100 Brits taken to court by American publisher

Topware Interactive, the US firm behind the game Dream Pinball 3D, is taking 100 British people to court for uploading its game to file sharing sites.

It is thought to be the biggest action against gamers who use peer-to-peer networks such as Limewire to date, but lawyers warn there is more to come be more to come.

In fact, lawyers working on behalf of the gaming industry have said there will be thousands more cases like this before the year is up.

The man in charge of the case for Topware Interactive is David Gore from Uk law firm Davenport Lyons. he 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."

Four of the file sharers have already been ordered by the Central London County Court to pay £750 in damages, but this figure could rise to £3,500 once costs are accounted for.

To track down the file-sharing crooks, Davenport Lyons is using tracking technology developed by a Swiss company called Logistep. This will collect evidence such as the individual IP address of computers involved in file transfers.

This is then compared to a list of physical addresses held by the broadband companies the IP address is assigned to.

Davenport Lyons says a recent High Court victory will force 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."

You've been told - keep it legal kids.