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Despite never having played a game before, senior citizens Gill and Ken Murdoch found themselves the subject of legal threats from Atari for allegedly sharing the game "Race07".  (Source: Atari)
Recent suits illustrate alarming trend in the gaming industry

While few argue that creative artists deserve fair financial compensation for their work, equally few agree with the RIAA's unprofitable campaign of aggressive litigation.  The organization, which aims to stamp out music piracy in America has sued for as much as $9,250 per pirated song, and has even sued people with no internet access. 

The RIAA once sued an elderly woman for allegedly downloading gangster rap, and was unwilling to drop the case for months despite discovering she was dead and had no computer in the house.  They also sued a twelve year old girl, forcing her parents to pay two thousand dollars in damages.

Now copyright owners in the gaming industry may be resorting to similar thuggish tactics to fight growing software piracy.  Gill and Ken Murdoch, senior citizens from Scotland, aged 54 and 66 respectively, received alarming legal threats warning them of an impending lawsuit if they did not £500 ($815 USD) compensation to Atari.  They were accused of stealing the game Race07.

Atari has apparently hired anti-piracy firm Logistep to identify IP addresses of people downloading and sharing games online.  Despite the fact that IP addresses can easily change and be altered and are notoriously poor evidence, Atari is charging head on into a large campaign of legal threats.  The company has already taken aim at Britain's estimated 6 million pirates by sending out threatening letters, based on its partner's surveillance of Gnutella, BitTorrent, and eDonkey.

However, like the RIAA, its results seem to be lacking any kind of evidence or consistency.  For example, the Murdochs hardly used a computer and never had gamed in their life.  They describe, ”We do not have, and have never had, any computer game or sharing software. We did not even know what 'peer to peer' was until we received the letter."

The case was dropped after a protest by the shocked Murdochs and mounting negative publicity.  Atari's law firm Davenport Lyons, which it has hired to handle prosecution, would not comment on the reason why the case was dropped.

Michael Coyle, an intellectual property solicitor with law firm Lawdit, says people should hardly be surprised at the massive amounts of wrongful accusations.  IP addresses, he says, are a horrible way to track down real file sharers.  He states, "The IP address alone doesn't tell you anything. Piracy is only established beyond doubt if the hard-drive is examined."

Mr. Coyle is helping the wrongfully accused fight back.  He has 70 cases currently and has spoken to "hundreds" of others.  He states, "Some of them are senior citizens who don't know what a game is, let alone the software that allows them to be shared."

While prosecutors argue that network theft is no excuse for piracy originating at the IP, he aptly argues that there's no law requiring personal networks to be secure, leading to a sizable inconsistency.  He states, "There is no section of the Copyright Act which makes you secure your network although it is commonsense to do so."

However, as he notes, some users, like the elderly are unaware of the proper procedures to protect a home network, or the risks involved.

In Britain, though the game publishers are starting to have success with their litigation, despite the negative press, though.  Topware Interactive managed to win £16,000 (approximately $26,000 USD) in damages from Londoner Isabella Barwinska who shared a copy of the game Dream Pinball 3D.

In Britain copyright law is enforced by the Copyright, Design and Patents Act of 1988, which is much like our Digital Millennium Copyright Act here in the U.S.

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since when is 54 a senior citizen?
By tastyratz on 10/31/2008 8:43:48 AM , Rating: 3
or part of the "elderly" community Jason?

They are a bit old but I have seen people that age in the IT industry. Its more "unlikely" to find them, and also unlikely to find them as file sharers.... your more likely to find 24 instead but it exists.

RE: since when is 54 a senior citizen?
By AlexWade on 10/31/2008 8:52:18 AM , Rating: 5
To be fair, once you are 50 years old you can join AARP.

By Oregonian2 on 10/31/2008 5:57:56 PM , Rating: 3
That's just because they want the money and member-count for their purposes. Why else would such young people be 'allowed' to join (wonder if any do).

By Methusela on 11/1/2008 11:30:30 AM , Rating: 2
To be more fair, you can join AARP at the age of 18 as an 'associate member', although you won't begin receiving member benefits until you turn 50.

I bring this up because my brother signed up when he turned 18 for the simple purpose of at some point becoming the longest-tenured member of the association. With a 32 year head start, he should have it in the bag somewhere around age 75 or 80, if not earlier :).

RE: since when is 54 a senior citizen?
By JasonMick on 10/31/2008 9:25:15 AM , Rating: 4
I think the fact that Atari dropped the complaint seems to vindicate the couple's claims.

True, at 54, you see some computer savvy (my dad's 56 and he's pretty computer savvy, uses ebay all the time), but her husband is 66. Not to sound stereotyping, but most 66 year olds don't game (and if they do its a wii, not pirate games).

Obviously the suit was entirely crap, and they appear not to be alone, by the lawyers comments.

By Dreifort on 10/31/2008 10:23:33 AM , Rating: 2
The Wii has a pirate game?!? ooouuuuu scurvvvvvyyy!

RE: since when is 54 a senior citizen?
By kilkennycat on 10/31/2008 12:52:52 PM , Rating: 3
Hmm.... I have a 65-year-old friend who has just bought the PC version of Fallout3 and thoroughly enjoys a huge collection of the latest PC RPGs and shooters, both SP and MP (all legally purchased). He has been playing action-type computer games since the the arrival of the Commodore Amiga circa 1985. Helps keep reaction-times in prime condition and Altzheimer's at bay. Seems as if you need to tweak your stereotype impressions? Remember that there is a complete generation of computer players now advancing into retirement. Do you really think that those people are going to be happy as couch-potatoes watching mindless_TV and old movie re-runs? Not on your life.

By chick0n on 10/31/2008 1:21:52 PM , Rating: 2
He is not saying ALL, but MOST people over the age of 50 doesn't play games much. if any at all.

I father used to play some arcade when he was in his 30s, but thats about it and he hasn't play any games since 1987.

but this is just stupid, sometimes I have to download cd-crack in order to play my "legitimate" game that I brought from stores. For example, BioShock, damn stupid SecurRom is so buggy and crash. CD crack in, BOOM, the game works fine no crashing whatsoever.

and Atari suing people? they should go file for bankruptcy. most of their games were shit, not even worth a penny.

RE: since when is 54 a senior citizen?
By das mod on 10/31/2008 2:19:34 PM , Rating: 4
your dad's husband is 66 ??

wow, im truly shocked

RE: since when is 54 a senior citizen?
By ZmaxDP on 10/31/2008 3:31:48 PM , Rating: 2
Reading comprehension 101:

If I'm in the middle of saying something (parenthesis can be used to insert a separate thought or comment relevant to the original sentence) but want to add a point that doesn't directly fit into the sentence I might use parenthesis to do so.

The 54 year old woman's husband is 66, nothing to do with his 56 year old father.


By ggordonliddy on 10/31/2008 7:19:43 PM , Rating: 2
The way you wrote it was kind of confusing.

By Alexstarfire on 11/1/2008 8:19:30 AM , Rating: 4
Actually, you are supposed to use commas to separate it from the rest of a sentence. It's called an aside. It's a relevant comment, but can be taken out without affecting the sentence.

When will the next Electronic Gaming bust happen?
By Bateluer on 10/31/2008 8:51:41 AM , Rating: 5
We have publishers churning out incredibly short, bug ridden titles, crippled with anti-consumer DRM; they are filing lawsuits without cause, evidence or provocation; the large telco's are screaming that they cannot provide the large bandwidth their customers are increasingly demanding; the customers are demanding faster Internet; Valve/Sony/MS/Etc all want to push online distribution for their software, etc.

Seems to be some 'incompatibility' issues to me. Hopefully, the current financial meltdown will take its toll on EA, Activation, Ubi Soft and others so we can have a long over due purge, flushing the crap out.

RE: When will the next Electronic Gaming bust happen?
By mmntech on 10/31/2008 10:21:17 AM , Rating: 1
The bust has already happened, for PC gaming anyway. Console sales are stronger than ever despite the economic slowdown.

It just goes to show that you can only abuse your customers so much before they begin to turn away from you. EA and Ubi's methods have involved mostly restrictive DRM but I think the Atari case goes beyond any reason. They are basically hiring a private detective to spy on people without cause or warrant. If that's not illegal, it should be. To me it falls under unreasonable search and seizure. The disturbing legal trend is that these cases are being won based on flimsy circumstantial evidence and hearsay. The whole war on piracy has turned into a witch hunt and a lot of innocent victims are being punished in the process.

I suppose it's ironic coming from Atari. If any one organization can be singled out for causing the 1983 crash, it's them. If I recall correctly, Atari didn't even list credits for games back then, now they're championing for the rights of creative artists. Despite changing hands numerous times over the years, they still have the same arrogant attitude they did in the mid-80s. I personally won't be buying any more of their products.

By Spivonious on 10/31/2008 1:12:49 PM , Rating: 2
Atari from the 80s went out of business. The name was bought by another company (Activision?) about 5 years ago.

By ShaolinSoccer on 11/1/2008 11:38:54 AM , Rating: 2
by mmntech on October 31, 2008 at 10:21 AM
"They are basically hiring a private detective to spy on people without cause or warrant. If that's not illegal, it should be. To me it falls under unreasonable search and seizure."

How can it be unreasonable when you're downloading something illegal publically? If you download anything using bit torrent or other file sharing apps, you can clearly see who you're getting it from and who you're sharing it with. That's just like basically walking into a store holding up a big sign that says "I am stealing something right now". If a detective does a search for a certain product and sees you are sharing it, he has every right to do something about it.

By mcturkey on 11/1/2008 9:52:15 PM , Rating: 2
Not quite. While I agree that if you are sharing something through a program like that, you are in effect holding up a sign, but it's that you are distributing it. The only person besides you who can see what you are downloading is the person distributing, and that person is, according to the law, doing so illegally. Sharing and stealing from a store aren't the same thing.

By kilkennycat on 10/31/2008 1:09:27 PM , Rating: 3
Consider the alternates. Bethesda's Fallout3 - a truly vast game, rapidly acquiring rave-reviews. Released on 3 platforms (PC, Xbox360 and PS3) Likely to have massive sales. And the PC version has simple disk-based copy-protection like thousands of PC games before. Oblivion, Bethesda's previous release has sold over 3 million copies ( ~2m on Xbox360, ~1 m on PC). Again just simple disk-based copy-protection on the PC version. Or Sins of a Solar Empire (PC-only) with no copy-protection and sales now well over 500,000 - massive sales for a strategy-game, and still commanding near-list prices.

Quality releases do not need draconian copy protection. Sure, a percentage will be lost to piracy, but consumers are still prepared to pay for true quality.

$26,000 for pinball?
By fleshconsumed on 10/31/2008 8:18:07 AM , Rating: 2
Someone pinch me to check if I'm dreaming.

RE: $26,000 for pinball?
By FITCamaro on 10/31/2008 9:29:23 AM , Rating: 5
They made more off the lawsuit than they did off of game sales.

RE: $26,000 for pinball?
By JasonMick on 10/31/2008 9:34:07 AM , Rating: 5
That's because they activated multiball.

F'n Unreal!
By Tegrat on 10/31/2008 9:38:35 AM , Rating: 5
If these companies started spending "litigation" money on some "innovation" instead, maybe we would buy their merchandise!

Publicity Stunt
By AntiM on 10/31/2008 8:41:17 AM , Rating: 2
I can't help but think that Atari and Logistep are gleaming over the publicity that this case has received. They may have even targeted these people for just such a purpose. Just like the RIAA knew exactly what they were doing when they tried to sue the gangsta rap granny.

RE: Publicity Stunt
By joeindian1551 on 10/31/2008 10:28:19 AM , Rating: 2
I completely agree with you on that, especially about RIAA. I would find it hard to believe that RIAA didn't know who they were prosecuting & that they didn't pick her on purpose to try and prove to everyone just how far they would go.

By V3ctorPT on 10/31/2008 8:14:26 AM , Rating: 2
Guess I'll be deleting my Puzzle Bobble 2...

If we did this.......
By ancient46 on 10/31/2008 12:27:57 PM , Rating: 2
... it would be extortion. Too bad there are not laws against this type of action by corporations.

Game Recession - Take 2
By jhb116 on 10/31/2008 1:54:55 PM , Rating: 2
Can Atari afford to be remotely associated with a second recession in the game industry??

I believe they are credited with the ET game which still hits the top 10 lists for worst games ever. It was about the same time that the game industry suffered a major recession.

It would seem that if Atari takes on RIAA's tactics - we might just see the same reaction - more pirating and much less buying.

Sue the router makers
By toyotabedzrock on 11/1/2008 1:56:44 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder if they will start file cases against linksys, dlink, etc. for making devices that enable piracy due to there lack of security.

One of five
By HostileEffect on 11/1/2008 10:42:42 PM , Rating: 2
As far as I know, Atari is one of five developers might be suing people.
Atari, Codemasters, Topware interactive, I forgot who the two others are.

I wanted to get OFP2, but I think I can pass on it until these tactics change.

The best Action............
By Setsunayaki on 11/2/2008 4:13:03 AM , Rating: 2
Everytime I actually see a company that gets in the RIAA bandwagon....more and more people refuse to buy from that company and actually tend to pirate their products....

My Gaming solution was to simply play an MMO game that I like. This means I dont have to deal with buying any PC upgrades, Consoles, Console Games etc.....

I pay the online subscription fee and that keeps me entertained and I dont have to pay for anything else.

As for music.....These companies are hypocrits. Any musician will tell you who lives in the 60s - 80s that they learned music through hearing it on the radio and emulated their favorite guitarists. They will even tell you that they taped their favorite performances and learned the song by ear.

You see these musicians who support the RIAA while those who oppose it face media blackouts.

The RIAA does what microsoft and apple corporation do...

They try to push their plans for internal security and claim "ITS TO PROTECT OUR THINGS FROM PIRATES" but actually the pirates aren't the ones who are hurt...Its normal, everyday people who suffer....first by having costs increasing for everything, more security and restrictions and finally everyone being ripped off.

Great thing I financially analized what I had spent money on in the last 10 years and broke myself from the vicious cycles these companies use to try to own your soul through controlling you with propaganda and debt.

You take the life a way too serious
By on 10/31/08, Rating: -1
RE: You take the life a way too serious
By Ryanman on 10/31/2008 9:12:56 AM , Rating: 1
You cannot possibly be real.

RE: You take the life a way too serious
By amanojaku on 10/31/2008 9:52:18 AM , Rating: 3
PLAYSTATION THREE has posted a total of 68 comments at DailyTech, the average comment rating was -0.44.

PLAYSTATION THREE is either the biggest idiot DT has seen or he/she is purposely shooting for the lowest DT rating ever. Even that pedophile Christopther1 had a better rating. He hasn't been on in a while; someone must have put him in jail.

By acer905 on 10/31/2008 10:28:20 AM , Rating: 1
I agree. I think they are shooting for the lowest rating ever, so i propose we all rate every post of theirs up, making it impossible for them!

By Clauzii on 11/2/2008 5:32:59 AM , Rating: 2
-0.71 in 72 posts now .. Going for -2 in less than a hundred??!!

RE: You take the life a way too serious
By omnicronx on 10/31/2008 9:55:02 AM , Rating: 3
Just suicide once they sue you and it will be rewarded, you will get the whole new body on re-materialization.
So if I sue you, will you follow your own advice? If so, I'll call my lawyer right now ;)

RE: You take the life a way too serious
By on 10/31/08, Rating: -1
RE: You take the life a way too serious
By CvP on 10/31/2008 2:17:12 PM , Rating: 1
get a life may be?

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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