Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

September 19, 2008 -

Activision, the largest and richest video game publisher in the world, has, since 2007, been quietly suing individuals for copyright violations in relation to its console games. Most often, Call of Duty 3 is mentioned in court documents.

Edge Online reports today that Activision is suing a New York man in federal court for copyright violations in relation to unauthorized distribution of the Xbox 360 version of Call of Duty 3.

But the New York defendant is not the only target of Activision's attorneys. GamePolitics has been researching the story and we've learned that Activision has engaged in a pattern of such lawsuits, in most cases garnering big settlements from individuals who are apparently not represented by counsel and who, as part of their settlements, agree not to discuss the case.

If the tactics are reminiscent of the draconian measures used by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), that may not be an accident. Activision's lead attorney on the cases, Karin Pagnanelli, has worked on numerous copyright cases on behalf of clients in the music business.

Activision video game lawsuits uncovered by GamePolitics include cases against six defendants:

  • a Washington man, apparently unrepresented by counsel, agreed to pay Activision $100,000 (CoD 3 Wii, CoD 3 Xbox 360) to settle the case.
  • a South Carolina man, also apparently unrepresented, agreed to pay Activision $25,000 to settle the case. (CoD3 Wii, Tony Hawk's Project 8, Xbox 360).
  • a New Jersey man, apparently the only defendant who had an attorney, agreed to pay Activision $100,000 (CoD 3 Xbox 360).
  • a Minnesota woman, apparently with no attorney, agreed to pay Activision $1,000.
  • a second South Carolina man agreed to pay Activision $100,000 (CoD 3 Wii, Cod 2 The Big Red One PS2, Tony Hawk's Project 8, Xbox 360). He too was apparently unrepresented.
  • a New York man's case is still active (CoD3 Xbox 360).

It is unknown whether the copyright violations occurred in the course of file sharing, or whether there was some more complex mechanism afoot. Activision's court filings do not specify the manner in which their copyrights were violated, or how they came to learn of the violations.

GamePolitics contacted Activision's lead attorney Karin Pagnanelli several months ago while researching the lawsuits. Our call was not returned. More recently, a call to the New Jersey defendant's attorney was not returned. Nor was a call to one of the South Carolina defendants. That's perhaps not surprising. Each defendant's settlement contains language which would make anyone think twice about discussing the case:

Defendant shall not make any public statements that are inconsistent with any term of this Stipulation to Judgment and Permanent Injunction

UPDATE: Activision's attorney contacted GP to say that the cased were not based on file-sharing.

UPDATE 2: Although their identities are clearly a matter of public record in the court file, I've removed the names of the six defendants due to privacy concerns which were expressed to me.


Comments

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Let them come after me and see if they can win with their weak cases and strong arm tactics... RIAA came after me and lost big time. All one has to do is stand up to a bully plain and simple. No representation from the bar. Just protected by fact and truth. They can all pucker up and kiss my a$$. CoD3... meh.. not even worth the bandwidth to download anyways.

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Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Thanks; good job. I think Atari and Midway will drop out too, but mostly travesti because  these guys have done nothing travesti or little and need to start saving costs.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Gallagher can araç kiralama say all he wants, but I strongly rent a car believe it's due to his crappy leadership and E3 being a joke. ESA's Board of Directors need to find a way to get out rent a car of this horrid contract with this Bush cronie before there's no one left on the Board.

Btw, I think Atari and Midway will drop out too, but mostly travesti because  these guys have done nothing ttnet vitamin or little and need to start saving costs.

 

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Let them come after me and see if they can win with their weak cases and strong arm tactics... RIAA came after me and lost big time. All one has to do is stand up to a bully plain and simple. No representation from the bar. Just protected by fact and truth. They can all pucker up and kiss my a$$. CoD3... meh.. not even worth the bandwidth to download anyways.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Why should I feel sorry for these people? They stole something and they got caught and punished. The pirates are the ones who drive prices up for everyone else so that the publisher can make their target profit. Besides, stealing is illegal. You're not supposed to do it. Cut and dry. I don't feel sorry for people who get in trouble for doing bad things.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

um,..Until more information can divulged, it's all speculation at this point.

Given the amounts it sounds like they were possibly making and selling large amounts of copied games.  If this is the case, well, I'd have to side with Blivendivision or whatever they're calling themselves these days.

However if it is for file sharing,
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Hopfully GP can get some more info.You guys need to get a law like Canada, I can download anything I want anything movies, games etc.. and use them for free and not have to worry about anything, where our law kicks our ass is uploading - now if ur a moron and don't know how to turn off file sharing on kaza or whatever you use then that is your dumb fault. (Just disable all of that stuff) and be a leacher don't upload nothing.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Not enough to hit them up for money, you'd better make sure you eliminate their freedom of speech, too. South Carolina guy should've just set some wildfires, that only nets you about $4k. Good thing that's not as important as maybe costing a company money.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

I'm confused, where does freedom of speech come into this?

If you don't like the $100,000 settlement, then congratulations! You have learned from the concept of punitive damages.  Now go out there and play games you like after buying them from the store.  If you don't like it, don't play it and if you don't want to pay their outrageous prices, then definately don't buy it.  Vote with your paycheck.

 

if you bought it and didn't like it, then suck it up, we have all done it (myself included) do research from non-fanboy sites and decide on your purchace in a more deliberative manner.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Stupid typos.

If they were using file sharing...

... they should have used www.torrentfreedom.com or something similar to mask the IPs.

Costs a bit, but cheaper than a lawyer!

:)

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

 American law is crazy lol normal ppl settling for 100K that is just crazy the game is worth 60 max and well most of them are crap and I would not pay for them anyhow.

You guys need to get a law like Canada, I can download anything I want anything movies, games etc.. and use them for free and not have to worry about anything, where our law kicks our ass is uploading - now if ur a moron and don't know how to turn off file sharing on kaza or whatever you use then that is your dumb fault. (Just disable all of that stuff) and be a leacher don't upload nothing.

The music companies, movie companies, and game companies are going to learn the hard way.. ppl are tired of paying top dollar for crap. (2 out of 16 songs are good) (1 out of 5 movies are worth watching) (1 - 10 games is worth even tunring on and out of the 1 - 10.. 10% are actually awesome)

I am tired of paying all my good money for filler music, movies, and games.

The internet is here it is time for all the big publishers to die, and for the actuall artists and creators to reep the benifits  of there creations not a small % of the money made.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

A settlement for $1,000? Wow. I hope that covered the lawyer fees.

At a glance, and this is only that, gaming companies are not going to learn from the RIAA tactics. And suing people into the ground *is* the same kind of tactics.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

My resources tell me EA is the biggest publisher, well, Nintendo is the biggest, but they make a console.  So EA is the biggest, and Activision is second biggest...  But that is based off of Revenue.  There are too many things that companies can take into consideration to say we are bigger or not.

Either way, I am waiting for development of what is going on.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Activision is now the biggest game-maker due to the Vivendi Merger.  Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are all bigger, but they are considered "first parties."

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

I agree with the folks who are speculating that there's something going on here that's greater than using a file-sharing network. Sounds to me more like they were manufacturing and selling copies.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

It's hard to know until Activision explains. However, the involvement of the very experienced RIAA lawyer is a concern.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

And the fact that the RIAA ruins peoples' lives by making them pay an exhorbent amount for a very small crime.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Wow, that one girl got lucky with only having to pony up $1000.  She must have pirating some really crappy game or something.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Until more information can divulged, it's all speculation at this point.

Given the amounts it sounds like they were possibly making and selling large amounts of copied games.  If this is the case, well, I'd have to side with Blivendivision or whatever they're calling themselves these days.

However if it is for file sharing, I'd say those amounts are quite excessive.  CoD 3 was a 60 dollar game.  For the 1,000 dollar case, that's something like 17 times the amount of the game.  With the 100,000 dollar cases, that's 170 times the amount the game costs.  While I don't think they should just be let off they also shouldn't be forced to pay that much beyond the price of the actual title.

Hopfully GP can get some more info.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Damn lack of an edit button.  In the 100,000 dollar cases, the defendents are paying up to 1700 times the cost of the actual game.

PDFs now working

The initial links to court documents were broken, so I fixed them in case you want to read the settlements.

At this point we don't know exactly what these defendants did. I have yet another call in to Activision's attorney. The money involved seems excessive for file sharing, but you never know...

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Yep, another reason to hate Craptivision, other then them dropping Ghostbusters.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

And why is that? Because they are protecting their copyrighted work? Damn you, evil corporation, for wanting to receive compensation for the products you make!

And with $100,000 settlements, these individuals most likely weren't just making a back-up copy of their CoD3 disk. They were probably selling the things.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

You mean like the people RIAA sues must always be selling the things?

They too $100,000 because they could get $100,000.

I don't know enough about this to say if I feel it is right or wrong. If they WERE selling copies, throw the book at them. If they were part of a release organization that ripped and uploaded the game, throw the book at them. If they just downloaded one copy of the game, then they should get slapped on the wrist, $500 per game max. It's low enough that it doesn't destroy someone's life ($100,000 would destroy me, I'd never be able to pay it off), but it's high enough that it would make you think twice.

I'll form an opinion as more info is revealed.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Corporations and companies don't give a damn about destorying other people's lives, they think it instills fear not to screw with them by making others as an example.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Exactly the reason that people hate the RIAA and some music groups are starting to question whether they should affiliate with the RIAA or not...

I could understand up to maybe 5 grand for someone, unless they have a full-on business, in which case, yeah, more. It should depend on how much damage was actually caused, not "hahaha $100k for us even though your life is fucked!"

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Personally, when it comes to Activision, I couldn't care less, the whole business could go out of business.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Them and EA, then we can have a nice competitive game market again.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Were these guys "pirates" or pirates?

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

So, they obviously know quickly this will make them enemies, since they have been trying to hide it under the carpet.

Never trust someone who is intent on hiding the evidence, it raises the question of how legitimate they were in the first place.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Settlement agreements almost always include an obligation of confidentiality. It's not really that surprising. Actually, it would be surprising if it didn't include that obligation.

One good (non-nefarious) reason Activision would not want the settlement disclosed is so that subsequent infringers don't have good information about possible settlement values. That would increase the infringers' leverage.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

It may be in the wording of the settlement, but in no way can it be binding unless it's regarding trade secrets. No one really challenges it because that's the whole idea of a settlement, to make everything go away on both sides.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

True, but it has also been policy of organisations like the ESA to announce the fact that they had 'caught some pirates' from the battlements. Activision aren't doing this, and the only reason I can think of them not making any announcement is because they are more interested in the money than in deterring the actual pirates.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

COD3? No one in their right mind wants to pay for that shite anyway.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

This smells of BS. For one thing a settlement in lieu of a lawsuit can not include a gag order except for trade secrets. So regardless of any settlement with a clause that you will not talk about it, the no-talk clause is not binding....at all.

Also it has been hinted that the suspects were told that if they sought legal council, they would face bigger fines. It is illegal. It is also illegal to imply (which is threatening anyway in this case) that your home and other property is at risk. And besides, infringement is decided based on the infringed material, not on how much property you own. You should always have legal representation in any matter of this sort or anytime you get hauled into court or even if it's threatened.

"Defendant shall not make any public statements that are inconsistent with any term of this Stipulation to Judgment and Permanent Injunction" is worthless...it has no power and it carries no weight at all. If I were representing one of the defendants, based on just this alone, I would counter-sue in a heartbeat.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

I came here to say just that.  It's easily the weakest game in the series.  I got maybe 1/3 of the way through it before I chucked the CD to the side to forever gather dust and work as a coaster.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

Thirded... or whatever seconded for a second time is.

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

4thd? Either way, I agree with that, 2 was so much better

Re: Activision Suing File-Sharers RIAA Style?

5thd I say!

 
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