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...