UK Lawyers Who Originated 'Pay Up Or We'll Sue' Knew They Were Threatening Innocents

from the how-else-does-extortion-work? dept

Earlier this year, we noted that Davenport Lyons, the UK law firm, that really spearheaded the whole mass automated “pay up or we’ll sue you for copyright infringement” business, before handing it off to ACS:Law was being investigated by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, a part of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and the latest news says that the SRA is claiming that the two Davenport Lyons lawyers who were involved knew that they were threatening some innocent people, since the IP address data they had was not nearly specific enough to identify actual downloaders. Not surprisingly, the SRA doesn’t look too kindly on lawyers doing things that involve threatening innocent people.

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Companies: davenport lyons

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Comments on “UK Lawyers Who Originated 'Pay Up Or We'll Sue' Knew They Were Threatening Innocents”

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darryl says:

Know the law much Mike ?? ?

Mike is this another one of your classic examples of you’re total lack of understanding of the law ?

Yes Mike they are innocent, THEY ALL FREAKING ARE INNOCENT, until proven guilty (or innocent) by a court of law.

If you sue somene you are guessing they are guilty, and are willing to try to prove it in court, assuming you have a strong enough case.

But it is not the lawyers who decide on guilt or innocence before the issuing of law suits, or charges.

Isnt the ‘presumption of innocence’ a part of that great constitution you keep degrading ?

If you pulled over for a car search, it is done on the basis of probable cause, not on the basis of guilt.

You will not be arrested and charged until the enquiry, or investigation determines your guilt or otherwise.

Why am I trying to teach mike about US law ?? oh thats right… I remember now..

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Re: Know the law much Mike ?? ?

Nice rant Darryl.

Did you notice that during the course of your rant, you made Mike’s point?

It was your analogy about the car search. It seems these lawyers were sending out threatening notices WITHOUT probable cause to some people.

You were doing well on the semantics up until that point.

darryl says:

Re: Re: Know the law much Mike ?? ?

no they had all the probably cause they needed, read the original article, it is not about who is using your account, you are responsible for your account, when you got your account, you give your name and address, it is your account..

And if that IP address is connected to your account, and it is the same IP that is used to do something illegal. that is your responsibility..

And it clearly is probable cause, it is clear, and well defined that the particular IP address was used, it is easy to get that information, and it is easy to connect that IP to the user at the time..

That is probable cause, its far more probably cause than a cop looking at someone eyes and seeing he is on drugs, or could be on drugs.

But if you are using your mom’s internet accound to do illegal things, what do you expect is going to happen when the cops knock on the door..

Berenerd (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Know the law much Mike ?? ?

Actually, if you want to get it right, using your example, it would be like a police offer pulls you over because you are driving a red car with a dent in the fender. He then arrests you and puts you in jail. If you don’t plead guilty he then goes to see where the dent came from hoping that it was a hit and run accident.

In other words, they only did any real investigation if the person didn’t pay up. They had what looked like a possible “hit and run” based on extremely loose evidence and hoped the person just paid up not wanting to go through the cost of defending themselves.

Now Darryl, go back into your hole, you aren’t supposed to come out until February…

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Know the law much Mike ?? ?

Ok, I’ll chime in.

This is in the UK, so referring to the US constitution does not help your case much. However, let’s say it this were in the US – because I know more about US law.

Probable cause does not apply. These are civil cases and probable cause applies to government agencies applying for a warrant. So, ignore that for now.

Yes, they have an IP address and that can point to an account holder that may have committed civil infringement. They have a couple of problems that they would need to overcome in the US.

The first is precedents about an IP address alone not being enough for a preponderance of the evidence as guilt of the account holder committing the infringement. Case law is currently unclear on this issue, so in the US, they could skirt by saying they think it is enough evidence (I’m not sure in the UK).

The second problem they have is that (if I remember correctly) have actually made file available and then sued the people that downloaded them. In a criminal case, this would have been considered entrapment. In a civil case, this kind of action – when it includes a threat letter demanding money to avoid a lawsuit could constitute fraud in that they knew that they did not have a viable legal case and sent the settlement letter anyway. Sending a settlement letter with the knowledge that you cannot win a lawsuit is illegal in the US (again, not sure in the UK) and it is possible that the prosecutor believes he can prove they had knowledge that they had no case.

Cypheros says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Know the law much Mike ?? ?

“In a criminal case, this would have been considered entrapment.”

No, it wouldn’t. In the US [], in order for a situation to be entrapment, a government official/agency/etc. would have to INDUCE you to commit a blatantly illegal act.

From the above article:
However, there is no entrapment where a person is ready and willing to break the law and the government agents merely provide what appears to be a favorable opportunity for the person to commit the crime. For example, it is not entrapment for a government agent to pretend to be someone else and to offer, either directly or through an informant or other decoy, to engage in an unlawful transaction with the person (see sting operation).

Considering there is no government agency involved in “making the file available”, and because the case is civil (instead of criminal), Entrapment is not a viable defense.

Spaceboy says:

Re: Know the law much Mike ?? ?

So it’s okay to cast a net like this knowing that some innocent people will be caught up in it? These shysters need to have specific evidence that a specific person did these acts, and they don’t have that. All they have is an IP number.

As a result, someone that is completely innocent and has not done the acts they are accused of will have to defend themselves because ACS Law is incompetent.

Let’s say you drive a 2009 Silver Honda Accord, and let us also say that a bank robber used one in a getaway. Would it be fair for the police to round up all the 2009 Silver Honda Accord owners and prosecute them all? Of course not. The police would need to narrow the scope down a little more before zeroing in on a suspect, which is something ACS LAw isn’t doing.

They are shysters.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: Know the law much Mike ?? ?

So, if I were a barrister, and were to sue you, darryl on a claim that I pulled out of my ass, on the basis that I suspect you might in a tiny way be guilty of said claim, I should not be punished for this flagrant abuse of the law?

Indeed, if I were to by pulled over, for a car search, it wouldn’t incur any costs to me, except my time.

By suing someone you are incurring costs on that person, as well as tearing their lives upside down. They’d have to find a lawyer, and then pay his fees, in the hope that they win the trial and get their fees returned. Except that Big Media also has loads of money to pay for the Big Lawyers to help litigate.

See the difference?
Your example wouldn’t cost me money, if the police didn’t find anything.
The lawsuit that you put it against, would cost me money, and would amount to a fishing expedition (“we are sure you are guilty, it’s up to you to prove your innocence”)

Christopher (profile) says:

Maybe the United States courts will take notice of this and realize that an IP address for anything, from copyright infringement to even child porn trading, IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH! Seriously, someone could hack into your wireless network, secured or not. Someone could put a tap into your line and run a cable to their home (considering most people aren’t home 24/7, this is very possible).
Those are only two of the NUMEROUS alternative situations.

darryl says:

Re: Re:

ok if you tap a phone, and run a cable how are you going to gain their IP address ?

and if your negligence results in the committing of a crime you are equally liable for that crime.

and lets face facts here, the people who were caught out for downloading the files were the ones who downloaded the files. No question about it, and you really dont know what your talking about if you think otherwise..

There are no cases here cited that the wrong person was found just that the person downloading was not the account holder. Does not mean a crime still did not take place, and a crime did not take place at that location. Clearly it did..

For example, the lady who did not know his son was gay, is an example they were given. They guy downloaed the porn, and was guilty. and was found by nothing more than the IP address. (it works)..

But the account holder and the crime were two different people, does not make them all innocent..

except in mikes world…

Mr Claypole (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

the people who were caught out for downloading the files were the ones who downloaded the files. No question about it, and you really dont know what your talking about if you think otherwise..

Except these people are not being accused of ‘downloading’. They are being accused of ‘making the files available’, i.e. sharing them.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Darryl, you haven’t looked at all the possibilities here.
There are many technical mechanisms that might lead to the wrong IP address being identified, or even to the identification of a crime where no actual downloading took place.
You seem to believe that all the software and hardware involved (in the ISP’s systems, the ip identification systems used by the rightsholders and the wider internet) work perfectly all the time. One thing we know for certain is that they don’t.

The fact is that plenty of truly innocent people (ie people who have been accused where no-one in the household has done any piracy) have been accused.

It is also a fact that Davenport Lyon knew this from the very start and that their business model did not involve actually pursueing a prosecution or making a case, EVER.

They didn’t care if people were innocent – they only cared if people would pay up.

All this is more or less proven by this case

The moment Davenport Lyons were challenged they dropped the case like a stone and didn’t even defend a county court judgement against themselves. Seems like they knew they were guilty to me.

darryl says:

A "threat" by laywers A "Joke" to blow up an airport !!

the SRA doesn’t look too kindly on lawyers doing things that involve threatening innocent people.

So if you try to take legal action, by legal means it is a threat, but if you say you are going to blow up an airport it is not a threat but that is a joke !!.

Who is the real joke here ?

darryl says:

I've worked it out

I’ve worked it out, Mike wants no one to look for any crime, or illegal file sharers, because if no one looks for them, no one will find them.

And mike can get up and say as no one is found doing it, therefore it must not EVER happen.

But if people start to get charged for their illegal activities, and getting convicted of it, its much harder for mike to be in denial about it even existing in the first place.

Nice one mike.. good tactic.. nice deflection.. and deception…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I've worked it out

For a guy claiming to be and engineer you sure know nothing about networks 🙂

IP spoofing doesn’t exist then? Give your IP to angry people and see if you will not be included in a watch list for kiddy porn in minutes you dope. Please go to 4chan and keep bugging them to see what happens.

Wireshark doesn’t give anyone a picture of what happens on a network? (So anyone decent would have real proof of transactions made not just an IP number)

I dare you go to 4chan using your own IP and start bugging people there.

Your house will be the biggest receiver of kiddy porn in the universe in no time, then I hope you get jail time for things you didn’t do at all LoL

Mr Maguire (profile) says:


(For what it is worth) I am a UK lawyer.

Probable cause is not relevant in the UK. In any event Davenport Lyons (“DL”) are pursuing civil remedies.

The objections to the action taken by DL (and other firms who have subsequently followed this path) are as follows:-

1. The evidence they seek to rely on is questionable and has certainly not been tested;

2. The business model appears to be to frighten the recipients of the letters irrespective of proof; and

3. Claim a level of damages which bears no relationship to the actual loss which has been alleged.

Anonymous Coward says:

I want to see those law firms produce a “Wireshark” session to see if all those accused really were sending data to them, because P2P networks are notorious for spoofing IP addresses, I hope Darryl’s IP gets there too so he can pay those law firms for their superb job.

If they just got numbers from the cloud and have no trace of it, they are the ones being reckless and dishonest.

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