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Atari Halts Threats Against Suspected Illegal UK File Sharers

Posted: 28th Nov, 2008 By: MarkJ
Videogame developer and publisher Atari appears to have put its campaign of threatening suspected illegal UK broadband file sharers (P2P) on ice, at least for now. It's reported that this is at least partly due to the ending of Atari's relationship with London law firm Davenport Lyons:

Atari's legal department told The Register via email: "In relation to file sharing, our position is that we always retain and reserve the right to protect our intellectual property from illegal copying and piracy. Whilst we are no longer working with Davenport Lyons, we continue to work with legal advisers to protect our rights."

Davenport Lyons had been responsible for enforcing Atari's claims, which it did by sending threatening letters to those suspected of involvement. The letter requested £500 in compensation for the act and a further £25 to cover costs or legal proceedings would follow.

However it has become increasingly clear that the method of identification employed, which uses Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, is unreliable. This was born out by the recent case of an older couple whom had been accused by Atari/Davenport of allegedly sharing the game 'Race 07' online (here).

It soon emerged that Ken and Gill Murdoch, aged 54 and 66 from Inverness, claimed to have never played a game in their lives. The couple believe that their address must have been hijacked and they were not running a wireless network, suggesting either an administrative error or that the IP was being piggybacked by a hacker - compromising their computer.

Since then Which? has alleged that hundreds of people could be mistakenly accused of illegal file sharing. Atari has so far refused to comment further on the matter. It remains to be seen whether their threats will be pursued through a different solicitor.
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