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back to article Codemasters sets legal dogs on file-sharers

Codemasters has fired off legal threats and cash demands to net users who it accuses of illegally distributing its videogames over P2P networks. People have been hit with multiple demands for hundreds of pounds in settlement, or face a lengthy legal battle. The development means a payday for Davenport Lyons. The London-based …

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GMT0BST

Net apps tend to run on local time zones (DST adjusted).

Phone systems tend not to use DST.

Because of this discrepancy the resulting one hour difference can easily lead to the spooks going after the wrong person.

I do not have the link but do remember reading of a (RIAA?) case that failed

in the US because of this.

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Pirate

I got one of these letters

In it it tells you that you can not call them about the case, the reference number given to me is blank, and despite having My name starting with MR I am reffered to as, Dear Sir or Madam.

I found the letter to be a very frightning one, with some very hard bullying tacktics.

It goes on to say even if it was not me it's my fault for letting people use my internet connection. They go as far to say that it's almost against the law for me not to be using a firewall or AV software.

I wrote to them denying I was anything to do with this and pointed out the flaws in WEP security employed by BT on the home hub. I also pointed out that the HomeHub had a bug (thanks reg) that allowed people to remotely control my router and make any changes they want.

I await a response from them.

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I dont agree with any of this....

File sharers (Apart from the few legit ones) Should be sent down for the theft they have commited, but the companys sending out letters like that should be hung out to dry too. They are using debt recovery tactics for a debt they cannot prove is owed. Very poor show.

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Thumb Up

@b1tchell

Sounds like you've got the right tactic, keep pointing out the flaws and send them correspondence (Not over the phone).

I assume you put that you now consider the matter closed

Don't forget to add "If this is not acceptable then please respond within 14 days else I will consider the matter closed".

Also at the top of the letter put "Without Prejudice" - stops them using the letter against you if they decide to take the court route.

I never thought my time spent in (split the) Family court would come in useful again.

Good luck.

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Unhappy

*sIgh*

This is ludicrous!

I'm downloading illegal software, do I:

a) use my IP address

b) use a spoofed IP address

I wonder 'who' then gets the letter.

This is a pathetic attempt at copy protection, it serves no other purpose than to line the pockets of greedy, manipulative litigators - all under the guise of 'aiding' and 'assisting' the host company.

I doubt any company consciously makes this decision and as a former employee of Codemasters, I bet many are shocked, dismayed and downright outraged at such a pathetic attempt to cure piracy.

I'm currently assigning my IP range for P2P downloads to those registered against the litigators - the plus side is, it will reduce their postage overheads

M

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Anonymous Coward

Similarities with another profession??

Is it me or does that letter sound a lot like...

"You were illegally parked, please pay £xx within 14 days or we will take you to court".

...A new revenue stream for Private Parking Companies methinks!

Like Private Parking Companies, they dont want to GO to court just in case they set a legal precident that would be hard to overcome. On saying that though, im guessing theres more of an audit trail in the electronic domain.

@b1tchell, it will be interesting to see what they say about this, given that the person who comitted the offence isnt necessarily the person who "owns" the internet connection. If you just keep getting threats of court action without any real court papers turning up, it would strike even more similarities with PPCs.

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Pirate

Hmm

Anyone who wants a copy of Treasure Island Dizzy send me a C15 tape and a stamped SAE.

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hmmm

the issue here that also needs considering is this:

if i download a movie/game/mp3 illegally... does that mean that i would have bought it? no... thats what they cant seem to fathom.

now, owning a ps3 i dont do copies, but in the old days downloading a rip gave you an indication of it you liked the game/track/movie... the vast majority of games/films/music isnt worth paying for.... simply if it was made illegal to copy anything would all sales go up exponentially to reflect people's downloading? no.... you would still only buy 1 game/movie/track depending on your income... thats what these fools fail to understand...

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Dam
Paris Hilton

Paris hilton angle ?

I don't see a talented singer heiress angle here...

Codemasters eh ?

I bought supreme commander, I was planning to buy the addon; guess I'll play the backup of a friend, for private use only...

Tbh if you've received the letter, countersue for their pathetic threat at a frivolous lawsuit, don't take their threats lightly and claim damages for morale prejudice...

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Anonymous Coward

Any ideas?

Someone I know got one of these nastygrams too. Anyone know how 'entrapment' works in the UK? Or what the legal status of them advertising themselves as a peer to other users would be? Interestingly I know for a fact that the person the letter was addressed to didn't have anything to do with any Colin MacRae rally games. The trouble is that fighting it is complicated and likely to be more expensive than just paying up...

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Silver badge

@Liam

To paraphrase you:

"now, owning a pair of eyes I don't do copies, but in the old days photocopying a book gave you an indication of if you liked the story ... the vast majority of books isnt worth paying for"

You see, simply because the technology (fast internet connections and large hard drives) make music and software piracy easy doesn't make it legal or morally acceptable. As long as the software houses and record labels get the right people, I'm all for them being fined. The bullshit about using file sharing as a "try before you buy" is just that - the technology exists to make it unnecessary in the form of playable demos and low bitrate teasers on sites such as Amazon or the musicians own websites.

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a pathetic attempt by...

Logistep. Shame on CodeMasters for involving with those snake-oil dealers

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idiots

what a set of idiots. companies need to take a decent approach, look at stardock, their games such as gal civ can be pirated with great ease, however apart from initial patches further content is unavailable unless you own a legit key. Not only do they actually constantly work on games years after they come out but they add content that the users want. Where as, most companies will say this is our game its how we want it if you don't like it tough, then wack loads of copywrite software on it that breaks your pc and charge 40 quid for it knowing its full of errors that wont be patched for 9 months. going back to stardock again they know allot of people pirate their games, but the number is significantly smaller than most other companies and allot of the people who do pirate them end up paying for it just to get the community support that is so rare elsewhere. I personally think everyone with this letter should individually counter sue codemasters we should set up a support website and raise some funs, we should set the precedent we should show them that we wont be bullied. anyone with me?

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Flame

@Liam

"but I wouldn't have bought it anyway" is a pretty poor excuse for downloading it anyway.

Or are you asserting that you diligently deleted all songs/applications/games that you decided you weren't going to buy after all?

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Jobs Horns

Other information on this.

http://torrentfreak.com/codemasters-set-lawyers-on-bittorrent-colin-mcrae-071129/

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Anonymous Coward

@muzchap

I would love to hear how you download stuff with a spoofed IP address. How come no one else has thought of this? Genius (or not)!

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"woudn't have bought it anyway"

To be fair to Liam if he downloads a movie, game or song that he would never consider paying money for under any circumstance then technically the film, game or music industries haven't lost out financially in any way.

If he downloads something that he would otherwise get his wallet out for then obviously that affects various peoples earnings up and down the supply chain but if as he says he only downloads stuff he wouldn't pay for then I can't see what financial loss there would be.

To put forward an often suggested solution to the whole downloading argument stalemate why don't ISPs charge each of their customers just a little bit extra every year and pass the funds raised to a central organisation for fair distribution to the various creative industries as payment for all the copyrighted files downloaded. This would be similar to the system used to pay musicians whose music is played on radio stations around the world. It's been in operation for decades, seems to work perfectly well and keeps those who make the music as well as those who listen to it pretty happy.

Of course lawyers have to pay for their sports cars somehow so I don't expect this to happen anytime soon.

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*double sigh....*

Ahh Anonymous Coward ;)

There are many ways to download from an IP Address that is not yours :)

Surely I don't need to spell it out...

Ok perhaps 'spoof' was a miseading word - but I'm pretty sure 'you' get the gist... I should have used 'compromised' IP address - there muchos happier now ;)

Are you? :p

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Anonymous Coward

as much as

As much as I think tactics used are flawed - if you steal something you steal it.

People like to use cuddly fuzzy terms around their theft but it's still theft.

They like to say "but I wasn't going to buy it anyway" or "Well I havn't deprived them of a physical item - they can still sell it"

And as reasonable as that seems on the surface do a bit of scraping and you realise it's bollocks.

By their reasoning getting cable for free isn't a form of theft.

Stealing identities isn't a form of theft.

Stealing corporate data isn't theft.

I mean the companies still have their data, the cable company was giving out it's cable anyway and hey you can't actually have your identity stolen becouse how do you stop being you?

At the end of the day all of the above are done so someone can profit in some way and although stealing a game doesn't bring you financial gain (bar you havn't had to pay for it) it has brought you a personal benefit (you can play a game/watch a movie/listen to a song.)

Anyway the reason I don't buy games is becouse they're crap (as I said in the activision thread) I also don't download games, again becouse they are crap, I don't download music becouse it is crap I do buy jpop music and concerts becouse I like them. Except Artificial Girl 3 and that's becouse it's a pain in the arse to buy and get imported.

Bar that I have also downloaded Xconq and FreeCiv.

But people will go on protecting their theiving with fluffy friendly terms until laws catch up with them and they get van'd

Also almost all games have demos, movies and tv shows have trailers and music has radio and samples.

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Silver badge

Re: "woudn't have bought it anyway" etc.

What if you buy the software and THEN download a cracked version because the original is so DRM infested that you are not sure you will be able to use it or want to keep a backup for the time when the publisher will go belly up and there will no longer be anyone to "validate" your reinstall?

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Alert

@Rory Milne

"... why don't ISPs charge each of their customers just a little bit extra every year and pass the funds raised to a central organisation for fair distribution to the various creative industries as payment for all the copyrighted files downloaded."

Well, put simply, not everyone downloads files illegally, so why should they pay for someone else to pirate software, music, movies etc.?

We already have a system like this; it's called Council Tax, and it's unfair. 49% of my Council Tax goes to my local schools. I have no children but I pay almost £80 a month to educate chavs and pay for interpreters so new children can avoid learning how to speak English. It's not fair.

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Anonymous Coward

re: Re: "woudn't have bought it anyway" etc.

most cracks are small exe's that you run over your install of a game not full versions of a game that have been cracked.

Also why are you buying it if you don't agree with the DRM policy, you should either vote with your feet and not buy it or steal it, or live with what you have bought. Companies wont change becouse you BAW like a little girl.

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Re: as much

The difference is that no-one is actually hurt via file sharing. Stealing cable steals bandwidth from other users* and throws off estimates, stealing identities helps serious organised crime and can lead to all sorts of problems for the individual who has lost their identity, stealing corporate data can lead to companies losing huge amounts of money. Who loses money from P2P if the game wouldn't have been bought anyway? What if trying the game actually INCREASES chances of buying it? You admit yourself that downloading a game doesn't bring you a financial gain, but in the same way it doesn't detract from anyone. Canada alone is proof of this. Maybe if you downloaded some games to try them you would realise they're not all crap?

*ie Steals bandwidth that wasn't allocated. If you pay for internet bandwidth you should be able to use it however you see fit.

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Happy

LOL

I'm still waiting for the PIRACY fund TERRORISM angle!

I'm also pretty sure piracy is to blame for bears being called mohammed.

I'm also sure that piracy is the reason I banged my toe on the way into work this morning...

Dam - if we could just solve piracy the world would be a much better place - yeah right!

The paradox of Profit is LOSS - you can't have it both ways.

Because someone decides THEY should get paid for something and somebody else decides THEY shouldn't - who's right? Well neither has a stronger argument than the other... unless of course you bring in 'laws' - now laws were originally intended to protect the innocent, however, these laws now penalise the innocent.

The truth is - piracy has always existed - in the form of computer games, tape-to-tapeing, recording from radio etc etc. It doesn't harm 'good' quality items, in fact it promotes them to a wider audience.

The 'fallacy' that piracy is bad is a complete misnoma - there are NO hard and fast statistics determining the impact copy protection plays - it's a gut estimate that is wholly abused by the RIAA and such corporations.

The model to reduce piracy is clear, build better games that rely on content obtained from servers - the risk - the company goes belly up and you lose the ability to play a game - that's a another ethical issue...

sigh sigh sigh...

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Anonymous Coward

@Edwin

"Or are you asserting that you diligently deleted all songs/applications/games that you decided you

weren't going to buy after all?"

I do... but then I don't dl songs/apps/games/movies... Only TV shows that take ages to actually get on any chan around here... even with cable...

Any music I dl I make sure is legal primary site I use for this is http://www.jamendo.com

The crap movies that they call cra^H^H^busters etc.. I don't want... Don't think I actually saw any recent movie in ages...

I don't go to cinemas because a) they demand extortionist prices and b) for what? to have kids eating/crunching/yelling, talking on phones, ppl belching, sitting on crud seats, be flooded with 15 minutes of ads

I don't buy commercial music because frankly there's not much modern music that is of interest to me. I listen a lot to the old classical music and have a huge(huge to me) collection of that all legally purchased. Of the more recent artists the only things I actually like is vanessa mae and nightwish(w/Tarja)...

apps/games: if I don't get the source code I'm not interested...

TV Shows: house, naruto, stargate, bsg, drwho(we don't even get that around here) and possibly some others... But then I usually watch it on some tv chan as well when it's on...

Don't want to incriminate myself so posting this as AC...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: as much

Yes they are profit lines are hurt, peoples jobs are threatend. Someone has invested money in producing a product and you are taking it without paying you are a thieving pikey. The extent of the damage caused is reduced but it is still damage.

And people like to go lalala it isn't a big problem but if you look at the gets on torrents some games are into the 100,000's so multiply that by £40 and you have a large amount of lost revenue. And you can bet less then 5% of those people have gone out and bought a legit copy.

If you don't buy it then you shouldn't have it. If you download, copy, aquire something without the rights to it you have stolen it.

I don't need to steal a copy of a game to try it, I shall simply download a demo or ask someone who has a copy or read some reviews. The only mildly interesting game is supreme commander but I'll wait till it's gone gold.

If you take something you havn't got the rights too you are stealing it, your mother should of raised you better.

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Silver badge

Re: Re: Re: as much

"Yes they are profit lines are hurt, peoples jobs are threatend. Someone has invested money in producing a product and you are taking it without paying you are a thieving pikey."

With all respect - that's rubbish.

a) There is no product here that you can steal. You only infringe their copyright. That's not theft. And copyright infringement cannot be equated with economic loss for the same old reason of "wouldn't have bought it anyway".

b) Investment does not and should not guarantee a return, otherwise we will all be swamped by inflation.

c) Moneys not spend on games = money spent on movies or potatos and vice versa.

Yes, the IP owners cry us a river but on closer inspection the tears are crocodile's.

Anyone can see now that the lack of creativity and the technology make the value of individual mainstream IP items go down. Instead of trying to obtain more money for less value the IP owners should go with the flow and accept a lower unit price for higher volume of sales.

iTunesky model clearly demonstrates that such approach works but only works when the consumer gets the quality and the ease of use as well.

So a message to the IP owners - continue to insist on DRMs, anti-competitive behaviour and ignore the reality - and you'll die or be taken over.

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Coat

duck and cover....

wow - im getting a hammering here for playing devils advocate...

i pretty much guarantee i have the largest legit DVD collection here (coming close to 1000 disks) so i obviously buy films dont i? my comments were that a lot of people downloading games do it cos its free - to see if the game is any good. i have DLed mp3s in the past and if its crap i delete it - if its good i will buy it on CD and if there are only a couple of tracks worth having i might buy them as mp3 singles or just not bother.

what im saying is that just cos john doe downloads a movie it doesnt mean the movie industry are missing out on income - as the person may well not have bothered if other 'pirate' means dont exist.

also downloading != stealing, necessarily. some kiddy downloading a movie they wouldnt buy isnt the same as someone going and shoplifting it, it simply isnt.

geez people - remember most 'warez' people are actually young kids - should they really be so aggressively treated by companies and recording artists who endlessly go on about how much money they make?

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More to the point...

...am I missing something here, do people actually D/L multi-gig files over direct P2P connections? Egad.

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Re: Re: Re: as much

As I've posted before, I very rarely download things these days, I occasionally download songs which I already own, and cannot find the CD for, or the CD is too damaged to listen to. I used to watch films to see if they are worth going to the cinema for, and we go to the cinema every week, a couple of times. Sometimes I do download games which are old, or obscure. Since I prefer playing multiplayer games, I tend to buy the ones I'm interested in and leave the rest.

Profit lines are not hurt by downloading. They would be hurt if their managers were stupid enough to mess up their figures. Since downloaders are not taken into account when estimating costs and sales, profit lines stay well within the boundaries that they expect, people's jobs are not threatened, and the same amount of money goes to people who deserve it. For exactly the same reason that tape recorders and CD burners and video piracy have all failed to sink any industry, game piracy will not sink the games industry, and it has definitely not had any effect on Codemaster's sales.

What you, and the industry in general, fails to grasp is that it is only lost revenue if someone would have bought it instead of downloading it. If you cannot prove this, then it is not lost revenue. Money is not lost in production, because nothing was made to be stolen.

Is piracy wrong? Yes, of course it is, because it's still stealing, but no-one is hurt from it, they really aren't. The industry will complain about it and cut jobs to save money, but the only reason to sue people for lost sales is to make money from a market that wasn't even there ten years ago. Suing people when you haven't lost any money, and when you sue them for disproportionate amounts is worse than people getting a few games.

What it comes down to is this, for me anyway, when I was a skint student who had important things like beer to spend my money on, and who lived in the new world of file sharing as an amazing medium to pick up cartoons, films, club mixes and tv shows I would have little chance of finding anywhere else. Now that I have a job and money, I'll buy stuff if I really want it, I don't need to download it.

Maybe I was a "thieving pikey" once, but part of growing up is learning that things don't work in black and white, maybe you'll work out that theft is a much greyer issue than your own mother led you to believe.

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Coat

Re: Re: Re: As much

>> Yes they are profit lines are hurt, peoples jobs are threatend. Someone has invested money in producing a product and you are taking it without paying you are a thieving pikey. The extent of the damage caused is reduced but it is still damage.

>> I don't need to steal a copy of a game to try it, I shall simply download a demo or ask someone who has a copy or read some reviews. The only mildly interesting game is supreme commander but I'll wait till it's gone gold.

You do realise that by waiting for the game to go gold, you are depriving both the developers and the full distribution chain of (most of) the money they would have received if you bought it full price. That is theft, you are a thieving pikey (no offense to pikey's intended).

You realise that by trying a demo or reading a review, you are also depriving the makers of crap games a living - that is also theft.

I don't purchase pre-recorded music (I don't 'pirate' it either), I do occasionally have to endure the crap on the radio or telly - I must damaging profit lines of recording compaines and artistes who are a million times richer than I could ever hope to be, I must be a theiving pikey too.

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Stop

You can't steal data.

"People like to use cuddly fuzzy terms around their theft but it's still theft.

They like to say "but I wasn't going to buy it anyway" or "Well I havn't deprived them of a physical item - they can still sell it"

And as reasonable as that seems on the surface do a bit of scraping and you realise it's bollocks.

By their reasoning getting cable for free isn't a form of theft.

Stealing identities isn't a form of theft.

Stealing corporate data isn't theft."

Well, as it happens, it isn't. Know your law: the *definition* of theft requires that you take something that belongs to someone else, and that you intend to permanently deprive them of the use of that something. Demonstrating (to a jury's satisfaction) that your intent was not to permanently deprive the owner, such as by showing that you intended to return the item, makes it no longer theft. Hence why TWOCcing had to be invented.

"A person is guilty of theft, if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it".

- Section 1, Theft Act 1968

Anything which the owner still has after you take it isn't stolen, because the owner has not been even temporarily deprived of it, let alone permanently. It's been copied, and that might be a copyright crime in and of itself, or it might be a civil matter; there may be subsidiary crimes, such as forgery or fraud, committed either in the course of obtaining the data through deception or perhaps committed with the data after it has been obtained.

But theft? No. It actually isn't theft. No matter how strongly you feel, that is not what the word means.

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Thumb Down

Result?

Never ever buy any games by openly criminal companies such as codemaster who use illegal technics, illegally invade your privacy, use shady individuals/business to gatter obviously FAKE informations (IP address) to try to STEAL money from internet users.

Game Over Codemaster, join the rank of:

MPAA RIAA SONY Macrovision First4internet etc...

Its a war out there and some enterteiment supplier will do anything to push low quality product on users and as Codemaster just did, if we can sell it, lets steal money from our consumers any way...

its is time for those crooked corporate to pay for they countless crimes. Just the way Codemaster says it aquired its so called "Proofs" is ground for a criminal investigation of the company and the most harsh punishment possible so others will think twice before trying to STEAL money from they own consumers

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Tom
Silver badge

@Coward

"if you look at the gets on torrents some games are into the 100,000's so multiply that by £40 and you have a large amount of lost revenue."

Bullshit, if the crappy copy protection worked do you think they would all buy a copy? Nothing was "LOST" since they didn't have it in the first place.

You lot might as well say copying is murder.

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Ed

I work in games...

No, not codemasters. Thinking that profit margins aren't hurt by piracy is rather silly. The industry wouldn't spend millions of dollars on anti-piracy measures if they didn't stand to lose more. It's nice that some of you only download games you'd never spend money on, or do go and buy the ones you like. You're in the minority.

Download the free demo. If you don't like it, don't buy the game. If the company doesn't provide one then screw them, don't use their product at all.

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Dead Vulture

Goodbye, Codemasters

This is just a kneejerk reaction from Codemasters in its death throes, after all it is a British company, it won't last much longer.

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Jobs Horns

Extortion is such a strong word...

Shall we say "fear motivated marketing and profit through intimidation model"?

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Anonymous Coward

not my fault...

That a recent cat /dev/urandom > colin_mcrae.iso actually resembled the original game :/

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Unhappy

Simple! boycott codemasters

Their games aren't much cop anyway, just remember to make a noise about it, time to delete Advanced Lawnmower Simulator!

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another point

remember that downloading also gives you a chance to see if a game is flawed. a lot of games today promise so much but barely even run properly for months before patches... i cite pro evolution 2008 on my ps3 - after several weeks the game is still unplayable online. now, obviously this is a ps3 game so its a legity copy but the game was released in a KNOWINGLY unfinished state (not SONYs fault before a flame war starts lol) - demos are always picked from the guaranteed section of a game where there are no issues and the product shines in a 'rose tinted' light. they also often misrepresent the style and actual gameplay of the full game

as i said before im just coming at this from a devils advocate point of view

as i said before i play ps3 games and wii and the odd online FPS shooter on my pc - all legit copies (pc games have it sussed by requiring a legit key for online play).... but ive seen several games that are clearly rushed out unfinished - imho these developers deserve all they get - imagine if vauxhall sold cars that they knew the brakes didnt work on?

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RIPA used?

According to some reports the IP data was obtained under the provisions of RIPA - I was under the impression that RIPA only provides for data being made available for the prevention of "Serious crime" or terrorism? Please correct me on this.

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My situation

Now, here is my situation, i apparently downloaded it twice, which i didnt, and to top it off, i actually purchased the game on one of the said dates, and moreover still have the receipt.

I did run an unsecured wlan at the time, but that was due to a fault in my router, which i have since binned.

I am no longer with the isp, and will never return.

i have contacted Davenport Lyers via email, and they have said i only need to respond to one. But, the money isnt the issue, the signing that i did it, is, as i didnt. Anyone with any advice, pls, pls feel free to post

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Anonymous Coward

@Some random AC

"As much as I think tactics used are flawed - if you steal something you steal it.

People like to use cuddly fuzzy terms around their theft but it's still theft."

No it's not, it's copyright infringement, it doesn't matter how much you've convinced yourself it's theft it's simply not, it does not fit under the definition of theft or under laws surrounding theft, it fits under the definition and laws of copyright infringement.

"By their reasoning getting cable for free isn't a form of theft."

If you're talking about cable TV then congratulations you've beginning to understand it, that it isn't in fact theft. If you're talking about cable internet then yes it is theft because you deprive the company of bandwidth in much the same way that theft of a CD deprives a store of that physical CD.

"Stealing identities isn't a form of theft."

No you're right, it's a form of fraud.

"Stealing corporate data isn't theft."

Again, well done you're slowly beginning to get this, it comes under corporate espionage, intellectual property laws and so forth depending on the particulars of the case.

Insisting copyright infringement is theft is no more legitimate than me claiming your idiotic comments are paedophilia. Paedophile.

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