UK Lawyers Video Game Piracy Shakedown Catching Plenty Of Innocent Bystanders

from the this-is-what-we-call-a-shakedown dept

Last time we checked in with UK law firm Davenport Lyons, they were trying to set up a shakedown process where they threatened to sue as many people as possible for allegedly sharing a video game. Despite some lofty talk by Davenport Lyons, it was quite clear from the beginning that this never had anything to do with copyright. It was just a straight up shakedown. The firm would send threatening letters claiming that it had evidence (even if it did not) and then demand a settlement fee be paid to avoid an actual lawsuit. It's difficult to see how or why that should be legal.

The firm was aided in its quest by drastically exaggerating a legal "win" in one of these cases. The win was because it was a default judgment. The woman that was accused of file sharing did not show up in court, and the court had no choice but to rule against her. Yet, to hear Davenport Lyons tell it, you might be lead to believe that a full blown court case occurred, with a full defense of the actions, and the woman lost.

A lawyer in the UK who was disgusted by this practice, Michael Coyle, has offered to defend as many innocent recipients of the shakedown letter as possible, and now the press is reporting he's already pursuing seventy cases of innocent people being falsely accused (and has heard from hundreds more). The article profiles one such case, where a couple (aged 54 and 66) were accused of sharing a car racing game. The only problem? They have no video games on their computer, nor any file sharing software (and they didn't even know what it was until they got the threatening letter).

Even more ridiculous? They wrote to Davenport Lyons three times without any response. It was only once a magazine picked up their story that Davenport Lyons and Atari dropped the threat. It's about time that the press shines a light on these practices, which clearly have little to do with protecting the rights of copyright holders, and plenty to do with a new, highly questionable, revenue stream that some might call "extortion."
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Filed Under: file sharing, pre-settlement letters, uk
Companies: atari, davenport lyons

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  1. identicon
    Peavey, 30 Oct 2008 @ 7:37am

    been there

    A few years ago my mother unknowingly bought me a bootlegged boxset for Christmas off ebay. I couldn't get our money back and decided to resell it (not smart).

    A few days later I got letters from lawyers from the movie studios threatening to sue if I didn't mail them all means that I have to create bootlegged DVDs including a printer, my entire PC and all blank media.

    It was a total shake down based on nothing other than me selling the fake boxset. I told them to screw off and luckily, never heard from them again.

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