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,
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.