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Is the legal game over for Atari?

Which? Computing update

Scales of justice

Games manufacturer Atari has confirmed that it has parted company from Davenport Lyons amidst accusations that the law firm used heavy-handed tactics against alleged illegal file sharers.

Atari had already dropped its case against Gill Murdoch following an investigation in the January issue of Which? Computing. Gill and her husband had been accused of sharing the Atari game Race 07.

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Atari has since apologised to the Murdochs saying: ‘We take every precaution to ensure that the information used in such actions is accurate, and in our experience this case is unique and regrettable.’

Since then we’ve received complaints from a number of other computer users who have received letters from Davenport Lyons, on behalf of Atari, demanding £500 payment or face court action.

With this threat hanging over him, William Snow thought he had no option but to pay up but denies ever having uploaded an Atari game called Test Drive Unlimited.

In an email to Which? Computing Atari’s legal department said ‘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.’

Atari has yet to respond to further questions on whether it will continue to pursue those who have already received demands for payment.

In November, Which? Computing revealed how hundreds of computer users had been identified as file sharing by Swiss copyright protection firm Logistep. The company identified the alleged file sharers from IP addresses – the unique numerical code, which identifies an individual PC.

The information was then passed to Davenport Lyons which obtained court orders forcing ISPs to identify the name and address of the person using that IP address.

Davenport Lyons is facing further controversy over its latest actions. It is now writing to computer users who it claims have illegally downloaded gay porn without paying for it and thereby infringing their clients’ copyright.

We have heard from an elderly couple who stand accused of downloading ‘Hung Ladz’. The couple, who do not wish to be named, strongly deny the allegation.

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