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ACS: Law Withdraws Pursuing Illegal File-Sharers 105

Necroloth writes "As mentioned previously on Slashdot, ACS: Law has been sending out letters to thousands of alleged file-sharers on behalf on its client, MediaCAT. However, solicitor Andrew Crossley has now ceased all work on such cases, citing criminal attacks and death threats. Judge Birss doesn't seem to be taken by this, and comments, 'I am getting the impression with every twist and turn since I started looking at these cases that there is a desire to avoid any judicial scrutiny.' Judge Birss is expected to deliver his judgment on the case later in the week... perhaps all is not lost in the British judicial system."
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ACS: Law Withdraws Pursuing Illegal File-Sharers

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  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @12:49PM (#34995732) Homepage Journal

    A lawyer has dramatically withdrawn from pursuing alleged illegal file-sharers in the middle of a court case he brought.

    The patent court in London is currently scrutinising 26 cases brought by ACS: Law on behalf of its client MediaCAT.

    The law firm had sent thousands of letters to alleged file-sharers.

    Those who received such letters may pursue ACS: Law for harrassment, said law firm Ralli, which represents some of the defendants.

    In a statement read to the court, solicitor Andrew Crossley said he had now ceased all such work.

    He cited criminal attacks and bomb threats as reasons.

    Yeah, death threats. Sure, buddy *snicker*

  • by h00manist ( 800926 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @12:49PM (#34995744) Journal
    It wouldn't be the first or last of "brilliant" lawyers to find ways to abuse the spirit of the law while following the letter of the law. Defamation, copyright, patent, trademark, licenses, brands, contracts, a number of things are created which ultimately are applied in such a manner as to become a legalized form of censorship.
  • by fantomas ( 94850 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @01:18PM (#34996262)

    A totally criminal scam if I ever heard of one. File sharers were threatened with court, and told if they 'settled out of court', paid up 500 quid, then the case would be dropped against them. Meanwhile the media in the UK and USA are full of stories of people being sued for millions by music companies etc, and everybody knows it costs thousands of pounds to hire a lawyer. So what are you going to do if you don't know your rights and you're not particularly assertive? Probably get frightened and pay up 500 pounds which is a lot of money but most people can find it somehow. I can imagine a number of people thinking that's their cheapest and easiest way to end the nightmare.

    A pure criminal exercise, no more than blackmail and extortion I'd say. The company has sat down and said "well I reckon if we pull this stunt 10% (or whatever) people will just get scared and pay up, let's send out a few thousand letters and watch the money roll in, and ignore anybody who fights back, just move on to the next poor victim". Easy money. Just a step up from a gang of muggers sitting outside a bar on a Saturday night waiting for easy targets to come past...

    As for the legal firm getting death threats? well put up or shut up. Here in the UK that's taken very seriously. If they have received death threats, well turn over the evidence to the police and the police will duly investigate and arrest anybody who has being making these threats. And if the law firm is lying about this, well making false claims like these are also considered serious offenses. If there have been such threats, I would have thought a law firm before anybody else would know their rights and call in the police. I am not convinced...

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @01:19PM (#34996276)

    But the scare game is what it has already been about for almost 50 years! I remember when videos used to ship with an "FBI WARNING" that scared people (except when you actually read it, all it said was that Interpol had met and decided that copyright infringement was against (at the time) CIVIL law - what Interpol or the FBI were doing discussing civil issues in the first place is another matter). Boo.

  • Re:Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @01:21PM (#34996310) Journal

    I don't think it was losing cases that scared them so much is actually having cases appear in court at all. There seems to have been no small risk of some sort of censure out of all of this.

  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @01:28PM (#34996400)

    "Yeah, death threats. Sure, buddy *snicker* "

    Too bad none were carried out.

  • by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @01:33PM (#34996474)

    Pretty sad when people will actually scream "terrorist" as a fake distraction.

    You're the only one who used the word "terrorist". Ironic much?

  • intimidation... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hAckz0r ( 989977 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @01:44PM (#34996692)
    Intimidation is a two edged sword. You can't expect to try to ruin someone's financial life and not expect some kind of retaliation in return. When things are completely out of balance you will see more of one than the other, and there are certainly more poor people being sued than those rich ones doing the suing. Those that are more inclined to file share for financial reasons have little to loose in the high stakes legal arena, and they are therefore much more prone to engaging in such anti-social behaviour. Its human nature to want to fight back, and if all you have is email and a phone then that is what you will use. They are after all emotionally compromised. If you are going to try and sue a Jane Doe, don't expect her to just sit back and take it. For these people sitting back and 'enjoying it' is never going to happen, even if they know they should not do what they are doing. The threat just justifies their cause in their own mind and makes them want to fight back even more, by file sharing more. Emotionally speaking, intimidation by threat is a loosing move.

Love may laugh at locksmiths, but he has a profound respect for money bags. -- Sidney Paternoster, "The Folly of the Wise"