London lawyers demand £600 for game download
By Barry Collins
Posted on 9 May 2008 at 10:17
A London legal firm is demanding in excess of £600 from people who it claims are guilty of downloading a single game from a file-sharing service.
Legal firm Davenport Lyons sent the demand to one PC Pro reader, after claiming it had "forensic computer analysis" that shows he downloaded the game Two Worlds using BitTorrent. Davenport Lyons is acting on the behalf of German games distributor Zuxxez, which last year employed the firm to target file sharers.
The PC Pro reader was given no prior warning to stop file sharing, unlike the usual "three strikes and you're out" approach adopted by the music industry, which gives users two warnings to stop sharing before legal proceedings are instigated.
The legal demand claims that "given the extent of the damage that file sharing is causing to our client's business, our client is left with no option but to adopt a policy of enforcing its rights in an attempt to stem the wholesale misappropriation of its property."
The letter goes on to claim that its "client is prepared to give you the opportunity to avoid legal action" provided it receives compensation of £600 plus £8.18 to cover the costs of obtaining the user's details from their ISP.
The letter insists payment must be made within 14 days or else "our client will be seeking as a minimum from you an interim payment of £1,200 and will request the Court to determine the level of total damages and costs which should be awarded against you".
Wrong postage paid
The PC Pro reader, who has asked not be to named, says he can find no trace of the Two Worlds game he is alleged to have downloaded on his home PCs, although can't rule out the possibility that his teenage children may have downloaded the game.
Nevertheless, he feels the £600 "settlement" is "highly disproportionate" for the download of a single game.
"To add insult to injury it [Davenport Lyons] didn't pay enough postage on the letter and I had to collect it from the sorting office at a cost of £1.30," he says. "This also used up most of the two weeks that it allowed for a response."
A spokesman for Davenport Lyons told PC Pro that it was investigating why the letter was sent out with the incorrect postage, but refused to comment further on the matter. The game's distributor Zuxxez was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
This isn't the first time Davenport Lyons has targeted British file sharers. The firm last year sent out hundreds of similar letters on behalf of Zuxxez for the game Dream Pinball 3D and Codemasters for Colin McRae Dirt.
Many of those targeted claim they didn't download the game they were accused of illegally sharing, according to multiple posts on internet forums.
Several of those have challenged Davenport Lyons to produce their "forensic" evidence in court, although we can find no reported cases of successful prosecutions.
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