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Notorious UK Anti-Piracy Law Firm, ACS:Law, Calls It Quits?

Posted by: , 14:22 AEDT, Wed January 26, 2011
Tags: Copyright

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One of the first anti-piracy law firms in the UK to engage in mass lawsuits may have called it a day, after a string of setbacks

Andrew Crossley has made a statement in an UK court saying that his firm, ACS:Law, no longer takes on anti-piracy work. ACS:Law was notorious for being one of the first law firms in the UK to pursue the lucrative mass lawsuit business.

"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 threats. It has caused immense hassle to me and my family," Crossley said in a statement that was read out as part of a hearing Patents County Court, for a case that ACS:Law attempted to drop when it heard that it was actually going to go to court. 

ACS:Law's website was attacked as part of Operation Payback by a group of Internet hackers, and as an indirect result of the attack, the firm's emails and some personal emails of Crossley were leaked and published online.

Judge Birss was not impressed with the fact that MediaCat, ACS:Law's client in these cases and the party which instigated the string of massive lawsuits, is not actually the copyright owner of the infringing works, but merely a licensee. And there has always been question marks over whether ACS:Law had any intention to sue, or merely wanted to make some quick cash scaring people into paying settlement fees. An actual court case is risky for firms like ACS:Law, due to the cost of running such a case, as well as the possibility of them losing the case, setting a precedent, and unable to continue their lucrative "settlement fee" trade. Which is why ACS:Law attempted to drop the cases when it heard they were going to court, something Judge Birss did not allow.

There are also issues as to whether IP addresses are enough as evident to link infringement, since IP addresses can be spoofed and it only identifies the Internet connection, not the actual person that committed the offence. 

The judge's decision is expected in a few days, and it could have serious repercussions for all (in the UK at least) attempting to make money off mass lawsuits.

But in any case, it appears that ACS:Law and its founders have had enough in regards to mass copyright lawsuits, and that can only be a victory for Internet users in the UK.

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