After mountains of controversy built up in the wake of the ‘pay up or else’ letters sent to thousands of alleged file-sharers, one would think other lawyers might be put off following the same track, but not so. Tilly Bailey & Irvine are the new kids on the block and have just been labeled by a Lord as an “embarrassment to the rest of the creative rights industry.”
“I’ve been sent a letter from Tilly Bailey & Irvine, they say i’ve been downloading porn and want £800 or they’re going to take me to court,” said an email to TorrentFreak early February, which was quickly followed by another – and another.
We’re used to receiving these type of emails – we’ve been having them in one shape or another since Davenport Lyons (DL) started sending them out in 2007, and more recently from recipients of letters from ACS:Law.
Founded in 1841, Tilly Bailey & Irvine (TBI) are a law firm based in the North East of England and from what we’ve seen thus far in respect of this business, their modus operandi appears to have much in common with those of DL and ACS.
On January 27th/28th 2010 in the name of Media & More GmbH & Co, TBI successfully obtained a court order against ISP BT who, as usual (and unlike ISP TalkTalk which refuses to comply with these orders), simply rolled over and complied, handing over the personal details of their customers to TBI in super-quick time and charging £12,500 for the service.
In common with ACS, Tilly Bailey & Irvine are in bed with pornographers.
One outfit confirmed as a client of TBI is Golden Eye (International) Ltd, a company connected with the Ben Dover porn brand in the UK and one that has already been pursuing alleged file-sharers in Germany for the movie “Fancy An Indian – Five Spicy Dishes Covered In A Hot Creamy Sauce.” Media & More GmbH & Co have disputes in Germany with the movie “The Babysitter # 8 Cute Cock Craving Girls!”
Unusually for these type of cases, TBI send their letters by recorded delivery, an expense avoided by DL and ACS. TBI want more money than their counterparts too – £800 – but like Davenport Lyons threaten to enforce the debt against a non-payers property. They also suggest they have criminal remedies open to them which is typical of the usual heavy-handed and disproportionate psychological warfare tactics we’ve come to expect in these cases.
Those who choose to pay up are asked to sign ‘undertakings’ that they will refrain from certain things in future, one of which is to keep the terms of any settlement “secret”.
The claim letters also contain selected pages from a 160 ‘expert report’ created by
Projective Expert Group on behalf of Media Protector GmbH, the company whose ‘FileWatch‘ system was used to capture evidence used in the claim. In all cases we’ve seen thus far the allegations are connected to the eD2K network. The system appears to differ somewhat from those used previously to log alleged BitTorrent infringers and will be dissected in a future article.
TorrentFreak contacted Amanda Mitten, a lawyer in the ‘Intellectual Property Team’ at Tilly Bailey & Irvine dealing with these cases. In addition to asking how many letters the company intends to send out and a request for a list of movie titles to be claimed on, we asked some other key questions, including;
- Will TBI really “commence proceedings” within 14 days if people don’t pay up? [ACS has claimed the same but thus far has taken no-one to court]
- Can we have a full copy of the ‘expert’s report’ on the FileWatch system?
- How will the evidence identify an infringer behind an IP address and not just a bill payer? How does TBI justify claiming against a bill payer when they’re not certain he or she is an infringer?
- How do those accused go about proving a negative, i.e they didn’t carry out the infringement TBI claim they did? [this point was raised by the Lords recently]
- The letters being sent out by TBI are similar to those sent out by ACS and very, very similar to those sent out by Davenport Lyons. We earlier asked ACS if they were connected to DL – they said “NO”, but that wasn’t exactly true. We asked TBI if they are in anyway connected to either ACS or DL.
- Taking into consideration that when operating almost identical schemes both ACS:Law and Davenport Lyons became the subject of SRA investigations, coupled with the Lords labeling this type of scheme “legal blackmail“, are Tilly Bailey & Irvine concerned about tarnishing their hard-earned reputation?
After emails back and forth, mostly spent talking about TorrentFreak and the nature of this website, Tilly Bailey & Irvine refused to answer any of our questions.
Nevertheless, as expected their activities haven’t gone unnoticed and are already the subject of discussion by the Lords in the Digital Economy Bill debate, with Tilly Bailey & Irvine being mentioned by name yesterday. Lord Clement Jones labeled them, ACS:Law and the Logistep data-gathering outfit “an embarrassment to the rest of the creative rights industry.”
Baroness Howe of Idlicote said that the problem “has to be dealt with and is disgraceful,” adding, “If these firms really are law firms, they are bringing their whole profession into disrepute.”
Lord Lucas gave a very accurate overview of the schemes noting that they “must not be allowed to continue.” His contribution is detailed in its entirety over on our sister site, FreakBits.com.
We will follow this post up in due course with a closer look at the companies, people and tracking system involved in this business model, so if you have any information and would like to contribute (German contributors and eD2k specialists especially welcome), please contact us in the usual manner.
Worried letter recipients can visit BeingThreatened for more advice.