ACS:Law Now Using Dubious Legal Theories To Threaten

from the keep-digging dept

Just last week, we were talking about how UK firm ACS:Law, who has been condemned by UK politicians and ISPs, was still pushing forward with its efforts to send out tens of thousands of threatening “pre-settlement” letters. These letters attempt to scare recipients into paying up to avoid a potential (though rarely filed) lawsuit claiming copyright infringement, based on quite weak evidence (an IP address collected by DigiProtect after DigiProtect purposely puts a file online). The whole thing has been called a “scam” by Lord Lucas in the UK, and lawyers at the firm that initiated this practice, Davenport Lyons (and who apparently provided ACS:Law with its original documents) were recently referred to a disciplinary committee by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority claim that it’s also investigating ACS:Law, and they may now have one more thing to investigate. It appears that ACS:Law’s latest move is to threaten the US-based blog with a defamation lawsuit, based on some of the comments in Slyck’s forums. For a variety of reasons, this threat was entirely groundless. First, it seems that the comments in question were joking statements of opinion, rather than actual libel — such as calling ACS:Law’s plan a “wank plan.” How is that libelous?

Second, of course, Slyck is based in New York, and is protected from defamation suits based on comments by its users thanks to Section 230 of the CDA. Furthermore, Slyck has even greater protections thanks to New York’s own anti-libel tourism statute, the Libel Terrorism Protection Act, which makes libel lawsuits in foreign countries against US journalists unenforceable. The good folks at the EFF have stepped up to support Slyck in responding to ACS:Law, and it appears that, for the time being, ACS:Law has gone quiet.

Of course, in theory, ACS:Law could push forward against Slyck anyway, and could potentially win in the UK. But given the mass scorn being heaped upon ACS:Law right now in the UK, combined with a recent push in the UK to rewrite defamation laws to prevent these sorts of questionable lawsuits, if ACS:Law does decide to push forward, it may find that the backlash is a lot more damaging than some anonymous person in a forum calling its plan a wank plan.

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Companies: acs:law, slyck

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Comments on “ACS:Law Now Using Dubious Legal Theories To Threaten”

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Anonymous Coward says:

location, location, location

It only makes sense to sue someone for libel if you can subsequently enforce the action. It is difficult to see how a UK based firm can bring a UK case against a US based company that has no presence in the UK. As a civil case, there is no prospect of extradition or similar. It is also unlikely that any people travelling to the UK would be picked up and arrested. I don’t think that happens for libel.

ethorad (profile) says:

lost in translation

I’m guessing the different meanings of the word wank could be causing problems. In the US, I think the term wank can be taken to mean mildly derogatory managementspeak. Here in the UK however it always refers to something rather different.

Of course, given the general reprehensibility of ACS:Law’s bullying I wouldn’t be suprised if it was intended to be the “UK meaning” if you will.

Anonymous Coward says:

I also received a letter from ACS:Law over alleged filesharing. By taking advice and other’s help and posts from the slyck forums, I wrote a letter, citing that they had no case in relation to the CDPA 1996 (a UK copyright act), and also that if any further discourse was entered into I would enter a counter-claim (as a layperson in the UK you are entitled to) for my time- 50 GBP per correspondence. This was 18 months ago. I havent heard a peep from these crooks since ha!

Flakey says:


Over at Torrentfreak, they are reporting on the same incident and referring back to Slyck. I went to Slyck earlier where all documents involved in this are downloadable (I would imagine much to the dismay of ACS:Law).

At Torrentfreak to assist in the Streisand Effect, someone there is compiling a torrent of all this to feed out on the torrent sites. This is sure, if it is picked up by the torrent community, to bring the Streisand Effect into full bloom. The only question is, will the torrent community be enraged enough to follow through with a net-roots type response?

You will pardon that I have not supplied links to the above mentioned sites. They are popular enough to be readily found if you are seeking them through simple search.

ACS:Law has become the synonym for sleezy law practices. Davenport/Lyons who originally was doing them appears to have set up ACS:Law to continue with what is evidently a lucrative practice with hopes of shedding the bad PR that comes with it. According to the Slyck article, some of Davenport/Lyons employees have been seen in court at ACS:Law cases so the tie is there and strongly.

It is practices like this that forward the lawyer jokes with evil malice among the public.

Christopher says:

This is not surprising in the slightest

Most of these cases are the epitome of attempted legal blackmail, because to defend against one of these cases costs nearly 10 times what these people are asking for.

We really need to have the maximum judgment for one of these cases down to where someone can challenge it without it bankrupting them or costing them more than just settling the case, both in the UK and the US.

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