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The Almighty Buck The Courts United Kingdom

UK Anti-Piracy Firm E-mails Reveal Cavalier Attitude Toward Legal Threats 200

Posted by timothy
from the who-would-have-thought dept.
Khyber writes "A recent DDoS attack against a UK-based anti-pirating firm, ACS:Law, has resulted in a large backup archive of the server contents being made available for download, [and this archive] is now being hosted by the Pirate Bay. Within this archive are e-mails from Andrew Crossley basically admitting that he is running a scam job, sending out thousands of frivolous legal threats on the premise that a percentage pay up immediately to avoid legal hassles."
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UK Anti-Piracy Firm E-mails Reveal Cavalier Attitude Toward Legal Threats

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  • As many suspected. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @08:29AM (#33696062)
    I think many people have long suspected that firms like this were running a 'threaten first, confirm later' policy. After all, there is no penalty for ACS:Law if they mistakenly threaten a non-infringer, so what incentive is there for them to be accurate?

    The submission is a little inaccurate. Crossley didn't admit, even implicitly, to deliberatly running a scam. What he has admitted is that the data upon which ACS sends out it's threatening letters is of poor quality and riddled with inaccuracies so severe even the clients are complaining - but even though he knows that many of those he accuses are innocent, he threatens them anyway because it's faster and cheaper than producing accurate data. Instead, ACS just threatens to sue anyone who criticises this practice for libel. I imagine that works very well, given that the UK arrangement of libel law is quite infamously written in favor of the plaintiff.

  • Re:Pointless. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 25, 2010 @08:34AM (#33696084)

    This evidence was obtained illegally, however it's enough that it could start an investigation where they could then gain the same, or more evidence via legal means (seized computers, lawful investigation with write blockers)

  • Common strategy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Andy Smith (55346) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @08:35AM (#33696088) Homepage

    It's the same strategy used by police and councils, sending out fines with threats of prosecution for minor motoring offences. Realistically the case is unlikely to go to court, but people pay up anyway because: (1) they want to avoid the months of worry, waiting to find out if they are taken to court or not; (2) often the case would be heard hundred of miles from their home and, even if they win, they can't recover their travel / accommodation expenses; and (3) the court system is notoriously biased against the motorist and appeals are expensive and complicated.

    This isn't as off-topic as you may think. People have been convinced by government / police campaigns that paying the fine is "the done thing". For example, someone driving at 67mph in a 60mph zone may be faced with a £30 fine, but if they let it go to court they risk getting 6 points on their license (halfway to losing it!) and a fine in the thousands.

    This is what the copyright enforcement industry is now trying to achieve: A form of "justice" based on fear. Not fear of a fair punishment for a genuine offence, but fear of being put in to a situation where right or wrong, win or lose, people suffer significant financial loss and a great deal of worry.

  • Re:Wow. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by poly_pusher (1004145) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @08:37AM (#33696108)
    Whether anyone is surprised doesn't really matter. What matters is that this is proof of their intentions and motivations. Unfortunately information obtained through this manner can not be used in a legal setting. However, now that there are documents clearly showing intent and that there is a story making the rounds, hopefully a few more people won't cave to this kind of extortion and public outrage over these practices can continue to build.
  • Not pointless (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 25, 2010 @08:37AM (#33696114)

    In what dream world would there ever have been a case against him to begin with? "oh noes, it's rendered inadmissable". Wake up from your fantasy, it's this or it'd never even surface AT ALL.

    No, it's a safe bet that destroying his business and his name IS in fact the winning move. As can be seen, he was already being doubted by his clients ("rights holders"), this will likely mean he's dropped like a hot potato. No clients, no income, no income no "Lambo".

    Not saying it'll really change anything, but at least one more Douche [youtube.com] is getting what he so justly deserves.

  • by Stu101 (1031686) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @09:10AM (#33696244) Homepage

    Just a thought, and I am not really too up on it, but by allowing peoples details to be leaked, including address, phone number, account numbers etc isn't this company negligent in its duty to keep such information confidential.

    If I was an "Infringer" I would be asking how much for ME to go away after you really screwed up by not even having rudimentary security in place as is required by the DPA and peoples details downloadable my poor data hygiene.

  • Re:Common strategy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Andy Smith (55346) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @09:12AM (#33696246) Homepage

    If governments want to pass some laws they should be passing them against people like this

    Aside from being hypocritical, it would be self-damaging for any government to pass laws against this type of scam, because it's exactly this type of scam that governments use as a source of income.

    As governments lower taxes to gain popularity and/or win votes, they increasingly criminalise every aspect of our lives so they can fine us.

    Have you noticed that nearly every new offence is punishable by a fine, not jail time?

  • Re:Common strategy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @09:44AM (#33696388)
    The jails are getting full. They've reached the point in both the US and UK where rehabilitation is being ignored in the desperate attempt to just cram everyone into the limited space somehow.
  • Re:Wow. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tomhudson (43916) <barbara@hudson.barbara-hudson@com> on Saturday September 25, 2010 @09:50AM (#33696416) Journal
    All that's irrelevant. They made a specific claim - that they had "forensic evidence" - and they don't. A letter from British Telecom saying that IP address W.X.Y.Z was used at such and such a time and date is not forensic evidence. There's no scientific testing involved.
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @10:14AM (#33696532) Journal
    Actually, people didn't decide the old way was better. The old way was an absolute monarchy, while the post-restoration monarchy was severely limited by parliament. People really decided that, having set the precedent that you were allowed to behead bad kings, having a king was better than having a Lord Protector with no such precedent.
  • by Late Adopter (1492849) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @12:50PM (#33697368)
    The difference is that people are supposed to be able to trust the legal system. "Be prosecuted" shouldn't be a threat if you're innocent, and the fact that it is is a huge damnation of our system.
  • by Spad (470073) <slashdot@@@spad...co...uk> on Saturday September 25, 2010 @02:29PM (#33697838) Homepage

    It's because they've both publicly stated that they will challenge requests for subscriber information that don't come complete with a court order - see this Torrentfreak article [torrentfreak.com] from a few days ago.

    "While we all know that an ISP must comply with a court order once it’s issued, Plusnet and virtually every other ISP in the UK are giving the likes of Gallant Macmillan and ACS:Law a free ride by agreeing not to contest in advance."

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