Anti-Piracy Lawyers Vandalize Wikipedia Page

As mass file-sharing litigation lawsuits go inter-continental, not everyone is proud to be associated with this type of work. Lawyers Tilly Bailey & Irvine in the UK have been hard at work this month, editing large chunks of their own Wikipedia page in an attempt to hide their involvement and also earning themselves a copyright infringement warning.

This week, Jeffrey Weaver, a lawyer for U.S. Copyright Group, proudly announced that the company would be bringing the mass-litigation model against alleged BitTorrent users to the United States.

“We’re creating a revenue stream and monetizing the equivalent of an alternative distribution channel,” he unashamedly confirmed.

This business model has been running ahead at full-steam in Germany and the UK for some time now. As they do most of the work and are seen to do most of the perceived bullying of individuals ill-equipped to defend themselves, the lawyers operating these schemes have been singled out for most of the criticism.

Tilly Bailey & Irvine (TBI), the lawyers who have just made their first steps into this business model in the UK, had a very stormy entrance. Within weeks their activities had been noted negatively by the Government and had their traditional 170 year-old company publicly connected with their porn-industry customers.

Of course, the antics of TBI haven’t gone unnoticed by the tech-savvy, who have been adding details of their involvement in these schemes to the company’s Wikipedia page, as detailed below:

Volume litigation

On 1 March 2010, Lord Clement-Jones criticised TBI Solicitors along with firm ACS:Law for tactics that they employed when accusing people of copyright infringement.[11] He called TBI Solicitors “new entrants to the hall of infamy”[11] and their activities “an embarrassment to the rest of the creative rights industry”.[11]

On 3 March, UK consumer rights website Which? reported complaints by people who had received letters from TBI Solicitors accusing them of illegally sharing files of pornographic material that belongs to Golden Eye (International).[12] TBI Solicitors threatened legal action against the letters’ recipients unless they paid ?700 compensation within fourteen days of the date of the letter.[12] On 9 March, Which? reported an undertaking by Lord Young that the government would keep watch on ACS:Law and TBI Solicitors.[13]

In an attempt to remove this embarrassing information, a staff member at Tilly Bailey & Irvine took direct action – by deleting the entire section ten days after TorrentFreak broke the news of their entrance to this business.

So, how do we know it was TBI doing the editing? Because they were smart enough to edit it from 195.153.132.204, the IP address registered to their company.

“Please do not remove sourced content from Wikipedia, as you did with TBI Solicitors — this is vandalism,” wrote a Wikipedia admin to Tilly Bailey & Irvine.

“Furthermore, your IP address geolocates to ‘TILLY BAILEY & IRVINE’ which suggests that you have a conflict of interest in removing criticism of the firm from Wikipedia. I suggest that you familiarise yourself with that policy before editing this particular article any further,” added the award-winning user, Rlandmann.

The final embarrassment on the TBI ‘talk’ page prompted another comment by Rlandmann.

Copyright problem

I’ve also removed a large chunk of text from the TBI Solicitors article that was copied-and-pasted from the thisishartlepool website. This creates a potential copyright problem for Wikipedia.

TorrentFreak has learned that Tilly Bailey & Irvine has already dropped some cases against alleged infringers after they denied their accusations. We’re not sure if the editing of their Wikipedia page means that they intend to move out of this business altogether, since thus far they have refused to answer any of our questions, but it would be a welcome move.

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