Monday, November 03, 2008

Indications that gaming industry going the way of the RIAA: overkill lawsuits based on IP addresses

There are early indications that the gaming industry is now going the way of the RIAA -- suing innocent people, using spurious identifications based on random IP addresses. Perhaps before they go down that path they ought to investigate how much good it has done the "Big 4" record companies, who are a lot less "big" than they were when they started it. -R.B.


Games firms 'catching' non-gamers

Games firms are accusing innocent people of file-sharing as they crack down on pirates, a Which? Computing investigation has claimed.

The magazine was contacted by Gill and Ken Murdoch, from Scotland, who had been accused of sharing the game Race07 by makers Atari.

The couple told Which they had never played a computer game in their lives.

The case was dropped, but Which estimates that hundreds of others are in a similar situation.
Complete article

[Ed. note. Wasn't this inevitable when Kenneth Doroshow went from the RIAA to the ESA? -R.B.]



Keywords: lawyer digital copyright law online internet law legal download upload peer to peer p2p file sharing filesharing music movies indie independent label freeculture creative commons pop/rock artists riaa independent mp3 cd favorite songs intellectual property portable music player

13 comments:

Trav said...

I haven't purchased any music in almost 4 years now. As an avid gamer the thought of boycotting my favorite pastime is scary.

I hope that Atari is alone in this nonsense. Once I saw it was them I went through their product Catalog. The only IP I recognized was Neverwinter Nights and Missle Command. It looks to me like they have a pretty weak product selection which translates into weak sales and instead of trying to make better products they think they can sue their way into profitability.

Even if this where to work in the short term which I doubt (how much money has the RIAA made vs how much have they spent on lawyers I wonder) but in the long term I doubt that "make crappy games and then sue people" is a sustainable business model.

Ray Beckerman said...

Sorry to disappoint you, trav, but I had foreseen this. This is no accident. There is a reason for the resemblance.

ScrewMaster said...

It's interesting to me how people still equate the RIAA with the media/entertainment industry itself. The RIAA sells no music, licenses no music, manufactures no CDs, offers nothing for download ... they're just lawyers and lobbyists. Hired guns at best (sociopaths at worst.) Consequently, they don't profit by music sales, except indirectly through funding received from the record companies. At least that's how I understand it.

Now, it seems to me that, if the game industry is going to successfully (I use the term loosely) emulate the RIAA, they're going to need a decoy. That is, some organization, some figurehead, that can be used to deflect any accusations of wrongdoing. I mean, that has actually been working very well for the music industry: nobody seems to complain about Sony or BMG or Universal's bevy of unjustified and unreasoning lawsuits. Nope, they blame the RIAA.

Regarding the RIAA, they aren't even the real enemy here, even though they're drawing all the counterbattery fire. The labels themselves should be recognized as the villians: if anything is going to change, we cannot allow the RIAA to continue to distract us. The game corporations may attempt something similar: if so, we need to keep our guard up.

ScrewMaster said...

Well, Ray, I'm really hoping the gaming industry doesn't go down this road. But, if they do ... at least you'll have plenty of work.

ScrewMaster said...

Well, Ray, I really hope the gaming industry doesn't go down this road. I really do ... but if they decide to be stupid about this, at least you'll have plenty of work.

Me, well, I'll just go back to playing poker with my friends.

Anonymous said...

And that's just the start. Here's a link that will lead you to three articles by game company execs claiming that the doctrine of first sale leads to the gaming companies being "defrauded" by the resale of used games.

Kip

Anonymous said...

Rats! the link:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20081103/0110102711.shtml

Ray Beckerman said...

Dear screwmaster,

Boy do you have it wrong.

This is work I wish I didn't have.

Anonymous said...

Kip,

The gaming industry is trying to destroy the Doctrine of First Sale. At least that's how this man sees their efforts in implementing limited activations through overbearing DRM in some of the latest games. And they they scream like stuck pigs when it gets pointed out in negative reviews on sites like Amazon.com.

Consumers need to be wary about the fact that they can no longer expect to resell used games once they've played them, or even give them to other family or friends. Nor can they rent a game to try it out. In truth, this has doubled the actual cost of the games themselves by reducing their resale value to zero.

Either that, or consumers need to pirate their games (after they've bought the legit copy) just so that they can play them when and where they wish. This is, after all, exactly where the industry is pushing them, and why this man refuses to play modern games on his PC that install unwanted additional software not related to the actual game play itself.

{The Common Man Speaking}

ScrewMaster said...

Dear screwmaster,

Boy do you have it wrong.

This is work I wish I didn't have.


That I can believe, but even so, you're certainly making a difference. That's worth a lot to the rest of us.

Sorry about double-post above: my browser crashed right as I hit submit.

Anonymous said...

The computer gaming industry should be cautious, for three reasons.

1. If the RIAA starts facing larger problems in court, this whole show could end abruptly, and anyone caught bringing frivolous lawsuits might not like the consequences. The RIAA's lawyers made a lot of money over the past few years, and now they're having to fight more and more ... this seems like a bad time to join the sue-your-customers game.
2. Computer gamers are fickle. They are known avoid games with ugly DRM, and you can imagine they might boycott companies suing users, as long as it's only some of the companies.
3. It won't even slow filesharing. Computer gamers know how to use computers. Right now the RIAA is bringing suit against KaZaA users, and MediaSentry still makes mistakes. Can you imagine trying to identify distributed tracker bittorrent users? At best, the computer gaming industry will only speed the transition to newer and harder-to-track file sharing software.

kung fu fighter

Trav said...

Has the recording industry actually made any money with all these letters and lawsuits. I find it difficult to imagine from all the costs involved that they will ever make money doing this.

In addition I have yet to read anything to suggest that its stemmed the tide of any time of filesharing.

I have to wonder how deep their pockets are and how long they could possibly sustain this. It makes me really wonder about the leadership of these company's also. How do you keep pouring money into this program if it's clearly not working. Are you willfully ignorant or are they actually making money doing it?

Anonymous said...

trav,

From what I understand, the RIAA is losing a lot of money on these lawsuits. Just getting a lawyer on retainer can cost around $1500. If you get a lawyer into court with all of the paperwork involved in running a court case, the phone calls, the meetings, etc., etc., etc. you are looking at a huge investment of time, i.e. money.

Several years ago, I met with an attorney to discuss a lawsuit I was going to bring against several people for breach of contract. Because of the relatively small amount of money involved (around $5,000), he advised me to just file in small claims court because his fees alone would eat up 50% - 60% of what I would get.

So unless, and this is just pure speculation on my part, the RIAA has some kind of deal with the law firms they are using, they are pouring money down a drain that they will never see again unless they happen to create the level of fear that they are attempting to create with these lawsuits and monopolize the distribution of music on the internet along with their monopoly in brick and mortar stores.