homepage Journal
            Obligatory ;)

            "'...You hadn't exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them had you? I mean like actually telling anyone or anything.'
            'But the plans were on display...'
            'On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.'
            'That's the display department.'
            'With a torch.'
            'Ah, well the lights had probably gone.'
            'So had the stairs.'
            'But look you found the notice didn't you?'
            'Yes,' said Arthur, 'yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of The Leopard".'"
          • by Tacvek (948259) on Friday May 09, 2008 @02:35PM (#23353276) Journal

            A similar trick I've personally seen used for a sheriff's sale, where a member of that sheriff's department wanted to ensure that he would be the only bidder present, and that the owner would be unable to redeem his property: Legal notice of sale has to be posted in a public place. So... the legal notice was posted on a building at the fairgrounds. Which are technically "public" but in fact were locked and inaccessable for the whole notification period.
            I'm pretty sure that in those cases any interested party could get the sale reversed as invalid under an equity ruling. The posting may meet the legal requirements, but the posting alone does not make the sale valid. Rather the lack of posting makes the sale invalid. The sale could be contested on the point of not being a public sale, as the public was not capable of being aware of the sale. The notice being posted may however prevent the ability to receive damages beyond the injunction forcing the re-sale.
    • by _KiTA_ (241027)

      I would call that horribly ineffective service. I hope the court would agree. You should never pay to know you're sued ;)

      I would call it bloody brilliant by the villains in this story. Give the guy 2 weeks to reply, but make sure it takes him 2 weeks to even get the info? Perfect!

      The only way it could be better is if he had to admit guilt to even get the lawsuit information -- but hey, lets face it, not everyone can be as efficient as the US Government.

  • Is the name by any chance related to certain wars that they lost? Refer them to Arkell v Pressdram.
  • Hmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by Amiralul (1164423) on Friday May 09, 2008 @10:26AM (#23349718) Homepage
    killall -9 *orrent*
    rm -rf /mnt/storage/downloads/*

    There, I should be safe now.
  • by 77Punker (673758) <spencr04&highpoint,edu> on Friday May 09, 2008 @10:26AM (#23349726)
    Tell Zuxxez you'll pay when they make something that's worth money. At the moment, they can starve for all I care.
    • Re:Tell them this (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tompaulco (629533) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:02AM (#23350274) Homepage Journal
      If you don't think it is worth the money, you just don't buy it. You don't obtain it illegally. I don't think Ferraris are worth the money either, but I can't just go take one from the dealership or someone else that has one. I know we're not supposed to compare physical objects when discussing music, but this is software and comes in a box when purchased legitimately.
      • Re:Tell them this (Score:5, Interesting)

        by eldorel (828471) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:28AM (#23350660)
        Yeah, but you can go to the dealership and take the Ferrari for a test drive. If they don't have a demo available, I'm not paying unless word of mouth makes it seem worth it.

        I have pirated games to try them, and if they are good, I buy them. Usually multiple copies for myself and my friends. (We have weekly lan parties, and I supply the extra systems for new people)

        I'm not about to buy 4 copies of a game, and have my friends buy copies, just to discover that the multiplayer sucks horribly.
        As a matter of fact, I purchased a game just a few weeks ago that played great up until we hit 3 players on the network, then the game bogged down and lagged itself to death. Fortunately, I had only purchased the one copy, and no-cd cracked it on the other systems for testing.

        Software retailers don't take games back. I'm not gambling $100+ on something that I can easily test out first.
        • Re:Tell them this (Score:4, Insightful)

          by CogDissident (951207) on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:01PM (#23351138)
          Additionally: Many times the demo is fake, or a misrepresentation of the game's quality. For the best example of this, play Dungeon Lords (or better yet, don't. Also don't buy Dungeon Lords 2). They finished exactly as much content in the game as was in the first dungeon+town. Later towns lacked anything except a random structure with a NPC in it, and at least two times during the story the player had to enable no-clip to proceed due to unfinished parts of the game.
        • Re:Tell them this (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Original Replica (908688) on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:20PM (#23351450) Journal
          "Oh no your Honor I didn't steal the game, I simple facilitated an unintended demo release." Good luck with that one.
          For the lawyers out there, Is there any kind of requirement to allow for a return of an untestable product if it proves unsatisfactory? Honest game reviews are only written by consumers and are often overrun by paid reviews and marketing postings in "Consumer Review" listings, so a worthless product is quite difficult to detect and as the parent post points out "software retailers don't take games back." Is there a way to demand a refund from a software company in exchange for invalidating our license?(which we don't need because the software isn't worth using)
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by pimpimpim (811140)
            Actually, German law should allow for you to return a product ordered over the internet within something like two to four weeks, no questions asked. Digital media might be an exception there, though, due to copying. Then again if the company provided the game with copy protection you might be able to show that ,due to it not being copyable, it should be treated as any other good ordered over the internet.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mrchaotica (681592) *

        I don't think Ferraris are worth the money either, but I can't just go take one from the dealership or someone else that has one.

        That's a bad analogy, because if you took a Ferrari then the previous owner wouldn't have it anymore. Now, if you could replicate the Ferrari a la Star Trek, the situation would be entirely different, and the ethics of it would be much less clear-cut.

      • Re:Tell them this (Score:4, Insightful)

        by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:20PM (#23351462)
        The reason you're not supposed to compare physical objects and digital objects is that they're nothing alike. It's like comparing a Ferrari and a dodo to figure out how mass transportation ought to work. It's complete nonsense.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by apt142 (574425)
          Thanks for the visual. A traffic jam of jockey's on dodos made my day.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Em Adespoton (792954)
        That argument will work when you can stumble across a Ferrari on the internet and download it out of curiosity.

        A better comparison would be money itself. I don't really need any Pesos, so I don't buy any on the foreign exchange. If I come across an unsecured account online, I can't just transfer some of it over to my own name, no matter how worthless it is. I also can't launder my own (although money laundering another country's money is a bit of a legal grey area I guess).

        Hard currency is one of those t
  • by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Friday May 09, 2008 @10:31AM (#23349784) Journal
    Don't do it. Don't engage in the illegal sharing of copyrighted materials. No joke, no troll. It's an expensive offence to commit, due to its often exponential growth in damages, and most people can't afford it. If you can't afford the thousands it takes to settle these cases, then just stop doing it right now. Go on. If you "need" a game, have a look at some of the free (in either sense) games floating around on the internet, or buy some quality second-hand, or older, cheap, but still very good games at your local games store. It's going to be a helluva lot cheaper than paying any settlement, believe me.
    • by diskofish (1037768) on Friday May 09, 2008 @10:41AM (#23349928)
      If you read the article, the reader claims he never downloaded the game in the first place, nor can he find an evidence of it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Unfortunately, that won't be enough.

      Do not make the mistake of assuming that someone's guilty just because they receive a letter from a lawyer. The guy hasn't even been sued yet - not that it would be evidence of his guilt if he were, of course, since as we all know, even homeless people who have never owned a computer at all have been dragged into court over alleged illegal distribution of music.

      At the same time, this also shows that even when you don't do anything illegal, you won't be safe from litigatio
    • by wattrlz (1162603)
      Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it illegal to resell or redistribute IP? From what I've read several famous organizations that end in, "AA" seem to think so.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MBGMorden (803437)
        You're wrong. Gamestop and Blockbuster would have been sued into oblivion if it was. You'll notice that their shelves are stocked full of used games, and Blockbuster sells off 90% of their used movies after they pass out of "new release" status (afterall they may need 150 copies of a hot movie the week it's released, but then a year later they can make due with 2 or 3 copies). Most pawn shops are full of used movies/games/cd's too.

        As to the "AA's", evil as they are, I've not heard them challenge resellin
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by NeutronCowboy (896098)
          50% of the drive towards hard-core DRM is the removal of the 2nd-hand market.

          Piracy is a drop in the bucket compared to the legal 2nd hand market. Gamestop's percentage of revenue from used products was 32% last year, with 44% of its overall profit coming from there.

          Publishers would love to get their hands on that market - even if it is not the same market as the new market.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Earlier today I was looking at albums by a certain duo (who will remain anonymous here, it's not relevant to the post) and ended up flabbergasted by the prices. £15-20 each! If I wanted all ten that are available, I'd be talking £150-200, which is easily my entire bank account right now. But within minutes on a torrent search engine, I found all ten in a single torrent with some seeders online. What the hell do you expect me to do?

      I want to support them, I really do, and I'll probably buy whic

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by radish (98371)
        So because you can't afford something it's OK to not pay for it? Try explaining that to your local supermarket. You know what I do when I can't afford something? I live without it.
    • by kestasjk (933987)
      You're very unlikely to have to pay a settlement. The cost of paying a settlement is (Chance of being sued)*(Average cost of settlement), if that is less than the cost of the game it's a sound "gamble" to download the game instead of paying.

      This is just looking at the "it will cost you" argument, I'm not making any comment on the ethics.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      It's an expensive offence to commit

      Interesting. I had the opposite reaction.

      A £600 fine? That's nothing! Think about the probability of being caught. If you look at the number of users on a typical torrent site (tens of thousands for a popular file), and the number of torrent sites (dozens)... and then compare that to the number of cases actually being brought against suspected infringers... Well, the probability of being accused is quite low.

      That low probability multiplied by a ~$1,000 fine is, really, not much (certainly much

  • For THAT!? (Score:3, Informative)

    by superbus1929 (1069292) on Friday May 09, 2008 @10:33AM (#23349818) Homepage
    Zuxxez wants 600 quid for TWO WORLDS!? They should be paying US to play that piece of shit! Not only was that game completely unplayable, it was buggy as shit as well!

    They whined that it was improperly compared to Oblivion. If it wasn't for those comparisons, no one would have even cared about their piece of shit game in the first place. So since they care more about punishing the few people that download the game (or not; we don't know what these "forensics" are) a lot more than making a game that doesn't suck, they can fuck off.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      "..compared to Oblivion"
      compared in what way, bug count? Cause I find it hard to believe it had more bugs then Oblivion!
  • by Puffy Director Pants (1242492) on Friday May 09, 2008 @10:35AM (#23349840)
    Return to Sender. Then disappear and join the Foreign Legion.
  • by Have Blue (616) on Friday May 09, 2008 @10:38AM (#23349888) Homepage

    I had to collect it from the sorting office at a cost of £1.30. This also used up most of the two weeks that it allowed for a response.'"

    Damn, I didn't realize the lines there were that bad.
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday May 09, 2008 @10:40AM (#23349922) Journal
    Demand a copy of the "forensic evidence" in full, then double-check it with your ISP (and if you can, your own computer). Not 100% sure ab't the UK, but in the US, you do have the right to demand this.

    /P

    • by g0bshiTe (596213)
      I don't see why it would be any different in the UK.
    • by growse (928427)

      If you do that, then that proves that you got the letter.

      These particular guys are a joke. If you were really sent a "give us money or we're going to court", you can be damn sure that it'll go via courier or special delivery. They're not going to drop it in the mail and hope.

      This is mail-and-pray. People who get these letters should just drop them in the bin and forget about them.

      • by plague3106 (71849)
        Well, if someone sent something to me and the PO said I had to pay for part of the postage because the sender underpaid, I'd tell them to return whatever it is to the sender. Why would anyone pay to have anything unsolicited to them?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by enjo13 (444114)
      Its not uncommon for someone to have a small breadcrumb of evidence that would not likely result in penalties in court. However you send an ominous letter threatening to sue counting on the fact that the defendant knows that he is guilty. They'll pay up now, rather than risk bigger problems and costs in a court trial. In this case your gambling: Do they have worthwhile evidence or not? They're not going to tell you one way or the other.
  • Worthless (Score:5, Informative)

    by esocid (946821) on Friday May 09, 2008 @10:42AM (#23349942) Journal
    Everything I've read about both Davenport Lyons and Zuxxez makes them look pretty shady since they are using MAFIAA tactics to extort money from people, many of whom are innocent but their guilty until proven innocent outlook doesn't help. They went after 500 people last year for that stupid pinball game, and even went so far as to ask people for details/documentation about their computers and routers, all outside of court mind you, so it's another story of IP renegades run amuck.
  • Eh? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by neokushan (932374) on Friday May 09, 2008 @10:43AM (#23349962)
    Perhaps I need to RTFA a bit more closely, but I thought the logic (for lack of a better term) behind the RIAA/MPAA's claims of thousands of $$$ per item was because that was a rough estimate of the amount they've lost based on the number of people that downloaded said item from them (So at say $15 per film, they're saying that 20,000 people will have downloaded it, thus $30,000), but it seems they're demanding he pay £600 for the game itself, not what they'd lost due to him distributing it?
    I don't see how that works at all, surely the most he should be liable for is the £40 the game could cost? Or better yet, the £10 or whatever it is that the DEVELOPERS lost out on?
  • What proof (Score:5, Informative)

    by Karem Lore (649920) on Friday May 09, 2008 @10:44AM (#23349980)
    I would ask them for their forensic evidence it was you that downloaded the game. I would also request your ISP for the information that they provided to the company against the Data Protection Act and politely inform them that if they did provide this information then they would be next in line for divulging your personal details. I would request from the lawyers copies of all the details provided by your ISP. I would also be informing them that their collection and use of your personal details without your approval will be met by even more stringent regulations under British law. I would also contact the Citizen's Advice Bureau to discuss with them how you should proceed and for them to put you in touch with a lawyer/association. At the brunt of this, you have to pay for your ISP to have provided the information. This means that your ISP charged for providing them the information, ergo they sold the information to a third-party. I would have their necks if my ISP did this. Karem
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mgblst (80109)
      Yeah, but clearly the guy is guilty, and they know that. They also know that he is unlikely to have £1000s to fight for his rights in court, as well as all the stigma invovled if the papers get interested, affecting his future job. Whatever he demands from them, he has no rights until it goes before a judge.

      You really shouldn't be downloading illegal stuff anymore.
      • Yeah, but clearly the guy is guilty,
        Based on exactly what do you make this definitive statement of his guilt?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by growse (928427)
      The other, easier, option is just to forget about it. From what I gather, Davenport Lyons have a 100% not-following-up-on-people-who-don't-pay record.
  • The letter goes on to claim that its "client is prepared to give you the opportunity to avoid legal action" provided it receives compensation of £600 plus £8.18 to cover the costs of obtaining the user's details from their ISP.

    8.18 for the ISP for my personal information? I'd be insulted.
  • by ktappe (747125) on Friday May 09, 2008 @10:57AM (#23350194)
    Odds are that he paid to receive the letter out of curiosity 'cos he had no idea what was in it. But let's say for the sake of argument that he did know it was a copyright notice....could he have let it sit in the post office and then claimed later he had never formally/legally received their notice?
  • So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hythlodaeus (411441) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:07AM (#23350324)
    What, aside from the lol forgot stamps bit, is the point of this story. Guy infringes copyright, gets sued. So? Are we supposed to be conditioned to find every case of copyright enforcement to be outrageous?
  • by PhreakOfTime (588141) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:08AM (#23350330) Homepage

    Seriously, anyone can send you any letter they want. There is no requirement for it to be based on truth.

    I received one of these demand letters [demystify.info] a few months back. In it, a commercial company was demanding that I turn over domain names that I owned legally, to them because of claims of trademark infringement. Nevermind that the domains didnt point to a website that actually sold any commercial product or service of any kind to base a claim of trademark upon. The company that sent the letter was Caton Commercial [willcounty...tcourt.com]

    After talking with a handful of lawyers to see what my rights were, it basically boiled down to all of them telling me what I told you in the first sentence.

    "All you have there is an angry letter from people who sent it to you because they themselves know that a court of law would not uphold their claims, and are hoping for you to make a decision in their benefit because you are scared."

    Me personally, I just ignored the letter and plan to let the domains expire since they are worthless to me in the first place. If this company is so interested in the domains, they can buy them with their own money. I sure dont plan to give them away for free as the letter demanded.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bamwham (1211702)
      Exactly what I would do. If the letter wasn't certified and didn't clearly arrive with ample assurance that I would have to receive it, I'd just recycle it. Maybe I'd call up one of my friends who went to law school, but only if we had something else to talk about anyway.

      OTH it might be amusing to send them a bill for the balance on the postage. I never would pay to receive a letter.

      This thing was sent from one country to another, anyone who has sent important documents to another country knows yo
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Reziac (43301) *
      What about selling them the domains now? if you don't plan to keep them, you might get something from these jerks for wasting your time. You might ask your lawyers about that.

      Of course, if you just let them expire, chances are they'll be snapped up by some squatter, and then they'll never get 'em ;)

  • by s0litaire (1205168) * on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:13AM (#23350424)
    In UK law If someone demands money from a person and threats at further hostile action it's termed "Demanding money with menace" and is a criminal offence. The Lawyer is basically saying "Pay my clients the money or we'll take you to court and take more money off of you." he has not provided any evidence other than "we got proof" which could mean anything from a bit of paper with the words "he's guilty!" scrawled on it in crayon, to a full IP tracking of every data packet too and from his machine. Best thing the guy can do is contact the Lawyer and ask for proof...
  • That company name looks more like "teh Zuxxerz" to me... or something...

    Yeah, I'll get mi coat.
  • From TFA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:16AM (#23350456)
    "client is prepared to give you the opportunity to avoid legal action" provided it receives compensation of £600 plus £8.18 to cover the costs of obtaining the user's details from their ISP. "

    Hear that? Sounds like a bucket full of water being thrown around?

    That's the sound of his ISP shitting their pants, as they're being sued for breach of the DPA for providing personally identifiable information to a third party without prior permission or court order.

    If this guy hasn't already, he needs to go talk to CAB and get legal representation.

    This case could help a lot of people out in the UK beat these strong-arm extortion tactics.
  • by Prototerm (762512) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:35AM (#23350758)
    Couldn't resist the bad pun, sorry.
  • Another link... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JaJ_D (652372) on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:08PM (#23351250)
    From: - http://virtuallawatlse.blogspot.com/2007/03/davenport-lyons-pursues-500-file.html [blogspot.com]
    and
    http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2007/03/28/uk_share_hunt/ [reghardware.co.uk]

    The interesting bit is "In relation to your claim that your computer was hacked into, we regret that the security of your computer is not our concern. It is your responsibility to ensure that your computer is protected at all times."

    WTF!! Does that mean if someone is stabbed on the street then it's the victims fault that (s)he wasn't wearing a stab-proof vest? Or do we sue car manufactorers for making cars that can go faster than the national speed limits (aiding and abeting a crime)? Or if someone steals your credit cards and uses them then it's your fault for not keeping them secure?!!??

    Where do you draw the line?

    Jaj

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