Report: CD Projekt Uses Law Firm to Threaten File-Sharers, Collect Settlements for The Witcher 2

A TorrentFreak report asserts that CD Projekt has hired a law firm in Germany to go after those who downloaded DRM-free copies of The Witcher 2 – even as it extolled the virtues of its games being DRM-free. CD Projekt was not available for comment at the time of this writing due to the late hour in its home country of Poland – but we hope to bring you an official response to this story as soon as it becomes available.

The report alleges that the company hired a law firm to go after those who they claim had downloaded the game illegally. As is usually the case with law firms that do this kind of work, they went the “pay-up-or-else” route based on lists of IP addresses they had collected. The problem with this kind of scheme is that IP’s don’t equal names and just because an IP has been recorded doesn’t mean that the legitimate IP owner has actually infringed; for example, someone else could have used their open Wi-Fi connection to download files.

The report goes on to say that letters sent by lawyers representing CD Projekt are demanding those accused of infringement to pay up or face legal action. Over the past several months thousands of alleged BitTorrent users in Germany were asked to pay upwards of $1230 to make amends for their crimes, according to the report.

We’ll continue to follow this story as it develops.

Source: TorrentFreak

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  1. 0
    Seth Schmitz says:

    You raise a good point. But they outsource work like this specifically because the company is busy running GOG, patching games for GOG and having groups working on their own games. Running a digital distribution platform is a pretty big workload. It's why Steam is so busy. I think that expecting this company (which isn't that big) to handle their own work AND police the law firm they hired to go after pirates is asking a bit much. If they had the resources to spare to police the lawyers, they could probably just open their own legal department and go after people themselves. You are right that it doesn't absolve them of any blame for what happens, but saying "GOG is suing the pirates!" still isn't completely accurate. Blame the lawyers. 

  2. 0
    Neeneko says:

    I do not have much sympathy there.   Situations like this have a bit of 'buyer beware' to them,.. if you hire a law firm to do things in your name, you have a responsibility to keep tabs on exactly what they are doing with that power.

  3. 0
    greevar says:

    Don't confuse the issue with facts and logic! We at CD Projekt wish to make the most minimal effort to pursuing infringers. We would hate to actually make a real effort to find the real perpetrators when we can just put the squeeze on a bunch of people that may or may not have anything to do with it. We prefer to remain ignorant of the facts and continue to accuse people without gathering any concrete and reliable proof. If we actually were cognizant of the facts, we would realize that we are wasting our time and money chasing these deviants because there is no available method to prove who the bad actors are.

  4. 0
    Mr.Tastix says:

    The reasoning is sound, but the actions are not.

    I have no problem with CD Projekt wanting to protect their copyrights. They remove DRM from their games for the benefit of legitimate buyers, not for people who just want an easier way of stealing their IP.

    However, the way they're going about the entire lawsuit is completely wrong. As stated in the article, IP addresses don't equate to pirates. It's one of the reasons why, as a website-owner, I've always discouraged methods like IP banning. There's no sure-fire way to know if that IP address is the person you want off your site. You can't tell who that IP belongs to and how many other – possibly legit – users have access to that IP address, just by looking at it.

    IP addresses can be faked or even "stolen" by malicious software (viruses, spyware, etc). A 12+ digit number is no longer a viable identification number for internet users. It becomes even worse if that user has a dynamic IP.

  5. 0
    Seth Schmitz says:

    You have to keep in mind though, the work is outsourced to a law firm. Once the law firm has the case/evidence(shotty as it is in this case)/etc, it's largely out of GOG's hands unless they say, "Hey, stop it." 


    And really, most law firms are pretty heavy handed.

  6. 0
    paketep says:

    Too heavy handed for my taste. I love GOG, their games and their stance on DRM, but this is going too far. It's far too easy to sue the wrong person, and with the help of expensive lawyers (see the Davenport-Lyons fuckups at torrentfreak) make them cough money rather than suffer losing a lot more in money, time and lawyers.

    It's not the first time they do this. If I remember correctly, they did the same with the first Witcher and it didn't go exactly smooth.

    It's sad to see that everyday publishers keep giving us reasons not to give them our money. If they don't drop this BS, I'll certainly won't be buying any games from CD Projekt in the future.

  7. 0
    Tom says:

    So they do what everyone asks and release games with no DRM so that legitimate customers aren't burdened with any extra BS and now you're angry that they're still going after people who pirate their IP?  That's ridiculous.

    I hate DRM but I love actually buying games from legitimate sources.  If those legitimate sources want to go after pirates, so be it – I'm still just glad that they didn't include obnoxious DRM.  That you're angry that they released a game with no DRM and are going after pirates, or "file sharers" as you put it, just shows that your concern is more about getting free stuff than respecting the effort put in by the content creators.

  8. 0
    Seth Schmitz says:

    I'm a big fan of GOG, myself. I like the company and like that they're DRM free. As an honest consumer, I'm not burden by obstructive DRM that can stand between me and my legally purchased game (I'm looking at you Anno 2070. Took me two days to figure out what was wrong, and their support staff wasn't very helpful)

    But they only say that they're anti-DRM (again, for the benefit of honest consumers). They haven't said they're pro-piracy. And if my memory serves, their past statements about "not worrying about the pirates" was them talking about their choice to exclude DRM. They haven't (to my knowledge) said that they won't take legal action against pirates. And not being a pirate myself, I'm fine with them going after the people that do decide to pirate their works.

    That being said, I do agree with the general sentiment of the comments thus far that going off IP addresses alone isn't enough. It's simply not enough proof. 

  9. 0
    Shahab says:

    Say it ain't so Joe! I love GoG and have supported them every chance I can, I've bought almost 30 games through their service. If this is true and they are suing file sharers then I am done with them. I won't buy any more games from them.

  10. 0
    Shahab says:

    Except there is no guarantee that they people they send settlement letters to will be guilty of anything or will have pirated anything. It is clear from past cases that many people caught up in these schemes have never pirated anything nor even heard of the term "bit torrent".

    The settlement price is also just shy of the cost of defense, so even an innocent person will pay the settlement so they don't have to spend more money defending themselves and going through the emotional drain of a trial. It is wrong, it is immoral, and I have lost all trust for GOG.

  11. 0
    MechaCrash says:

    Yeah, one of the few times I went and got a no-CD crack was for Morrowind. My framerate got noticeably better once the DRM was stripped out.

    It wasn't the last time I had to resort to dubious methods to play a game I legally purchased, though, which was Supreme Commander. But that was because my drive couldn't read one of the installatiion files the disc because of the way one it was split over two layers, not any copy protection. Once I installed off the ISO, I could use my legitimate disc and key to play.

  12. 0
    Neo_DrKefka says:

    I think a lot of people stopped pirating games a long time ago. People seemed to pirated games like Spore that had intrusive DRM. Getting older though if a game has too much DRM as a consumer I wouldn't bother thinking about being a pirate. However I still feel that people who pirate who do it as a protest are sending a message.

    In the 90s WAREZ sites and other pirate sites that let you download free games were loaded with viruses and such and you got what you deserved.

    Ten years later gamers were reverse engineering games to make the games playable since the certain games had DRM like StarForce that could cripple your computer. It's kind of sad the pirated version of games ran better and is better for your system.

    PC Gaming is where it is not because of pirates but because of over zealous publishers who put crippling DRM into their games.

  13. 0
    greevar says:

    Well, it contradicts their previous statements that were going to ignore pirates and focus on their customers. Sure, they have the right to pursue this, but it's rather petty that they did given their prior statements.

  14. 0
    GrimCW says:

    point made, but not what i was getting at.

    the article reads as though its wrong that CD Projekt should be going after pirates just because the game was DRM free within the first few sentances.

    or maybe i read "even as it extolled the virtues of its games being DRM-free." a bit wrong…


  15. 0
    Dinasis says:

    I remembered something the moment I saw the headline: this came up a year ago. PCGamer has an article on it here. Last November, CD Projekt RED said–all but promised–that they would hire firms and find whatever pirates they could.

    Yeah, they're blind to the issue of who is and isn't behind an IP address. Then again, that's never exactly seemed a high priority for the law firms operating in this manner, regardless if they're acting on behalf of a video game developer or a music industry association.

    Thinking on it, and I realize this wouldn't always be true, but I'd like to believe it'd be easy to prove your innocense in a case like this. I don't think many people who would keep their wireless network unprotected or poorly secured would think to go through the trouble of wiping their registry for all traces of a game install. If they have poor network security and no registry trace of the game, someone else probably used their network to pirate the copy.

  16. 0
    Overcast says:

    Just because it's coming from IP doesn't mean the person with that IP downloaded anything – intentionally.

    Often, Trojan horse viruses are used for *just that purpose* – to mislead.

    The first time someone is charged as 'guilty' when in fact it was a virus, then the 'justice system' is just as guilty of breaking the law as the person is found guilty, as that would be considered false imprisonment/false accusations.

    Knowing this can – and does happen – I don't see how you can ethically get a judgment based on just the IP address, as there is a 'reasonable doubt' at that point. I know if I ever sit on a jury in a case like that, to me – that's enough doubt for me to insist upon innocence – depending on specific facts, of course, but if an IP address is the only evidence – it's not enough.

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