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CD Projekt demands settlement from Witcher 2 pirates

Fri 16 Dec 2011 10:05am GMT / 5:05am EST / 2:05am PST
LegalDevelopment

Lawyers ask German BitTorrent users to pay €900 each to avoid further legal action

Lawyers acting on behalf of Polish developer CD Projekt Red are demanding cash settlements from alleged pirates of The Witcher 2.

The story initially broke last week, when TorrentFreak published a report claiming that "thousands" of German BitTorrent users were asked to pay €911.80 or face further legal action.

The article also suggests that, by ignoring the factors like "Wi-fi piggybacking" or multiple parties using a single IP address, CD Projekt's lawyers are, "wrongfully accusing people who have never even heard of the game."

Yesterday, CD Projekt issued a statement to the press explaining that its decision not to include DRM in its products should not be confused for, "giving a green light to piracy."

"We will never approve of [piracy], since it doesn't only affect us but has a negative impact on the whole game industry."

"We've seen some of the concern online about our efforts to thwart piracy, and we can assure you that we only take legal actions against users who we are 100 per cent sure have downloaded our game illegally."

In a recent interview with PC Gamer, CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwinski estimated that 4.5 million copies of The Witcher 2 had been illegally downloaded since the game launched earlier this year.

22 Comments

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,156 1,219 1.1
There is a lively scene of German lawyers making wads of cash sending such settlements to users. Recently on lawyer even had an auction where he sold 90 million Euro worth of these "settlement" for which he did not have the capacity to work off.

Since it is common to get a new IP from German ISPs every day, things get very muddy very quick. Not speaking of the methods determining IPs of pirates.

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Harrison Smith Studying Games and Graphics Programming, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

75 4 0.1
Well the more they do this the more that are just going to use proxy servers instead and pirate though there., no matter what you cant beat priacy, tho can you profit from ti? that is something we should be focusing more on then trying to stop the impossible.

Posted:2 years ago

#2
We had something similar in the UK but it didn't really work out for the lawyers in the end:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ACS:Law

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Temi Web design

48 9 0.2
wonder why they never ask for the price for the game. smh. People often pirate because they wouldn't or can't buy your game, where are you hoping they get that much from?

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Richard Gardner Artist, Crytek

123 32 0.3
Its very sad to see such bold numbers of piracy for a truly great game. But I also completely disagree with contracting out law firms to hunt down possible pirates. Not because they didn't do anything wrong, but the whole concept of bullying people into payments will only get worse. Just look at America where once laws where passed in certain states this kind of practice is already way out of control. Piracy is wrong, but you need to draw a line at a certain point of punishment.

One thing that really confuses me is how generally speaking product DRM or piracy protection happens very quickly at the end of production, its often rushed out the door and quickly put together. Many times only stopping pirates for a matter of hours.

As an industry worth billions, is there no way to collaborate and invest in some form of proper security that's harder to break? The PS3 took years to crack, although I believe this was possibly hardware related? Then you have high level encryption for governments and high level corporations. There must be something in this day and age.

I could have the naive opinion on this topic with no proper knowledge of how software security works. But its food for thought.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Mark Gilbert Games Designer, Abstraction Games

14 0 0.0
I think it should be noted that CD Projekt told everyone at launch that they would be tracking the downloads of pirated versions of the game and that something may possibly be made out of it should it get pirated a lot. (i'm sorry i cant find the link to this right now but i'm sure one of you guys can find it if it matters).

Also they say they are only doing this to those they are 100% sure of pirated it but due to the nature of ip addresses i reckon a fair few innocent people will receive angry letters. If you remember back to the UK version of this a wireless printer received a letter....

Why Germany only is due to German law that you are responsible for what happens with your wireless / your internet, in other countries if someone "borrows" your internet is highly likely you will not be punished but in Germany you can be. This leads to a much higher conviction rate should it go to court.

Posted:2 years ago

#6
I guess they calculate the amount either by dividing the costs plus by the number they expect to successfully prosecute OR by dividing the expected penalty by the chance of being caught and convicted. (From the point of view of the pirate, only the latter really makes much sense.) Still, you'd think if they chose a reasonable number, like say the cost of the game or even an 'amnesty' payment, they'd be more successful. EUR900 feels like a barrier - at that price one might take ones chances. For an amnesty payment of EUR9.99 you might think, okay, they're not being total dicks, if I played the game I'll pay.

Of course, none of this makes a case for the value actually lost to pirating. Maybe some large %age of the pirates were never going to buy it anyway. Perhaps some other %age eventually bought it, and some other %age again operated as advertising for the game, telling their friends. It's silly to claim 4.5m lost sales.

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Dave Wolfe Game Developer, Cosmic Games

64 30 0.5
@Temi Because the cost of the game wouldn't even cover the cost of the lawyers coffee break.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,254 421 0.3
As Dave said, legal fees apply, but also, what sort of disincentive is it if you pirate a game and the sorst that could happen if you get caught is to pay the RRP you saved? It has to be higher to encourage people who get caught not to do it again, rather than "pay £30 legally or pirate and maybe pay that same £30 if you are caught".

Posted:2 years ago

#9

James Butterworth IT Hardware & Software

24 1 0.0
CD Projekt have got one big massive nerve demanding anyone even has to pay for the shite that comes out of their porting studio! After the massive wreck they made of porting Saints Row 2 to the PC, which still has massive lag and world chunk loading jitter, on a Core i7 with Radeon HD6870, I will never trust them again, especially after paying £30 for it, and never having bugs fixed. They washed their hands of it when people expected them to deliver. That's what happens when you trust Polish and Ruskie idiots with programming, they make an even bigger damn mess, while ripping people off.

Even Volition and THQ eventually stopped threatening bans on their SR2 forums to anyone that complained, and actually switched comapnies for the SR3 port, and Saints Row The Third on PC is flawless, just like SR2 would have been if CDP hadn't done it.

CD Projekt, you need to wake up to exactly WHY people are pirating your shite! Maybe if you actually fixed bugs, rather than some lame half arsed "Oh we can't be arsed" attitude, and provided something called CUSTOMER SUPPORT and QUALITY ASSURANCE, people might PAY for Witcher 2. I will NEVER buy anything with a CD Projekt label, I won't even PIRATE it because it will be buggy and painful as hell to play, a bit like anal piles, an excruciating shitty pain in the rear!

Posted:2 years ago

#10
James Butterworth translation: CD Projekt makes shit games so people pirate them instead of buying them.

Well James, you're an idiot. A game being bad doesn't justify piracy. As with any other products on the market, the consumer does NOT have a right to decide on the price they should pay for the product. If they percieve it as too highly priced, as well as a shit game, then why the hell would they want to waste their time playing it? No, the only reason people are pirating it is because they WANT TO PLAY IT.

And therefore they should have to pay for it. If it's out of their price range, then they're thieves if they choose to pirate it. So fuck them. If they simply don't want to purchase it because they're too stingy, they are thieves. Fuck them as well.

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,254 421 0.3
As Michael said, nice convenient excuse as it may be, no one pirates games because they think they eill be shite. Anyone spending time and bandwidth downloading and playing a game either thinks there is an outside chance they may like it, or are mentally ill. I hate to throw insults but I have to agree James's comment was idiotic, if you think it's shite you don't have to pay for it, you can quite legally ignore its existance.

Posted:2 years ago

#12

gi biz ;,pgc.eu

341 51 0.1
I think CD Projekt should be acclaimed for their no DRM policy, not flamed for fighting piracy in alternative ways. Had Ubisoft done the same, I would've bought the settlers and assassin's creed.
I respect this company, although smaller than Ubi they still try to solve a problem that's being discussed here forever and never addressed decently by anyone.

I hope that no 8-year old children get prosecuted by the law (I guess we all remember that american kid that received an insane fine for downloading some mp3), and I hope that all the "I never pay for games" freaks get fined and possibly whipped. It would be nice to get news about how this story turns out in the future.

Posted:2 years ago

#13

James Butterworth IT Hardware & Software

24 1 0.0
I'm not idiotic, it was my truthful opinion from experience of these guys. I was a hard modder of SR2 PC on Volition's forums as well as a guy called IdolNinja, we worked as part of a huge community of modders to try to make the game better. In terms of features we did it, but the lag still remains, even now the game has been discontinued.

I don't earn much in my small PC repair firm, but I don't pirate games. I don't "try before buy" either, that approach is just used by pirates to justify piracy. I read reviews and play demos, or play a friend's copy, then I go out and buy. If a game is shit following this, I don't bother. There IS NO excuse for pirating a game because you want to play it, Michael! You go out and buy it or use someone else's copy! Who's the idiot now?

CDP are useless. I may have had a bad experience with CDP, but Volition also made it bad by not allowing people to voice frustrations, they simply banned people. It was like they were backing CDP's shit policies and laziness. Once bitten twice shy. If I don't get the support and bug fixes I've rightly paid for, then I don't buy from a company. I still bought SR3 on PC and Xbox because they have turned out good, Volition have improved.

Again, I don't pirate either. I wait for reviews from others as to whether a game is shit before buying it. There is absolutely no reason to pirate other than to get it for nothing like a cheapskate.

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,611 1,473 0.9
@ James

"I don't "try before buy" either, that approach is just used by pirates to justify piracy. I read reviews and play demos, or play a friend's copy, then I go out and buy."

Demos? What demos? Generally speaking, they've been discontinued (apparently due to piracy - Scene groups using the demo .exes to crack the full release). MW3, SR3, Batman: AC, AssCreed: Revelations, Anno 2070... None of these big budget, full price games have demos (at least, not on Steam). Neither does Deus Ex:HR, but the leak of the first 10 hours, which acted as a demo, actually convinced a lot of (self-proclaimed) pirates to buy the game.

And, oh... You'll read reviews? Whilst it's a subjective point whether reviews are "good or bad", I don't trust many magazines or sites to give me a truly unbiased review. Or make that, "any sites".

And you'll play a friend's copy? What, on their PC? For how long? How long to judge if a game is worth money? I mean, you could borrow the discs, but oh wait - one-time-use serials mean you can't try it on your PC.

Fair enough that you don't "try before you buy", but it is a valid tactic, when PC gamers have been left in the cold over demos. There's no excuse for keeping the game after a period of trying it out, but honestly? How else are people suposed to know if a game is worth $60/£30?

Posted:2 years ago

#15

James Butterworth IT Hardware & Software

24 1 0.0
@ Morville:

I tend to test a friend's copy, both on their console, and their PC for around a couple hours. That shows me whether it runs smoothly, has any crash bugs, and I can judge if it'll work on my console or PC system. I have a Core2Quad with 4GB RAM and MSI Radeon HD6870 HAWK IGB, most of my techie colleagues and friends have similar systems, so it gives me a good idea. I didn't do it back in 08 when SR2 PC came out (and learnt from it!), but I did test the Xbox360 version, which runs like a dream.

As for the demos, yeah, nobody does demos anymore, that's why I said I test the full games of friends, and read forums for other true gamer real world opinions of the games in mind if demos are not available. Magazines I don't trust either, they tend to just be quick playthroughs by misinformed magazine contributors.

Renting is also another good option, at Blockbuster in the UK you can rent a game for 5 nights for a fiver, I did it with GTAIV for 360, I went and bought it from them the next day! But then again on the dark side you do get people with hacked PS3's copying them to their HDD's. I've had customers bringing PS3's to me for repair boasting of the fact like it's the most natural thing in the world to tell a repair engineer!

I work in hardware, and do a bit of .NET development for Microsoft XNA. I'd be shocked if my small indie games were pirated, so I do see the developer's side of things, exactly why I don't agree with pirating, and never will. But, unlike CD Projekt I actually listen to users with bug reports, and they get fixed ASAP! There really is no excuse for big success games like SR2 or Call Of Duty, made by big developer houses, being made a complete mess of in porting to other platforms. If done right it's as smooth a process as you'd expect. I hate outsourcing for porting, it's always better in-house by the original developers.

The no DRM thing is good too, but pointless anyway, because DRM is easily cracked according to news sources I've read in the past. It won't stop determined crackers, they always seem smarter than big devs.

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Richard Gardner Artist, Crytek

123 32 0.3
Adding to the argument about piracy I personally think its about accessibility and difficulty. I have Steam and Origin on my PC and literally about three clicks from any game I wish. If it was just as easy to pirate a game I'm sure I would find it very attractive, but it isn't. You have all the torrent websites with viruses then you have to crack the game in exactly the right way or it doesn't work.

At the end of the day if someone is already jumping through many hoops to get a pirated game they are going to continue doing it as it doesn't bother them. So how do you lengthen this whole process? How can you lengthen the time and effort it takes to pirate your game and less time and effort to purchase it?

In my opinion, that's the best way to fight piracy at this time.

Even something as simple as packing your game into three separate installers, it sounds weird but the consumer buying the product probably wouldn't even notice the difference. But to the person cracking it they would need to crack each one of them.

Its a fairly primitive example that probably isn't very practical. But gets across the general idea.

Also last thing to add, the latest Serious Sam piracy control is pretty interesting. If they have a way of knowing if your a pirate I'm sure they could take this a lot further.

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,611 1,473 0.9
@ James.

Fair fair... Though a couple of points.

1). Assume that I have no console. Rent? Ummmmm... Rent a PC game? No. The industry says "No, no renting of PC games... they get pirated". :(

2) My friend doesn't have the game I want, because he's not bought it yet, since we're *both* waiting to see if it's any good.. And he also has no console. We're PC gamers, see? :)

3) Testing on a console has its own issues. Batman: Arkham City on the console = smooth as silk. On a PC? Well, DX11 mode is still broken, even after the patch (and you criticize people doing bad ports? Look at Batman:AC on the PC. Urgh. Single-digit frame-rates in DX11 mode.)

4) Outsourcing done right is really very good. On a different article on this site I praised Nixxes' dvelopment of the PC version of Deus Ex: HR. When time is taken, porting can actually improve the original game. It's just time is very rarely taken.

5) One of the forums I hang out on is a pirating forum... The opinions of the people there I trust. Though they are the opinions of people who have downloaded the "iso demo", and realised it wasn't worth spending the money on.

Not arguing your points, btw, just raising some issues about them. :)

Posted:2 years ago

#18

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,611 1,473 0.9
@ Richard

"Even something as simple as packing your game into three separate installers"

Heh... One of the annoying things about the PC version of Batman: Arkham City is that it can theoretically come with 3 different forms of DRM. Buy it on Steam and you have 1) Steam DRM (CEG protected exe), 2) Games For Windows Live and 3) SecuRom serial check. On the one hand, none of the Scene groups have cracked it. On the other, G4WL is atrocious - people have complained of save-game crashes, lack of updating, and an inability to sign-in to G4WL. So, there is merit to what you say... Just never go for G4WL. :D

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Harrison Smith Studying Games and Graphics Programming, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

75 4 0.1
Quit fighting the pirates god dam it!, you aren't going to stop it no matter what unbreakable DRM or Censorship of the internet you have, people will pirate if they want to pirate and there is nothing you can do about it other than stop making. Instead of fighting, find a way to make money from it or look to why? Why are people pirating your product?, is it because quality of product has gone down?, is the price too high? this is some answers the industry has to find out then find a solution to increase the sales and not bitch and blame piracy for there low sales.

I am going to use a case that not that related but brings up kinder the same point, for years the Australia brick and mortar retail industry has basically "taken the Australian consumer for a ride", with high prices and terrible, terrible customer service. But now comes Internet shopping the past few years and basically hit them where it hurts bad, declining sales. Internet shopping has brought a wave of dropping sales for retailers, and what have the retailers done to solve this? Bitch and cry about internet shopping, they blame the consumers for buying from overseas and getting a better deal, they crying how they dont pay sales tax, they cry and cry and cry and basically not gone back to why? Why are people not buying from brick and mortar retail anymore? The reason is pretty much writing on the wall, 1. you are getting a better deal, 2. the customer service from the internet sellers isn't any worst (sometimes better) than what you get in store anyways so why waste money at retail?. Now its basically adapt or die really, and stop living in the past. Sure you made an absolute killing, but just because you aren't making the same any more doing the same thing its the consumers fault, first think, What can I do better?

Hopefully my point is delivered, that sometimes it isn't just the consumers fault.

Posted:2 years ago

#20

gi biz ;,pgc.eu

341 51 0.1
@James: "or play a friend's copy"
Isn't that illegal?

Posted:2 years ago

#21

Vitalii Moskalets Game Designer, GameLoft

27 0 0.0
The whole industry cry about piracy :) And the whole industry getting bigger, salaries increasing, everyone make new bigger games. So how is it possible if piracy hurt industry? Xbox gets pirated copies weeks before release, PC always had piracy, PS3 stood longer, because nobody wanted to pirate it before last year.

Everybody likes to say, if everyone will pay, industry will make better games, innovative and so on. Ok, so COD sales billions every year. How much FAIR amount of prize money received DEVELOPERS? We saw it during Zampella case, and I doubt that DEVELOPERS somewhere else receive FAIR amount of income (execs may get big income, but they anyway receive 200,000$ a year)

Now, games are generally 60$ worth, anyway you will not buy ALL games you want to play, because you need to eat something, pay for apartment, etc. Also you will not buy all games you want to play, because you DON"T HAVE enough time to play them all at once. The "estimated pirated copies" are not the copies you will sell, not even close.

Why player also should pay 60$ for a game? Why not 10$? Sony wants 10$ per copy because I will play on PS3??? But I already pay for PS3? Why shoud I pay for EVERY game additional 10$ because it is PS3/XBOX disc???

Also, everybody who wants to UNDERSTAND the whole issue of piracy, you need to think much bigger than only inside game industry. Because now it looks more like: "why our house is breaking apart? maybe we need to fix some walls or make new window instead of broken one", but outside the house there is earthquake is going on, and nobody want to think that earthquake is real problem.

Posted:2 years ago

#22

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