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Lawsuits on the high seas

Games developers gang up on four young software pirates

"While some believe there are no victims from piracy, they're wrong." The words of Doug Lowenstein, president of the Interactive Digital Software Association, a trade group representing the entertainment software industry, speaking yesterday to CNet. "A video game is increasingly expensive to develop and each title involves the hard work of numerous individuals." He's right, of course, and so on Monday 12 video game companies, plaintiffs including Activision, LucasArts, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Midway Amusement Games and Capcom Entertainment, filed charges in federal court against four men it claims offered pirated versions of games over the Internet. The software industry loses millions every year thanks to the efforts of a small minority, but this is one of the first major suits that we have heard about where the subjects of the action were dealing in "Warez" and "Roms". Warez is an oft-overused word that describes pirated software, which has usually been modified for use without the associated CD-Rom, and Roms are usually disk images of console games that can be played on emulators. The major problem with the Warez and Roms is the ineffectiveness of measures taken to prevent their distribution. The Internet itself - i.e. webpages - is a very small part of the problem; private mailing lists, newsgroups and other methods are also used rampantly. If you know where to look, you can still find pretty much anything. If the companies are successful with their case, the four young pirates could be fined up to $150,000 for each instance of copyrighted work they distributed. And that could be hefty. Hopefully the case will rattle the cages of software pirates that use the web as their catalyst for distribution - perhaps enough to push them back into the depths of Usenet and Internet Relay Chat again. The real threat though, in our opinion, is the use of the Internet in "real-life" software piracy. Private mailing lists and Usenet groups can make it very easy for people to exchange games while making apparently innocent use of the postal service and the like. We would like to see undercover e-operatives (the techno-flying squad, perhaps) trained by the Police to sit at computers and assume identities in underground Internet circles and rat out the wrong-doers. It wouldn't be terribly difficult, and with some government funding would doubtless do a lot more to stamp our piracy than throwing four young idiots in the brig for running websites.

Source - CNet

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Tom Bramwell avatar

Tom Bramwell

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Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.

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