ACS:Law, the outfit that at least appears to have taken over from lawyers Davenport Lyons in chasing alleged uploaders of 2nd rate games on file-sharing networks, have experienced another blow to their credibility. Their ‘evidence’ has been called into doubt yet again – this time by Internet service providers.
The hypocritical law firm – who were recently shown to be copyright infringers themselves – partner with Swiss anti-piracy tracking company Logistep (and another company DigiProtect) in order to demand settlements of around £665. However, time and time again there have been allegations against individuals who have absolutely no idea why they are being accused of copyright infringement.
Last year, in the most prominent case of mistaken identity and when Davenport Lyons were working with porn companies, they incorrectly accused a retired 64 year-old man of sharing the hardcore movie ‘Euro Domination 5’ via BitTorrent. The man received an apology and the demands for money ended.
Eventually the actions of Davenport Lyons, Logistep and DigiProtect attracted the attention of consumer group Which? who made a complaint to the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Although that action is still ongoing, Davenport decided – at least on the surface – to withdraw from the business.
But of course, ACS:Law were waiting in the wings and they are now conducting business with Logistep in much the same fashion. Unfortunately for them, Which? is now on their case too.
In their most recent print edition, Which? published an article which casts an even darker shadow over the issue. They say they have been contacted by 20 individuals who say they have no knowledge of the games in question – Dream Pinball 3D and Two Worlds.
Which? quoted hospital ward clerk Deborah Hughes who said: “It’s distressing to receive such a letter. I’ve never heard of this game and I’ve no idea how to share it. I’ve searched my computer but it’s not there.”
Of even greater concern and embarrassment to ACS:Law are the accusations they leveled at Colin Dixon, Technology Director at a UK software developer. “My wife and I are middle aged (51 and 49) and work from home, and the computers here are owned by our employer, and are strictly controlled for pirated software – that’s my job!”
Which? also spoke with the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) about the issue. They replied: “We’re not convinced of the efficacy of the software and not confident in its ability to identify users.”
Up to now, this hasn’t worried Logistep, DigiProtect, Davenport Lyons or ACS:Law since they say in their claims letters: “We do not claim that your computer was used to commit the infringing act (although we do not exclude this possibility), nor do we claim that you downloaded our client’s work. Our claim is that your Internet connection was used to make our client’s work available via one or more P2P networks. The file may not, therefore, be on your computer.”
So, in a nutshell, they admit that the people named in their letters may not have carried out any infringement. Absolutely priceless.
Neither ACS:Law nor Davenport Lyons have ever won a contested case against a UK file-sharer, despite all their bluster. Hundreds of people are “let off” after simply digging in their heels, denying the accusations and refusing to pay.