ACS:Law Continues To Screw Up In Court; Judge Not Happy

from the comedy-of-errors dept

Watching ACS:Law continue to struggle to figure out how the law actually seems to work in the UK is becoming an amusing pastime. The firm, which was one of the earlier "pay up or we'll sue" mass copyright infringement houses, had (for years) avoided actually taking anyone to court, but tried and failed to do just that late last year. TorrentFreak has been covering the details of how this comedy of errors involving ACS:Law and its partners went down, that appears to involve mistake after mistake after mistake, which left the judge claiming he was "astonished" at ACS:Law's "unprecedented" claims, and may leave ACS:Law facing champerty charges at a later date.

Here's just a snippet (yes, there's actually more) of what went down:
Late last week, ACS:Law business partner MediaCAT, the middle-man company who claim to have rights over dozens of movies, tried to pull the rug from under yesterday's proceedings. Last Thursday, with only a single working day left to go, it wrote to the 27 file-sharing defendants informing them it would discontinue the cases against them.

The defendants, some of them prepared to head off to court on Monday, reasonably thought their case was now over and that they did not have to attend. However, thanks again to ACS:Law's apparent misreading of the law, MediaCAT were actually not authorized to drop the claims without the courtís permission.

The problem lies in the strange fact that MediaCAT aren't the copyright holders of the works they are using to extract payments out of file-sharers. Another company, the David Sullivan-owned Sheptonhurst Ltd is believed to be, but even that is yet to be proven.

[...]

Another allegation was levelled at Crossley in court by defense lawyers, one which raised eyebrows with Judge Birss QC. With reference to the earlier Solicitors Regulatory Authority investigation into his affairs, it was alleged that Andrew Crossley is "involved in a champertous agreement" in breach of the solicitorsí code of conduct.

The actual agreement between MediaCAT and Sheptonhurst was produced which showed, to the apparent surprise of the Judge, that ACS:Law is contracted to take 65% of the revenue and that rights to the movies in question had been allocated purely to prosecute and that no exploitable rights had been transferred.
If you want to read even more gory details, go check out the full TorrentFreak story. That said, it's somewhat amazing how ill-prepared ACS:Law and its various partners appear to have been before going into court. It certainly lends more credibility to the idea that the operation was built on the plan of never, ever setting foot in court.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Jan 18th, 2011 @ 10:25pm

    If only the US could have more patents and copyrights, the world would be a better place!

    Look how it's turned out for the UK. It's a regular smorgasboard of innovative activity!

    Thanks ACS:Law!

     

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    identicon
    Mr Big Content, Jan 18th, 2011 @ 11:38pm

    Persecution of Intellectual Property Enforcers

    Itís despicable to see ACS:Law treated in such a shabby fashion. Arenít they lawyers, who are sworn to uphold the law? The judge should be replaced with someone who has more experience in the content industries, then they will have a better understanding of the issues at stake here.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 12:14am

      Re: Persecution of Intellectual Property Enforcers

      Arenít they lawyers, who are sworn to uphold the law?

      I thought that was Judge Dredd?

       

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      The eejit (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 2:04am

      Re: Persecution of Intellectual Property Enforcers

      Awesome sarcasm there! Thumbs up!

       

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        Call me Al, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 4:27am

        Re: Re: Persecution of Intellectual Property Enforcers

        Assuming, of course, that it was sarcasm. Please god let it be sarcasm.

        As for the story itself, and Torrentfreak's write up, this is such an incredible mess. It seems clear that ACS:Law never expected to have to actually go to court and so are woefully under-prepared for it. However you would have thought that they would at least be able to get themselves organised by the court date.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 2:17am

    On the bright side that firm at least is not calling for harsher new laws that apply only to them and nobody else.

    Anyways who cares, they can pass all the laws they want and things will not improve until they improve their attitude towards their customers.

     

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    GunsDontKillPeopleRabbitsDo, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 5:21am

    Tidbit

    Just another tidbit that followers of this story might be interested in:

    http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/364501/acs-law-quietly-collects-file-sharing-fines

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 5:23am

    If you want to read even more gory details, go check out the full TorrentFreak story.

    mmm yeah, well of course if you want a slightly reworded take on the same freetard version of things, please do go visit Torrent Freak.

    In the meantime, for those that live in the real world, is there a link to an actual news item, written by a REAL journalist, not a piracy apologizing zealot?

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 5:39am

      Re:

      So says the iptard.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 5:44am

      Re:

      In the meantime, for those that live in the iptard world and are incapable of using Google, or following reality: http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&biw=1272&bih=482&q=acs%3Alaw&um=1&ie=UTF-8& amp;tbo=u&tbs=nws:1&source=og&sa=N&tab=wn

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 5:56am

      Re:

      Real journalists? Like Fox News, I assume.

       

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      The eejit (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 6:10am

      Re:

      TorrentFreak isn't a piracy apologist at all. IN fact, very much like TD, they are vehemently anti-piracy. They are, however, against stupidity in combatting piracy.

       

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      The eejit (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 6:19am

      Re:

      The company (GCB Limited) isn't registered at all for that purpose - it's a Railway company, according to Companies House. This is a direct violation of the Business Charter, that all businesses MUST sign up to within 90 calendar days of starting for the correct area of business.

      This just gets better and better. David Fisher, is no longer the director, according to Companies House, and hasn't been for some time. That's a big legal no-no.

      Piracy apologist? No thanks, I'll take Truth-Seeker any day.

       

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        Mr Claypole (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 6:59am

        Re: Re:

        "This is a direct violation of the Business Charter, that all businesses MUST sign up to within 90 calendar days of starting for the correct area of business. "

        'Nature of business' in the companies house info simply refers to the _primary_ business activity of the company - the company is free to pursue other business interests (including extortion), without declaring it in their Annual Return each year. SIC codes are typically used for statistical purposes only.

        It is not a requirement to complete the SIC code for all activities you engage in. Nor is it a requirement to complete it when setting up a company, this form entry is frequently left blank when forming a company.

        What is this Business Charter you refer to?

        I also believe that there is no SIC code for 'extortion' or 'speculative invoicing'...

        Clearly there are many issues with this company, however, focussing on an incorrect SIC code isn't really one of them. It's a bit like everyone getting all OTT about their address being that of their accountant, when in reality it is very common practice for an accountant to offer 'registered office' services for their clients, it indicates nothing dodgy whatsoever from the accountant's POV.

        I've been following the slyck forum discussion about this, and unfortunately there's a lot of mis-information and ludicrous conspiracy theories being spouted. Thankfully, there's forum member Mullard47, who seems to be a very intelligent person with a healthy knowledge of IP law to keep it all together.

        The main problem I have with all this case will collapse due to legal technicalities and sloppy practices, rather than addressing the current legal grey area of speculative invoicing, which is all about income generation and intimidation, and nothing about stopping copyright infringement.

         

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          The eejit (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 10:38am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It's not just that; it's that the MD of the company being blamed for this has registered being the Managing Director and has been barred from trading previously by Companies House.

          I don't know about you, but that seems pretty serious to me.

           

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            Mr Claypole (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 3:43am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I agree, the entire situation is serious, and clearly something suspicious happened with GCB LTD, most likely to enable someone to hide their identity.

            But too many people are talking about stuff that is quite frankly irrelevant. An incorrect SIC code is meaningless - the company was set up years ago, which is when the SIC code was most likely set up as relevant at the time. To my knowledge, there is no legal requirement to update SIC code.

            Again, what is this 'Business Charter' you refer to, with this 90 days limit? That just sounds made up. Companies have to adhere to the 'Companies Act'.

            I'm in no way trying to defend any of this, I'm well and truly appalled by the entire ASC Law/Media CAT scummy fiasco from start to finish, but people on forums seem to be just making stuff up now, and then too many people assume its fact.

            You say their director is barred from trading? I assume you mean the director has been barred from being a director of any company - can you provide a URL where this has been discussed? If this is true, then that IS something Companies House will want to know about ASAP.

             

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 6:36am

      Re:

      "REAL" is insider industry code for "paid and bought to trot out the corporate lies.

      Yes, there are ton's of 'REAL' journalists. I believe you refer to them as the RIAA/MPAA, no?

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 5:44am

    Word of the day: champerty. Look out, Scrabble opponents.

     

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    iamtheky (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 6:43am

    "may leave ACS:Law facing champerty charges at a later date."

    Isn't being contracted at a percentage of the revenue (damages) the exact definition of a champertous agreement in England?

    They should bring their wares stateside where those kinds of agreements are broadly smiled upon.

     

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    crade (profile), Jan 19th, 2011 @ 7:31am

    What I wonder is what happens to all the settlement money they obtained in the past once it is clear they had no right to sue anyone? Or can anyone send out these settlement letters as long as they never get called on it?

     

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    Igor Mozolevsky (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 2:47pm

    Costs

    I hope some of the defendants (who actually spend money on those proceedings) are now preparing their costs bills, per CPR 38.6(1) (http://www.justice.gov.uk/civil/procrules_fin/contents/parts/part38.htm)

     

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      Igor Mozolevsky (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 3:35pm

      Re: Costs

      actually, CPR 38.6(1) applies only if they did actually discontinue the claim, but there's probably a whole raft of other cost cures

       

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