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150 people have complained of letters receive by ACS: Law alleging copyright infringement

For many Americans, the term "piracy" conjures images of teens downloading files on the internet without paying for them. Many Americans found out that the tactics of the firms trying to fight piracy were often as bad as the act of piracy itself.

The infamous anti-piracy campaign that the RIAA undertook in the U.S. was responsible for a backlash against the recording industry. Legal battles were fought against people in and out of court with demands for huge settlements for copyright holders with often little proof that the accused actually shared a file. One landmark case in the U.S. was RIAA against Jammie Thomas.

The record $1.92 million fine levied against Thomas was recently reduced by a judge to $54,000. The RIAA says that it never intended to pursue Thomas for that kind of money and has all along offered to settle for a fine in the $5,000 range.

In the UK, legal action against alleged file sharers is taking on a tone similar to the RIAA saga in America. BBC News reports that over 150 people have approached the consumer publication Which? Computing alleging that they have been targeted in illegal file sharing cases.

The letters sent to the alleged file sharers accuse them of copyright infringement and demand a payment of about £500 to settle out of court. One of the accused who approached Which? Computing was a 78-year-old accused of downloading pornography. The elderly man claims no knowledge of the alleged offense.

One person who complained to Which? said, "My 78 year-old father yesterday received a letter from ACS Law demanding £500 for a porn file he is alleged to have downloaded. He doesn't even know what file-sharing or BitTorrent is so has certainly not done this himself or given anyone else permission to use his computer to do such a thing."

Technology Editor Matt Bath of Which? said, "Innocent consumers are being threatened with legal action for copyright infringements they not only haven't committed, but wouldn't know how to commit."

The publication fears that many who get the letter will simply pay the demanded fine out of fear or not wanting to face a legal battle in court. The firm who is sending out the letters is called ACS: Law. According to the firm, the methods it uses to identify alleged file sharers is sound. Company spokesman Andrew Crossley said, "We are happy that the information we get is completely accurate." Crossley also said, "We explain that an infringement has taken place but it may not be the account holder who has done it."

If the person who receives a letter is wrongly accused, Crossley says that the person needs to seek legal counsel. He points out that merely writing in and saying they did not commit the alleged piracy is not sufficient.

ACS: Law reports it intends to send out more of these letters in the UK this year. So far, none of the cases have gone to court. However, Crossley says, "It has been said that we have no intention of going to court but we have no fear of it."



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By WoWCow on 1/27/2010 1:27:00 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
"We are happy that the information we get is completely accurate." Crossley also said, "We explain that an infringement has taken place but it may not be the account holder who has done it."


So basically, this thug of the law (or "law firm") states "we get 100% accuracy on what has been done (Music/file has been shared)" but: "We don't know who is actually responsible, so we go after the most vulnerable people (the elderly) and sue'em til we get our money".

"No previous investigation has been done yet, but since we believe you are responsible, we're gonna intimidate you and make your life miserable until you pay us."

Followed by
quote:
"It has been said that we have no intention of going to court but we have no fear of it."


Basically stating "Yes, in either way we're getting paid by the Recording industries or the victims we've chosen"

Seriously, there are so many damn things wrong with copyright/infringement laws...




By chmilz on 1/27/2010 1:41:33 PM , Rating: 2
"Seriously, there are so many damn things wrong with the tactics used to enforce copyright infringement laws..."

I think that's what he meant to say, and I agree 100%. These people are worse than the supposed offenders.


By dark matter on 1/28/2010 6:28:30 AM , Rating: 3
Of course you are especially when the IP holders begin to keep extending copyright far beyond what it was originally intended whilst reducing the existing rights (fair use) of the consumer.


By carniver on 1/27/2010 5:04:04 PM , Rating: 5
RIAA: You're guilty even after proven innocent


By masamasa on 1/27/2010 5:09:12 PM , Rating: 4
World is full of scumbags....this firm is no exception. Maybe the lead counsel will get hit by a bus if we're lucky.


By mmntech on 1/27/2010 6:23:47 PM , Rating: 4
When I read on the BBC that they were giving people the alternative to "settle" for £500, I immediately thought that sounded like a mafia style extortion scheme.

I'm sorry but I think piracy should only be a criminal matter. They've given these companies too much of a wide berth in terms of investigating people.


By bupkus on 1/28/2010 5:34:02 AM , Rating: 3
I have to wonder if they actually represent a client or are just pocketing the money for themselves. Could be just a scam.
Never mind the fact that our governments seem to have no place to protect people from frivolous litigation by deep pockets.

What do you call 1000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start.


Where did this clown go to law school?
By porkpie on 1/27/2010 1:30:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"...We explain that an infringement has taken place but it may not be the account holder who has done it..."

If the person who receives a letter is wrongly accused, Crossley says that the person needs to seek legal counsel. He points out that merely writing in and saying they did not commit the alleged piracy is not sufficient.
Normally I support the RIAA, but this guy is just plain incompetent. He admits they don't have proof that the people they target are guilty, but says they need to hire counsel to prove it themselves? Someone's going to have a field day with this one!




RE: Where did this clown go to law school?
By Ticholo on 1/27/2010 2:12:28 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah. Just what I was thinking as I read the article.
Even if their evidence is sound, their tactics must surely be illegal.
This looks like a thing we'd usually hear about the Mafia, or some scam!
As a law firm you'd expect them to know better and take this to court right away.


By Lerianis on 2/5/2010 9:18:16 PM , Rating: 2
They should take things like this to court right away, but too often judges are willing to allow them to wait for YEARS for something that is supposed to have a VERY SHORT period that it can be taken to court, of six months at most.

Even the CRIMINAL charges have to be done within a year.


RE: Where did this clown go to law school?
By Donovan on 1/27/2010 2:44:51 PM , Rating: 2
I think he is saying they know which account downloaded it but not which computer in the house or which family member was sitting in front of it. If that is true (and given past screw ups I have my doubts), it seems reasonable to say the person responsible for the account is on the hook unless they can finger someone else.


By jconan on 1/27/2010 3:38:28 PM , Rating: 2
This is sounding more and more like the Nigerian 411 or 419 scams. I have a hunch RIAA was probably behind the e-mail scams all along, and now they perfected the skill to use it with these blank check laws that they lobbied for in Europe and the US.


By AstroGuardian on 1/28/2010 10:15:09 AM , Rating: 3
Yea, when someone accuses me it is he who is supposed to prove i am guilty, not me proving i am innocent...


By dark matter on 1/28/2010 6:26:08 AM , Rating: 4
I received a letter from these guys 18 months ago. The letter itself was 18 months after I allegedly downloaded a game.

They wanted £500 ($1000) to prevent it going to court and various other charges (£60 x 2) ($120 x 2) related to their costs.

They claimed they had "forensic" evidence against me.

So I wrote to them and asked them to provide this "forensic" evidence to me and assure me that it was 100% reliable.

I also explained that the uTorrent version they claimed I was using was not available for the Mac. I also explained the game they claimed I had downloaded was not out for the Mac. I even sent them a copy of my macbook receipt.

I stated I am more then happy to pay this amount if they provided the following otherwise I am also happy to dispute this in court. (BTW, I didn't actually download the game the claimed I did)

a) They are 100% sure that my ISP have given them accurate details. (and proof)

b) They can provide the "forensic" evidence as this is a charge they added on they are asking me to pay for. The very least they can send me a copy of it rather than a photocopied A4 sheet with my name and address, IP number and ISP. (Hardly "forensic" is it) and a peer reviewed paper regarding their methodology that proves their evidence is infallible.

d) Explain how I downloaded a game that wasn't out for my platform with an application not out for my platform.

e) The MAC address of the equipment this alleged infringement occured on.

f) Why they waited 18 months to notify me as by this time any server logs would have been wiped and that if they had contacted me sooner I may have been able to go to the POLICE as using my network without my authority is a CRIMINAL offense (not a CIVIL offense). I pointed out that I am not liable for any action carried out on my network by a third party without my authorisation.

I also stated that when they send me the "forensic" evidence I shall be passing it on to the police and reporting this as a breach of my network by a third party without my authority and that the evidence they claim to have had better be what they say it is otherwise they will have to explain to the police (and myself) why they are talking shit in their letter.

Naturally they never replied to me as no doubt their "forensic" evidence is a crock of shit and not worth the paper it is printed on.

There is a thread on the Internet regarding these tossers. A lot of shady goings on with regards to the "forensic" evidence. (As in the French courts basically said it was illegal what they were doing, and thats the FRENCH courts saying that as well so it must be bad). Anyone who challenges them regarding their so called evidence never gets a reply.

Personally I think that stinks, I don't see how they can word a letter like they do and not be able to back it up with the proof.

I do know they reply to some people saying "they have a duty of care to prevent third parties infringing on IP, even without their authority". What a crock of shit!!

If you get one of these letters, stick to the facts, don't give them any INFORMATION (IE, you have a wireless network, just say you have a network - if they don't know what kind of network you have how on Earth they can tell a machine on your network downloaded anything is beyond me). State you wish to enter dialogue with them prior to going to court. Do not put "WITHOUT PREJUDICE" or anything like that as you WANT this letter to be admissable in court (and their reply). Ask them (nicely) to provide a cast iron g'tee that their evidence is 100% reliable and to provide third party evidence that confirms this.

They have to do this. Tough for them huh.




By nct on 1/28/2010 2:52:32 PM , Rating: 2
Good info...but what happened to c)?


By dark matter on 1/29/2010 4:49:00 AM , Rating: 3
National security I am afraid.


By Lerianis on 2/5/2010 9:12:07 PM , Rating: 2
I did that exact same thing when my ISP said that I was downloading CP... I told them "Listen, I have a wireless network, and ANYONE could have been doing this.... secondly, while I download LOLICON, I don't download child porn!"

They went away and left me alone and when the FBI came to my home, I told them the same thing..... and they went away. That was 6 years ago, pushing 7.


this is media not just music
By tastyratz on 1/27/2010 4:35:17 PM , Rating: 2
That old guy who "downloaded" the porn makes me wonder. Just to present an alternative scenario:
How many people have downloaded a movie that was mislabeled? Is it only infringement if its willful and knowledgeable infringement?
if mileycyrusdoes2midgets.avi turns out to actually be a copy of terminator 2... how does that pan out for you?




RE: this is media not just music
By agen on 1/27/2010 7:05:35 PM , Rating: 3
If my gramps were caught downloading a file named that, I would first commend him for his tech/pedo savvy and ask him to lay off the Viagra.


RE: this is media not just music
By Lerianis on 2/5/2010 9:09:20 PM , Rating: 2
Pedo? She's 16 dude..... get real.... pedo is below 12.


RE: this is media not just music
By tmouse on 1/29/2010 9:14:21 AM , Rating: 2
I heard it was better than terminator 2, less special effects but more creative camera angles.


Check out these sites
By masamasa on 1/27/2010 5:22:41 PM , Rating: 2
For some this is a business model. Call it a cash grab. Pressure those easily intimidated into paying with questionable legal threats, regardless of whether or not proof can be provided. 1and1 Internet hosts are the king of this business model. Bill you, provide useless service, ignore cancellations, and send threatening collection letters. It's a load of bs when companies do this and they don't have a leg to stand on and know it. Just tell them to f*** off and ignore it or threaten them back with legal action and watch what happens. Most will disappear or end up writing you a check, unless of course, you actually are guilty.

http://beingthreatened.yolasite.com/new-index.php

http://torrentfreak.com/acs-law-anti-piracy-lawyer...




RE: Check out these sites
By masamasa on 1/27/2010 5:26:42 PM , Rating: 2
I like the way they put in the Speculative Invoicing Handbook lol.

"The letter you have received is part of a scheme designed to extract as much money as possible, from as
many people as possible, as easily as possible."

http://beingthreatened.yolasite.com/resources/The-...


RE: Check out these sites
By mindless1 on 1/28/2010 12:37:52 AM , Rating: 2
Indeed, the practice is also common among some sleezebag law firms who buy up old debt which is past the statute of limitations - thus they acquire the bad debt for practically no cost, then imply they'll take the debtor to court having full knowledge the debt is beyond the statute of limitations, hoping the debtor will just pay them off as they make a settlement offer which is not much more than legal fees might be.


@@#*ing scumbags
By icegreenhemp on 1/28/2010 10:01:15 AM , Rating: 2
simply put fucking scumbags.




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