Yesterday, GamePolitics reported that an unemployed immigrant mother of two was ordered by a British court to pay £16,086 (roughly $30,000) to Topware Interactive for uploading its pinball game to a file-sharing network.
Things are about to get much worse.
Today's Times Online reports that Topware's case against Isabella Barwinska may only have been the tip of the iceberg. According to the Times, a quintet of U.K. publishers are targeting those who share PC games. Calling the action an "unprecedented assault on illegal downloads," the Times names Topware, Atari, Reality Pump, Techland and Codemasters as the firms involved. The report says the companies plan to notify 25,000 U.K. consumers that they must pay £300 to settle file-sharing accusations. Otherwise, they risk a ruinous court judgment of the type lodged against Barwinska.
From the Times:
It is estimated that as many as six million people in Britain share games illegally over the internet. The aggressive action marks a dramatic change in the approach to copyright on the internet. The British music industry, hit hard by illegal file-sharing, has taken action against just 150 people in ten years...
The move has provoked strong criticism within the games industry. A source close to the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association said that most publishers would be reluctant to bring legal actions against their “core market” and would be likely to look for other ways to minimise losses due to piracy.
A lawyer for the five publishers commented:
Our clients were incensed by the level of illegal downloading. In the first 14 days since Topware Interactive released Dream Pinball 3D it sold 800 legitimate copies but was illegally downloaded 12,000 times. Hopefully people will think twice if they risk being taken to court.
Via: Edge Online