More than a year after announcing its legal assault against pirates of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, developer CD Projekt Red is rethinking its approach. In November 2010, the studio said it was prepared to track and threaten folks allegedly caught torrenting The Witcher 2 using the all too familiar "pay-up-or-else" scheme. CD Projekt employed the unpopular tactic as recently as last month, when the company claimed it was "targeting only 100% confirmed" pirates -- an improbability, if not impossibility.
Here's a crash course on the process if you're unfamiliar: like the US Copyright Group and others, CD Projekt (or a hired firm) collects IP addresses sharing its content via BitTorrent. It then strong-arms ISPs into revealing the accountholders behind said addresses so it can demand a sum of money from those individuals. In this case, CD Projekt reportedly sent thousands of letters requesting approximately $1,230. If the accused don't pay, they risk being sued for even more cash, scaring them into compliance.
CD Projekt Red released an open letter to the gaming community today apologizing for using the pay-up-or-else model. "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," wrote studio cofounder Marcin Iwinski. "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."
The company remains confident that no one has been wrongly accused, but it values its fans, supporters and community too highly to risk the possibility of even one individual being falsely charged. Iwinski proceeded to explain that, although his studio is staunchly opposed to piracy, it wants to maintain a positive relationship with its audience. Instead of demanding a thousand bucks from alleged pirates, the company hopes you'll help thwart illegal downloads by nagging your friends about their nasty habit.
"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."
The change of heart comes as it's increasingly unpopular to be associated with harsh anti-piracy measures, what with the proposal of SOPA, PIPA and other legislations worldwide -- not that CD Projekt's decision is definitely related, but it's certainly possible. Congressional discussions about SOPA are expected to resume on January 18 and rumors suggest industry titans such as Google, Amazon, eBay and Yahoo might protest the bill by halting their services. Reddit confirmed its blackout plans earlier this week.