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The U.K. Firm Gamers Love to Hate

London firm Davenport Lyons is the talk of some corners of the blogosphere this week, although the talk is not kind. The firm announced that it would be taking 100 British gamers to court for allegedly uploading the game Dream Pinball 3D to file-sharing sites. BBC's Newsbeat reports that it is the biggest drive yet against gamers who use peer-to-peer networks such as BitTorrent and Limewire, and that the lawsuits are only the first wave of thousands more to be filed by the end of the year.

While these are the first legal actions filed by the firm against alleged file-sharers, it has been sending out letters to gamers demanding payments in excess of £600. The letters said the firm's client was "prepared to give you the opportunity to avoid legal action" provided it received compensation of £600 plus £8.18 to cover costs. In announcing this week's lawsuits, Davenport Lyons partner David Gore, the lawyer in charge of the cases, told the BBC, "There is no difference between stealing a DVD from a high street retailer and downloading it from a peer-to-peer network. We hope that it will act as a deterrent. There is a hard core of file sharers who are just interested in getting something for nothing."

Criticism of the actions stems in part from the firm's reliance on tracking technology developed by a Swiss company, Logistep, that is used to record the individual IP addresses of computers used in file transfers. At the blog Techdirt, Mike Masnick calls the evidence collected using Logistep's technology "flimsy."

Davenport Lyons relies on the increasingly questionable evidence provided by the firm Logistep, whose evidence is so shaky that the company has been found to have broken the law in both Italy and Switzerland.  And, oh yeah, another lawyer who relied on questionable Logistep evidence has been banned from practicing law in France for six months, after the Paris Bar realized that this questionable 'evidence' was being used more for extortion-like 'pre-settlement' letters that demand money to avoid getting taken to court.

The firm continues to pursue these cases, Masnick contends, because they are so lucrative. And that means it will be bringing many more such cases -- thanks in part to a recent High Court decision that the firm says will force ISPs to hand over thousands of names and addresses of suspected file sharers.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on July 16, 2008 at 12:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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