SOME copyright holders of computer games in Britain have launched yet another effort to stop illegal downloading of their material over the internet. They estimate that they lose almost incalculable sums of money because paid-for copies of their games are replicated tens of thousands of times illegally.
Similar efforts at making the pirates pay for games and music have ended in failure because of the difficulty in identifying the culprits and getting judgements against them in the courts. The companies involved in the latest drive are Atari, Topware Interactive, Reality Pump, Techland and Codemasters who are the legitimate owners of such popular games as Lord of the Rings, Operation Flashlight and Dream Pinball. The law firm employed by the company is applying to the High Court for an order requiring internet service providers to hand over the names and addresses of 25'000 people suspected of illegal downloading.
Not all copyright holders support this move; some think it will alienate their basic market and that, in any case, those involved in illegal downloading will find other ways of operating - as they have in the past.
There is little doubt that copyright should be protected but, in an early indication of how counter-productive prosecution might prove, last week an unemployed mother of two was ordered by a court to pay 16'000 pounds to Topware for downloading Dream Pinball illegally.