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Dream Pinball Defendant Fined $32,000
August 19, 2008
Thomas Mennecke
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In the absence of a published court order on the "Dream Pinball 3D" file-sharing case, much of the news that's available is currently based on press releases and forum testimony. In the absence of any solid documentation, the most recent Davenport Lyon's press release indicates that a rather serious development in the Topware Interactive "Dream Pinball 3D" has erupted.

According to Davenport Lyons, the law firm representing Topware, one of the hundreds of file-sharers accused of sharing "Dream Pinball 3D", was fined "£6,086.56 plus costs and disbursements of £10,000", or ~$32,000. Much like the RIAA's legal pursuit of uploaders, the individuals were given a chance to settle for considerably less. Unlike the situation in the United States, however, the defendant was unable to successfully defend herself. It is not known whether she simply ignored the chance or tried to fight the allegation in court.

Press releases and regurgitated articles aside, let's take a deeper look at this development in comparison to the BPI's legal campaign against music uploaders, and how "Dream Pinball" has become a coup for the entertainment industry's public relation war.

The BPI (British Phonographic Industry) began emulating the US music industry's legal campaign in 2004. In March of that year, the BPI began sending instant messages to suspected P2P pirates, warning them of the potential copyright liability associated with P2P uploading. According to the BPI's Digital Music Timeline, over 150 UK citizens have faced monetary demands from the UK music industry as of November of 2005.

In comparison, Davenport Lyons has sent over 500 letters to suspected uploaders of "Dream Pinball", according to the BBC. Like most suspected uploaders, the accused generally decide to settle for £300 (~$600) rather than face a lengthy and potentially damaging trial. Davenport Lyons scored its first success in July, when 4 suspected uploaders were each ordered to pay £2,750 (~$5,500) for breaking Topware's copyrights. These were default judgments against the defendants, as they did not show up in court to answer the copyright complaints.

In total, Davenport Lyon has won £27,000 in less than a year's worth of work. This is in stark contrast to the BPI, who has been rather inactive according to their Digital Music Timeline. The last court judgment in their favor was in January of 2006, when a "Norfolk man ordered to make a £5000 ‘down payment’."

It would seem that Topware, who has fewer interests compared to the music industry, can focus much more of their energy on suspected uploaders. This greatly benefits the BPI and their efforts to involve ISPs against uploaders, as the trade organization has been rather quiet when it comes to litigating pirates in the last two years. In other words, if Topware and “Dream Pinball 3D” didn’t exist, the music industry's efforts would likely be struggling to gain attention in the headlines. Davenport Lyon’s news release takes a lot of this pressure to remain relevant away.

According to the DailyMail, the judgment was issued on July 22. It’s interesting to note that no announcement was made in the last month, and that no official court decision has been posted online. We’re left only to wonder about the conflicting information, and marvel that Davenport Lyons has accomplished more antipiracy public relations in a few short months than the music industry could have dreamed of.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Legal/Courtroom :: Individual Lawsuits

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