back to article Copyright lawyers accuse 25,000 UK videogame filesharers

The copyright ambulance-chasers at Davenport Lyons have a High Court order demanding 25,000 UK ISP subscribers' names and addresses, it emerged today. Davenport Lyons will send letters to the addresses it obtains demanding £300 to avoid a potentially costly court battle. The London law firm hit headlines on Tuesday when it …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    25,000 letters at £300 a pop = £7.5m

    Trebles all round!

  2. adnim

    Is not

    demanding money with menaces illegal? Can these victims' of Davenport Lyons suspect practices not counter sue?

    Ah, this is the UK and the new order in this country is that one is guilty until proven innocent, so I guess not.

  3. USA IT, where it all started

    New Business Model

    Hmm, sounds like a new business model – make a crappy game, ensure it is self contained and easy to copy, then assign a mid-level price to it. Wait for file sharers to put said crappy game on P2P networks, let it get copied for a year or so, then sue everyone involved for “lost revenue”. Never mind that almost no one would pay good money for your POS game – it has a price point and a number of copies – so you can calculate “actual” damages. Throw in some punitive damages and even a real dog of a game can turn a profit.

    “A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns.” Don Corleone, The Godfather.

  4. JohnG

    Not like Germany

    A German court recently ruled that ISP should not release identities corresponding to IP addresses unless it was to the police or similar authorities for a criminal investigation. Their reasoning was that, as the EU had ruled that a citizen's IP address could be considered as personal information, the ISPs would be in breach of data prtoection law if they gave such information to third parties without the permission of the citizen/user concerned.

    I am a bit puzzled how German and UK courts end up with such different decisions, given they are apparently working with the same European Rights charter and EU rulings.

  5. Alan Fisher

    I agree

    It was no accident that Robert de Niro was cast as a law firm CEO in that movie with Mr Wooden actor in it...what was it? Oh Yeah, the Devil's advocate! They make a mockery of what they claim to represent in order to turn a 6 figure sum and corrupt everything they touch. What about the data protection act? Also they are snooping on potentially innocent people...what if some granny got snooped/zombied or her grandson did it once? Will Mssrs Snatch and Pilfer apologise? What will they do with the data of those not proven guilty?

    This is a slippery slope and I wanna get off now!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not Legal Advice

    What to do if you receive a £300 demand from Davenport Lyons?

    What follows is not legal advice. I am posting anonymously and I am pretty sure the Register is not endorsing it.

    First: if you really have been doing a lot of file-sharing of copyright material – pay up and learn from the experience.

    But if you haven’t, you may want to consider this:

    Reply to the letter, do not ignore but simply say: “Please prove you client’s alleged loss”.

    You are doing several things: by engaging with the solicitor you are preventing them from going to formal litigation until they can show the court they have exhausted reasonable attempts at settlement.

    You are not admitting anything.

    The claimant (ie Davenport Lyons’ client) now has to show several things. First they have to demonstrate that an IP address associated with you appears to have been file-sharing. (They will almost certainly be able to do so). Second, and this is much more difficult for them, they have to demonstrate how many copies of the copyrighted item was actually taken away from you by third parties. Third, they have to prove their actual loss per copy – this is of course not the retail price but what they get from their wholesaler, less the unit cost of manufacturing the physical item. Fourth, they have to prove that each downloaded copy represents an actual sale from which they would otherwise have received income. Fifth, if it is being suggested that a copy downloaded from you by one other person could then be further shared and downloaded by others, the claimant has to prove the extent of this – not guess, but prove.

    This is a civil matter so proof is on the balance of probabilities.

    The problem for the lawyer and the claimant is that proving all the above could be very expensive.

    The solicitor could attempt to require disclosure from you of your computer so that it can be forensically examined. The solicitor’s client has to bear the cost of this, including any inconvenience to you, until he “wins” the case. You can argue that full disclosure of a computer for forensic examination may exceed their reasonable needs in the case and violates your privacy rights by virtue of giving them access to information which is personally sensitive (your bank passwords??).

    A claimant is under an obligation to keep costs proportionate to the sum in dispute, otherwise the court won’t allow the costs. (Civil Procedure Rule 1). In practice this means that, on receipt of your letter, the lawyer and client have to do a risk analysis – do they think they will be able to prove losses to a scale sufficient to justify the expense involved.

    If you follow this line or anything like it, you will need to be robust and focused.

    Note: I don’t file share copyright material, I am not even interested in computer games, but I don’t like bullies.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why only these providers?

    Why not, for example, customers of virgin media- I would have thought that out of 25000 people illegally downloading, some will have been from virgin? Should the companies named in the order be avoided like the plague now?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    How to save £300/ £16,000

    One of Davenport Lyons' ambulance chasers was interviewed on Channel Four News yesterday lunchtime. Krishnan Guru-Murthy asked him about unsecured (wireless) networks & how they could prove any wrongdoings. The guy basically said "if you tell us someone else might have had access to your network we won't pursue you"! Remarkable thing for him to admit, I thought

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, sure I'll pay.

    In cash. Loads of 1p, 2p, 5p, and maybe a few 10p coins in one big mixed bag.

    £100/hr lawyer can count it, don't worry. I've got the time and I'm sure your client has the money.

  10. paulc

    this is stupid...

    the judge should have made them fill out an application for each IP address... not a job lot.

  11. William Old

    Not UK... England and Wales only...

    The High Court of England & Wales has no jurisdiction over subscribers in Scotland... we await the application to the Court of Session, which - on the basis that an IP address can't do any wrong, only humans - will toss this action on the scrap heap, with a bit of luck...

    The idea that the subscriber is liable in (Scots) law to a litigious third party, with not a shred of evidence that the individual concerned is responsible, should get short shrift....

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    List please

    Can we have list of IP addresses please? Would be fun to search for friends and our own ones. Not that I play *ANY* games, as most of them are shite anyway!

    Although I'm waiting for Fallout 3. Sad, I'll need to upgrade my hardware and downgrade my software to Windows...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @New Business Model

    “A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns.”

    Wasn't that Tom Hagen?

    Mine is the one with the marionette controls sticking out of the pocket.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ?Data Protection Act?

    1. Shouldn't the Data Protection Act prevent disclosure of identity?

    2. Nobody 'Forces' file-sharers to share files. Those that do so should expect to be clobbered.

    3. Notice that the Legal eagles make 66% more than the game's Publisher.

  15. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  16. Anonymous Coward

    UK now infected

    with corrupted judges and courts laws. a log file, a bunch of RANDOM IP address is no proof of any wrong doing.

    Shady company that collect more in FEE then what the defendent get should not be take seriously by any non-corrupted court of law

    companies who illegally break and enter on personal computers should be force to shutdown and they onwer jailled.

    Any proofs obtained illegally (such as taping soneone internet connection by someone who is not a LAW enforcement officers (with a court order)) is not admissible in court.

    in short the only reason 25,000 peoplkes will be victime of extersion because the UK justice system is corrupted by shady law firm and no longuer serve it's citizens

    how much money did that judge get to ruines the lifes of 25,000 peoples?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >demanding money with menaces illegal?

    Not when the threat is one of legal action.

    The costs associated with these cases are ludicrously high. There must be some mechanism for controlling the legal expenses people claim?

  18. mike panero
    Thumb Up

    Remember the Atari

    Pirates killed that machine, way before the internet

    £300 strikes me as a firm clip around the ears, the alternative, to do nothing will possible make games slowly disappear

    Me? I use steam and maybe

  19. yeah, right.

    @New Business Model

    Be interesting (although probably not possible) to determine who first put said game onto the p2p network in the first place. They stand to make a lot more money by abusing copyright law than by creating a good product in the first place.

    Of course, can they prove that the IP address is associated to an individual? Or is it automatically "guilty by association" for the owner of that IP now?

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Was hoping for better but

    Was hoping that the british courts would have a more realistic take on this compared to the USA but obviously our judicial system is the same easily manipulated crock as the US one is

    As Adnim so eloquently put it "Ah, this is the UK and the new order in this country is that one is guilty until proven innocent, so I guess not."

    So sad but so very true :(

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    hard work

    Although it seems a little excessive to try for 25,000 people in this round, people should be more responsible with their concept of 'fair use' or 'try before you buy'.

    File-sharers (of the illegal variety) re-examine your excuses and grow up a bit.

    I thought it was interesting that the pinball game was priced below 10 quid and sold 750 copies and was shared to an alleged 12,000 people.

    However you count those 12000 people (i.e. as 100% lost sales or something more reasonable such as 50% lost sales and 50% people who would not have bought it at any price),.. it is still a major loss to the developers.

    Most games developers are not like EA they are small and made or broken on one game.

    Maybe courts and lawyers are not the way to go, but if no-one pays for stuff then no-one will make it, simple.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Demanding money with menaces

    Yes, I believe they can counter-sue at which point they commit to fighting in court and if DL win about 1 in 3 they still probably break even.

  23. John Macintyre

    related news

    "In possibly related news, customers of Be Unlimited, BT, Easynet (Sky), Entanet, KCom (Karoo and Eclipse) Orange, Plusnet, Thus (Demon) and Tiscali were all fingered for filesharing in an application for personal details granted by the High Court on 30 June. IP addresses were seen participating in peer-to-peer networks sharing copyright material."

    so... anyone using a p2p app would have their details passed on? or is this only for those who the court supplied ip addresses of, or who actually shared the game? Considering there are legitimate uses of p2p, the article isn't very clear over what they were asked for and how, though this may not be fully known....

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ... Hopefully we'll have 25,000 people all writing back pointing out the fantastic built-in security that Wi-Fi offers...

    ... Or wait until you go to court and download the game (which shifted a staggering 800 copies in 2 weeks... Halo 3 it ain't...) through the courts Wi-Fi (after performing a staggeringly complex WEP crack </sarcasm>) and explain to the judge that he should expect a letter himself in the coming months...

  25. David Burton

    £7.5m extortion racket...

    So the copyright holders provide no substantial evidence of losses, the lawyers benefit from an effective class action-type economy of scale in getting names from the ISPs (without the people whose private information is being disclosed being notified), and then the lawyers will threaten expensive legal action if £300 is not paid by each of them, without having provided any watertight evidence... most IP addresses not being used by a single machine, but re-used, many households having multiple people sharing one net connection, potential illicit use of the network not having been ruled out, and the presence of the file being listed on a p2p site providing little proof of any loss to the company... where can I get some of this action, it sounds like the kind of thing that the Crays would have been muscling in on, yet instead of cracking down on the use of minimal evidence and threats to secure easy money, the government is supporting these leeches by talking about increasing the penalty.

    Note that I am a developer, and have some vested interest in works not being universally pirated, but recognise that free sharing doesn't significantly reduce the funds an individual has available for recreation, so the likely damage from any such piracy may be very different to commercial copying and sale - it's far more akin to sharing mix tapes in the playground (as I'm sure many of my age remember as something that was technically illegal but not prosecuted or overly worried about).

    As if the credit crunch wasn't hitting households enough, without tens of thousands of households being slapped for another £300 by lawyers because their son (or daughter) download a copy of a game when their parents had to withdraw their pocket money to pay for food. Of course, that's slightly exaggerating things, but there is the serious question of how many people will find precarious finances tipped over the edge by greedy lawyers?

  26. Tim Brown

    Will they sue themselves?

    I do hope Davenport Lyons have thoroughly checked their computers for unlicenced software. After all anything found on their network must have been put their by them and not some some hacker who's found a weakness in their network security...

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Fair judgement - you're having a laugh

    I had my life ruined by a judge who refused to acknowledge written evidence, an expert witness report that he'd ordered (costing £10,000), two witnesses for the claimant lying on oath (contradicted by their own written records) and forged evidence presented by the claimant (which they actually admitted doing at the trial).

    As far as the above posters comments on Civil Procedure Rules, this judge said they were irrelevant and also this was his courtroom and there was no place in it for litigants in person. The costs in this case amounted to 6 times the amount claimed or in real terms £75,0000.

    In our wonderful court system you are now guilty unless you can prove your innocence. You cannot bring a complaint against a Judge's actions or judgement unless you are prepared to waste another £100,000 on going to the court of appeal and then well... they ain't going to rule against one of their own.

    Anyone can file a case like this based on the flimsiest of concocted evidence and you're on a hiding to nothing if you defend it.

  28. gareth

    it would be funny

    if everyone who gets the "fine" sends in the £300 in unsorted 1p pieces

  29. G Kais

    Who is the prosecuted???

    Is there any info about the prosecuted???

    How do we know that the prosecuted person is not one of their undercover operators and the case has gone to the courts just to set a sample case to scare anyone else and make sure they pay-up the £300.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What if you get one of these letters and have nothing to do with downloading. I recently was sent a charming e-mail from Pipex informing me that I had downloaded something from the Learning Channel on a P2P network I had never heard of let alone used. I sent a reply to them stating as such and informing them that if they pursued the matter I would take legal action against them for their libellous claim.

    It has been months now and surprise surprise no reply from them.

  31. el'Scotto
    Paris Hilton

    @alan fisher

    actually it was Pacino in Devils Advocate :D

    Paris, because shes good with films :)

  32. Claire Rand

    losses alreayd covered?

    what happens when you request to see the evidcence? and ask for the fact that much of the data they claim you 'shared' must have been in the case already covered? and hence they have already been paid for it?

    would claiming again count as unjust enrichment?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An easy defense

    They just need to claim that they had a WiFi router on their network and it was not secured - they have no idea who used their Internet connection.

    I wonder how many will think of that or just admit guilt by paying the 300 quid,

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is there such a thing

    as £300 in *sorted* 1p pieces?

  35. Anonymous Coward

    @Alan Fisher

    That would be Al Pacino, not Robert DeNiro

  36. The Mighty Spang
    Thumb Down


    the legal system in this country is SCREWED. for many years we've been brought up with this colonial notion of our legal system being the best in the world. well it sucks. gawd help the rest of the world.

    after having been involved in a legal battle over my mother's estate i learnt a lot of things.

    #1 solicitors and (expensive) barristers may think your circuit judges are incompetent or insane but are powerless to do anything about it.

    #2 the legal aid system, although whinging about being short of cash DOES NOT PROSECUTE in cases where it has been defrauded. Doesn't even ask for its money back. We proved the litigant in our case lied to obtain aid, and he fucking well got away with it.

    #3 no provision is made to say that if you were to proceed to court even with a flimsy claim, you'd have to have enough money to pay the other side's costs should you loose. this is a speculative litigant's dream. if you've got fuck all, you can't really go lower so take the chance that the incompent/insane judge may side with you. the legal aid system you have defrauded has paid for most of the discovery phase. what have you got to loose?

    #4 adverts/people that tell you about making a will and how it means you can dispose of your assests how you like are charlatans and need to be themselves sued into oblivion. if my mother's solicitor wasn't a friend of the family that's what I would do. there are many ways of challenging a will and to not make them clear to a punter is in my mind, criminal.

    and @bloke talking about paying in 1ps, you need to look up the term legal tender.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Yeah, sure I'll pay et al

    Check the definition of legal tender

    If you send in 1p coins without their prior agreement they can refuse to accept it and still legally chase you for non payment (and iven you have attempted to pay you will have already accepted liability).

    Also to the moderators the post:


    By Anonymous Coward

    Posted Wednesday 20th August 2008 18:39 GMT

    really should have not passed even the most rudimentary moderation by any moderator who can actually read.

  38. Anthony Hagger

    Human rights

    I am sure what DL is doing is illegal and an infringment of human rights, I will be pursuing this abgle with a human rights lawyer in the next week.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    hmm, I guess that's the plan.

    On receiving a letter reply. Any correspondence should contain as much waffle as possible. On behalf of their client they have to read everything - and charge them for it.

    If they got a number on the letter they send you call them up and ask them to explain it to you perhaps a few times over. They'll probably tell you to seek the advice of a solicitor anyway but 25,000 5 min calls can add up. Speak in a foreign language if possible.

    Tell them you'll pay, send them a cheque, incorrectly dated, not signed, etc... when they send it back to you, say you've sort legal advice and changed your mind.

    Let it go to court, turn up and let them go through the evidence bit by bit.

    once they 'proved' it was your broadband connection. In your defense, the last thing you mention is that you have an unsecured wireless network.

    mine's the one with the round tin glasses and walking stick.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    What a load of Whinging

    To everyone bleating about privacy and the decline of human rights....Of course your ISP cant give out personal details to 'anyone', but with a court order its a different story. The court order is granted on the basis that people appear to have commited a crime here - and yes despite your whinging and bleating copyright infringement is still a crime.

    The ISP will likely charge them a fee for each IP they look up, as it can be a time consuming and costly business, restoring historical records, matching a username to an ip/time/time zone and then looking up the users details, doubly so if you have wholesale providers, and downstream providers - the former only having a username, and so has to request that the court seeks further info from the downstream provider.

    Once they have this info, they send you a letter, and 'Not Legal Advice' is bang on the money with a good strategy, especially when he/she says

    "if you really have been doing a lot of file-sharing of copyright material – pay up and learn from the experience."

    The "But my network/wifi is insecure anyone could have downloaded these files" defence is going to mean you have to have to go to court and will almost certanly loose. Precidents have already been set around this sort of argument both in the UK and overseas, (the cheerleader defence springs to mind) and unless you own a web cafe (and are permited to onsell your service by your ISP) you are going to fall way short here and end up paying a lot more.

    This has been a long time coming, and was entirely predictable given what has been going on in the US. I expect Australia to be the next.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    I'm curious

    What exactly is the evidence which is provided in such a court case by the plaintiff?

    Don't they have to have some evidence that you have done what they say - a seized hard drive or something?

    Otherwise, I'm sure I could come up with a lot of random IP addresses and a bit of software I wrote...

    Pirates, the lot of them

  42. Mark Silver badge

    Re: What a load of whinging

    You're wrong about the unsecured Wi-Fi defense. Given that: they all come unsecured out of the box; securing them is not mandatory in order to connect; your average user probably couldn't anyway (or couldn't give a toss - it's not illegal just yet); and WEP is insecure anyhow; it is a very valid defense.

    Ignorance of the law is not an excuse, ignorance of technology is commonplace.

    In order to sue you they have to prove on the balance of probabilities that it was you.

    Additionally, if you are going to download such material, use some common sense and download in a VM or live disk and they're fucked if they can't find the media you wrote it to - which you'll naturally get rid of when approached.

    These parasites are working on the balance of probabilities - i.e. the ones which state a large percentage will shit themselves and pay up - as it has nothing whatsoever to do with having a strong case, legal precedent or otherwise.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    Answer this, or STFU...

    I had a ZX Spectrum and swapped hundreds of copied game tapes copies with my friends.

    I then had an Atari ST, but was never able to successfully copy game disks and never had access to 'pirated' games.

    I owned each of those machines for an equal period. Yet, in during ownership I bought roughly the same number of games for each machine (about 2 dozen for the Spectrum, slightly less for the ST).

    So, how does that FACT fit in with the theory that all copies equal a lost sale? Tell me!

  44. Fragula The Furry


    What amazes and disgusts me is that a court would order


    1. question. Such disclosure shall be in an editable electronic text format by way of Microsoft Excel file in the form submitted by the Applicant to the Respondents.

    <end quote>

    the disclosure in (WTF else is meant by "by way of") a specific - commercial - file format, rather than in plain readable text or at least something open like ermm. Open Office.

    That ought to be illegal!

    New Headlines: "Courts order use of Microsoft products", "Courts ban use of Linux", "Courts ban plain English".

  45. Anonymous Coward

    Point taken about the legal tender...

    How about sending 161 cheques for differing amounts which adds up to £300.01?

  46. JohnG

    "What a load of Whinging"

    "....copyright infringement is still a crime."

    No it isn't - it is a civil matter i.e. "Litigant versus Some Guy", not "Police arrest Some Guy" followed by "The Crown versus Some Guy."

  47. dervheid

    "Courts ban plain English".

    Dear Fragula

    The courts in this sceptred isle have NEVER used plain English.

    Why, I hear you ask?


    If they did use plain English, then even the most simple-minded man in the street would have sufficient grasp of the legal processes and terminologies and the need for expensive solicitors, barristers et al would be removed almost entirely, and their well paid, cushy little niche would only be open to the few required in the most complex of cases!

    Vested interest my friend.

  48. Anonymous Coward



    My machine is seeding NeoOffice (The Mac port of OpenOffice) over Bit Torrent pretty much 24/7 (I'm lucky enough to have a 2Mbit upload band).

    I'm just waiting to be mistakenly targetted by one of these letters, based on my (static) IP address appearing on some tracker somewhere.

    Its unnerving to know that in this age of so called democracy that you have money in order to defend yourself...

  49. Anonymous Coward

    @Not Like Germany

    This is not legal advice – I am not a lawyer and this is just my opinion which may be wrong but it is worth investigating. If you are accused, get a good solicitor and barrister.

    " the EU had ruled that a citizen's IP address could be considered as personal information, the ISPs would be in breach of data protection law if they gave such information to third parties without the permission of the citizen/user concerned."

    In the UK the Data Protection Act 1998 exists to protect the personal information of individuals. This corresponds to the EU Directive. There are, however, exemptions to this Act and one of them (S35) allows for the release of personal information in support of legal action even if the organisation itself is not involved in the proceedings. The organisation can refuse but seeing as DL got a court order, it may mean that they tried that route already. Also, exemptions mean that the data controller i.e. the one holding the personal info is exempt from the non-disclosure provisions so the first you hear of it is when you get the demand.

    My concern is that to prove someone is file-sharing, DL are getting the IP addresses. I’m not a techie so this might be wrong but I assume that, in order to prove the filesharing, they have to examine the user’s browser history which will turn up their other interests. These aren’t part of the court case so this is still protected. Basically it seems like a fishing expedition which is illegal. If you get such a demand, demand in return , as part of disclosure, how they established you were sharing because if it shows they visited other sites you could counter-claim that they breached your DPA rights. You could claim the evidence is inadmissible as it was obtained illegally.

    Also, as the IP address covers the one connection and others, including your family, are using at the same time, they would have to avoid digging into their history and they should be named in the court order otherwise it would breach their own DPA rights. All living individuals are covered by the Act so this covers the children as well as the parents. They could make a claim about their rights being broken. This might not stop a court case but, because they have to deal with all the issues, this could tie them up in knots and could at least throw doubt into the mix.

    If you’re unsure about how the DPA protects you, go to the Information Commissioner’s site – – and there is good advice there.

  50. Anonymous Coward


    "Check the definition of legal tender

    If you send in 1p coins without their prior agreement they can refuse to accept it and still legally chase you for non payment (and iven you have attempted to pay you will have already accepted liability)."

    Quite, and indeed pretty much any court in the land will throw your ass in prison for contempt for even trying something so stupid.

  51. Alexis Vallance

    Shared connection

    In a house or flat with 2 or 3 people sharing one wireless connection, it would be difficult to prove who actually downloaded and shared the game I would have thought.

    A friend of a friend received one of these notices last year about a Codemasters game and demand for £300. They just ignore it and nothing happened.

  52. Sean O'Connor


    > So, how does that FACT fit in with the theory that all copies equal a lost sale? Tell me!

    It's irrelevant whether copying reduces the number of sales a developer makes or not. Why can't you understand that it's not up to you what you do with my copyrighted material? If I write a game it's up to me what the price is, it's up to me how it's sold and it's up to me how it's used. If you don't like that then just don't buy it.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Courts order use of Microsoft products

    You know you could follow that order using only OpenOffice right?

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re: What a load of Whinging - INFRINGEMENT OF COPYRIGHT IS NOT A CRIME. Please read the law.

    "What a load of Whinging

    By Anonymous CowardPosted Thursday 21st August 2008 00:05 GMT To everyone bleating about privacy and the decline of human rights....Of course your ISP cant give out personal details to 'anyone', but with a court order its a different story. The court order is granted on the basis that people appear to have commited a crime here - and yes despite your whinging and bleating copyright infringement is still a crime."


    Ok, this is why non-lawyers should actually read the law before commenting on this type of issue (yes, IAAL).

    It is not (I repeat NOT) a crime to file share on this scale. It is a breach of s.16 CDPA 1988. That means the copyright holder can sue you for damages, but it isn't a crime. The police can't get involved and you can't go to jail for it. The only way it could be a crime is if you shared files on a commercial scale and fell foul of s.107.

    People like FACT would like you to believe that file sharing is a crime, equivalent to theft, but it isn't. The law of theft is governed by an entirely different regime (read the Theft Act 1968). The reason we have a separate system of law for intellectual property is that it is utterly impossible to commit the offence of theft in relation to any copyright/patent/trade mark/design right.

    Please read the law before adding your 2p. Thanks.

  55. Anonymous Coward

    Turn The Tables

    An enterprising individual should be able to...

    1. Write a copywrited program (code) of their own

    2. Seed said program on various torrent sites / p2p programs

    3. Discover DL's IP address at a a time of convinience (10am monday should do it)

    4. Apply to the court with the DL IP and start the same legal process they employ.

    5. Sit back and wait

    Now there are 3 outcomes...

    1. They admit liability and pay you money

    2. They goto court and defend it

    3. They goto court and loose it.


    A. if 1 or 3 : rinse and repeat 1million times over :

    B. If 2 : distribute the defence for all to use.

  56. blackworx


    Illegal filesharers = bad and wrong

    Davenport Lyons = scum-sucking, bottom-feeding, money-grubbing shower of odious little shitbags

    In my humble opinion

  57. Mark

    @Sean O'Connor

    It is up to us to decide what to do with your copyrighted material. We bloody GAVE you copyright, which tells you what you can restrict with your copyrighted material.

    And if we feel you have broken the terms of the deal, we WILL ignore your copyrights. You ignored our rights too.

  58. JimC

    @Turn the Tables

    6) Go to jail for fraud...

    Fact is folks, that everytime there's another post on the lines of "Doodz I'm gonna keep on sharing those warez and there's nothing you can do to stop me" you increase the chances of really draconian legislation.

    Sure there are legal uses for file sharing. There are also legal uses for shotguns, but if you walk down the street in London carrying one the police are going to shoot you first and ask questions later...

  59. Keir Snelling

    Data Protection question

    I may be out of kilter here, but I seem to remember that in the early days of the data protection act, much was made of the ability of individuals to use to the act to force an organisation to remove all data from their systems that pertained to them, the individual.

    Is/was that correct?

    If it still is, and I were a customer of one of those ISPs and I knew I had been illegally file sharing, I might well be tempted to cease my agreement with the ISP, and then send them a data protection request, requiring them to remove any and all data from their systems that pertained to me.

    Then, when shylock,shyster and shwindle knock on their door demanding that they reveal personal details associated with a given IP address, they wouldn't have any record that linked to me.

    Of course, this only works if my original assertion was correct, and I'm not so sure.

  60. Sooty

    silly question

    whats to stop you buying said game, for £5 or whatever bargain bin price dream pinball would be, as soon as you recieve the demand for £300. Ignoring the demand and as soon as legal proceedings start say you own it already and are perfectly legally allowed to download a copy. Presumably if you kept the reciept it would even show that you bought it before legal proceedings started.

  61. Anonymous Coward

    Ah, this old chestnut.

    Computer says no:

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >We bloody GAVE you copyright, which tells you what you can

    >restrict with your copyrighted material.

    So generous of you to tell me what I can do with my own work.

    Thank you sir..

    *doffs cap*

    Heaven forfend I would attempt to make money from my own sweat and tears.

  63. Muscleguy Silver badge

    It is LOSE, not loose

    <rant> your bowels may be loose, your shoelaces may be loose and so may be your morals. However you lose money, you lose your car keys and you lose your virginity </rant>

    Someone who lives in Scotland and has only used Bittorrent to get items I could not pay for. Such rights holders should pay attention to the market.

  64. adnim

    @sooty:silly question

    The case revolves around the 25,000 allegedly making the said game available for download to other parties, not downloading the game itself. So I am afraid claiming to have purchased the game would not help.

    Concerning claims that DL may have hacked or intruded into the systems of these 25,000 to determine that this game was made available by them to others, doesn't hold water either. All DL would have to do is use a torrent/p2p client and attempt to download a shared copy of the game. The IP addresses of all those sharing the game would appear in the torrent/p2p client or a TCP/IP connections view.

    Now here's a thought, could the defendants in this case claim not to have provided the copyrighted product as a whole? The way torrents/p2p work is that each person sharing software in the network provides only part of the software in question, which when taken separately from what others provide is pretty much useless. Could the defendants claim that they only provided x% of the software to DL, and DL should adjust their compensation request accordingly. IANAL so I am likely clutching at straws.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope they all refuse, and lets see what happens.

    I don't see how this is going to work unless they're hoping that the scare is enough to make people pay up.

    First of all what/ where is the proof?

    If they have a list of numbers (IP addresses) , one error in the numbers can mean that an innocent person is 'found guilty'. A list of numbers is not evidence.

    There is bound to be more than 1 person using the IP address, so they would have to track down and prove who was using it at the time.

    Secondly, if everyone refuses, do they have the funds to take 25,000 individuals to court and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they actually illegally downloaded the game? Considering wifi, multiple users etc etc. I really don't think they can do it.

    Why are internet privacy (etc) rules so loose? If I bought a landline phone and plugged it in and they didn't make it clear that people in the area could log on anytime and make calls through my paid for service (amongst other things!), I could sue THEM.

    But when it's an internet line they are trying to place the blame on the bill payer. Why? Someone needs to go to court with a good lawyer and fight this properly. The sheer number of unsecured wifis is proof enough that most people don't even know they have to secure it, let alone know how to. It's the same with data mining, and hidden terms and conditions on website; If I signed up to a phone service and they didn't tell me they would be recording my calls, or listening in, I could easily sue them. A website's terms and conditions are comparable to having to phone a certain number by chance and someone THEN telling you about the fact that they are storing all your personal info and using it.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    So if perhaps one was a Be subscriber...

    ... that's downloaded the odd dodgy movie, how soon would one expect to be on the receiving end of a big stick? And how would one, theoretically, go about finding out if it was your details that were given out?

  67. adnim

    Tears hair out in frustration

    This is about making the software AVAILABLE for download. Not downloading it.

    "prima facie case that each of the subscribers associated with the IP addresses... have copied the Applicant's work(s) on to his or her personal or office Computer without the [rights holder's] permission for the purpose of making it available via file sharing".

    So it doesn't matter how it was copied to disk, whether from purchased media, a torrent/p2p or binary newsgroup.

    If DL wanted to pursue downloaders they would have to make the software available themselves or via a third party, and log IPs of connecting machines. In which case once the demand for "compensation" with menaces came through the post, the downloaders could simply secure delete the file and say "I personally have never downloaded this software, prove it". Or state "My click was misdirected, I thought it was something else, as soon as I realised what it was I deleted it". Much harder to prove intent and subsequent illicit use of the software.

  68. Paul Charters

    How about...

    How about we all just start boycotting games from any company that hires a firm like Lyons Extortionists (or whatever they're called)...

  69. Boabietugger

    Bastards got me

    I succumbed to DL when they accused me of uploading a game I've never even heard of (Twin Worlds I think it was called). Wife heavily pregnant and no idea how to prove my innocence I just gave them their bloodmoney which exceeded £700.

    At the time they accused me of I was running an insecure wifi as Virgin refused to replace my buggered modem, that kept disconnecting when I had WEP enabled. Did I think something would happen? No.

    I don't download or upload anything. My newborn daughter can't crawl yet so unlikely that she did it, moreso as she wasn't even conceived at that time anyway. My wife surfs shopping sites. My son would have been 2 at the time, so again, unlikely that he was responsible.

    However I paid them as I didn't know how to prove my innocence and I WAS NOT putting my wife through any stress during her pregnancy. Now reading some of these comments is making me wonder if I should have stood up to them.

    I'll be interested to watch this 'cause if there are any chinks in their armour I'll be seeking legal advice and asking for my money back.

    Good luck if they come at any of you. Fight 'em! They are picking on innocent people as well as guilty ones.

  70. Anonymous Coward

    Some questions...

    What if I'm a naughty filesharer, but I have never downloaded or shared this 3D pinball game? Am I likely to receive a letter? If I do, will the letter specifically reference the game?

    One comment ("Not legal advice" by AC) suggested a file sharer should pay up and think themselves lucky they got away with only £300. It's reasonable advice on the face of it. BUT - how do we know that another firm of scumbag lawyers won't come around from, say Adobe, or Microsoft, claiming I downloaded copies of Photoshop or Windows XP (I'd never bother downloading Vista, obviously)? Presumably the settlement with DL would only protect me from further claims aganst the Pinball game? Would settling with DL constitute an admission of guilt in future litigation?

    Is there a "statute of limitations" on file sharing? I know it's not a criminal offence, but let's say this DL fiasco finally scares me into quitting P2P. At what point in the future would I be "safe" from further litigation?

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    It's a phising (sic) exercise

    25,000 @ £300 a pop is £7.5m

    If just 10% of said 25,000 rollover and pay the £300 then both parties (DL and Dream Pinball 3D writers) I would imagine will be happy. I would expect they are hoping for a nearer 60% rollover rate but anything above 10% will still be a good result based on the price of this product and it's inital "massive" (sic) sales they had.....

    Paris: She "rolled" over for more than £300

  72. Anonymous Coward

    RE: Some questions...

    They are not only pursuing people over 3D pinball. They are representing quite a few games pulishers, two of the biggest being Atari Europe (The Witcher, UnrealTournament3) and Codemasters (Dirt). They do specify which "Work"(game), as they refer to it, has been shared and even the date and time of the offence. It only relates to that specific "work" or game, so if you're a multiple offender, who knows how many times they can demand cash.

    It's all pretty specific and as the "Not legal advice" ANON said, if you know you're guilty, pay and learn. But if you aren't I'm starting to believe, from what I've read, that you're still taking a huge risk to challenge their accusations. The methods they have used, although questionable and flimsy, will always sway in the way of the plaintiff in these civil cases unless you can prove innocense. With them not being able to 100% prove guilt, you won't have much chance proving innocense unless you have Johnnie Cochran on your side of the bench and the glove doesn't fit. Wait, no, you'd still be boned...

    Unfortunately it seems that the first to sue has the advantage in this type of case and always has the advantage and you are left playing catch-up to try win the judge over and make him question the allegations. Also, the law that the guilty party has to pay legal fees for both sides deters most people from taking the chance to stand up for themselves.

    I've learnt a lot over the last four days about how this country works and indeed most others too. My conclusion? If you are the little man, you get stepped on and pushed around by the big man and you'll smile while he does it, even though their empires are built on people like you. Rage Against the Machine tomorrow night will make me feel so much better...

    Seize the metropolis, it's you its built on.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Pay us £300 or we'll take you to court and win £16,000.

    Isn't this blackmail?

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm confused...

    As I understand it, the Lawyers get a list of IP addresses, then approach the company concerned to see if they want to pursue damages. Surely until the company says yes, the lawyers are ‘breaking the law’ in just the same fashion as everyone else?

  75. Bounty


    Do you happen to sell iPhone apps? and if that app ends up on a torrent site.... DEAR GOD!

    Also, I think you have to show damages. The thing is, even at 100% if all those people would have purchased the game (NOT), it's still not that much money. We're talking about 250,000. So that should be the max total damages. Now divide by 25,000 = 10 each... this whole 300-16,000 thing is ridiculous. These judges don't understand how torrents work. If anything they should have to prove you uploaded 1234 Megs of this game to the network. Lets say the game being 80Mb in size.. so 15 - 16 copies * 10 = fee of 160 for someone who was heavily seeding the game. (why should a person who only uploaded 1/4 of one copy of the game be charged the same as someone who uploaded 50 copies?)

    Even with laywer and court fees, spread between 25,000 users, the whole 16,000 per person thing is dumb. IANAL but maybe if you did DL it, and didn't seed much, see if they'll take £40 and consider your lesson learned.

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Licenses Anyone?

    Forgive me if I'm wrong here, but ... they don't sell you the game, they sell you a license to use the game, as I read about Microsoft support saying "we don't care if you download a torrent for Windows XP, so long as you have a legal license".

    Up to the point where you install the game, you're not breaching that license, therefore isn't it logical that these punk arse lawyers need to prove that not only did you download the game, but also installed and used it?

    And that anyone who downloaded it from you, also installed and used it, because up to that point, you haven't breached the license?

    Most EULAs (I haven't checked a game recently) state that if you do not agree with the license agreement, do not install the software and return it to the manufacturer for a refund (of the license cost).

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Blackmail & The Bounty

    >Isn't this blackmail?

    No, the threat is legal action, and thus from a legal standpoint, is not a threat.

    One should look forward to one's day in court so that one may demonstrate one's innocence. If only it worked like that eh?

    @Bounty : Hmmmm

    >We're talking about 250,000. So that should be the max total damages.

    >Now divide by 25,000 = 10 each... this whole 300-16,000 thing is ridiculous.

    This highlights the problem with bad grammar.

    If we're talking about 250,000 (copies?) then the damages of 6000 pounds is 2.4 pence per copy. If you mean 25,000 copies then it's 24 pence per copy.

    If you mean 250,000 pounds then they got off lightly, equally if you mean 25,000 pounds.

    If you mean you think a copy is worth 10 pounds then buy the game it's cheap.

    Don't forget, 10k pounds of the fine were costs incurred by bringing the case, had the damages been 2.4 pence it would have still cost the defendant 10,000 pounds. Although you'd hope a court would have a thought about a difference like that.

    Besides it's not necessarily a per copy thing, it's the value of the _rights_ that you have stolen, that is, the right to give away copies.

    >see if they'll take £40

    A counter offer is actually not too bad a response, they must respond to it which requires legal advice which doesn't (shouldn't!) get included in the costs when you're taken to court. There's also probably an argument that the damage is only 300 pounds since that's what they asked for.

  78. Adrian Jooste
    Gates Horns

    Licenses anyone?

    That's a very good point. I know you have to always accept the terms and conditions of the software before you install it and if you don't accept them, the installation doesn't continue. I'm assuming that in those T's & C's it has a licensing section with all kinds of crazy clauses.

    I truly believe that this £16,000 win DL has had is all very convenient. Now all of a sudden they asking for 25,000 more names. It started with only 300 last year, then a further 750. They are obviously getting a lot of people to fall for their strong arm, "I AM THE LAW" judge dread tactics and forking over cash left, right and centre.

    I'm thinking that if you ask some of the questions mentioned by Reg readers above, you won't get a response and you won't hear from them again. They playing the percentage game, and they winning.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Not just £300

    The ISP charge the law firm to give the detail of the IP back, and that gets transferred on to the person. And they have been putting 6+ of the same IP on the list not to mention others and that all gets added together for some reason.

    More like they want close to £1000 not £300 or they will attempt to take you to court.

    Also these cases are civil matters, but they have been sending court orders to the ISPs. I thought that was against the law?

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