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Wednesday, August 20, 2008
File-sharers Face Legal Action in UK

Internet users suspected of sharing music, films and games over the Internet will be pursued through the courts for damages, lawyers for entertainment companies said on Wednesday.

A woman has been ordered to pay damages and costs totalling more than 16,000 for illegally sharing computer game files over the Internet, using peer-to-peer networks.

The Patents County Court in London has ruled that she should pay Topware Interactive, owner of the computer game Dream Pinball 3D, damages of 6,086.56 plus costs and disbursements of 10,000.

This follows the recent decision at the Central London County Court against four people who were found to have infringed copyright by sharing games illegally on the Internet.

London-based law firm Davenport Lyons said it would apply to the High Court to force Internet service providers to release the names and addresses of 7,000 suspected file-sharers.

They could be subject to civil action in the courts under Britain's copyright laws.

David Gore, a partner at Davenport Lyons, said: "Illegal file-sharing is a very serious issue resulting in millions of pounds of losses to copyright owners. As downloading speeds and Internet penetration increase, this continues to be a worldwide problem across the media industry which increasingly relies on digital revenues."

"The damages and costs ordered by the Court are significant and should act as a deterrent. This shows that taking direct steps against infringers is an important and effective weapon in the battle against online piracy."

The award of damages follows a recent government brokered deal between the UK?s music and film industries and leading Internet service providers (ISPs) to tackle illegal file-sharing. Some six million people are thought to engage in illegal file-sharing each year, a trend which has cost the music and film industries many millions in lost revenue.

Davenport Lyons has recently been asked by media rights owners to obtain further disclosure orders against Internet service providers. These claims mostly relate to computer games, but films, software and music will also be involved.

Several thousand names and addresses have already been ordered by the High Court of London to be released by the ISPs concerned. Another application is set to be issued at court in relation to a further 7,000 IP addresses.

The evidence supporting the disclosure applications and subsequent proceedings is obtained by forensic computer experts Logistep AG, based in Switzerland, who have developed software programs to search for and accurately identify the IP addresses used to upload the copyright owners? work.

Record companies, film studios and games makers have stepped up attempts to curb illegal file-sharing after losing millions of pounds in revenue to online piracy.

The number of people prosecuted by Davenport Lyons for sharing games could reach 25,000, according to a report in the Times on Wednesday. They would be offered the chance to pay 300 pounds each to settle out of court, the report added.

The first 500 who ignored the letters would face immediate legal action brought on behalf of five games developers, including Atari, Techland and Codemasters, it said.

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