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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 9:19am

    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.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 9:24am

    Looks to me like software for facilitating P2P file sharing should no longer be called "freeware".

     

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

  3.  
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    Michial, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 9:32am

    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.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 9:47am

    if it was a cheap game then why didn't they buy it?

    Duh'

    bet they wish they did now.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 9:48am

    Re: Punishment fitting the crime

    Fucking moron, take your old tired views and shove them up your pussy. You know you are a pussy!

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 9:50am

    Re: Punishment fitting the crime
    by Anonymous Coward - Aug 20th, 2008 @ 9:48am

    Fucking moron, take your old tired views and shove them up your pussy. You know you are a pussy!

    whether that be true or not, you are certainly mature aren't you,

    Duh'

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 9:51am

    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?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Bill, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 9:51am

    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

     

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  9.  
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    C'est Moi, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 10:03am

    Pinball game

    Annoying Coward... oops I mean Anonymous Coward, you should brush up on your language skills. Little boys and girls need to use F word to make a point... are you a little boy or a little girl? Everyone has their opinion, yours is just not the correct one.

     

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  10.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 10:03am

    "Unfortunately, the reporter for the Daily Mail in the UK only takes Davenport Lyons' side of things"

    The clue's there as why this is. The Daily Fail is a rag that specialises in scare stories and pandering to the worst elements of the right wing. Of course it'll take the business' side of things...

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    M, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 10:04am

    Re: Re: Punishment fitting the crime

    That was an intelligent comment.

     

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

  12.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 10:09am

    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.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 10:30am

    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

     

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  14.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 10:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Punishment fitting the crime

    Heh, my mistake :) I really shouldn't try to post when I'm leaving work!

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Yosi, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 10:52am

    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".

     

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  16.  
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    Joe, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 10:53am

    Re: But They're Pros!

    Is this a joke or not?

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Joe, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 10:57am

    Re: Pinball game

    because they would never get a fine against someone in china since the laws there don't really curb piracy...and if they did it would probably be unable to collect anything from those prosecuted.

    Most likely the punishment would be a public beating or something for the majority of the losers.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    James, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 11:01am

    Re: But They're Pros!

    Are you kidding me? Should you NOT question what you hear, see and read? What rock are you living under that because someone's a "professional" what they're saying is right?

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 11:02am

    Sweet game?

    That sounds like a rocking Pinball game.. I gotta download me a copy..

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Michael Ennis, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 11:06am

    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.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 11:08am

    From the STATE THE OBVIOUS department;

    Reporters are LAZY. No I mean really, seriously LAZY.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    J. Lawson, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 11:40am

    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.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Gene, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 11:46am

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

    I think you've really hit the nail on the head. By allowing these companies and their lawyers to collection such outrageously high fines we have, in effect, outsourced the function of law enforcement into their hands. (And pretty sleazy hands IMHO.)

     

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  24.  
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    B dawg, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 11:52am

    Lazy people are the ones playing video games when they should be working. That is why the US is the way it is everyone is to lazy for labor we will steal it or have someone else make it!

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Twinrova, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 11:54am

    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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  26.  
    identicon
    Yosi, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 11:59am

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

    Basic assumption here: number of shared copies == number of stolen licenses. Don't know how many friends she shared the game with, though.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 12:24pm

    Re: But They're Pros!

    I must be the only one that got this as sarcasm.

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    JT, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Re: Punishment fitting the crime

    Way to contribute and bring down any intelligence in the thread.

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    JT, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 12:40pm

    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.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Sierra Night Tide, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 12:42pm

    Re: But They're Pros!

    and "professional" journalists NEVER lie or play up to companies...they would never do that right?


    LOL -- I believe bloggers more than I do "professional" {paid off} journalists.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 12:43pm

    Re:

    Apparently some, like yourself, were too lazy to attend English class.

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    Sierra Night Tide, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 12:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Punishment fitting the crime

    Welcome to America!

    :)

     

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

  33.  
    icon
    Jeff (profile), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 12:47pm

    Torrent

    What's the title of the game release? Dream Pinball? Zuxxez Pinball? I'm going to download it twice.

     

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

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 1:10pm

    Well damn! I need to talk to my friend in China and see if he can just host all the games and music over there!!

     

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

  35.  
    identicon
    The Profane AC (I like that), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: 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?

     

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

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 3:36pm

    It's the Daily Mail, What else could you expect?

     

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

  37.  
    identicon
    Sean, Aug 21st, 2008 @ 2:04am

    Daily Mail...

    Well we all know that the Daily Mail is ready by the wives of the people who run the country, so you can hardly expect in-depth analysis of the rights and wrongs of file-sharing.

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Yes,_Minister

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    dax, Aug 21st, 2008 @ 10:46pm

    The thing is that the defendant didn't even turn up in court. So it was easy for Devenport to win. And this means nothing for other file-shares.

     

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


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