UK Court Levies $30K Fine Against Unemployed Mom In File-Sharing Case

August 19, 2008 -

A British woman who uploaded a PC pinball game to a file-sharing network has been ordered to pay publisher Topware Interactive £16,086 (roughly $30,000).

As reported by the BBC, Isabella Barwinska's troubles began when the London woman uploaded a copy of Dream Pinball 3D (retail value about $30). The case was heard at London's Patents County Court. Victorious Topware lawyer David Gore said:

The damages and costs ordered by the Court are significant and should act as a deterrent. This shows that taking direct steps against infringers is an important and effective weapon in the battle against online piracy. This is the first of many. It was always intended that there would be a lot more.

IP lawyer David Harris, who has no stake in the Topware case, told the BBC:

This is a proper Intellectual Property (IP) court that has made this judgement. The previous ones were default judgements where defendants never turned up. It's a much more interesting case in that respect.

Becky Hogge, director of the UK's Open Rights Group commented on the ruling:

An open court process with a full report is certainly preferable to justice of the type being mooted by the government on P2P, where activity takes place behind closed doors through industry action... In relation to the orders for release of personal data, it is important that court processes do not become rubberstamps for industry action but retain judicial safeguards and independence.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports that the defendant is an unemployed Polish immigrant and mother of two from London's downscale East End. As GamePolitics reported last month, four alleged file sharers made lesser settlements with Topware.


Comments

Re: UK Court Levies $30K Fine Against Unemployed Mom In

You mean Canada?  because with their more laxed rules, I could see how that would work out.

Re: UK Court Levies $30K Fine Against Unemployed Mom In

what about her kids?  ARe they gonna be put for adoption or sold to a sweathouse in China by Topware to pay the fine? 

Re: UK Court Levies $30K Fine Against Unemployed Mom In

Playtesting at minimum wage until they turn 18 or pay back their debt to society.

Re: UK Court Levies $30K Fine Against Unemployed Mom In

Greedy Bastards!  A 30K fine for just that?  using that logic Ryan Brant should pay a billion dollars.  But no, white collar criminals that steal millions are gonna be treated differently then unemployed mothers. 

Re: UK Court Levies $30K Fine Against Unemployed Mom In

Haven't we learned from earlier stories not to trust the Daily Mail?

Re: UK Court Levies $30K Fine Against Unemployed Mom In

You can tell from the Mail's headline they didn't bother to read the story either. She wasn't fined for downloading it, she was fined for seeding it.

Re: UK Court Levies $30K Fine Against Unemployed Mom In

With the assumption that she is unemployed not for the reason of being a lazy bum, I feel sorry for the lady.

I understand companies not wanting their stuff uploaded on the internet for free but at the same time this is a great PR stunt for your company.

 

 

Re: UK Court Levies $30K Fine Against Unemployed Mom In

Yup, picking on Polish Immigrants without any money is pretty much typical for Industry 'defence' groups these days.

Re: UK Court Levies $30K Fine Against Unemployed Mom In

I thought these fines were meant specifically as reperations for damages, not intended as a 'You are bad, we're going to suck up your finances now.'

 

Meh, even still, the inflated fines involving this kind of thing is pure bull****.

---- There is a limit for both politicians against video games, and video games against politicians. http://www.goteamretard.com

Re: UK Court Levies $30K Fine Against Unemployed Mom In

What is being missed by a lot of the blogs picking up this story is that she was offered a £300 out of court settlement in the original letter. She refused, was taken to court and lost the £16,000.

I don't think she deserved the £16k fine but she certainly wasn't smart in refusing to settle for the £300 initial fine.

Re: UK Court Levies $30K Fine Against Unemployed Mom In

The thing is, the RIAA uses this tactic all the time. They sue you, then offer to settle for an outrageous amount less than what the potential legal fees might amount for. Most people would -- as you say -- take the easier route and just settle out of court, essentially admitting guilt, because it would be too much of a hassle otherwise. Thus, they can get away with suing most anybody randomly. It's disgusting and a perversion of the legal system as well as the spirit in which IP laws were written.

This ruling is absurd. This woman is not a pirate, and 'Dream Pinball 3D' can barely be called a 'game'. The real crime is that this 'game' is priced at $30. If Topware didn't sell their shitty game for such a ridiculous price, maybe they'd see a better return and wouldn't have to sue people. Hell, I'm surprised that anyone bothered to download the damn thing at all.

Unbelievable.

Re: UK Court Levies $30K Fine Against Unemployed Mom In

It would be more fair to fine for the number of illegal downloads that resulted from her uploading the game. 300 pounds seems right, if there were 20 downloads of the game. But AFAIK, if no one even downloaded this pile of a game, there would be no damage. It would be like leaving a burned copy of a DVD movie on the street, but without anyone taking it.

Re: UK Court Levies $30K Fine Against Unemployed Mom In

But saying that would be assuming that the downloaders would've bought the game had they not downloaded it. If I download music off of limewire, or if the music isn't on limewire, either way I'm not spending money on the songs, so what's it matter? If I get it for free, that's cool, but if I have to pay for it I'm just not going to take it. The makers aren't losing or gaining any money either way, so what is the damage?

er...sorry if my post doesn't make much sense, I'm having trouble expressing this in words.

Re: UK Court Levies $30K Fine Against Unemployed Mom In

No, no.. I believe that she should have been found guilty if (according to UK law) that uploading a game to a sharing network is illegal. What I do NOT agree with is Topware's profiteering from this ruling.

---- There is a limit for both politicians against video games, and video games against politicians. http://www.goteamretard.com

Re: UK Court Levies $30K Fine Against Unemployed Mom In

This is probably the only profit the bastards made from this game.  Nice approach to make money, make a shitty game that won't sell and then sue people who pirate it and profit from it.

It's not as if anybody would buy it anyway.

 
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