ACS:Law's Epic Failure In Trying To Take File Sharing Cases To Court

from the impressively-bad dept

One of the key jokes concerning ACS:Law, the shakedown legal outfit in the UK which sends "pay up or we'll sue" letters to those it claims infringed on one of its clients' copyrights, is that it's never actually taken anyone to court. Apparently, the firm thought it was finally time to fix that -- and tried to carefully pick defendants who simply wouldn't respond, in the hopes of getting an easy default judgment, which it could then tout as proof that it would take people to court -- and that people would be found guilty. Unfortunately, it appears that just about everything in that plan failed. First of all, ACS:Law brought the suit with a front company, Media C.A.T, rather than with the actual copyright holder. You can't do that. On top of that, the judge found all sorts of problems with the cases, including the fact that it wasn't clear all the defendants were actually served and notified of the lawsuit. But the key part, was that the judge slammed ACS:Law for lying and claiming that simply letting others use your network connection to infringe is restricted. The judge said that's not what the law says:
"The plea that 'allowing' others to infringe is itself an act restricted by s16 (1)(a) and 17 of the 1988 Act is simply wrong," noted Judge Birss. "The term used by those sections of the Act is 'authorising' and the difference may be very important if the allegation is about unauthorised use of an internet router by third parties."

Judge Birss later noted: "A key part of the plea of infringement rests on an assertion [by ACS:Law] that 'allowing' others to infringe is itself an infringing act, when it is not."
Another amusing bit is that the judge noted how odd it was that in the requested injunctions with the lawsuits, the injunction was not to have the individuals stop infringing on those copyrights -- which is the standard request. Of course, that seems to be a rather straightforward admission that ACS:Law isn't trying to reduce infringement at all. Either way, the judge rejected all of the requests for default judgment. This is pretty stunning, because getting default judgments often seems like it's only a formality. And ACS:Law couldn't even do that right...

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    btrussell (profile), Dec 10th, 2010 @ 2:26am

    "ACS:Law brought the suit with a front company, Media C.A.T, rather than with the actual copyright holder."

    They should be charged with fraud and extortion as well as being barred from ever practicing law.

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

  2. identicon
    Geek Hillbilly, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 2:36am

    Another RIAA & MPAA tactic that failed.Finally a judge realized that the media companies ,thru their legal lackeys,have been up to fraud all along.

    The Media companies will have to realize that treating their customers like criminals by default has backfired.

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

  3. icon
    Darren (profile), Dec 10th, 2010 @ 2:44am

    Legal precendent

    @btrussell - we can only hope, though I doubt it.

    Hopefully, though, this trend of trolling firms getting their legal comeuppance continues, and those who receive notices learn that making the process as difficult as possible is in their best interests, and settling up is decidedly not.

    Granted, were I threatened with a million-dollar lawsuit, I might sing a different tune, but I'd like to think I would - at the least - draw out the process using free-to-me legal means such as motion to dismiss, etc.

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

  4. icon
    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Dec 10th, 2010 @ 6:44am

    Their lawyers should all die in a fire

    Actually, that's too kind. They need to die on fire while drowning in a cesspool. Surely that's within the realm of possibility. Even that is too compassionate, but you have to start somewhere.

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

  5. icon
    btr1701 (profile), Dec 10th, 2010 @ 7:58am


    ...obviously we need better judges. Ones who recognize their proper role in this process.

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 9:02am

    This could be an important tidbit, with regards to letting someone else on your network; given some efforts that would make running an open WiFi network from your home illegal.

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

  7. icon
    harbingerofdoom (profile), Dec 10th, 2010 @ 9:39am

    Re: Damn...

    im not quite clear... are you saying this judge has overstepped his bounds in this or that other judges need to get more in line with what happened here?

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2011 @ 9:51am

    If someone tells me a joke and I put it on the internet to some of my friends how am I supposed to know that it is copyrighted and that I am infringing on someones joke. Am I liable to someone for not knowing or being aware of this infringement?

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

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