Activision Threatens Lawsuits, But Won’t Say Why


Activision has begun suing people for violating its copyrights, but unlike many of its fellows in the industry, it appears to be taking pains to keep its efforts quiet.

Edge Online made the initial report of a lawsuit against James Strickland, but according to GamePolitics there have been five other suits brought by Activision against individuals accused of copyright violation. While Call of Duty 3 appears to be a common link across all the suits, and is cited specifically in the Strickland case, Activision says other titles are also involved.

Interestingly, Activision’s lead attorney Karin Pagnanelli said the lawsuits weren’t brought as a result of file sharing, although she wouldn’t comment further, and the terms of the settled cases also prevent the individuals involved from discussing the matter. One of the defendants did agree to speak anonymously to GameCyte, but while he admitted that “There was some [wrongdoing],” he refused to offer further details. He also implied that he agreed to settle the case without being fully aware of just what it was Activision had on him. “They told us they had strong evidence, but they never showed it or proved they had it,” he said.

His apparent pliability in the face of vague threats seems particularly strange given the amounts involved in the settlements, which are far from just token sums: Three of the cases were settled for $100,000, one for $25,000 and one for $1000. The anonymous defendant also claimed that he was told the settlement amount would be even higher if he got his own lawyer, and of the five defendants who have settled their cases thus far, only one had legal representation – and his is one of the $100,000 deals.

Activision’s hardball approach in these cases isn’t entirely surprising: Pagnanelli has considerable experience with copyright violation lawsuits, and has previously represented the RIAA in cases worth “millions of dollars.” But it does leave open the question of what the company is actually trying to accomplish. One of the main purposes of such suits is to provide a deterrent to other potential pirates, yet Activision seems eager to keep the proceedings quiet. And if file sharing wasn’t the impetus for the actions, what was?

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