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.