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Anonymous company receives piracy notice from gaming's industry organization

It’s been more than five years since the music and movie industries launched their campaign of litigation against media pirates, and the results thus far are contestable at best. Now, it appears, the U.S. gaming industry may be following suit if a cryptic letter on Slashdot is to be believed. It comes from Slashdot user “cavis”, who writes:

“My organization just received an e-mail from the Intellectual Property enforcement division of the Entertainment Software Association. It accuses one particular IP address with 'infringing the copyright rights of one or more ESA members by copying and distributing unauthorized copies of game products (through peer-to-peer or similar software/services).' It goes on to name the filename and the application: Limewire. Has anyone had any contact with this group? Are they following the RIAA's lead and pursuing litigation for peer-to-peer piracy? I'm just trying to evaluate what I am in for as I try to battle P2P within my network.”

News of legal threats in the United States follows suit with similar threats heard in Europe earlier this year, where a coalition of game developers – Atari, Topware Interactive, Reality Pump, Techware, and Codemasters – demanded £300 ($454 US) from 25,000 people in the UK for allegedly pirating their games last August.

And much like the RIAA, of course, the European developers’ dragnet snagged all sorts of interesting targets, like an elderly Scottish couple who had never played a computer game…ever.

Slashdot reprinted a partial, redacted transcript of the letter cavis received:

The Entertainment Software Association ("ESA") is a US trade association that represents the intellectual property interests of numerous companies that publish interactive games for video game consoles, personal computers, handheld devices and the Internet(hereinafter collectively referred to as "ESA members"). ESA is authorized to act on behalf of ESA members whose copyright and other intellectual property rights it believes to be infringed as described herein.

“Based on the information at its disposal on 24 Nov 2008 01:09:08 GMT, ESA has a good faith belief that the subscriber using the IP address [IP address] infringing the copyright rights of one or more ESA members by copying and distributing unauthorized copies of game products (through peer-to-peer or similar software/services), in violation of applicable copyright laws, through internet access that [agency name] provides directly to the [IP address] or through a downstream provider that purchases this access for [IP address].”

It certainly reads like a legal threat – albeit, as some of that post’s commenters noticed, a rather polite one. If this letter is legitimate, and I would bet that it is, then game pirates might look forward to another sea of lawsuits patterned after the RIAA.

Of course, things will get even more interesting when the rights groups step in.

Curiously, the “cavis” username hyperlinks to an e-mail address hosted at wv.gov. WV.gov is, of course, the official website for the state of West Virginia. This connection hasn’t been confirmed, but if that e-mail address belongs to whoever organization received the letter, then there might be a very interesting story to tell in the near future. Stay tuned…





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