Many Innocent Users Sent Pre-Settlement Letters Demanding Payment For Infringement

from the borderline-extortion dept

We've already discussed how operations like DigiProtect and ACS:Law are operating a rather questionable business of purposely putting content online, tracking the IP addresses of anyone who downloads that content, and then sending letters demanding payment to avoid a lawsuit. While it's not clear if any of these lawsuits are ever filed, many people are frightened into just paying up, even if they've done nothing wrong. And, in fact, it appears that many innocent users are receiving these letters, in such a blanket campaign. While some may call it "collateral damage" if a small percentage of innocent people receive these letters, it's still quite problematic, and a highly questionable business practice.

Filed Under: copyright infringement, innocent, pre-settlement letters, uk
Companies: acs:law

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  1. icon
    Duke (PPUK) (profile), 28 Jan 2010 @ 3:22pm

    Quotes from the Lords

    As has been mentioned elsewhere recently, the topic of ACS:Law (and their predecessors) has been brought up in the various debates in the House of Lords over the Digital Economy Bill. Phrases such as "legal blackmail", "bullying", "irresponsible", "relentless" and "disreputable" were brought up. It was also noted that the "allegations are based on very secretive processes carried out under no known protocol and of uncertain legality".

    For those interested, complete transcripts of the debates can be found here[].

    It is also worth noting that, to my knowledge, none of these cases (including the ones from 2007-08) went to a full trial - all those that were contested were dropped. Apparently ACS:Law has only one registered solicited (the AC part of the name) who was "convicted by the SRA for conduct unbefitting a solicitor in 2006". The SRA have also confirmed that they've launched an investigation into the company more recently (November).

    Just to make things even worse, it has been suggested that before taking the ISPs to court to obtain subscribers' details (which enable them to send threatening letters) they contacted the ISPs to see if they would contest the case and then avoided proceedings against any that would (hence it seems that only customers of BT and Virgin Media are receiving letters).

    I would like to second the recommendation to those affected to investigate They have a very informative FAQ section on the topic (although it should not be taken as a replacement for professional legal advice).

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