[LINK] uh oh - phishing for pirates

Jan Whitaker jwhit at janwhitaker.com
Mon Feb 7 15:15:27 AEDT 2011

"File-sharing case hunter becomes the hunted
February 7, 2011 - 12:35PM

A controversial London-based law firm that sent 
tens of thousands of letters demanding payment 
from people it accused of illegal file sharing 
has dramatically quit its copyright litigations, 
claiming death threats are causing "immense 
hassle" to the lead solicitor's family.

The founder and lead solicitor at ACS:Law, Andrew 
Crossley, announced in a statement to the Patents 
County Court in London that his firm would no 
longer be chasing alleged copyright infringers.

"I have ceased my work. I have been subject to 
criminal attack. My emails have been hacked. I 
have had death threats and bomb threats," Mr 
Crossley said in the statement read to the court 
by barrister Tim Ludbrook, who is acting on 
behalf of copyright licensee MediaCAT. "It has 
caused immense hassle to me and my family."

ACS:Law is at the centre of a long-running row 
over its method of so-called "speculative 
invoicing", where thousands of generic letters 
are sent to internet users it suspects of illicit file sharing.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority is currently 
investigating its practices as hundreds of the 
accused claim to have been wrongly identified.

In September last year, the personal details of 
thousands of Britons were leaked online after a 
crippling attack on ACS:Law's website. The 
details, including telephone numbers and 
addresses, surfaced online during a distributed 
denial of service attack on the company's 
servers. The British information commissioner is 
investigating the data breach and could levy a 
£500,000 ($797,000) fine if ACS:Law is found to 
have held the information insecurely.

Mr Crossley's revelation came at the close of 
last week's Patents County Court hearing into 27 
people accused of illegally sharing copyrighted 
pornography, of which MediaCAT is the exclusive licensee.

Of the thousands of letters ACS:Law has sent to 
alleged infringers, these 27 cases are the only 
ones to be heard before a judge. ACS:Law 
attempted to drop the cases just days before its 
first court hearing earlier this month but was 
told it needed the court's permission.

Judge Colin Birss, QC, called the situation 
"absolutely extraordinary" and said: "I am not 
happy about this. I get the distinct impression 
that at every twist and turn there is a desire to avoid judicial scrutiny."

The protracted hearings have been further 
complicated by the recent emergence of a separate 
law firm, known as GCB Ltd, issuing similar 
payment demands on behalf of MediaCAT. ACS:Law 
claims to have no connection with GCB Ltd, other 
than the fact that two of its former employees 
founded the newly established law firm.

Judge Birss said he had considered banning 
ACS:Law's client MediaCAT from sending any more 
payment demands until its claims and claimants 
were clarified. "It would be an extraordinary 
order to make," he added. "But these are extraordinary circumstances."

The patents court is expected to rule this month 
on whether ACS:Law should be allowed to 
discontinue the cases and whether the copyright 
owner — understood to be Sheptonhurst, the owner 
of Britain's biggest sex shop chain, Private — 
has to join proceedings as a claimant."



Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
jwhit at janwhitaker.com
blog: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/
business: http://www.janwhitaker.com

Our truest response to the irrationality of the 
world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
~Madeline L'Engle, writer

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