Just how legit is the anti-piracy fight? Not very, according to .biz

You should all be aware by now that Codemasters, Atari and a bunch of no-name developers have clubbed together to pursue as many as 25,000 software pirates in the UK. Now, the tactic of trying to squeeze £300 out-of-court settlements from each of these pirates may seem a little shady and somewhat suspicious, but if GI.Biz’s editorial anything to go by, “a little bit shady” doesn’t begin to cover it.

Among the things that .biz points out is the fact that law firm Davenport Lyons is employing highly questionable methods of tracking down these pirates which test the limits of legality. According to the editorial, this whole scenario is going to result in a huge PR nightmare, especially when the innocent people accused of piracy start to hit back. 

I disagree with some of the mass piracy that happens, but this recent “war” in Britain has unsettled me greatly. The original demands read more like extortion than a serious attempt to seek retribution for copyright theft. From what .biz suggests, extortion is exactly what it is. Hit the jump for some of the most pertinent parts of the editorial. 

[Via GamePolitics]

None of the big publishers or platform holders have touched the action with a barge pole… A group of tier 2 and tier 3 companies… have hired a firm called Davenport Lyons to take action against private individuals for using file-sharing networks to distribute games. This, it appears, is a Davenport Lyons “speciality”…this is a company whose reputation is coloured by a history of threats against private individuals…

Davenport Lyons… appear to be using data from a company called Logistep… there have been serious concerns over the legality of Logistep’s methods in several European states. In… Switzerland, it stood accused of violating the law in its pursuit of pirates…  In France, a lawyer who was working with Logistep was recently banned from practising law for six months for almost exactly the same behaviour which Davenport Lyons has just demonstrated in the UK…

That seems to be why the shock-and-awe tactics of this mass mailing are being employed. £300 or thereabouts is a nice figure – enough to sting badly… but not enough for most people (innocent or guilty!) to be willing to go and hire a lawyer and fight the case…

In that case, “grubby” doesn’t begin to describe it – just as, when innocent people start receiving those letters and clamouring in large numbers to the media, as they inevitably will, “PR disaster” doesn’t begin to describe what will happen next. 

Fight piracy. Fight it with every weapon in the arsenal – but play fair. This kind of dirty, nasty and legally questionable action will do nothing other than bring the industry into disrepute…

Jim Sterling