The Big Guys get it Wrong Once Again, Prosecute Innocent People

Nov 8, 2008
Updated • Dec 2, 2012
File Sharing, Internet

Ever since the RIAA and other big guns decided to pull up people for illegal file-sharing of copyrighted material, the news has been full of cases involving these crimes. From individuals to site owners providing links to copyrighted content, it seems no one is safe.

I don’t intend to start a debate on whether or not it’s the right course of action but it does bug me when innocent people get pulled up for something they did not do. And that’s exactly what happened to an elderly couple in the UK recently.

The couple, in their 50s were stunned to receive a letter from a UK-based law firm called Davenport Lyons, accusing them of uploading an Atari game. The letter demanded a compensation fee of 500 pounds as well as additional 25 pounds for copyright infringement. Of course, the crime was identified by tracing the IP address involved back to these people.

The victims vehemently denied the charges and yes, they were able to back it up. They did not own the game in question nor was any trace of P2P or other file-sharing software found on their computer. Neither did they have WiFi access so it’s unlikely that someone else hacked into an unsecured connection.

Thanks to the intervention of consumer group Which? Computing, the charges against these people were dropped. However, no one’s answering the most important question: how did they get hold of the victim’s IP address?

One theory is that it’s simply a goof-up. The other is that Atari decided to set an example and didn’t care who they targeted. What do you think of this situation? Is it justified? Let me know in the comments.


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  1. WPFC said on April 12, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    I agree with Jack. It’s amazing how much money they spent on harassing their customers.

    Sharing is not the problem, all they need to do is make products of such quality that people feels it deserves to be paid for or they are willing to donate if it’s free. Problem solved. They could spend all that money on making such quality or quality control.

    Why pay for crap?

  2. G Thompson said on November 9, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Re mule:

    As someone in the legal industry (actually Digital forensics) downloading copyrighted materials IS NOT IN ANY WAY Stealing, theft nor larceny.

    To steal something requires something to be removed from the rightful owner. A license cannot be removed, nor unless they are acyully MOVING the item elsewhere and not retaining a copy from originating source it still is not stealing.

    Copyright Infringement is an infringement upon a license. Nothing more, nothing less. It involves neither theft of monies nor property, Though it can involve upon reasonable proof the loss of future monies.

    Yes I know it might be pedantic but you stated that you needed “to call it what it is” and in that vein. It is definitely NOT stealing.

  3. Jack said on November 8, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    Funny how that industry can find millions to harass its own customer base, but somehow can’t afford to lower their outrageous prices.

    There are many reasons for software and media piracy, but the one cause that stands head and shoulders above the rest is corporate greed.

    Mediaeval Europe had to get used to Caxton’s printing press, and 18thC weavers had to get used to mass-production machines.

    The media industry can indulge in as much righteous indignation it likes – their days of obscene profits are vanishing and not before time. They’ll go under if they can’t find a new business model.

  4. Sammy said on November 8, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    50’s elderly? OUCH

  5. mule said on November 8, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Mr/Ms iampriteshdesai: no need to be frightened. Just don’t steal copyrighted content. Most downloading is stealing. RIAA prosecutes based on lame evidence and shame on them for their recklessness, but most downloading people do is stealing. Call it what it is. People use the word download but they should say “hey, i was stealing some new music/sw/movies today”.


  6. Dante said on November 8, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Most likely their 30 year old useless son who still lives with them uploaded it through his laptop.

  7. iampriteshdesai said on November 8, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    RIAA sucks, I feel bit frightened when I download files from internet, I could be the next victim. But they should’nt be targeting individuals.

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