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Entertainment Software Association Following RIAA? 204

Posted by kdawson
from the iceberg-ho dept.
cavis writes "My organization just received an e-mail from the Intellectual Property enforcement division of the Entertainment Software Association. It accuses one particular IP address with 'infringing the copyright rights of one or more ESA members by copying and distributing unauthorized copies of game products (through peer-to-peer or similar software/services).' It goes on to name the filename and the application: Limewire. Has anyone had any contact with this group? Are they following the RIAA's lead and pursuing litigation for peer-to-peer piracy? I'm just trying to evaluate what I am in for as I try to battle P2P within my network." Read on for more details.
The letter reads in part (with my redactions):

The Entertainment Software Association ("ESA") is a US trade association that represents the intellectual property interests of numerous companies that publish interactive games for video game consoles, personal computers, handheld devices and the Internet(hereinafter collectively referred to as "ESA members"). ESA is authorized to act on behalf of ESA members whose copyright and other intellectual property rights it believes to be infringed as described herein.

Based on the information at its disposal on 24 Nov 2008 01:09:08 GMT, ESA has a good faith belief that the subscriber using the IP address [IP address] infringing the copyright rights of one or more ESA members by copying and distributing unauthorized copies of game products (through peer-to-peer or similar software/services), in violation of applicable copyright laws, through internet access that [agency name] provides directly to the [IP address] or through a downstream provider that purchases this access for [IP address].
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Entertainment Software Association Following RIAA?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @05:25PM (#25891709)

    24 Nov 2008 01:09:08 GMT

    Well, at least they're speedy!

  • Legal advice. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FooAtWFU (699187) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @05:26PM (#25891719) Homepage
    Get a lawyer and ask them for legal advice.

    Slashdot is fine too; asking can't hurt, but don't neglect your lawyer.

    • Re:Legal advice. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DarkMantle (784415) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @05:41PM (#25891953) Homepage
      "I'm just trying to evaluate what I am in for as I try to battle P2P within my network." I don't think a lawyer can help him battle P2P in his network.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by KevMar (471257)

        No, but this letter can.

        Send out a company wide email with this message and the letter:

        Do to legal action imposed on us, we need all users of P2P software to meet with our attorny on Monday. P2P has no valid use for our line of business so our attorny will not represent you in court if you receive one of these letters with your IP address on it. As a reminder the use of P2P software is not allowed on our network.

        • Re:Legal advice. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @06:44PM (#25892807)

          Downloading software is no longer a valid business use? Why, because P2P is only used for illegal purposes? You must be in management if that's your line of thinking.

          • Re:Legal advice. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Eskarel (565631) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:08PM (#25893795)
            There's nothing wrong with downloading (legal) software, but in most business environments, only a specified subset of people should be doing it, not every tom, dick and harry.
            Even then there are usually other ways to get the data, and since most corporate firewalls make P2P difficult, P2P is rarely used in business.
          • Re:Legal advice. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @10:28PM (#25894949) Homepage

            Exactly, management that has little to no technical education or knowledge.

            I deployed a great bittorrent setup within Comcast 3 years ago to spread the load for software patches and upgrades. It worked like a charm in the 12 offices I tested it in.. Until the Management idiots at the NOC in Philly threw a fit. They approved the test but a complete knob that had a title but no brain heard the acronym P2P and freaked like a frightened school girl. We had to kill the project because of a single uneducated wussie in upper management. (He was recently let go with the current downsizing that is running wild in the company.. I cry for him.. Really... :-P)

            Anyone that says there is no legitimate use for P2p in business is simply very very uneducated.

            • Re:Legal advice. (Score:4, Insightful)

              by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @11:56PM (#25895587)

              One thing that I've learned the longer that I've stayed in the industry is that upper management often responds better if you call them a dick when they're being a dick.

              Now, naturally you want to gussy it up a bit to not be as insulting, but you have to speak the language that they understand.

              In addition to the technical merits of P2P (you might not even want to trump those up that much), basically get them alone and say "Listen, Bob. I understand you're doing what you think is best for the company. You pay me for my experience and knowledge though, and in this situation you're being a little too quick on the trigger without getting all the facts. Peer-to-peer is merely a way for computers to talk to each other, and using it internally is not unethical, or illegal, and it will save us money over time.".

              There. Adjust as necessary for the situation (and be ready to accept POSSIBLE rejection), but 99% of the time I've found that if you pull management (or at least, the non-IT portions of management) aside and nicely explain why they're acting stupid, they'll often do what's right.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Um...naive a bit?

          1) P2P has lots of legitimate uses (linux much?). I use it more for legal than illegal these days actually.
          2) Just because you're not breaking hte law doesn't mean they won't target you. Remember their business model: rather than producing anything of value they send letter, receive money, profit. Reference: all the people without computers getting sued. Reference: that study where they got a cease and desist sent to a network printer

          What I'm trying to say is that you shouldn't say the atto

          • Re:Legal advice. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @07:55PM (#25893637)

            Um...naive a bit?

            Illiterate a bit?? He wrote:

            P2P has no valid use for our line of business

            He's not saying P2P has no legitimate use, just that in that specific job, it has no legitimate use. Even downloading a legal copy of Linux is not a valid use of the companies internet connection to, say, a peon working in the accounting department.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Pharmboy (216950)

            P2P has great value, but not at most offices. The average desk monkey doesn't need to be downloading the newest version of Knoppix, that is IT's job, and no one worth their salt in IT would be using Limewire. False argument. It is some desk monkey who thinks he knows what he is doing, and he doesn't.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by billcopc (196330)

              I've yet to work in an IT department that doesn't have at least half the techs using some sort of P2P app, whether it's Limewire/Shareaza garbage or BitTorrent.

              And no, I'm not in the 3rd world. These are mostly legit offices, but like any industry, 75% of all techs are shifty imbeciles with worthless credentials.

              • by Pharmboy (216950)

                Get a better job. Any IT person using Limewire isn't fit to clean a keyboard. Bittorrent, that depends on the site of course. Still, there isn't much of a reason for IT to even use P2P at work, at least not regularly. It isn't like you change the OS of all your servers when the newest version of Gentoo comes out....

        • Re:Legal advice. (Score:4, Informative)

          by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:42PM (#25894105) Homepage

          Are you suggesting they negotiate with terrorists ? Because that's what these litigating spammers are.

          There is no such thing as "good faith belief", unless you work for the police. Recent RIAA court failures should be a sign.

          Get them to show you undeniable proof, or else they can fuck right off!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I think this guy just wants to know about the ESA and its modus operandi; not what they have to do legally. Obviously, you need a lawyer for that.

      That said, I haven't heard of them suing people en masse, though the ESA has been sending takedown notices for a long time now. I seem to recall that you can see a bit of their work on the Pirate Bay's legal complaints page, for example.

      Another poster mentions something about removing the files and then hitting the user with a cluestick and having them go away.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DigitAl56K (805623) *

      Get a lawyer and ask them for legal advice.

      I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me that:

      * Simply stopping the infringement at this point might be enough to resolve the matter
      * You should re-enforce your organizations computer/network use policies (and ensure that you have one)
      * You might consider disciplining the responsible person if you don't think a word in their ear will be enough to prevent this re-occurring

      The text in TFS although written in a very legal style does not seem to imply further action is being taken, yet.

      • by schon (31600)

        Simply stopping the infringement at this point might be enough to resolve the matter

        And what if there *isn't* any actual infringement?

        What if (oh, I don't know) someone spoofed the IP address [boingboing.net] to direct attention away from themselves?

        Cavis didn't actually say that he found Limewire, or any warez on the affected IP address (or even if it was in use at the time of the alleged infringement.) Maybe the first step might be to determine if the letter is accurate before "disciplining" anyone?

    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      That's right. Won't someone think of the lawyers.
  • Take it to the press (Score:4, Interesting)

    by poetmatt (793785) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @05:29PM (#25891761) Journal

    Make sure this gets mainstream press coverage. Be sure to sensationalize it and compare it to the RIAA. Watch them back down quickly.

    • by orclevegam (940336) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @06:15PM (#25892429) Journal

      Make sure this gets mainstream press coverage. Be sure to sensationalize it and compare it to the RIAA. Watch them back down quickly.

      So far it looks like they're being very diplomatic about it. It's somewhat disturbing that they're actually monitoring Limewire for copyright infringement, but as far as possible responses go, sending a letter that essentially says "We tracked someone to your network, we'd appreciate if you'd do something about it." is one of the better ones. It would have been nice if they actually asked for something to be done, instead of leaving it open with the implication of possible legal action, but it's a lot better than saying pay up or we'll see you in court (which is no doubt what the RIAA would do). This approach is similar to the one that the MPAA has adopted in which they send a letter that essentially says "We know you're violating our copyright, we have records of you transferring such and such movie on such and such time from such and such IP. This is a warning, please stop now or we'll pursue legal avenues." (friend of mine received such a letter). Notice that the ESA isn't asking for money, and no where in the letter (at least the portion we're provided) does it say anything about a lawsuit.

      Personally, I'd start by tracking down the moron running Limewire on a company system and have a chat with them. Then I'd block Limewire (no reason to be running that period, bittorrent is defensible, but Limewire is just an excuse to get a trojan on your system), and circulate a memo explaining that it's unacceptable to be running unapproved P2P software (to allow for possible valid uses of bittorrent). In the memo I'd make sure to stress the security implications and strong risk of virus infection possible from downloading off a P2P network. In particular make sure to point out that anti-virus software really only defends against well known threats and that it's trivially easy to create a trojan or virus that can go undetected and then distribute it through a P2P network for weeks or longer before AV software becomes aware of it. This nicely sidesteps the whole copyright infringement argument while still pointing our the very real security concern these apps pose for a commercial (or government as the case may be) intranet.

      • by Blakey Rat (99501)

        It's somewhat disturbing that they're actually monitoring Limewire for copyright infringement,

        How do you figure?

    • How does one go about getting mainstream press coverage for something the press doesn't actually care about?
    • Make sure this gets mainstream press coverage. Be sure to sensationalize it and compare it to the RIAA. Watch them back down quickly.

      Wow, an alleged victim of piracy has informed an organization that one of their members is causing them harm. Quite an outrage! What would you have them do?

      As far as I can see they informed the org of the problem and provided enough information so that the problem could be rectified. Seems quite reasonable. Are they suing or demanding settlements? The summary does not indicate so. If they've received notice and continue to do nothing about it and the infringement continues then it probably becomes a case of

  • by wikki (13091) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @05:30PM (#25891771)

    Maybe they are finally getting around to busting you for making copies of Leisure Suit Larry and giving them to your friends.

  • the riaa's extortion model is under legal attack

    • circletimessquare: the riaa's extortion model is under legal attack

      Not so; it's not like the RIAA has sued them over it or anything...

      ...

      ...

      Someone really should go to the RIAA and tell them that the use of spurious lawsuits by other companies could set disadvantageous precedents and weaken their legal claims in the future.

      I mean, just to warn them of course.

  • "Great. And what do you expect me to do about it?"

    You are not liable for anything your users do on the network. If you are operating a service like youtube, you'd have a DMCA takedown request. Taking down the allegedly infringing content puts you in the clear. End of story. If you aren't, then you really don't have to comply with anything they say. The RIAA doesn't sue ISPs for damages. They sue the person doing the infringing.

    A court proceeding would be limited to requiring you to divulge who owned

    • Re:My reply (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dynedain (141758) <slashdot2@NOspaM.anthonymclin.com> on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @05:36PM (#25891861) Homepage

      WRONG

      If you are a company, you certainly are responsible for what your employees do with your network resources. Just about the only way the company can weasel out of it is to show good faith attempts at reprimanding the offenders and attempts at preventing their future misbehavior.

      • by stinerman (812158)

        Link?

        You may very well be right, but I've always thought that the worst a copyright holder can do in cases of infringement is require the network operator to divulge the information required to file suit against the alleged infringer.

        • by Dynedain (141758)

          You're assuming the "network operator" is simply a provider, like an ISP. The original poster, by calling it "my organization" wasn't clear if he meant a company, a service provider, a charity, or any other number of organization types.

          A company is certainly liable for the activities their employees engage in using company resources. This is exactly why companies tend to have strict rules about what can and can't be done with their assets and resources (IT or otherwise). Same reason why anti-moonlighting po

          • When I read the words "my organization" in the original post, I heard them in a gravelly voice with an Italian accent... but maybe I've just been watching too many movies.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I go to a canadian university. I've had several of these, forwarded from my school administrator.... when i asked them what to do, they said 'don't do it again ... and if you do, we'll ask you nicely to stop, again... and again... '

      • by Hatta (162192)

        If you are a company, you certainly are responsible for what your employees do with your network resources.

        From my reading of the summary, it looks like the alleged infringer is a customer, not an employee.

        • by Dynedain (141758)

          I didn't get that. And since the poster obfuscated what kind of organization is under discussion, potential liability and courses of action are meaningless since different kinds of entities have different sets of legal restrictions and expectations.

    • You are not liable for anything your users do on the network. If you are operating a service like youtube, you'd have a DMCA takedown request.

      Yeah, but if you saw subby's email address, you'd see his "organization" is the West Virginia government [wv.gov], so I'd wager things might be a little more complicated for him.
      • by stinerman (812158)

        Point taken.

      • Well, in that case, he should remember to ask his lawyer about an 11th Amendment defense as well.

      • Next you'll tell me that they have libraries and schools or something crazy like that ;)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chyeld (713439)

        Executive Privilege [wikipedia.org] and a reminder that you can't sue a soveregn entity unless it allows you?

      • by smoker2 (750216)

        You are not liable for anything your users do on the network. If you are operating a service like youtube, you'd have a DMCA takedown request.

        Yeah, but if you saw subby's email address, you'd see his "organization" is the West Virginia government, so I'd wager things might be a little more complicated for him.

        Which is probably why the communication is so polite ...
        I would imagine the RIAA would be polite to a govt. dept. too.

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      Not exactly, there is the 'safe-harbor' [wikipedia.org] provision of the DMCA that may matter in this case.

  • by marcop (205587) <marcop.slashdot@org> on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @05:36PM (#25891879) Homepage

    Are they merely asking for the infringement to stop, are they threatening to take you court and asking for an out-of-court settlement, are they asking for the identity of the person with the IP address?

    If it's the first option then it's easy, find the person who might be infringing and deal with it. Perhaps even block the Limewire service on your network. Setup guidelines for accepted computer usage within your organization. Then ignore the letter unless it demands some form of communication back to them, or threatens legal action if something isn't done about it. If it does ask for a response or you get a second letter, then refer to legal advice on how to deal with it.

    The other two scenarios may require legal opinions and official responses.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jonbwhite (1402901)
      I received a similar letter in 2006 from ESA while in the dorms at UC Berkeley. All I was asked to do was to take down the infringing material and notified that if I did it again I would have my internets revoked. No word from then in 2+ years.
  • Well, it's an interesting letter, but there are some questions I'd want the answers to before moving forward in any capacity:

    1. What copyrights exactly are they claiming have been infringed?

    2. Who are they saying has infringed them?

    3. What exactly do they want you to do about it?

    I'd also repeat what has been mentioned here by more than one person - consult a lawyer about this, and find out what your liability is, and the best way to proceed. One thing you have to consider is that they could have come acros

    • 1. What copyrights have been infringed?
      I recall reading about people getting letters for merely the filename of a file being shared, even (in at least on case that I can recall), when the file was just a few bytes and could not have been the movie alleged to have been shared.

      2. Who dun it?
      The person at the other end of the IP address of course!

      Anyway, I would suggest, based on the limited amount of material provided, that you find out (if possible), who/what was using the IP address and have a stern talking

    • by pipatron (966506)

      It is also quite possible that they got caught by a rotating IP address, and while there may have been something questionable going on at that IP address, that IP address now belongs to somebody completely different.

      Unfortunately not; it still belongs to the organization, and what user is behind it is possibly not very interesting, legally. The reason they want to find the actual person might be that it's easier and much cheaper to get some money from a poor citizen than to sue the organization for damages.

  • What do you mean, your "organization"? Is this letter directed at an ISP or are you the network admin for a company? Have you checked the machine with the corresponding IP to see if Limewire is installed?

  • Get A Lawyer. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Caraig (186934) * on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @05:42PM (#25891967)

    Get a lawyer.

    There may be many people in the /. crowd who, rightly or wrongly think any system where lawyers are needed is bad. That's besides the point. You need legal advice. Lawyers provide legal advice.

    Get a lawyer.

    It's all well and good to ask for input from /. and Groklaw etc., but get competent, professional, legal advice and trust it over what anyone says here. Nobody here is a lawyer. (And if they are, then they're not being contracted by you to get legal advice, and so are not liable; moreover, they don't have the full details of the letter you got.

    An example: Someone said 'take it to the press.' Ask a lawyer before you do that. There are all sorts of procedural reasons why doing that could make a court rule against you. What sort of reasons? IANAL.

    So before anything else, get a lawyer to sit down with you and go over the letter, have them research and follow up on the letter, and see what your legal obligations are. Is the ESA asking for a name to go with that IP address? Is this a C&D letter of some kind? Are they threatening your company with legal action? Heck, for that matter, does this organization actually exist? (Someone could be pulling an elaborate joe job. Unlikely, but possible.)

    In short, get a lawyer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Joe Jay Bee (1151309)

      What sort of reasons? IANAL.

      While your love of it in the pooper is entirely your own decision, and I respect you for being able to admit it so bravely, I fail to see why the submitter shouldn't take something to the press as a result.

  • They haven't made a request for takedown, haven't cited the applicable laws for the aforementioned, and do not mention the specific instance of the infraction. What you've got here is a bullshit takedown notice. It's a scare tactic. Send back to your ISP that it is not a valid DMCA notification and no action is necessary. Also, it takes more than an IP address to prove infringement -- they also have to prove it was you, on a computer that was using that IP address, at that time. Short of a forensic search o

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @05:55PM (#25892151)

    If their mailing address is in Nigeria, I'd settle immediately. There could be big $$$ in it for you.

  • Yes and no (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @05:56PM (#25892171)

    Yes, we've been contacted by them (I work for a large university). We got a DMCA takedown notice. However no they aren't acting like the RIAA, they seem to be working like the MPAA. That is to say they send a notice saying "Please remover this shit and yell at the user." We say "Ok we did," and that's the last we ever hear from them. They don't seem to be suing people, they just seem to be trying to get the ISPs to take down the content.

  • by InfinityWpi (175421) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @06:04PM (#25892299)

    I got one of those passed on to me via my ISP once. Turns out I'd picked up a virus and someone had installed filesharing onto one of my PCs. Thanked the ISP, cleaned up the machine, never heard another thing about it.

    So clean up your network, thank them for letting you know, and I'd assume as long as it doesn't happen again, you're okay.

  • Admit nothing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @06:07PM (#25892337)
    Reply with a letter stating "That IP address is a Dynamic DHCP address handed out by an open Wireless Access Point, so I have no idea who was using it at the time. However, we are now putting in place measures to limit access." Then, if you can actually track down the IP to a specific user, beat them about the head and shoulders with a stout cluestick while repeating the mantra "Inappropriate or unauthorized use of the network will be result in severe consequences up to and including termination." Sounds like they're being reasonable here, which means if you can convince them that you are policing yourself, they won't feel the need to come barging in with lawyers to do your policing for you.
  • As i got one of these takedown notices sent to my home isp last weekend.. for apparently downloading and sharing a torrent of a game that i actually own in hardcopy.

    While my ISP did what they needed to do to indemnify themselves, and then gave me my access back (the process felt automated and took about 5 minutes), i was pretty pissed off that someone could just assert that my ip was associated with a torrent and have my access removed like that.. Don't get me wrong, i'd still be annoyed if i was actually
  • Its how large conglomerates operate today. Accuse your customers of theft, get draconian anti freedom laws passed and profit off the fines and governmental subsides ( 'media tax' )

    And here is a new flash: WE ALLOW IT.

  • To make sure that it wasn't one of your printers [washington.edu] [PDF warning].
  • Someone is still using limewire???

  • Old news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by seebs (15766) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @01:18AM (#25896081) Homepage

    http://www.seebs.net/log/archives/000195.html [seebs.net]

    They sent me a nasty note because a mirror of the Interactive Fiction archive contained a file named "doom3.zip". (It was a many-year old text adventure hosted with the permission of the author.) They felt it was most likely a "retail copy of Doom 3".

    According to them:

    1. They review every message they send carefully.
    2. They send hundreds of thousands of messages a month.

    That latter estimate is from 2004 -- I can't imagine it's gone down.

    I have no idea what they'd do in the unlikely event that their complaint wasn't stupid on its face; in my case, they backed down while telling me how important the work they do is. I consider them subhuman scum who are working actively to completely destroy the PC gaming industry as best they can. Given a choice between their crazy harassment and unauthorized use of my network, and Brad Wardell's high-quality software with no copy protection and good attitude, I think I can safely say I speak for anyone who has ever worked with, for, or on a video game, or who has ever played a video game and might want to again some day, when I say that I sincerely hope the ESA completely ceases to exist and is not replaced. I think they do a great deal of harm and waste a lot of money that could have been put into something with some kind of benefit.

"In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current." -- Thomas Jefferson

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