From the suddenly controversial and risque BBC, via the IPKat's friend Birgit Clark, comes this little piece, "Games firms 'catching' non-gamers". It's a story about computer games companies which are accusing innocent people of file-sharing as they crack down on real pirates. This has emerged from an investigation conducted by consumer magazine Which? after it was contacted by Scottish couple, Gill and Ken Murdoch, who had been accused of sharing the game Race07 by makers Atari. The Murdochs said they had never played a computer game in their lives. The case was dropped, but Which? estimates that hundreds of others [What others, wonders the IPKat--Murdochs? Scotsmen? Married couples?] are in a similar situation.
Computer game businesses, desperate to clamp down on illicit file-sharers, are monitoring peer-to-peer sharing networks such as Gnutella, BitTorrent,and eDonkey. Atari appointed law firm Davenport Lyons to prosecute illegal file-sharers; that firm engaged anti-piracy experts Logistep, which tracks down illegal file-sharers via their IP addresses. The Murdochs apparently received a letter giving them the chance to pay £500 compensation or face a court case.
IP lawyer Michael Coyle (Lawdit) is reported as saying that more people are being wrongly identified as file-sharers. He mentions 70 cases of people who claim to be wrongly accused of piracy: "Some of them are senior citizens who don't know what a game is, let alone the software that allows them to be shared". It seems that the problem most commonly occurs when a pirate steals someone else's network connection by "piggybacking" on an unsecured wireless network. As Coyle observes: "There is no section of the Copyright Act which makes you secure your network although it is commonsense to do so". The Murdochs' case is mysterious, though, since they have no wireless network that anyone else can have hijacked. The BBC article continues on a truly depressing note, whether you are a computer games company or a Murdoch: "
Firms that facilitate file sharing, such as Pirate Bay, have been undermining efforts by anti-piracy investigators to track down file sharers. Pirate Bay makes no secret of the fact that it inserts the random IP addresses of users, some of who may not even know what file sharing is, to the list of people downloading files, leading investigators up a virtual garden path".
Another great Scottish mystery here ... and a great Scottish disaster here