Several UK Lords have criticized the practices of law firms that send out warning letters to alleged copyright infringers demanding big payments. These schemes have been labeled a scam, and the lawyers operating them accused of “harassment, bullying and intrusion” and “legal blackmail” in the House of Lords.
Since 2007, UK file-sharers have been threatened with legal action if they refused to pay several hundred pounds in damages for alleged copyright infringements. It started with the respected law firm Davenport Lyons, but when they dropped out as their reputation started to suffer, ACS:Law stepped in.
Although the threats and accusations are often sent to the wrong people due to the shoddy evidence gathering techniques employed, thousands have paid off the copyright holders fearing they would end up being in more trouble if they ignored the threats. The scheme has proven to be profitable for all parties involved, except those receiving the letters.
Leaked documents have shed light on these practices, revealing that the core motivation of the companies involved is simply to generate as much cash as possible.
It will hardly surprise anyone when we allege that ACS:Law and fellow anti-piracy outfits are clearly abusing copyright for profit. However, it is good to see that our views are being supported by several Lords in the UK.
In recent weeks the law firm sending out these mass copyright infringement notices has been discussed in the UK House of Lords. The video below shows Lord Clement-Jones labeling the operation as a scam.
Anti Piracy Scheme Labeled a Scam in House of Lords
It is surprising that in the UK, copyright holders – some of which have ‘leased’ copyrights from other companies for the sole purpose of cashing in on allegations of file-sharing – can demand the personal details of thousands of alleged file-sharers without having to provide hard evidence. In most other countries this would be prohibited due to privacy concerns.
Lord Lucas has raised this problematic issue, saying that the Lords must do something to ensure that citizens’ personal details are not given out to companies like ACS:Law “willy-nilly”.
Anti Piracy Lawyers Accused of “harassment bullying and intrusion” in the House of Lords
Like many file-sharers, some Lords would like to put an end to this copyright abuse, with Lord Lucas accusing the law firm involved of “harassment, bullying and intrusion”. But the criticism of ACS:Law didn’t stop there.
Noting that it could cost around £10,000 for those accused to protest their innocence, but a payment of ‘only’ £500 to make the accusations go away, Lord Lucas called the scheme “straightforward legal blackmail”.
For the public’s sake we hope they come up with a solution to end this madness. In the meantime, anyone accused by ACS:Law can learn exactly how this scheme operates and how to defend themselves efficiently, by downloading the ‘Speculative Invoicing Handbook‘ from consumer group BeingThreatened.