First filesharing judgment for UK gamer as gaming industry gets tough

September 2008

Internet, games industry 

A woman has been ordered to pay more than £16,000 in a landmark ruling after a crackdown on gamers who illegally share computer games and films over the internet. Isabella Barwinska is the first defendant to pay damages after being taken to court in the UK by computer game manufacturers seeking to protect their copyright. In a decision of the Patents County Court in London she must pay damages of £6,086.56 and costs of £10,000 to Topware Interactive which owns the computer game Dream Pinball 3D. It is understood that she did not file share for commercial profit or gain – but took files to share with friends and was given 28 days to settle the judgment. Last night Topware Interactive’s London lawyers Davenport Lyons revealed that they had launched civil proceedings against 100 people – who are all suspected of illegally uploading copyrighted works – on behalf of Topware Interactive. The latest case comes after earlier this year the Central London County Court ruled against four people who were found to have infringed copyright by illegally sharing games on the internet. The games industry has also announced that would serve notices on 25,000 people across the UK requiring each of the to pay £300 immediately to settle out of court. It is a brave move and the gaming companies which include Topware along with Atari, Techland, Codemasters and Reality Pump must be aware of the problems and horrific negative publicity suffered by the music industry, particularly in the US, for actions against individuals. But clearly the games industry has to do something. When Topware released Dream Pinball 3D it sold 800 copies in the first week but was downloaded illegally 12,000 times; Peerland estimate that Operation Flashpoint was downloaded 691,324 in one week and Battlefield 1942 almost 1.5 million times. David Gore, a partner at Davenport Lyons, said: ‘Illegal file-sharing is a very serious issue resulting in millions of pounds of losses to copyright owners … as downloading speeds and internet penetration increase, this continues to be a worldwide problem across the media industry which increasingly relies on digital revenues”. Davenport Lyons is applying for a High Court order asking for internet service providers to hand over the names and addresses of the 25,000 people suspected of illegally downloading computer games.

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