P2P Pre-Settlement Letters In Germany May Have Been Illegal; Lawyer Who Reveals This Threatened With Lawsuit

from the extortion-or-not... dept

There have been plenty of legal questions over the activities of a small group of companies in Europe, including law firm Davenport Lyons, ACS:Law, Logistep and Digiprotect among others -- who all seem to work together to purposely put files online that they have licensed, and then send threat letters to the owner of any IP address that connects to them. This leads to a fair number of totally bogus demands for people to pay up to avoid getting sued. Apparently, the business is quite profitable, even as no actual lawsuits have been filed.

Yet, now reader Dan alerts us to the news that, at least in Germany, the pre-settlement letters and relationships between these companies may be entirely illegal. This was discovered due to a recently leaked document -- the one that showed how profitable all this was -- which also noted that the relationships between the various companies were not based on any direct monetary exchange:
The document states that "the whole project is kind of a joint venture where no party charges the other party with any costs." The problem with such a set-up is that the pre-settlement offers are usually based on costs incurred by retaining a law office to pursue the claim. File sharers are asked to pay 450 bucks for a porn movie because it costs money to investigate their IP address and send them the cease and desist letter.

However, German law specifically states that these costs can't be based on the success of the claim. In other words: In order to invoice file sharers for lawyer fees, these fees have to occur and be paid by someone no matter whether a file sharer pays up or not. Invoicing someone for costs that haven't actually occurred could be seen as fraud.
Oops. After a German lawyer, Thomas Stadler, reviewed all this and posted his analysis saying that the efforts in Germany were clearly illegal under German law (Google translation from the original) , the German lawyer who had sent the original document (the leaked one, detailing how these operations worked), Udo Kornmeier sent him a cease-and-desist letter (again, Google translation from the original), demanding he take down his blog post that showed the whole operation was illegal. Apparently, lawyers who may be breaking the law in Germany don't like other lawyers exposing them...

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Poster, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 1:42am

    Awwwww, look, somebody doesn't wanna take their spanking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Jaws4theRevenge, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 1:47am

    Let me get this straight...

    His company is doing something that is probably illegal so he's threatening to sue another lawyer who exposed this. That doesn't seem like a smart move...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    more proof they are predators themselved, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 2:00am

    more proof they are predators themselves

    lawyers nto knowing what the law was , YEA RIGHT
    that should get them disabarred form practicing in that country at min and criminals charges for a breech of public trust at worst. Its liek a fireman knowing during an inspection that somethng has a real bad risk of causing a fire and he knowingly does nothing.

    OR a police officer not doing his job
    imagine if we all acted the way the copyright industry does OMG
    look at greece cause thats were its heading folks

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Tor (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 2:04am

    Streisand effect

    Minimizing publicity doesn't seem to be their strong side.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    martin, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 4:55am

    He didn't send a cease-and-desist for posting the stuff online, but apparently for saying that this might be fraud.

    Demanding Money from a defendant is only valid in Germany when the costs will be paid by the plaintiff. The company disputes therefore that they demanded money, but instead say they just told the defendant that in a trial, the amount of money would have to be paid.

    Sources: (in german, babelfish yourselves :))
    http://www.heise.de/tp/r4/ar tikel/31/31610/1.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Vinny, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 5:16am


    Say ... nice store you have here.
    Would be a shame if anything were to happen to it. I could sell you an insurance policy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Reverend Dak (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 12:36pm

    Sounds like Blackmail to me, isn't _that_ illegal?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Matt (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 12:59pm


    My German is rusty, and was never very good. But it is customary for lawyers to advise potential adversaries that their clients are prepared to sue, anticipate doing so, and anticipate that there will be costs associated with doing so that will be born by the other side. It is typical to also state that they would be willing to settle for the costs of such a suit and a cessation of the objectionable conduct. That is decidedly different from saying "we have already incurred $x in attorney fees that you will have to pay if we go to court."

    I can't tell which of these is going on, here. If the former, then the blog post was probably libelous. If the latter, then the C&D compounds the problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    The Mad Hatter (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 9:47pm

    Hehe - guess they've got publicity now!

    I agree with Tor - the Streisand effect will do more to them now, than if they'd just ignored the blog posting. With this much publicity I suspect that their cash cow is going to turn into a dead skunk.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Sue (profile), Dec 8th, 2009 @ 4:58am

    Good to read this - I have had 2 letters and sent them back 2 of my own. Heard nothing for 3 months now. Keep hoping ACS:Law will leave me alone being innocent of any P2P filesharing; I have never heard of Scooter (oops) being a menatalist radiohead obsessive and they don't care who downloads their music!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    KK, Oct 5th, 2010 @ 8:32am

    Re: Lawyer scams


    I just read your post from last year regarding the 2 letters you for for illegal file sharing.

    I just received 3 letters and am unsure what to do. Can you tell me what you wrote in your letters and whether the law firms responded to you?

    Thank you,

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Josh, Oct 14th, 2010 @ 9:09am


    Buy Viagra I think you've enough talent to post this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    adult services, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 2:45pm

    Wow that is some interesting P2P news. Thanks for posting it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    getting laid, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 2:08pm

    Great post. Thanks for keeping us all updated.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    fap turbo, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 4:29am

    wow great i have read many articles about this topic and everytime i learn something new i dont think it will ever stop always new info , Thanks for all of your hard work!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Flood damage Butler PA, Feb 10th, 2012 @ 3:06am

    I never hear this guy but I really wonder why he dress like that, it's like a some kind of religion or something else...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Board ups Joliet IL, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 8:01pm

    The ratings firm, which raised its issuer default rating by a notch to A-minus, also said the rating considers Home Depot's leading position in the home improvement retail sector and the challenges posed by the difficult housing market and high unemployment.

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