19 August 2008

Test case on illegal game sharing online.

A test case concerning illegal game sharing online was heard this week in the London Patents County Court. Topware Interactive, the creators of 'Dream Pinball' lodged an action against a user of the game (Ms Barwinska) who shared a copy of the 'Dream Pinball 3D' online.

In the landmark ruling, the Patents Court found in favour of the Plaintiff and the Defendants was ordered to pay in excess of £16,000 in damages. The Court clearly wanted to make a substantial award of damages to deter future acts of illegal sharing. This decision will in most likelihood make users think twice about illegal sharing of games online. It has been reported that a number of users are awaiting trial on a similar issue.

Despite its obvious benefits, the ruling has also opened the floodgates in this area and one has to wonder how individuals can be expected to pay this sum of money. Surely, the host of the platforms used to share the files have a degree of liablity as they enable such acitivities to take place and hence they should share a portion of the blame. The other issue is that some users (e.g. minors) may not be aware of the nature of the activity in question (ie. that it is illegal). In such cases, it seems very harsh indeed to award substantial damages as such a sanction does not meet the requirements of fairness, transparency and proportionality. I think this case casts a strong invitation for educating particular groups of users (e.g. minors) so that they are fully aware of the nature of activity and the penalty if such activities take place. It is only then that such large awards against vulnerable groups will meet the requirements of fairness, transparency and proportionality.
Disclaimer: This image is subject to copyright. Click here to view the image in its original context.

1 comment:

Kiara said...

Wooh, this is serious. Surely, patent rights should be exercised. But as of the moment, I have never seen Download Games/Video Games that basically are involve in illegal sharing. Another thing, gamers should be aware of certain restrictions of anything just to be careful.