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Page last updated at 15:05 GMT, Monday, 14 July 2008 16:05 UK
Crackdown on web game sharing
By Jim Reed
Newsbeat technology reporter

Girl playing a Nintendo DS

The company behind the computer game Dream Pinball 3D is taking 100 British people to court for allegedly uploading the game to file sharing sites.

It is thought to be the biggest drive yet against gamers who use peer-to-peer networks like BitTorrent and Limewire.

Lawyers working for the gaming industry have told Newsbeat to expect thousands more cases before the end of the year.

UK law firm Davenport Lyons is taking action for Topware Interactive, the US firm which produces Dream Pinball 3D.

Nintendo's Dream Pinball 3D
More games are being illegally shared as connections speed up
The man in charge of the case, David Gore, said: "There is no difference between stealing a DVD from a high street retailer and downloading it from a peer-to-peer network.

"We hope that it will act as a deterrent. There is a hard core of file sharers who are just interested in getting something for nothing."

The Central London County Court has already ordered four file sharers to pay damages of 750 each in the case, although that figure could rise as high as 3,500 once costs are taken into account.

None of the four individuals appeared at the court hearing.

File sharing campaign

Davenport Lyons is using tracking technology developed by a Swiss company called Logistep to collect evidence against people who use peer-to-peer networks to upload copyright material.

Its File Sharing Monitor software records the individual IP address of the computer alleged to be used in the file transfer.

Lawyers still need to compare that with a list of physical addresses held by the broadband companies involved.

Davenport Lyons says a recent High Court victory will force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to hand over thousands of names and addresses of suspected file sharers.

"This is a widespread practice," said David Gore. "In one European territory, a new game sold 2,000 copies in its first week on release.

"But 12,000 more were copied illegally from file sharing sites.

"Games companies now spend millions of pounds developing new titles and they cannot continue to do that while their work is being stolen."

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