UPDATED: Activision goes after individual game pirates

Pirating games may get you in as much legal trouble as exchanging music on peer-to-peer networks. Two gaming sites have uncovered evidence that Activision is going around suing pirates, taking an aggressive, case-by-case approach much like the RIAA and MPAA.

According to a report by Edge Online, Activision has sued a New York resident for allegedly copying Call of Duty 3 for the Xbox 360 and other, unnamed games. Activision seeks $30,000 to $150,000 in damages "for each infringement of each copyrighted videogame." After looking into the issue, GamePolitics uncovered six other instances of piracy-related Activision lawsuits. Settlements in those cases ranged from $1,000 to $100,000, the site says, adding that five of the six defendants lacked representation.

Why haven’t more tongues been wagging about these cases? Apparently, the settlements forbid defendants from making "any public statements that are inconsistent with any term of this Stipulation to Judgment and Permanent Injunction." GamePolitics points out that the clause "would make anyone think twice about discussing the case."

Of course, we’re not entirely surprised to see members of the gaming industry getting litigious. Since last year, several high-profile game studios like Epic Games, id Software, Crytek, and Infinity Ward have sounded off about game piracy on the PC. Strangely, however, all of the aforementioned lawsuits seem to have been about console games. (Thanks to Shacknews for the tip.)

Update: The lawsuits may not be related to file sharing. GamePolitics has received a message from one of Activision’s attorneys, who says his law firm has "never filed any litigation against a file-sharer on behalf of Activision."

Comments closed
    • AKing
    • 11 years ago

    If pirates are making money of the copying its very bad, but as far as filesharing goes its kind of useless to prosecute each and every person out there, and is it really worth it? Maybe the solutions are different.

    Definitely, people who put things up, and especially people who make money on it should be gone after. The latter is plain parasiting and is simply bad for society.

    Its as if youre a painter, and someone steals a copy of your work and resells it, it undoes the whole point of the free market, that good things are stimulated.

    On the other hand at some points patents etc go to far, such as with certain forms of bioengineering (or maybe all).

    • nonegatives
    • 11 years ago

    Nobody realized this was posted on /[

    • eitje
    • 11 years ago

    well, i’ll get lost in the blur here, but let me say:

    *[

    • Forge
    • 11 years ago

    Further revelation from Activision has revealed that the people being sued weren’t pirates as we think of them.

    These guys were burning copies and selling them on streetcorners.

    Probably one of the lowest forms of life.

      • Meadows
      • 11 years ago

      Bumped for being on point.

      • Code:[M]ayhem
      • 11 years ago

      And what exactly is so terrible about a person trying to feed their family?
      It’s called survival, idiot.

        • Meadows
        • 11 years ago

        There are a lot of ways to survive without breaking the law.

        • liquidsquid
        • 11 years ago

        Go hunting, grow food, _get a job_. Hmm…

        A career choice of selling stolen goods? Not bright. I am sure they are just “feeding their families” because these thieves are otherwise upright citizens with a family. Ha!

          • ludi
          • 11 years ago

          “Good news, kids! Daddy sold an extra twenty discs on Craigslist today, so we ain’t cutting the crack with laundry detergent today — for two glorious hours, we’re smoking it /[

    • albundy
    • 11 years ago

    Noobs probably deserve it by using torrents. what a godawful invention. absolutely no protection for the unknowledgeable casual downloader vs other methods.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 11 years ago

    I’m not against prosecuting against piracy and support copyright holders who want to protect their product. Going against the little guy isn’t the way to do it though and must be costly for the results, going against the infrastructure that supports piracy or companies that make mod chips etc is.

    The settlement amounts are also pretty rediculous, most of it is to cover legal fees so the lawyers win again. If they just threatened people with legal action and said ‘Pay $100 for the game you pirated’ I bet they’d get a lot more cost-effective compensation from this. It wouldn’t be as much of a deterrent though but neither are these lawsuits broadly speaking, people are going to pirate anyway.

    I wonder though how that kind of gag order can work. I understand the defendants are agreeing to the terms but I also thought you aren’t allowed to sign away basic rights like free speech?

    • gargar
    • 11 years ago

    There’s no excuse for Pirating games. 95% of the recent releases are available to buy online so the excuse of not wanting to deal with disks is off. if you think a game doesn’t worth your money then don’t buy it. wait for it to become cheaper or something. publishers and developers will get the idea. but pirating it and say you’ve done it because it doesn’t worth money is just dumb.

    also, suing individual pirates is the way to go. even if it won’t stop pirating completely it will create a nice income for those companies. thr RIAA (music) gets a few thousands for each settlement. publishers can set their own torrents and emule connections and easily get IP addresses of pirates and sue their asses.

      • rpsgc
      • 11 years ago

      Of course it’s the way to go! The pirates still pirate, the organized pirates still sell their pirated games on the street and the innocent get their lives fucked up because they downloaded a song (or not).

      Indeed! Sue their asses! All those snobby soccer moms who can’t even use a computer, all those evil grandmas despite most of them being dead, all those deadbeat children and teenagers who only wanted <insert_popular_kid’s_show> theme song. yes!

        • gargar
        • 11 years ago

        you really think all the lawsuits are like that? you forget that RIAA sued more then 20,000 people before they stopped announcing them. so yes, there was a dead grandma who got sued and some other sad affairs but these are minor accidents and this is why they get so much attention.but i think that from the ten of thousands of lawsuits that were served the absolute majority of them are valid.

        today is not 3 years ago. you can easily get none DRM music from just about everywhere. you can buy albums or single tracks. there is absolutely no excuse for pirating music. and this go for game too, yes, there is still DRM. but it will be gone. it may take a year or two but there is no way to stop piracy with DRM. only massive amount of lawsuits will scare people away.

          • greeny
          • 11 years ago

          they wont make an amount massive enough to stop pirates thinking “it’s ok it wont happen to me”

          • theo
          • 11 years ago

          gargar, if you consider you should just fund publishers for pushing shitty products on the market, then keep buying their stuff without trying it first but don’t ask everybody else to do the same.

          There are multiple issues here which need to be discussed:
          1. The idea that all “pirates”, if having no other choice, would buy the content is seriously flawed. Indeed, some would buy it blindly or trusting only some magazine review’s score (which is a bad idea because the reviews aren’t trustworthy anymore). Nevertheless, most people wouldn’t buy the content altogether even if it is good content. In the end, the publishers would lose their best source of publicity and a lot of sales.
          2. The good content will always draw a lot of sales, even when it’s heavily pirated. When it comes to games, most of the people who download a game and like it, will go on and buy it. The producers who whine about it are those that fail to get their return on investment and instead of looking in their backyard first in order to find the problem, they lash out at “pirates”. This is the one of the greatest forms hypocrisy ever. Take id Software for example. What was their last really good game? I would say Doom 2, which is pretty weak for a company that considers itself at the top of the food chain. Let’s try Epic. Apart from their engines, which are very popular, their last breakthrough was UT2005. Crytek? They blew it by hyping it for its breathtaking graphics that came at the cost of massive resource requirements. The fact that it could run on lesser machines while taking some hits in the graphics quality department was something they didn’t mentioned and it really showed when it came to sales numbers. I could keep doing this all day and I would still have ammo in this department.
          3. What happens with Activision now is that they, and all other console publishers, were seeing the consoles as defense against PC game’s piracy because there was a proprietary piece of hardware involved. When you start having piracy on the consoles (which it’s there for sure), you realize that the much-touted tune of “consoles stopping piracy” is just a half-truth. The nature of digital content makes it non-exclusive meaning that multiple individuals can use the same item at the same time, as opposed to physical objects which can’t be used by more than one individual at a time. Consoles and DRM on the console disks try to enforce exclusive use, as DRM was trying to do on the PC. The PC world demonstrated that just DRM is not enough, so having a proprietary piece of equipment was meant to add an extra layer of insulation. What they didn’t take into consideration is the fact that hardware hackers have been around for some 40-50 years longer than software hackers. More probably though, they thought it would last longer until console piracy became widespread. Nevertheless, large companies are known to be hard to react to the realities of evolving technology, and this has been happening since the time of the manufacturing guilds of the middle ages.
          4. You can pursue people in the US, then UK (maybe some other parts of the EU, but not all of them), maybe Australia, but the rest of the world is still beyond their reach, and it will be for the foreseeable future, if not forever. China and Russia, to name just a few, will always have rampant piracy and using strong-arm tactics is not going to get you any market share over there. The problem is the problem faced by totalitarian regimes: the harder you crack down on people, the more resistance you’re going to encounter. You can cite the example of the Chinese government, which seems to have a tight grip on the country. That’s true, but just for now. I’m very eager to see the day when the shit hits the fan in China, and everything descends into chaos, because that’s the fate of totalitarian regimes. These aren’t the examples to follow for commercial enterprises and they should know better.
          5. In the long run, suing your clients/potential clients is not the way to go for any business. You may think that you scared them into purchasing your product, but it usually scares them into running away from you altogether.

          Much more can be said, but, my conclusion is that going after people that acquire and distribute digital content without any material gain is a bad idea for everybody involved, especially for the content producers. Nevertheless, my opinion is people that distribute pirated digital content for material gains should be prosecuted because they harm both the producers and the consumers as a result of their actions.

    • PRIME1
    • 11 years ago

    Since we know ISPs monitor torrent traffic :cough:Comcast:cough:, I think we will be seeing a lot more of this as they just go and subpoena ISP records.

    • Tamale
    • 11 years ago

    Avast!

    This topic be especially relevant considerin’ today’s date! Yaaaaaaargh!

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      Yarr! I be the gangsta pirate who be busting caps in ye arses! Arrrrharharharhar!

    • AntiOmni
    • 11 years ago

    man i hax them games all day long. I dare them to try and sue me

      • ludi
      • 11 years ago

      Tip to the wise: People who don’t want to get caught are not in the habit of bragging about their behavior in a public place in a manner that causes traceable, subpoenaeble information to be logged.

      Meanwhile, people who DO get caught usually get tripped up on their own pride in some manner a lot like the above.

      Just sayin’.

        • AntiOmni
        • 11 years ago

        Well luckily it was just a joke. Cuz I’d for real jack they asses!

          • clone
          • 11 years ago

          so long as it’s profitable they’ll take all of your coin and quite a bit of it over the next several years if you even try to fight it.

          along with that reality if you didi indeed fight it they’d likely wind up taking coin from other family members to cover your ass.

          l[

          • ish718
          • 11 years ago

          lol…silly rabbit

    • tocatl
    • 11 years ago

    To reduce piracy they have to sell you a chaper more basic version of the game, no flashy box art, no disc art, no manual, just a very simple cd like case and and the game disc…

      • swaaye
      • 11 years ago

      All that comes with a game these days is a DVD in a sleeve, a registration card, some advertisements from “sponsors”, and the little cardboard box. It’s not any more or less than you get with a higher-priced console game. How they could reduce this further is beyond me, really.

        • Draxo
        • 11 years ago

        Don’t pay for the DRM license/maintanance contract and you just brought your costs down further.

      • kvndoom
      • 11 years ago

      They’ve done that, but forgot the whole “lower price” part.

      • ludi
      • 11 years ago

      What makes you think that the box and materials have a significant impact on the cost of producing a modern game that requires a full-time staff of dozens, plus works-for-hire or licensing fees to multiple script writers, voice actors, and musicians?

    • absinthexl
    • 11 years ago

    The lawsuit doesn’t specifically mention filesharing; you’re sure they weren’t making and selling physical copies?

      • Mystic-G
      • 11 years ago

      Most likely they were seeing many copies. $30,000 – 150,000 in damages is alot, I doubt it was over some guy just downloading one game. (damages would be like $50)

        • 5150
        • 11 years ago

        $50 game fee + $145,950 in lawyer fees

        • derFunkenstein
        • 11 years ago

        $50 per his copy + $50 for every person he connected to + a fine for copyright infringement. In other words, the suit has little to do with how much has been violated.

    • Mystic-G
    • 11 years ago

    Not ALL PC gamers who download game torrents are pirates. If you’re like me and lost your disc (or in my case, the game was stolen) and still have the serial, then I see absolutely no reason why I should go buy another copy.

      • green
      • 11 years ago

      l[

        • ew
        • 11 years ago

        If he had meant that then he would have said he stole a new game disk. Copyright infringement and stealing are different.

        • reynolm
        • 11 years ago

        Not really, no… when you “buy” a game, you’re buying a license to install and play the game. Your serial/cd-key is your proof of license.

        • Forge
        • 11 years ago

        To push your analogy further,

        He has the SIM but the phone is ruined, so he goes and buys a cheap prepaid, throws that paid-and-live SIM in the trash and puts his postpaid SIM in the phone. Now he has phone and service again, everyone involved got paid, yet the prepaid mofos are bitter because they miss out on further payments.

        Someone always loses, and the ones that choose to eat the loss instead of passing it on are called ‘suckers’.

        • excession
        • 11 years ago

        That analogy isn’t valid.

        There is a fairly high cost to producing a new mobile phone. There is almost zero cost involved in pressing a new game disk.

      • Jakubgt
      • 11 years ago

      No cd patch.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 11 years ago

      Some companies will actually send you a new disc for a shipping and handling fee.

    • Forge
    • 11 years ago

    As DerFunk alluded, I’d bet that every last one of these tools was getting their warez via bittorrent.

    HOW LONG TILL PEOPLE WAKE UP? Bittorrent is NOT anonymous, not even close! You actively broadcast your IP and client info to everyone connected as part of the protocol. This is as dumb as walking down the street asking every person you see if they know where you can score hookers or blow.

      • Krogoth
      • 11 years ago

      Yep, that is why the hardcore pirates use the net and other means to get their stuff. XD

      • Tamale
      • 11 years ago

      but if millions of internet users are all blabbing out all that public information, it becomes quite futile to try to stop all of them.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      I didn’t mean to allude to anything – I was just commenting on the front page pic. But I’d bet dollars and/or donuts that you’re right.

      • Madman
      • 11 years ago

      Well, for one thing IP by no means tells it was you, so you can’t sue somebody because his IP has been on the Torrent. Hell, even MAC is not unique identifier.

      They are not a proof of any kind, and if there is a case where someone has been put in jail for that, then that’s totally messed up.

      A guy with snoop tool can collect few wireless packets from your router, crack the passkey and override MAC via Windows. Then he goes on .gov, cracks the crap out of it, and you spend the rest of your life in jail. Nice, isn’t it?

      And there are Trojans and other things that can simply tunnel bad stuff through your PC.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      So does that mean pirating isn’t as legally dangerous in Las Vegas? 🙂 Well, except for the blow maybe.

    • Krogoth
    • 11 years ago

    How about making products that customers would be willing to pay for instead of making rehashed garbage?

      • Vrock
      • 11 years ago

      First of all, Activision is a publisher, not a game designer. Second, they usually publish top-tier games. So I don’t think your comment, however valid it may be in other cases, applies to this one.

        • BenBasson
        • 11 years ago

        Publishers tend to be the people that “don’t get it”. They think DRM is the solution to all their problems, piracy is the cause of bad sales, and high prices for short-lived product usage is acceptable in this day and age. They’re wrong on all three counts and need to learn that sooner rather than later.

        The indie gaming scene is surviving quite nicely, in spite of supposedly rampant piracy, why can’t the big companies sort their shit out?

          • Vrock
          • 11 years ago

          That’s all fine and good, but it wasn’t what Krogoth was railing about. 🙂

          And I made a mistake: Activision isn’t just a publisher, they develop too. Whoops.

            • BenBasson
            • 11 years ago

            Well, you said they publish top-tier games. They surely do, but they doesn’t mean they aren’t making huge errors of judgement to their own detriment while blaming everyone else.

            • Vrock
            • 11 years ago

            Eh, I dunno. If they didn’t publish the top tier games with DRM, somebody else probably would.

        • Krogoth
        • 11 years ago

        I was referring to the entire gaming industry in general not Activision.

        Piracy is just the favorite scapegoat of the industry. Publishers, developers or whatever blame piracy on any shortcomings of game x.

        I am not saying that priacy is a problem, but its impact is grossly exaggerated.

      • BenBasson
      • 11 years ago

      The products aren’t that bad, it’s the price. Call of Duty 4 for £35 / $70? At the rate I completed the game, that’s about £5 / $10 per hour for roughly 7 hours. I can rent games and movies for less than that per day. I can go to the cinema for half that hourly rate. The gameplay was excellent, but when it was finished, I was sorely disappointed.

      Companies talk a lot of shit about piracy and act like their random prosecutions will change anything. If you offer something worthwhile at a good price that has more than an evening’s worth of use, you’ll get money. If you can’t offer that, stop blaming everyone else.

        • swaaye
        • 11 years ago

        And you think that because you blew through it in 7 hours that the development was somehow less time consuming? It is the nature of FPS gameplay and modern graphics quality that causes the games to be short. Years in the making, beaten in a few hours.

        That’s partly why these games usually have corridor gameplay in some way. Can’t have players missing any of the expensive content.

          • BenBasson
          • 11 years ago

          Value for money is a pretty simple concept. If I can get better or equivalent entertainment for something a fraction of the price, I’d rather do that instead. I can. I won’t be buying short-lived games for £35 again, period, Blockbuster exists for a reason.

          I couldn’t care less about the development time and costs, I want the end product, not excuses. Plenty of games I’ve bought over the last decade have had twice or thrice the length and with technology getting better, I don’t really see how there can be any problem continuing this trend.

            • swaaye
            • 11 years ago

            Consider this: games back in the ’90s weren’t anywhere near the (+/-) $20 million projects of today’s titles. And while today some games do sell way more than before, that’s not guaranteed. So there’s more money and time needed, and also more risk that it could be a very costly failure.

            Don’t get me wrong, I want long games. I want a FPS that takes me 300 hours to beat, with a branching storyline and a huge expansive environment to explore. But it’s just not going to ever happen unless some seriously amazing tools come along that allow the developers to generate most of the content way more quickly. I actually think this is an aspect that the console porting trend may help, because there is more of an audience that will pay for the game, so there’s less risk for the project overall.

            Though if you go back to the classics, they really are usually only 10-20 hour games for the most part. I beat Jedi Knight 1 the other day in probably 10 hours. I think that we’re so good at these games now too that play time has dropped dramatically.

        • Tamale
        • 11 years ago

        heaven forbid we remember paying $50 for side-scrollers that you could beat in a couple hours.

          • TO11MTM
          • 11 years ago

          Economies of scale would likely apply in this case however; I have a feeling that more people are buying Call of Duty 4 than Super Mario Brothers, primarily because there are more gamers nowadays.

          Add to that, back then we didn’t have things like DirectX or C for Game development; Most games were probably programmed primarily in Assembler back then.

          And on that note, a great example would be Doom; Doom was at the time a technical masterpiece; I think the full version only sold for 40$…
          This is why PopCap games is doing so freaking well; They make simple games that are appealing to the masses, sell even MORE copies, and hence are making money hand over fist selling most of their library for 20$ or less.

          What’s depressing about it is I think i’ve had more fun playing Peggle than a lot of the other games I’ve purchased over the last few years.

            • ludi
            • 11 years ago

            If you adjust for inflation, $40 in 1993 is nearly $60 today. Besides that, the limitations of the technology meant that you only needed a couple graphics artists, a MIDI musician, a sound tech, and a small sound effects library to produce the entirety of the game’s A/V content. The “masterpiece” element was primarily in the engine, which in turn primarily came out of Carmack’s head.

            • TO11MTM
            • 11 years ago

            There’s also what the market will bear: Nintendo tried to sell games for $60+ and failed at it, and that wasn’t even due to greed so much as manufacturing cost.

            • ludi
            • 11 years ago

            “The market” is bearing $60-90 games right now for new releases on the PS3 and Xbox360.

          • BenBasson
          • 11 years ago

          Yeah, something being shit in the past means it’s ok for things to be shit now.

        • ludi
        • 11 years ago

        Except that a modern game is easily as expensive to develop as a movie in many cases, and cannot (typically) rely on repeat viewings, subsequent DVD sales, and derivative product merchandizing to help sustain the development costs. The game normally goes out the door once per customer and that’s that. Whether or not you get any replay value out of it and/or take any time to explore the environment is up to you.

        In short, if you want interactive entertainment with movie-grade production quality and all you want out of it is one play-through, expect the hourly rate to be higher.

      • swaaye
      • 11 years ago

      What kind of argument is that? Obviously the games appealed enough to the pirate to be worth risking financial ruin over. Nevermind the gobs of jackasses torrenting said lame games at this very moment, populating some torrents with 10k+ seeds.

      • trek205
      • 11 years ago

      that doesnt make sense. they make crappy movies and music but I wouldnt steal that either.

        • crazybus
        • 11 years ago

        Agreed, there are so few games out there now that I’m really interested in spending time on that the cost issue kind of disappears. That’s mostly me though; it takes a lot for me to really get into a game.

        I got sick of buying games that I never finished so I’m a lot more picky about what I buy now — which added to my disinterest in most games out there makes my current collection quite small.

          • rhema83
          • 11 years ago

          Exactly. After gaming for over a decade (since the first Nintendo, anyone?) I learned not to spend money on every game that has a pretty box and tons of hype. I also try legal demos, read reviews, wait for the first patch, etc.

          There are so many incomplete games on the shelves with unfulfilled promises. I don’t believe in these “add-on features for later download” anymore. The game developers and publishers better have something good out of the box if they want my dough. It’s not piracy alone that’s damaging sales. It’s quality issues. People will pay for good quality, especially amidst the junk available.

          I am very happy about paying retail for Oblivion and its expansions. I do my part and support the company that made a great game. It’s going to be that way for anyone.

            • no51
            • 11 years ago

            I think that’s why people should research their games more, like movies. There are certain developers that put out awesome stuff.

            Here’s my developer ‘good’ list. Basically, I will be more prone to buy their games no questions asked.

            -Relic (Company of Heroes, Homeworld)
            -Valve (Half Life)
            -Bethesda (Elder Scrolls)
            -Gas Powered Games (Supreme Commander, though Chris Taylor seems like a jerk.)

    • indeego
    • 11 years ago

    DRMg{<.<}g

    • jstern
    • 11 years ago

    They should be more active in trying to prevent piracy, rather than trying to ruin lives one person at a time. I hardy play games, but it sickens me like a bully taking advantage of someone smaller.

    • Jakubgt
    • 11 years ago

    “sounded off about game piracy on the PC” Who says you can’t pirate games on a game console? Its not that hard to flash firmware or to install a modchop. There will ALWAYS be piracy, hackers will always find a way.

    Its just a shame that we have to suffer because of them

      • cobrala
      • 11 years ago

      How are you suffering?

        • Mystic-G
        • 11 years ago

        DRM, SecuRom, Stolen serial keys via Keygens, lack of PC titles, lack of extra content for PC titles.

        It’s not the definition of suffering but it does screw things over for PC Gamers.

        • d0g_p00p
        • 11 years ago

        Well the seems to be common of 3 installs is one of them.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 11 years ago

    uTorrent is the best client.

      • Usacomp2k3
      • 11 years ago

      You’re an idiot sometimes.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 11 years ago

        Oh, eat a sandwich and calm down. I never said anything related to the story, just to the front page pic.

          • ludi
          • 11 years ago

          Maybe sandwiches are the root problem here. I hear a pastrami and gogonzola on rye with roasted garlic and dill seasonings tastes interesting going down, but can put a man in a really foul mood later in the day.

            • ecalmosthuman
            • 11 years ago

            Bologna.

      • steelcity_ballin
      • 11 years ago

      Sure is, works like no other.

    • CasbahBoy
    • 11 years ago

    Oh yeah, because this will work. In fact, Activision, it will be just as effective as going after the pirates has been for the music and movie industries.

    Cyril, by ‘all’ in the last sentence I think you may have meant ‘none’ 🙂

      • cookwithvette
      • 11 years ago

      “Cyril, by ‘all’ in the last sentence I think you may have meant ‘none’ :)”

      ??? All six on the GamePolitics site were console games.

        • CasbahBoy
        • 11 years ago

        Oh wait, I screwed up. Reading comprehension -2, sorry about that guys.

          • ludi
          • 11 years ago

          Forty lashes of a wet noodle! Arrrrgggh matey!

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