Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

September 23, 2008 -

On Friday GamePolitics revealed that Activision has been quietly suing private citizens who are alleged to have pirated some of the mega-publisher's console titles.

According to a report posted on GameCyte last night, one of the defendants has spoken anonymously about the case and criticized Activision's tactics:

Asked the extent of his guilt, our source was unwilling to provide concrete details. “There was some [wrongdoing],” he admitted. But over the course of a brief telephone conversation, he remained adamant that the punishment did not suit the crime. Audibly shaken, our contact explained how he was scared into a costly settlement by attorneys who determined how much to sue based not on the actual material infringed, but on his purchase history, the equity on his home, and the number of cars in his driveway.

 

If he were to get an attorney, he was informed, he would have to pay even more...

 

Though the defendant believes that Activision shouldn’t be ruining lives over the matter, he told us that his in particular was “not totally” ruined, in part because the $100,000 figures touted in the lawsuit were inflated for shock value. Though he said the monetary loss was still substantial...

GP: The GameCyte report provides an important defendant's perspective to Activision's tactics. In regard to the anonymous pirate's comments about the amount of the settlements, the figures cited by GamePolitics came directly from court documents which we included with the original article. According to those documents, three cases were settled for $100,000, one for $25,000, one for $1,000, and one remains pending.

To be sure, there are lingering questions about the case:

  • what exactly did the "Activision Six" do? Not file-sharing, an attorney for the publisher told GP, but beyond that we are left to guess. Cracking? Mod chipping? Disc reproduction?
  • why did Activision keep the lawsuits secret? Isn't deterring other prospective pirates a major reason to bring such actions?
  • what did Activision know of the tactics its lawyers employed? If GameCyte's source is correct in his assertions, he was persuaded not to exercise his right to counsel.
  • why did Activision pursue this course, as opposed to a more coordinated, industry-wide strategy? Activision, of course, dropped its membership in publishers group ESA earlier this year.

Comments

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

I'm with Activision on this one. Too many pirates out there ruining the business. And people wonder why companies stop making PC games. That's where the cracking/hacking started... with PCs. It'll go that way on consoles too. Harsher DRM, invasion of privacy, less rights with your software etc... thanks to pirates. Thank the lot of them when we are stuck with games we RENT instead of own.

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

I stand by Activision on this.

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

Good article, but your questions have some very obvious answers.

To be sure, there are lingering questions about the case:

  • what exactly did the "Activision Six" do? Not file-sharing, an attorney for the publisher told GP, but beyond that we are left to guess. Cracking? Mod chipping? Disc reproduction?
  • why did Activision keep the lawsuits secret? Isn't deterring other prospective pirates a major reason to bring such actions?
  • what did Activision know of the tactics its lawyers employed? If GameCyte's source is correct in his assertions, he was persuaded not to exercise his right to counsel.
  • why did Activision pursue this course, as opposed to a more coordinated, industry-wide strategy? Activision, of course, dropped its membership in publishers group ESA earlier this year.

1) Doesn't matter. If it was illegal, Activision has the right to take them to court over this.

2) The best way to deter pirates is to keep them guessing. If they know that Activision only comes after them for console moding, then they will feel free to crack games. By not telling people what they are going after, they make the hackers less confident that they won't be prosecuted.

3) Who cares if Activision knew? And what is wrong with what the lawyers are doing? These people knowingly and "willfully" (an actual legal term) did something illegal. At this point they don't get much slack from me, and shouldn't from you. So there are two options here: one is that Activision can drag them through court for "willful infringement" which will cost them up to $300,000 per copyright infringement and then add legal fees to that, or Activision can require that the person settle for an amount that person can actually afford. What's more, by settling like this that person doesn't get anything permanent added to their legal record. No one wants to say yes to "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?", especially a federal one. Would you rather Activision drag them into the courthouse? Seems to me that this is actually the best deal for the accused. Activision has no reason to treat these people kindly. This kind of thing seems like a slap on the wrist compared to the alternative.

4) Because the industry isn't doing ANYTHING to protect the rights of the developers. The ECA is more likely to come down in favor of the players, in this case the hackers (which is as it should be, everyone needs a voice). And the ESA is too afraid to do anything for fear of the backlash it will create among consumers. Is it any real surprise companies are pulling out of it? So to answer your question, Activision is taking action because no one else is.

If you don't like the way Activision is conducting itself, then do something other than rant and rave on the internet. Prove to Activision how they can make more money by doing otherwise. Because what they know is that people cracking games and distributing them to other people is money that doesn't end up in their company. What's more, these people did somethe illegal and quite frankly Activision is being nice to them. Something they have no requirement to be.

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

 1) because we want to know what happened, We know its illegal and they have the right to procecute but we still want to know what they did

2) Thats true, that if they're simply trying to scare everyone that would kind of work, But also one would assume they're going after the largest source, lets say they're more chip-modding and thats what they want to stop, if they're plan is to use scare tatics you wouldn't hide that fact, to stop everyone from doing it, if you want to scare everyone then sue for more ppl for other reasons.

3) We want to know who's doing the "sketchy" decisions, for simply respect, if activision knew what the lawers were doing exactly It looks bad for a compagny to do that, the fact is it shouldn't matter if the guy gets lawer of his own, that just tells me that activion's affraid it will lose, which again makes me wonder what basis do they have, and if he had a chance to win if he would of got help

4)   "in this case the hackers", We don't know that, reffer to #2 since we don't know what he did, for all we know he's wrongfully acused and just settleling because they scared him into it without giving him a chance to get help

 

 

The fact is you might be right, and he is a hacker and he derserve what he's getting.  but until we know what he's accused of and what they have on this guy, then who are we to judge and say " its ok, he must of been a hacker and he deserves to have his life destroyed"

 

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

How is saying "He's guilty of illegal distribution against our company" any different from saying "He's guilty of illegal actions against our company"? Both are just statements. None of us have any knowlegde about these people or what they have done. Are you going to track this guy down and figure out if he is guilty or not? Because if not, then both expressions carry exactly the same weight.

While it is possible that Activision is targeting innocent people, it is not probable. I understand that I am accepting Activision's word that these people did something illegal, but I have no reason not to trust Activision. People should keep an open mind yes, but if you begin to question everything you don't understand then nothing gets done. The fact that these guys decided to settle out of court only adds weight to Activision's claim.

If a group (like the ECA) believes that Activision is doing something wrong, then they should step up and defend these people in court. That is after all the entire point of a consumer group, to protect the consumer. But if the consumer is guilty, then Activision is within their rights to prosecute. The fact that they are not formally prosecuting these people is quite generous given the reasons posted above.

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

Why are penalties so high ? Come on, if you steal something then you should be punished for the property stolen. Pirating one game should account to one game stolen. Just the one. So how the hell does a couple o'games equate 100000 dollars ?

Isn't this a 8th amendment issue ? (If my knowledge of US law is correct)

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

Not sure I have any sympathy for him.  He clearly did the dirty and got caught.  Piracy or any kind of data theft robs the content creators, and DOES have an impact on the marketplace and the quality of content getting to us (consumers).  Just look at how piracy has destroyed the music business.  Am I mad at Metallica?  Hell no.  I'm mad at all the pirates that downgrade the financial payback for companies TRYING to make good games AND turn a profit in the same breath.  Got news for ya... when stuff is stolen and money doesn't make it back into the coffers, it seriously diminishes the opportunity to CONTINUE making a good game.  Even a crap game.  There's just no justification, and coming to this guys defense or suggesting that Activision was evil and malicious, is just a bit upside down.  He did, after all... STEAL.

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

Destroyed the music business? What drugs are you smoking, and can you hook me up? If anything, piracy has created a whole new market for music: digital distribution. The iTunes Music Store and Amazon MP3 are making a killing, and they owe it in part to the fact that the people who traditionally pirate music can now get it instantly, legally, and super cheap. Not only that, but lots bands are realizing that digital distribution means cutting out a lot of production overhead, letting them charge what they feel is fair. Radiohead, for instance, let the consumers decide how much they wanted to pay for "In Rainbows". How much you paid had no effect on what you got. You'd think that Joe Consumer would pay just the bare minimum, but strangely enough, the average donation was about $5.00, and a profit was still turned. Go figure!

 

And Metallica? Hypocrites. They owe their popularity today to people making bootleg cassette tapes of their work and sharing it with their friends. Their pro-DRM stance today is laughable.

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

i dont think that whether or not pirates should be "discouraged" is at issue here. what concerns me is "determined how much to sue based not on the actual material infringed, but on his purchase history, the equity on his home, and the number of cars in his driveway."

what the hell is up with that? so if he was a multi-millionaire, and sold a few hundred copies of a game, hed be charged in the millions, instead of hundreds, which is closer to the "damage" he caused by selling copies?

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

I don't know their source, but a free-and-spread-in-public-transport newspaper here in the Netherlands always features small notes. I recall one of those was about that someone paid a 100k fine for selling CoD3 copies. Not sure if it's the same case and how reliable the information is though.

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

The power of corporations is limited the what the state deems it should have. Any reading of federal and state law clearly shows that they are subject to the state's laws that they reside in, and furthermore they only exist at the consent of the state.

After seeing the events on wall street this past week, I think its clearly time that government move to rein in corporations and remind them of just what they are. The huge settlements and unethical tactics forced on private citizens as seen in this article represent why government needs to act. 

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

Remind them what they are? Rein them in?

Certain groups became an economic powerhouse they everyone bet on. then they failed. How do they need to be "reined in"?

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

The government is what wrecked the corporations in the first place. And no, in actual, real-life worlds, corporations can be whatever the fuck they want to be. What varies is how much they have to hide. In addition, the "power" of corporations is MONEY. THEY HAVE NO OTHER POWER.

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

And you think the solution is giving it over to the government? If anything, the government at both the state and federal level are too involved in industry.

What Activision did was very shrewd, but this is why we have the ABA, to draw the line between playing hard and playing unethical. Also, we don't know the actual story, all we know is what this one guy said and it cannot be backed up by anything.

For all we know he could have been duplicating the CD's and selling them as a source of income, which warrents Activision to judge the cost on the basis of his assets.

In short, what I am trying to say is that we simply do not know enough about the case(s) to make a judgment on who was in the right and who was in the wrong. The entire reason for all this cloak and dagger stuff may be a weakness in IP protection that Activision wants to have kept secret and they know if they go to court, it would be leaked out.

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

The power of corporations is limited the what the state deems it should have. Any reading of federal and state law clearly shows that they are subject to the state's laws that they reside in, and furthermore they only exist at the consent of the state.

After seeing the events on wall street this past week, I think its clearly time that government move to rein in corporations and remind them of just what they are. The huge settlements and unethical tactics forced on private citizens as seen in this article represent why government needs to act. 

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

But when corporations are funding the race to the white house, where is the incentive to hold them to task?  After all, THEY nor Bush have to pay that $700billion, we do.

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

'Activision Six' made me lol!


-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

Not to put too fine a point on it Dennis.  But I believe the RIGHT to counsel only applies to criminal cases.  If it applies to civil cases well then Activision is in serious trouble.

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

 There is the legal RIGHT and the moral RIGHT. Morally, Activision extorted this person by saying, "If you contact someone who will make this difficult for us, we will make you pay more." Pirates get what they deserve at the end of the day, but the manner in which their punishment is handle is crucial. Acting like a corporate thug damages your public image.

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

You are correct - the 5th amendment "right to counsel" only applies in a criminal case.  However, it's unethical as hell for an attorney to discourage someone from securing their own attorney, especially when the discouragement is "well, we'll just make you pay more then".

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

Precisely. Always get a lawyer when you're being sued. Even if you are one.

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

Especially if you are Jack Thompson...

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

I have a feeling that these people were either selling copied discs (backups) or selling ROMs. I see a few of them on craigslist from time to time, and it's a wonder why neither a publisher or developer would take the necessary steps to shut them down. While I don't agree with the strategy that Activision has chosen, I do believe that open piracy of this kind needs to be stopped. In addition, financial penalties are necessary because these people probably infringed copyright in order to make a profit off of someone else's hard work.

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

But isnt that the American Dream? To profit off of someone else? Sure has worked for the government and any major corperation for the last 100 or so years.

 

 

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

Oh wow, your funny.....

Re: Report: Defendant in Piracy Cases Slams Activision Tactics

Earliy morning...

Anyways, I am wonding if they hacked into Activision and found out about future projects...  Is there any information of what career feilds these people are in?

 
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