'Pre-Settlement' Shakedown By ACS:Law Doesn't Seem Quite So Profitable
from the perhaps-not-such-a-good-business dept
Since late last week, people have been submitting the news that ACS:Law’s email archives were revealed and spread widely across the internet late last week. Once again, I find this action somewhat troubling. Like the DDoS attacks that resulted in this leak, I do worry about the backlash that it creates, and I find it a bit shameful that people feel the need to stoop to dirty tricks to try to prove a point or make a statement. I’ve been debating whether it’s worth reporting about the leak at all, or any of what’s been found out, and I’ll certainly skip over the mundane or merely salacious bits. However, some of the information that’s being reported is important in understanding how these “pre-settlement or we’ll sue” businesses work, and that’s information worth sharing.
ACS:Law, of course, was one of the first, and certainly the most well-known, of the law firms practicing this form of “legal threats as a business model.” Since then, however, many other law firms (in Europe and the US) have jumped into the game with much fanfare. ACS:Law’s principle, Andrew Crossley, regularly bragged about how profitable his enterprise was, and that certainly was likely some of the thinking behind others trying to get in on the action. However, it appears that, from the data gleaned in the leaked emails, the effort really hasn’t been all that profitable.
TorrentFreak has a detailed breakdown showing not only what percentage of people actually responded or paid up to the threat letters, but also what the revenue splits were, and how much everyone made — covering a period of two years. The results are seen below:
|Client||Money Recovered||Paid to Client||Paid to monitoring company||Paid to Firm|
That said, it’s also worth pointing out that the biggest copycat firm in the US, which goes by the name US Copyright Group, appears to be sending out a much higher number of letters early on and is asking for noticeably higher fees to “settle,” though it’s also filing an actual lawsuit (which entails additional costs). ACS:Law, of course, is famous for sending out letters and never actually suing, which helps keep its costs lower.