back to article Codemasters pledges to stay civil on file-sharing

Codemasters' anti-piracy law firm Davenport Lyons has promised that it will not pursue criminal proceedings against people it has accused of illegally sharing copies of videogames over peer-to-peer networks. In a statement (reproduced in full at the end of this article) in repsonse to our report yesterday, the firm said its …


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  1. Jonny Calcutta

    The moral high ground...

    I don't care what side of the fence you sit on with regards to file sharing, any moral high ground is lost when the fringes of the law are used as a bullying tactic. Either take them to court or shut up. I'm not a lawyer (not full time anyway) but it seems to me the only reason to state you are working under civil law is because it would be illegal to threaten someone for money under criminal law. After all, would that not constitute blackmail (give me £500 or I'll tell the cops)?

  2. Chris

    Can't Locate?

    "rm -Rvf crappy-pinball-game3d/" .. Oh my! I can't seem to locate this file!

  3. Morely Dotes
    Dead Vulture

    There's a far better answer than theirs

    Davenport Lyons said it has set up a hotline for people who believe they have been wrongly accused, on 0207 468 2600. It wrote: "Any person who has received a letter and who believes he or she has been sent it in error, e.g. if he or she cannot locate the file on their computer, should contact Davenport Lyons explaining the position and they will investigate it further."

    Assuming someone is wrongly accused (which is highly likely, given the dynamic nature of IP address assignments), I suggest the recipient of the blackmail letter retain his own lawyer, let the accusers take it to court, get the case dismissed for lack of evidence, and then counter-sue for whatever the afore-mentioned lawyer thinks is an appropriate complaint.

    Frivolous litigation *is* criminal behavior, is it not, when the threat is used to extort monies from the victim?

  4. Colin Wilson

    By asking a user to locate...

    If they didn't have the file to begin with (actually, who cares whether they did or not), why are they being asked to call to justify why they cannot find it ?

    I wonder if Davenports will try to coerce people into installing something like VNC (which might be a security risk in itself) on their system so they can check^H^H^Hsnoop in person ?

    The recipients of the letters are the people being accused of a civil breach of copyright - it should be down to the accuser to prove that, and not the defendant to do the legwork for them.

    I wonder if anyone did download the files in question, whether they did so because of an unreliable DRM / rootkit technology that prevented or limited their use of the product they paid for...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Did not Codemasters defend their use of the reportedly drive-destroying rootkit called Starforce with its prevention of piracy. Were they lying?

  6. ben edwards
    Paris Hilton

    re:Morely Dotes

    Ignoring a get-out-of-jail-free card, and then suing 20 years later for false imprisonment when you finally get out would be a frivolous lawsuit..

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looking more scamlike

    by the minute the biggest fallacy in the world is one the legal profession to a man believes that the law is not used to steal. It is used to steal every day and this is how, mention it though to a trial lawyer and they will poo-poo you to death. IP addresses are not indicators of who or even what machine downloaded anything, IP blocks tell you what broad geography you are looking at but not who. That being the case this is plainly an extortion racket being cooked up by parties unknown(to me) and perpetrated against random members of the public. Seems to me you count these folks along the lines of phishers and 419 letter writers until they actually do something besides take money.

  8. Steve

    IP Addresses

    If the ISP has provided the information then it does identify a specific users, or at least a specific household.

    I don't think an ISP would be obliged to hand over that information though unless a court had ordered it to do so, and would they make that order to allow a civil case to be brought?

  9. Chris Morrison

    Ways out

    I would love a lawyer to challenge one of these guys.

    For those who got letters may I suggest some of the following tactics.

    1. "It wisnae me guv, I don't have the file on my computer and never have"

    2. "My wireless network is unsecure, I blame my next door neighbour."

    3. "I had a virus and some ruffians from Russia must have used my computer to download your crappy game."

    4. "I had 20 mates round for a party, one of them must have downloaded it but they were all using the computer and I dont know which one it could have been"

    5. "I bought the game but my disk was scratched to buggery so I downloaded a copy so that it would work." (go out and buy a copy of the game and lose the CD first)

    6. "Games, I'm a mac user, we can't play games on our machine."

    7. "I us3 Linux, W00t d0 u m3an I d0wnl0ad3d a gam3, d03s it play on Linux? I am th3 l33t w00t w00t g0 m3."

    8. "It was my gran, she was a harcore pirate, sadly she passed away last week."

    9. "Someone must be spoofing my IP address, that's what I do whenever I download something, you'll never catch me!"

    I think pretty much any of these excuses would get you away with this without having to do much (ok you might have to install Linux or something but that's no big deal!)

  10. TeeCee Gold badge

    Civil case.

    I'm sure that the reason that they've been instructed to proceed only as a Civil action is that you actually have to *prove* what you allege in a Criminal Court.

    A Civil action can be won merely by standing on your hind legs and saying that you have a case, while spouting enough bullshit to baffle the old duffers on the bench into believing you.

    The problem for the respondents here is that the copious "research" and statistics on use of "IP thingies" that the bench is never going to understand in a month of Sundays, all carefully couched in finest legalese, is easily going to get a result faced with "it wasn't me, I didn't do it" as a defence. Defending yourself and winning *will* require decent legal representation and an expert witness or two. It's going to cost a bit. Of course, you may well win and get costs awarded, but you're still going to have to front the cash. They're betting that you'll just stump up the 50 quid as the easy option.

    It's blackmail all right, but it's *legal* blackmail. A fine, but important distinction.

    The private wheel-clamp firms work the same way. When you look at the notice pinned to your vehicle it will always quote some case decision or other to justify their assertion that you chopping their clamp off is in some way illegal (like hell it is). Never stopped me reaching for the bolt croppers I keep in the boot for such occasions. (NB: private wheel clampers can be a bit lary, but a large, bald bloke holding a set of serious bolt-croppers is not to be argued with - your results may vary depending on your build, general demeanor and the size of your tool <snigger>.)

  11. Webcrawler2050

    When you think about it

    When you think about it, the manuafactures of these games cause this them self. Now, I now - let me explain.

    You want to buy a game.. Say for Example Colin McRea - you pop downto your local game/gamestation - you see the price £49.99 and go JESUS CHRIST!

    Now, I think - if people like codemasters didn't over price their games, I mean £29.99 you can live with but £40 upwards is just a rob.

    Personally, I don't like these bullying tatics that are being used to make people panic and pay the £500 - which Ithink is a joke - personally id let them take it too cout - use on of the excuses above - and then counter sue for

    Legal Costs


    taking time of work due to stress

    And A gesture of goodwill payment - a sorry

  12. Anonymous Coward

    codemasters - rubbish

    I really don't like the idea of giving Codemasters anymore of my money to spaff on bullying lawyers.

    So I won't.

    they've been rubbish since dizzy anyway

  13. Colin Millar

    @ Steve

    "If the ISP has provided the information then it does identify a specific users, or at least a specific household."

    No it doesn't - it identifies a connection available to anyone with a valid connection to the connected device. And given plods attitude is that they will assume that anything downloaded to a "secured" router is the responsibility of the service buyer (no matter how pisspoor the security is) I would think that unsecured internet routers might just become the norm.

    Or maybe the government will tell us we are all going to have to start keeping router logs for our wifi routers.

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