ESA Denies Pursuing RIAA-style IP Enforcement

A Slashdot article posted just before the Thanksgiving break speculated that game publishers lobbying group the Entertainment Software Association might be turning to the aggressive, anti-file sharing tactics which have made music industry trade group RIAA infamous.

In response to an inquiry from GamePolitics, however, an ESA spokesman said the organization had not altered its response to piracy issues.

The question arose on Slashdot – and quickly disappeared into the mist of the Thanksgiving holiday – last Tuesday when Slashdot quoted a user named "cavis":

My organization just received an e-mail from the Intellectual Property enforcement division of the [ESA]. It accuses one particular IP address with ‘infringing the copyright rights of one or more ESA members by copying and distributing unauthorized copies of game products (through peer-to-peer or similar software/services).’ It goes on to name the filename and the application: Limewire. Has anyone had any contact with this group? Are they following the RIAA’s lead and pursuing litigation for peer-to-peer piracy? I’m just trying to evaluate what I am in for as I try to battle P2P within my network." …The [ESA’s] letter reads in part…:

The… ESA is authorized to act on behalf of ESA members whose copyright and other intellectual property rights it believes to be infringed as described herein.

Based on the information at its disposal on 24 Nov 2008… ESA has a good faith belief that the subscriber using the [IP address] infringing the copyright rights of one or more ESA members by copying and distributing unauthorized copies of game products (through peer-to-peer or similar software/services), in violation of applicable copyright laws, through internet access that [agency name] provides directly to the [IP address] or through a downstream provider that purchases this access for [IP address].

While Slashdot headlined the article, Entertainment Software Association Following RIAA?, some follow-up comments to the story questioned that interpretation. So GamePolitics put the question directly to the ESA. Ric Hirsch, the lobbying group’s Senior VP for IP Enforcement, responded:

Recent press inquiries regarding ESA notices to ISPs about possible online infringements of ESA members’ IP rights have questioned whether these notices represent a new enforcement tactic on the part of ESA.  


The ESA has been sending notices to ISPs regarding online infringements for many years, dating back to 2000. In short, this is not a new enforcement mechanism or a new front in our efforts against piracy. Rather, this is an example of the ESA’s ongoing vigilance and proactive work in detecting and deterring illegal activity.

GP: While the ESA’s recent selection of a RIAA’s former attorney as its general counsel initially fueled speculation that the organization might adopt the RIAA’s draconian approach to file-sharing issues, that would not appear to be the case, at least not in this instance. Most notably, there’s no apparent demand for a cash settlement in lieu of a lawsuit. And while the full ESA letter is not cited by Slashdot, it appears to be more of a takedown notice than anything else.

We’ll update if more info becomes available.

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  1. ZippyDSMlee says:

    The ESA like msot corporate level entities needs to come back down to the ground, being high in the sky smoking the fumes off the wrong end of the man will only make you more out of touch with the people that pay your fees and no I am not talking about the corporate whack jobs that are smoking caroline(sp) gold (cocaine).

    Yes the  ESA acts as a buffer or association for their members but that dose not mean you have to bully consumers and trumping up things unreasonable levels look at how out of it the RIAA and MPAA are and wake up.

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

  2. Father Time says:

    Err I think that was supposed to be sarcasm.


    "What for you bury me in the cold cold ground?" – Tasmanian devil

  3. E. Zachary Knight says:

    The ECA has already made the statements that they do not support piracy of any kind. So why would they tell the ESA to stop protecting their IP? Now if the ESA actually acted like the RIAA and did a full scale fish net campaign looking for names behind user IP addresses, they would probably ask them to find a better way.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
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    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
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  4. Wolvenmoon says:

    These takedown notices do NOTHING to deter piracy, they just switch to darknets, or wait for a few months then download a lump of pirated software again.

    They should be dropping DRM and chopping launch prices down to reasonable for the product. These companies are trying to sell ground beef as prime rib, and the most successful restaurant in the business got there for selling ground beef as what it is.

    So what should they do? I’d almost suggest to charge a dollar per hour of gameplay offered up to 50 dollars, or offer free downloaded content for games with a legitimate CD-key that expands gameplay to that kind of time. If I were to measure gameplay time, ‘travel’ time wouldn’t count.

    The fact is that piracy in the 90s was as easy as it is now. You connected to IRC or usenet, and had all you wanted. However, it was at a marginal 3-8%. The people having trouble could take a look at the software in the 90s and take an example.

    Winzip, still around today, allows a user indefinite usage of the trial, with a nag screen. they make good money still.

    Games of that period left personal messages to pirates in the EULA. "Hey Pirates, if you enjoy our software, please buy it, it took a lot of hard work!". Copy protection was NOT installed outside of the actual game.

    Games also were much longer, much more open, and much more innovative. Look at unreal 1, for example.

    "We keep selling them the same thing, and they’re tired of it! Let’s ignore that and punish the symptom, then pretend an alternative system is any better. Uh oh! These consoles have piracy too!"

  5. hayabusa75 says:

    I think you dropped your clue back there.  Might want to go get it.

    "There is no sin except stupidity." – Oscar Wilde

  6. ZippyDSMlee says:

    I am sorry but until the ESA under stands fair use and the rights consumers have whatever they say is anti consumer propagandist corporate fascism, really hate to paint with such a wide sloppy brush but frankly they deserve the gooey vitriol…

    What they should do? Stop the propaganda modchips focus on illicit for profit software distribution( you know the real fcking crime, god forbid you rail onthe console makers to update their already broken protections you want to protect sales but you dare not bother the big boys its all the lil guys fault for daring to put after market devices on the crap he bought), have links ready for cracks on the horrendous DRM that damages computers and try and offer alil more assistance to consumers that are forced to deal with that crap hell get sicrom to make their DRM fully uninstallable, less of a threat to a function OS.

    They can make DRM a simple program thats installed and when its components are not there it dose not work thus any program thats associated with it wont work however trying to circumvent the protections of the OS to try and lock the program is ridiculous as all it dose is cause grief to legit consumers.

    All they want to be is a mindless PR machine to get in membership fees from publishers…well…I hope they stay a witless PR machine god forbid they become a fullflegde RIAA clone.

    The ESA
     could do so much to expand their market without stomping on the throats of the people that buy the sht that eventfully pay their fees…..

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

  7. Zeke129 says:

    Of course they’re going to deny it. People don’t take kindly to being villainized without reason. IP enforcement doesn’t work because it yields so many damn false positives.

    Just look at how hated the RIAA/MPAA are. The ESA doesn’t want people to know that they’re in the same boat.

  8. GamesLaw says:

    NecroSen — I was there too; if we’re thinking of the same panel, that was the ESA’s communication’s director.

    Dan "SWATJester" Rosenthal Executive Director, Member, ABA IP Law Division Special Committee on Computer Gaming and Virtual Worlds

  9. NecroSen says:

    No surprise to me that the ESA would respond that way. I was at the VGXPO East Coast Games Summit in Philadelphia two weekends ago. Someone representing the ESA was on a panel called "The Future of the Games Industry," and more than a couple times he blatantly said "we will not be trying to do what the RIAA did and is doing."

    What they’ll actually do, I have no idea.

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