Woman Fined Nearly $30,000 For Sharing Pinball Game Software With Friends

from the punishment-fits-the-crime?!? dept

Last month we wrote about how the UK law firm Davenport Lyons had sued over 100 people for supposedly file sharing a silly pinball video game. As we noted, Davenport Lyons has been accused of some questionable practices, such as sending out threatening pre-settlement letters based on extremely faulty evidence from Logistep. Various other countries in Europe have sanctioned lawyers for relying on the same evidence that Davenport Lyons uses, and both Italy and Switzerland have said that Logistep’s method of identifying file sharers is illegal — but that hasn’t stopped the firm from continuing its efforts.

And now it’s announcing a victory. A woman that it sued has been fined about $30,000 for file sharing that same pinball game. Apparently, UK courts have no sense of making sure the punishment fits the crime. Everyone involved notes that the woman wasn’t sharing the game for commercial purposes, but wanted a few friends to be able to play it as well. For that she now needs to pay $30,000?

Oddly, Davenport Lyons used this news to announce that it was suing 100 people for sharing this game… even though it had already announced that last month. Unfortunately, the reporter for the Daily Mail in the UK only takes Davenport Lyons’ side of things. The report quotes a lawyer talking about all the evils and losses from file sharing, without any quotes from those who know those numbers are bogus — and never once questioning why it’s reasonable for someone sharing a simple cheap game with a few friends to be fined $30,000. The reporter mentions Logistep, but not the troubles it’s faced in other countries (or the trouble lawyers who rely on its evidence have faced). It’s time reporters stopped simply parroting this story, which is based on faulty premises, faulty numbers and faulty evidence.

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Companies: davenport lyons

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Comments on “Woman Fined Nearly $30,000 For Sharing Pinball Game Software With Friends”

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38 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

But They're Pros!

It’s time reporters stopped simply parroting this story, which is based on faulty premises, faulty numbers and faulty evidence.

How dare you question “professional” journalists. Whatever they parrot must be true, because they’re “professionals,” as compared to the amateur bloggers who question everything.

Michial (user link) says:

Punishment fitting the crime

Punishment for breaking the law is supposed to be a deterant for breaking the law, there is nothing that says that the fines should be proportionate to the cost of the product.

Keep in mind that a fine is a form of punishment, and the money goes to the government. On the other hand a judgement is awarded to the individual winning the case. Judgements should be proportional to the loss experienced. Fines should be used as a deterant.

As for as the cheap assed pinball game, it’s still owned by someone who was selling it, and her actions did not only breal the law, but did cause a loss for that person. If she wanted her friends to be able to play it, then she should have bought legitimate copies and send them to her friends.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Punishment fitting the crime

ok, so sounds like damages (at best) should have been x*y=z where x= number of people who she shared it with, and y= the cost of the game. Sounds like some simple math to me, not sure where they pulled the $30,000 from.

I mean if they’re going to fine for “potential damages” then shouldn’t the court and prosecution be held partially liable for the damage caused by the revolution that will one day follow if this draconian BS is allowed to continue?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Punishment fitting the crime

“As for as the cheap assed pinball game, it’s still owned by someone who was selling it, and her actions did not only breal the law, but did cause a loss for that person. If she wanted her friends to be able to play it, then she should have bought legitimate copies and send them to her friends.”

Here we go again… She did not cause the company to lose any money. The worst that happened is that they *may* have lost the opportunity for a sale and that assumes that her friends would have been willing to buy it and decided not to after getting the free copy. I’ll bet a few of those friends didn’t play it and/or didn’t like it so would not have paid money. I’ll also bet that those people who did would have been willing to buy the sequel if/when it hit shelves.

It’s another situation where a tiny *potential* loss has been blown out of proportion. The punishment does not fit the crime, and you can bet your ass that this company’s now lost a lot of sales from this woman, friends and sympathisers. Davenport Lyons is definitely another addition to my ever growing “do not buy from these idiots, ever” list.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Punishment fitting the crime

“Davenport Lyons is definitely another addition to my ever growing “do not buy from these idiots, ever” list.”

Davenport Lyons is the dirty law firm, the company that you need to boycott and put on the “do not buy from these idiots, ever” is TopWare Interactive

Bill says:

Pinball game

Small minded lawyers and cheap game designers. Look at China they break every copyright law in the books and because people want cheap they are about to bury the western industrial world economically. We use our smarts and go after stupid little people for $ 30,000.00 that they could never pay. Why don’t these smart lawyers go after China and the thousands of copyright violations!

Bill
Phoenix, AZ

Yosi says:

There's no "fair use" for software

Mike seems to be confusing different kinds of “IP”. Software is nothing like music, movie or other form of art. It is product created by engineered process, not by inspiration.
People creating software are not interested in “exposure to their art”, to sell more concert tickets or seats in cinemas. Those people make their money by selling product itself. This product is software license. Please cut the BS about “software as service” – this fit only very specific kind of software.
While I don’t buy a concept of “stealing music”, I definitely agree with “stealing software”. Yes, this is theft, plain and simple, and $30,000 fine seems fair to me. “Thou shell not steal”.

Michael Ennis (profile) says:

Re: There's no "fair use" for software

Really? $30,000 is fair? This link:

http://www.lubbockonline.com/news/111196/arrested.htm

shows that if someone actually stole this game from a store it would incur a fine of, at most, $500. Now I don’t know the exact details of this case, but unless she stole 60 copies of this game, I’d say $30,000 is a bit much.

JT says:

Re: Re: Re: There's no "fair use" for software

I think that’s where part of the problem lies. How many people received it through her sharing whether she intended for others to get it or not.

While I see nothing wrong with a fine, I think the $30k is excessive. I also think it’s scary as hell how the current generation thinks (as the profane AC above commented) that anything is free for the taking.

The Profane AC (I like that) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 There's no "fair use" for software

Correction, anything digital is free for the downloading, if you know how and that’s a big if.

I like the way Jeff (Torrent) thinks. I believe I will DL all of the current games and all of the current movies as well as all of the current software and OSes.

Damn, I have already done this. What shall I DL now?

J. Lawson says:

How contested was contested?

We need more details. All the previous cases were completely uncontested. Did this unemployed Polish mother make it into court as a litigant in person to fight her corner against Davenport Lyons’ barrister or was the ‘defendant turning up’ only that Ms Barwinska was the first person to return the court paperwork?

I’ve found no report that sheds any more light. Even the hopefully-less-biased BBC have little more in their article Game sharers face legal crackdown.

Twinrova says:

I'm on the fence with this one...

…although I do believe $30k is excessive.

I can understand if the woman gave the others the very disc she purchased to try it out, but to take it and place it where it’s distributed? How daft can she be. I’d say she deserved it, but this is only the beginning as more and more companies now believe they still own the program and you can’t do a damn thing with it but install it and use it.

Hell, many are arguing you can’t even make backup copies anymore as it’s “infringing” on their IP.

I knew back in the day the internet was going to make trouble for “standard” business models because it was just too easy to share something on the interwebs.

Now look at where we’re all at: DRM, overpriced media, legal issues, and outraged consumers. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to end anytime soon.

Changing a business model may sound easy, but it’s not and many have a hard time adjusting because they haven’t figured out a way to do it such that the consumer can overpay for something.

Even now, it seems Corporate America and the entertainment industry have to pull together to try and sell us crap we don’t want/need all because some idiotic-rhyming music star is signed to push products.

It’s just getting to the point where reading is going to make a huge comeback because the entertainment industry is shooting itself in the foot.

Oh, wait. No it’s not while consumers flock to pay $3 for a TV show and $1 for a song.

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