Turns out game maker Topware‘s latest legal action against an illegal game sharer is just the tip of an iceberg. Lifting the lid, The Times says a total five game developers are now planning to serve notice on 25,000 people in the UK suspected of uploading games via P2P, asking them for a £300 out-of-court settlement. In the latest case, one such sharer, Isabela Barwinska, lost her defence against Topware’s claims she illegally shared its Dream Pinball 3D; the game maker got £6,086 costs and £10,000 damages.
Atari, Reality Pump, Techland and Codemasters have joined Topware in the strategy, which, drawing music piracy as a parallel, looks a lot like the RIAA’s efforts in suing US illegal downloaders and less like British efforts, which recently found a third way when ISPs signed agreed to BPI and MPAA demands to cut file sharing by “educating” customers.
But the games industry doesn’t have its house in order like even the music business – a member of games umbrella the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA) told Times the industry should be “reluctant to bring legal actions against its ‘core market”.
At the heart of the action is one law firm, Davenport Lyons, which has been prosecuting several P2P claims for Topware this year. It says the High Court has already ordered ISPs to disclose the identities of “thousands” of game sharers, and says it’s applied for a further 7,000 IP addresses. It uses Swiss antipiracy firm Logistep to gather evidence.