Sunday, 6 December 2009

Sue, Grabbit and Run: copyright solicitors?

Just this week in the news is that a UK legal firm is preparing 15 000 letters for what I would best describe as judicial blackmail - pay up or we take you to court. Lawfirm ACS:Law requested and are now getting user details from ISPs on 30 000 IP addresses. Many of the alleged infringements apparently relate to pornography and it is thought many people will pay up rather than go to court and defend themselves. An example of this type of threatening letter is available on Wikileaks

To gather the 30 000 IP addresses they used German firm Digiprotect - a specialist in this area renowned from allegations that they seeded copyright material with rightholders permission to then 'catch' people downloading it.  In fact only last week their relationship with a German law firm was under investigation for fraud for basing claims for this type of payment on legal costs that don't actually exist.

Previous rounds of this sharp practice has raised hundreds of cases of wrong accusations - but as information from other firms involved in the same business shows- chasing pirates is more profitable that selling music games and videos legally...

(Personally I intrinsically question any process where the costs to recover money for rights holders exceeds the money recovered by a factor of four.... that's a business for making money from litigation, not from creativity)

If you have received this type of threatening letter you could start by reading the advice here from Gareth Halfacree (via Amused Cynicism).  If you need help pleading your innocence you may be interested in Torrentfreak's article on a UK law firm that is giving free support for this type of case (dated last year).  This thread at Consumer Action group is on the same topic.
Update:  also checkout Beingthreatened

More reading:
Extortion Is Profitable Too, Doesn't Mean That It's A Fair Way To Profit Off Piracy
If you think the RIAA sucks check these guys out

Piratpartiet and The Pirate Party -  Working for copyright reform.

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