A Slashdot article posted just before the Thanksgiving break speculated that game publishers lobbying group the Entertainment Software Association might be turning to the aggressive, anti-file sharing tactics which have made music industry trade group RIAA infamous.
In response to an inquiry from GamePolitics, however, an ESA spokesman said the organization had not altered its response to piracy issues.
The question arose on Slashdot - and quickly disappeared into the mist of the Thanksgiving holiday - last Tuesday when Slashdot quoted a user named "cavis":
My organization just received an e-mail from the Intellectual Property enforcement division of the [ESA]. It accuses one particular IP address with 'infringing the copyright rights of one or more ESA members by copying and distributing unauthorized copies of game products (through peer-to-peer or similar software/services).' It goes on to name the filename and the application: Limewire. Has anyone had any contact with this group? Are they following the RIAA's lead and pursuing litigation for peer-to-peer piracy? I'm just trying to evaluate what I am in for as I try to battle P2P within my network." ...The [ESA's] letter reads in part...:
The... ESA is authorized to act on behalf of ESA members whose copyright and other intellectual property rights it believes to be infringed as described herein.
Based on the information at its disposal on 24 Nov 2008... ESA has a good faith belief that the subscriber using the [IP address] infringing the copyright rights of one or more ESA members by copying and distributing unauthorized copies of game products (through peer-to-peer or similar software/services), in violation of applicable copyright laws, through internet access that [agency name] provides directly to the [IP address] or through a downstream provider that purchases this access for [IP address].
While Slashdot headlined the article, Entertainment Software Association Following RIAA?, some follow-up comments to the story questioned that interpretation. So GamePolitics put the question directly to the ESA. Ric Hirsch, the lobbying group's Senior VP for IP Enforcement, responded:
Recent press inquiries regarding ESA notices to ISPs about possible online infringements of ESA members’ IP rights have questioned whether these notices represent a new enforcement tactic on the part of ESA.
The ESA has been sending notices to ISPs regarding online infringements for many years, dating back to 2000. In short, this is not a new enforcement mechanism or a new front in our efforts against piracy. Rather, this is an example of the ESA’s ongoing vigilance and proactive work in detecting and deterring illegal activity.
GP: While the ESA's recent selection of a RIAA's former attorney as its general counsel initially fueled speculation that the organization might adopt the RIAA's draconian approach to file-sharing issues, that would not appear to be the case, at least not in this instance. Most notably, there's no apparent demand for a cash settlement in lieu of a lawsuit. And while the full ESA letter is not cited by Slashdot, it appears to be more of a takedown notice than anything else.
We'll update if more info becomes available.