Witcher 2 Studio Drops Legal Threats Against Pirates

Witcher 2 Studio Drops Legal Threats Against Pirates

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CD Projekt RED says it will no longer threaten legal action against pirates because it doesn't want to risk falsely accusing one of its customers.

CD Projekt RED is best known for two things: the awesome Witcher RPG series and a very vocal, high-profile stance against DRM. It's an approach that's made the studio a favorite among die-hard PC gamers, which is one reason why it was particularly disappointing back in December 2011 when it undertook a rather RIAA-like policy of issuing legal threats and demands for payouts of roughly $1300 a head to gamers who had pirated The Witcher 2.

But it's apparently had some second thoughts since then and has now issued "An Open Letter to the Gaming Community" saying that while piracy is still very damaging, it will no longer pursue legal action against people who steal its games.

In early December, an article was published about a law firm acting on behalf of CD Projekt RED, contacting individuals who had downloaded The Witcher 2 illegally and seeking financial compensation for copyright infringement. The news about our decision to combat piracy directly, instead of with DRM, spread quickly and with it came a number of concerns from the community. Repeatedly, gamers just like you have said that our methods might wrongly accuse people who have never violated our copyright and expressed serious concern about our actions.

Being part of a community is a give-and-take process. We only succeed because you have faith in us, and we have worked hard over the years to build up that trust. We were sorry to see that many gamers felt that our actions didn't respect the faith that they have put into CD Projekt RED. Our fans always have been and remain our greatest concern, and we pride ourselves on the fact that you all know that we listen to you and take your opinions to heart. While we are confident that no one who legally owns one of our games has been required to compensate us for copyright infringement, we value our fans, our supporters, and our community too highly to take the chance that we might ever falsely accuse even one individual.

So we've decided that we will immediately cease identifying and contacting pirates.

Let's make this clear: we don't support piracy. It hurts us, the developers. It hurts the industry as a whole. Though we are staunch opponents of DRM because we don't believe it has any effect on reducing piracy, we still do not condone copying games illegally. We're doing our part to keep our relationship with you, our gaming audience, a positive one. We've heard your concerns, listened to your voices, and we're responding to them. But you need to help us and do your part: don't be indifferent to piracy. If you see a friend playing an illegal copy of a game-any game-tell your friend that they're undermining the possible success of the developer who created the very game that they are enjoying. Unless you support the developers who make the games you play, unless you pay for those games, we won't be able to produce new excellent titles for you.

Keep on playing,

Marcin Iwinski
co-founder
CD Projekt RED

I think it's a smart move, not because I like to see pirates getting away with it but because, as the RIAA learned, threatening to sue the pants off people who download your stuff adds up to nothing but a mountain of bad press. CD Projekt RED has become an international success by treating its customers well, not through the use of heavy-handed DRM or near-blackmail tactics, and it never made any sense to me that the studio would be willing to risk that reputation and good will for a few bucks. Yes, piracy sucks, and yes, The Witcher 2 got hosed pretty hard, but as the old saying goes, you can't make honey out of vinegar and flies.

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I think it's a really nice move from CD projekt. A bit of a publicity stunt, to negate bad press? Yes, but they could just said "fuck it"

They know they are a "small" developer with only one big franchise, but they also know how to treat their clients right. Just by hating DRM and refusing to use it earns a lot of karma points with me. I hope they manage to sell more and more of their games, so piracy can become a lesser issue.

Companies like this should be the rule. I'm fed up with companies that instead of wanting profit by gathering a loyal fan base and making a good, diverse game, just keep sending incomplete games and then proceed to shove DLC down out throats. I mean, you saw the collection edition of witcher 2? It had so much shit it was ludicrous. And it was cheap. Cheaper than most CE you see nowdays.

Oh good they finally figured out that sending random letters to people who they have no solid proof actually pirated there game isnt worth all of the bad press afterall. Luckily for them people are probably to stupid to fully read the letter that they send out, especially this line.

So we've decided that we will immediately cease identifying and contacting pirates.

So although they wont be chasing any new people this means that they will still be harrassing all the people that they already sent out letters to.

Still with all of the bullshit lies these guys have spread I am really not even certain if I believe this news post.

666Satsuki:

So we've decided that we will immediately cease identifying and contacting pirates.

So although they wont be chasing any new people this means that they will still be harrassing all the people that they already sent out letters to.

Actually, 'not contacting pirates' is self explanatory, and means they will not be contacting the people they've already identified.

The anti-DRM attitude of The Escapist is reaching comedic levels. It practically parodies itself these days. Sending out 'threatening' letters is the first step to a law suit, required in most jurisdictions. You can't sue someone unless you give them a chance to do the right thing first, in writing. You can bet your ass that if this company did the required work to capture IP addresses, connect them with names and physical addresses, then they have enough evidence to obtain a judgment in their favor. Most of the people downloading this game didn't buy it, and it probably makes economic sense for publishers to sue pirates and recoup their losses.

I'm not even sure what the debate is, exactly. I understand many people downloading games wouldn't pay for them regardless. What isn't debatable is that enjoying a software you didn't pay for, but are expected to pay for by the software owner, is morally wrong.

Not gonna lie, I bought Witcher 2 largely because of this studios stance on DRM and piracy. not even sure my laptop will run it, but I just love these guys' attitude.

I love these guys. That is why I support them whenever I can when it comes to games. They deserve it. They have taken a very adult stance on DRM and now Piracy. If the rest of the gaming development/publisher community would only follow suit now.

90sgamer:
Actually, 'not contacting pirates' is self explanatory, and means they will not be contacting the people they've already identified.

Its called legal talk.

I'm not even sure what the debate is, exactly. I understand many people downloading games wouldn't pay for them regardless. What isn't debatable is that enjoying a software you didn't pay for, but are expected to pay for by the software owner, is morally wrong.

The debate was that they were threatening lawsuits to people that possibly downloaded their game illegally but they were not actually sure. This is because its impossible to nail somebody through an IP address. They also pursued it in a country where its not actually possible to prove yourself innocent.

Ya know, I generally dislike western RPGs and have never played either game in this series, but seeing a company that doesn't have it's head so far up its ass it can smell its own tongue, I'm tempted to buy these games just on principle.

Wicky_42:
Not gonna lie, I bought Witcher 2 largely because of this studios stance on DRM and piracy. not even sure my laptop will run it, but I just love these guys' attitude.

You should play it, game is pretty good and has free DLC. Not many companies give us, custumers free dlc. That's why multiplataform is soo popular. PC has piracy, but you can make more money per copy, x360 and PS3 have a large install base, but you have to invest in market to sell your game to them.

brazuca:

Wicky_42:
Not gonna lie, I bought Witcher 2 largely because of this studios stance on DRM and piracy. not even sure my laptop will run it, but I just love these guys' attitude.

You should play it, game is pretty good and has free DLC. Not many companies give us, custumers free dlc. That's why multiplataform is soo popular. PC has piracy, but you can make more money per copy, x360 and PS3 have a large install base, but you have to invest in market to sell your game to them.

This is why the mentality of the game market annoys me so much. A lot of the time they will focus on console games because "It's where the money is". It's not that consoles make more money, it's that they sell more. Console games require more sales than PC games to turn a profit since there's no licensing involved.

I bought Witcher 2 direct from Gog.com on Day One...and I have yet to play it. Two reasons
1) I have yet to complete the first witcher
2) I want to save it for the new gaming rig I'm building, just have to wait for the PSU and graphics cards to be delivered.

As for the guy above who said
"You can bet your ass that if this company did the required work to capture IP addresses, connect them with names and physical addresses, then they have enough evidence to obtain a judgment in their favor."

The main problem everyone here on the Escapist has with this tactic is that it isn't 100% fool-proof. At absolute best, they can detect which computer was used to download, but not who was using it at the time, but even then, they can't be sure, because the computer could have been hacked, the IP address could have been spoofed, the IP addresses list in the torrent tracker could have been poisoned with fake addresses...so on and so on. The RIAA and MPAA have already tried this, and they are notorious for sending out settlement notices to networked PRINTERS and dead people.
If CD Projekt RED want to sue the downloaders...they had better have a better identification system.

Wicky_42:
Not gonna lie, I bought Witcher 2 largely because of this studios stance on DRM and piracy. not even sure my laptop will run it, but I just love these guys' attitude.

I bought #1 a few months ago, even though I couldn't run it, for the same reason. And Assassins of Kings is coming to the Xbox?

CD Projekt RED:

I bought the game from steam then ended up pirating the gog version because it would actually run, and it runs quite very well (10-15 fps better than steam version). I appreciate that they won't be trying to figure out who I am and sue me now.

If only the game was better (at least longer), the story is to short for my tastes (even replaying for the other paths), especially at a $60 price. Very pretty though, and I love that they're not afraid to show off digital breasts, if only more devs didn't shy away from nudity.

666Satsuki:

90sgamer:
Actually, 'not contacting pirates' is self explanatory, and means they will not be contacting the people they've already identified.

Its called legal talk.

I'm not even sure what the debate is, exactly. I understand many people downloading games wouldn't pay for them regardless. What isn't debatable is that enjoying a software you didn't pay for, but are expected to pay for by the software owner, is morally wrong.

The debate was that they were threatening lawsuits to people that possibly downloaded their game illegally but they were not actually sure. This is because its impossible to nail somebody through an IP address. They also pursued it in a country where its not actually possible to prove yourself innocent.

Are you in the legal field?

People say if you remove DRM there will be less pirating. Witcher 2 has no DRM, it gets 4.5 million illegal downloads. They go after the pirates, "customers" don't like it.

So much more Pirate dick are they going to suck before they choke to death?

I know this is probably going to be an unpopular opinion here, but I think even fining legitimate pirates $1300 is absolutely ridiculous. You wouldn't get fined a 10th of that for shoplifting, yet if you stole a retail copy of it, you're depriving the developer of twice the money (your "potential sale", and the sale of the copy you stole). Most of the pirates are probably just kids who don't have anywhere near $1300.

newwiseman:
I bought the game from steam then ended up pirating the gog version because it would actually run, and it runs quite very well (10-15 fps better than steam version). I appreciate that they won't be trying to figure out who I am and sue me now.

If only the game was better (at least longer), the story is to short for my tastes (even replaying for the other paths), especially at a $60 price. Very pretty though, and I love that they're not afraid to show off digital breasts, if only more devs didn't shy away from nudity.

Well, I kinda prefer not having to hide in the bedroom when playing a video game for fear that my kids will walk in on the digital nudity. I think nudity is fine but give us parents the option to turn it off. It can't be that difficult to implement.

The Plunk:
I know this is probably going to be an unpopular opinion here, but I think even fining legitimate pirates $1300 is absolutely ridiculous. You wouldn't get fined a 10th of that for shoplifting, yet if you stole a retail copy of it, you're depriving the developer of twice the money (your "potential sale", and the sale of the copy you stole). Most of the pirates are probably just kids who don't have anywhere near $1300.

Well, the potential sale and the stolen copy are one in the same. If you had bought that copy instead of stealing it, no one else could buy it so it's still just one lost sale. Yeah though, fining people $1300 is ridiculous.

Why people have concerns about "going after pirates" so much? If you are a legit customer, why are you stand against "going after pirates"?

snfonseka:
Why people have concerns about "going after pirates" so much? If you are a legit customer, why are you stand against "going after pirates"?

Because the tactics used, as I explained above, aren't 100% foolproof. The exact same tactic has been tried in the past. You can't identify who was using the computer or the IP address, which is kinda important if you want to sue somebody for damages. It has been used before and settlement letters (Which read like legalised extortion) have been sent to networked printers, dead people and people who have never owned a computer.
At best, getting the IP address is the START of an investigation, if you're looking to sue somebody. It is not the end point. Sending a settlement letter with your only evidence being the IP address is the digital equivalent of receiving a letter saying you're being sued for damages because your red Ford car with licence plate registered in 2007 was involved in a malicious damage on property: that example doesn't 100% identify that the car in question was your car, or that you were the one driving it. It's a vague description and should be a starting point in investigation, where the guy suing should be trying to narrow down the possible suspects from all those who have red Ford cards registered in 2007.

And besides, legit customers can infringe copyright too. I've bought and paid for, with money, dozens of games...yet I've also gone on to download them through torrents or cyberlockers. For example, I torrented Dragon Age Origins when it first came out; then I bought it when the expansion Awakening was released and later on torrented it AGAIN, simply to remove the DRM. Which is one of the reasons CD Projekt RED drew all kinds of bad press when they originally announced their plans of suing the infringers: they have no way of knowing beforehand if they were going to target someone who had actually BOUGHT the game.
Think about it. How would you feel if, after buying the game and supporting the company, they were to turn around and slap you with a lawsuit based on very shaky evidence? It would piss you off, that's how it would make you feel, and want to stop buying this company's products.

[quote] if you had bought that copy instead of stealing it, no one else could buy it [/quoute]
Do you seriously believe that if I download a copy of a game, it means that no-one else can physically pay for it? It's conflating digital with the real world all over again - I've explained dozens of times that downloading a game DOES NOT remove a copy from store shelves or from the website. It COPIES it.

Rationalization:
People say if you remove DRM there will be less pirating. Witcher 2 has no DRM, it gets 4.5 million illegal downloads. They go after the pirates, "customers" don't like it.

As if DRM matters to pirates, it gets cracked at the release date or a few days later, it only annoys people who actually buy the games and have to deal with it.

 

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