UK Law Firm Tries Suing As Many People As Possible For File Sharing

from the is-there-a-guinness-record-on-this? dept

The UK law firm Davenport Lyons has made a name for itself in being incredibly aggressive in threatening and suing anyone that it suspects of being involved in file sharing, no matter how flimsy the evidence it has. In face, 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.

However, that's not stopping Davenport Lyons, who has found the business to be so lucrative that it wants more people it can threaten. It's now suing over 100 people it believes shared a pinball video game. Once again, you can rest assured that this has little to do with the actual legal merits of the case, and quite a lot to do with simply trying to frighten as many people as possible into paying up on those "pre-settlement" letters. For example, there are numerous misstatements made by Davenport Lyons, including the false claim that these lawsuits are about downloading, rather than uploading. In fact, all the lawsuits are about whether or not someone uploaded the game -- but the lawyer notes: "There is no difference between stealing a DVD from a high street retailer and downloading it from a peer-to-peer network."

Of course, the lawyer is also wrong there. There is a tremendous difference between stealing a DVD from a retailer and downloading it from a P2P network: most notably that in the first case, something is missing and in the second it is not. That doesn't mean it's not infringing, but the two things are quite different. The same lawyer goes on to claim that video games can't continue being made if there is widespread file sharing -- despite evidence from some video game companies that embracing file sharing as a way to gain attention does wonders.

Reality, though, doesn't keep the money coming in. Expect plenty more lawsuits from Davenport Lyons, as the company claims that a recent legal decisions means ISPs need to start handing over names of suspected file sharers so it can send out its nastygrams in short order.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 9:39am

    I'm surpriced you haven't mentioned, that it is known that if you IGNORE THESE MAILS NOTHING HAPPENS. To those who received them, IGNORE.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 9:41am

    Anonymous Coward as default anonymous nickname? Is that how techdirt treats it's users who wish to stay Anonymous?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 9:44am

    100 people suid were people who were the easiest pick, likely people who replied. It's not much compared to how much people got these mails.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 9:49am

    "Lawyers working for the gaming industry have told Newsbeat to expect thousands more cases before the end of the year."

    Empty treats to convince you to pay.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Kiba, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 9:52am

    It is sad that supposedly upstanding members of our society resort to rent-seeking instead of the production of wealth.

    Pathetic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 10:13am

    Stealing vs Downloading

    Primary difference? If I place something up to be downloaded, I want it to be such. When a store puts something on display, it wants it to be purchased. If I download something that is there to be downloaded, it's actually following the correct channels for the transaction, much like if I purchased something from a store.

    A more logical comparison would be saying that UPLOADING something that is copyrighted is, gasp, copyright infringement! Which, is NOTHING like theft.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Overcast, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 10:19am

    No ambulances to chase, eh?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Spectere, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 10:54am

    Re:

    "Anonymous Coward as default anonymous nickname? Is that how techdirt treats it's users who wish to stay Anonymous?"

    It's a common default anonymous name on Internet discussion threads; don't get your panties in a bunch. If it offends you as badly as it appears to, do what you just did and punch in "anonymous" as your name.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 11:27am

    Re:

    Anonymous Coward as default anonymous nickname? Is that how techdirt treats it's users who wish to stay Anonymous?

    Yes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 11:53am

    Re: Re:

    It's a throwback to Slashdot

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Huh?, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Re:

    No its how Tech Dirt treats people who are to lazy to type something into the name field. Everyone on Tech Dirt is "anonymous". Of course if you want fill in your name address and social security number, go ahead.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Carme, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 1:08pm

    How is that evidence?

    "The same lawyer goes on to claim that video games can't continue being made if there is widespread file sharing -- despite evidence from some video game companies that embracing file sharing as a way to gain attention does wonders."

    That's a very weak argument. First, it's not a simple question with a simple answer that just needs "evidence" to decide which answer is correct. The fact that one company supposedly succeeded due to file sharing, even if it were true, is certainly not "evidence" that piracy does not threaten the future of the PC game industry. It's just an isolated story. You'll need many more of these, with different games and different circumstances, to have actual "evidence".

    Crytek's CEO said piracy is threatening the business and might drive Crytek away from the PC and towards more piracy-resistant platforms. How come his insights aren't "evidence" that piracy does threaten game development? If we have conflicting "evidence", does that mean one of them is lying? Or maybe it's just too complex a question to answer with a handful of anecdotal stories?

    In any case, even your "evidence" seems extremely flimsy. I read the forum posting you linked to and couldn't find anything to suggest that Stardock is "embracing" file sharing. On the contrary, the poster was quite explicit in saying their success hinges on making sure as many people as possible buy the game instead of pirating it. I'd welcome a correction if I'm wrong on this.

     

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  13.  
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    Mike (profile), Jul 15th, 2008 @ 5:14pm

    Re: How is that evidence?

    The fact that one company supposedly succeeded due to file sharing, even if it were true, is certainly not "evidence" that piracy does not threaten the future of the PC game industry.

    Well, actually it is. That's because the guy made an absolute statement: that the industry cannot continue. When you make an absolute statement, all it takes is one example to disprove it.

    In any case, even your "evidence" seems extremely flimsy. I read the forum posting you linked to and couldn't find anything to suggest that Stardock is "embracing" file sharing. On the contrary, the poster was quite explicit in saying their success hinges on making sure as many people as possible buy the game instead of pirating it. I'd welcome a correction if I'm wrong on this.

    Well, I think it's clear from the posting that the firm isn't calling everyone a pirate -- but is actually trying to give people a reason to buy, without trying to encumber the game with DRM or threatening to sue those that do download it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 10:02pm

    Re:

    Yep. That's how Techdirt and dozens of other blogging communities do all over the series of tubes that some of us like to call the Internet.

    Techdirt wasn't the first and they won't be the last...

    I think it's pretty funny.

    What I don't think is funny is the politicos who don't think you should be able to be anonymous at all, ever.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Carme, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 1:42am

    Re: Re: How is that evidence?

    "When you make an absolute statement, all it takes is one example to disprove it."

    It's like when a farmer complains that sharply cutting a region's water quota will destroy the local agriculture and someone says "You're absolutely wrong! There's this guy that grows cactus plants..." True, but meaningless.

    What the lawyer said is hyperbole, so disproving his "absolute statement" is very easy - but shallow and meaningless. The real question is not whether 100% of the industry will disappear due to piracy but *how much* of a problem it is. As I said, this is a serious question which can't be answered by bringing up a handful of anecdotal evidence.

    A good approach is to rely on the basic rules of economy - good business models push the bad ones out. The music industry, for example, started its way in the digital world by first suing customers, then selling DRMed music, then selling unprotected music. Each step was obviously more profitable than the first. Since the whole digital music era started about 10 years ago, the story is definitely not over.

    The game industry is a very mature one, with 3 decades or more of experience. And the fact is that computer games started with no copy protection - in the 80s you could pretty much copy every game - and in time evolved to use copy protection. Game consoles developed in the last few years have included ever stronger anti-piracy measures, and game developers are migrating to these platforms.

    So all it takes is a cursory look at the market to see that piracy is indeed a big factor in the game industry. The market, unlike lawyers, tells a nuanced story, but it never lies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Shay Maru, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 6:02am

    Piracy

    It's good to know that there is now a stronger stance taken on counterfeiting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Anonymouse, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 1:07am

    this isnt a question of a "stronger stance" what DL are doing is extortion, i dont agree with torrents but they are here to stay (in one form or another) it used to be "Warez" now it's torrents, torrent programmers will just remove the IP visibility

    The film industry have been quoted about the price of films in the UK " DVD's are priced by what people will pay for them " so they are not innocent either.

    This practice of Davenport Lyons has been banned in other EU countries, that says a lot to me and it should to everyone else.

     

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  18.  
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    MY NAME IS EARL, Nov 20th, 2008 @ 3:11pm

    well we need to get together some sort of vote/petition and bring it to the attention of whoever would ban davenport lyons from operating in these ways as its just not fair at all,yes fileshare abuse/piracy is wrong but davenport lyons is by far a worse situation and needs addressing first and MUST be brought down asap!
    so could somebody please please please set up a petition or something on facebook maybe and bring it to the attention of whoever needs to ban them from the uk as their methods of practice are a crime in thierselves.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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