UK Anti-Piracy Firm Buckles Under Scrutiny, Wants To Drop Infringement Cases

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Wow. Remember a few months ago when thousands of e-mails had leaked from ACS: Law’s computers, ACS: Law being the anti-piracy firm that was tasked with going after illegal file-sharers? Of course you do. Well now it seems that one lawyer from ACS: Law, Andrew Crossley, has given up the fight against said illegal file-sharers, but not for any altruistic reasons: “I have ceased my work…I have been subject to criminal attack. My e-mails have been hacked. I have had death threats and bomb threat,” he said. Nice.

The current case, being argued in London, has 26 people on the defensive against charges of copyright infringement. But like so many of these cases we’ve seen, the methods used by the the copyright holders’ lawyers are a little suspect.

“Offenders” are sent a scary-looking letter, telling them to cough up £500 (~$790) or face the wrath of the British court system. What’s particularly onerous is that it has emerged that ACS: Law was to have split any settlement amount with another company, MediaCAT, which had worked out deals with copyright holders. It’s a big, silly mess, the implication of which is that these companies really had no intention of taking any of the cases to court (to say nothing of trying to seek justice), but instead merely to make a quick buck.

Er, quid.

MediaCAT has said that it now wants to drop any and all lawsuits against alleged copyright infringers. Various consumer rights groups have questioned the methods used in implicating alleged copyright infringers, namely the idea that “IP address = Person In Question,” which is so laughably naive it’s hard to believe courts still tolerate it.

In any event, the presiding judge is expected to sort out this whole mess later in the week, which is very exciting indeed.

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