Back in November 2009, our exclusive report forecast that thousands of UK Internet users would soon be receiving cash demands in connection with allegations of illicit file-sharing, after lawyers ACS:Law were granted more court orders to obtain their identities.
James Bench from BeingThreatened, a consumer group dedicated to helping those wrongfully accused by this law firm and their partners (such as Germany-based DigiProtect), told TorrentFreak that people are starting to receive them this week. A small number have arrived to date, fittingly by the cheapest and most unreliable regular postage method available in the UK – 2nd class.
“So far the unreliability of the evidence appears not to have been addressed,” Bench explains. “100% of victims contacting BeingThreatened as a result of this new batch state they did not commit or authorise any copyright infringement of the work they are accused of sharing.”
Indeed, the unreliability of the evidence presented as part of these threatening letters has been raised yet again, this time by the Lords involved in the Digital Economy Bill debate.
Following on from his earlier criticism, on Monday Lord Lucas noted that the firm making these accusations are “not nice people to fall foul of,” they are “not nice to deal with,” and later adding “the methods that they use to extract money are not nice.”
Lord Lucas went on to explain that ACS:Law had “been kind enough” to write to him in person, but went on to criticize the evidence their allegations are based on.
Noting that the evidence is provided by foreign companies that do not disclose the methodology used to obtain it, Lord Lucas observed: “It may well have been obtained against data protection rules – that is certainly the conclusion that the Swiss and French authorities seem to have reached.”
Describing the allegations as “totally impenetrable,” Lord Lucas said that upon receiving these letters telling account holders that they have to pay money, people have no way of disproving what they are accused of.
“I think most of their [ACS:Law's] income comes from people who just pay,” he said. “I am not aware that there have been many court cases at the end of this because of the element of bluff.”
To be more precise, ACS:Law have never taken anyone to court on file-sharing allegations, even though they threaten to.
Of course, the “bluffing” strategy can work two ways. Those who refuse to pay, admit nothing and stand their ground against any wrongful allegations, can also find that they come out on top.
So, how does a complete novice in legal matters stand up to these threats and summon the courage to do so in the face of these “totally impenetrable” allegations?
Simple. All they have to do is grab a copy of the ‘Speculative Invoicing Handbook’ just released by BeingThreatened under a Creative Commons License.
If you have been sent a letter demanding cash for an alleged copyright infringement, do nothing until you have read this handbook cover to cover – it is 100% free, absolutely comprehensive and could save you hundreds of pounds.
It can be downloaded here.