UK Anti-Piracy Lawyers Threaten File-Sharing Forum

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ACS:Law have been making news headlines damaging to their reputation ever since they started sending out thousands of threatening letters to alleged file-sharers in the UK. Now they are threatening to sue Slyck.com, one of the Internet's oldest file-sharing forums, because they don't like what members have written about them.

Slyck.com is one of the longest-established file-sharing discussion forums on the Internet. For the best part of a decade the site has been home to every part of the file-sharing community, from Napster users through to just about every other file-swapping mechanism on the planet.

While here at TorrentFreak we have published many news articles on the antics of anti-piracy lawyers Davenport Lyons and latterly ACS:Law, what many people won’t realize is that it’s over on Slyck where the real meat of the ‘backroom’ discussions about this business have been taking place.

In Slyck’s ‘UK Filesharing Allegations/Lawsuit Discussion’ section are multiple thousands of posts from those affected by these ‘pay up or else’ schemes. It is from these forums that people have worked together to support each other and work out ways of fighting back against intimidation. Many forum posters, with the help received on Slyck and these threads, have refused to pay up and have still not done so. The value of these threads to letter recipients cannot be understated.

Herein lies the problem. This forum has dramatically undermined the business model of both Davenport Lyons and ACS:Law because, quite simply, it enables people to stand strong and cut off the revenue source to these lawyers’ clients.

And now ACS:Law have moved to do something about it through the legal system, claiming that some forum posts by Slyck members are harming their business, citing grounds of defamation.

According to site editor Thomas Mennecke, Slyck were told to remove three discussion threads containing more than 10,300 posts in their entirety by 4:00pm March 12, 2010.

Mennecke says that ACS:Law cites just 11 posts as evidence of defamation. One calls an employee of ACS:Law, Terence Tsang, a “wanker” and another describes the ‘pay up or else’ scheme as “a wank plan” while saying that ACS:Law are “not the best at getting things right.”

It is very interesting that ACS:Law have chosen these comments.

When ACS:Law first burst onto this scene, TorrentFreak contacted owner Andrew Crossley and asked him if there is a connection between his company and Davenport Lyons, since we suspected he’d taken up the work previously done by the London-based firm.

He told us that connections were “NONE” – but sadly this wasn’t true.

We’ve long suspected it, but it was recently confirmed in an interview conducted by the BBC with Andrew Crossley that, “Many of the cases already under way were passed on to ACS: Law by another law firm, Davenport Lyons, which originally began the claims.”

In respect of the forum post about Terence Tsang, although we don’t know what he does in the privacy of his own home, what we do know is that while he is currently working for ACS:Law, he previously worked for Davenport Lyons.

Furthermore, staff from ACS:Law and Davenport Lyons have all been seen together in court together, working on these cases. So as the connections between the companies mount up, it seems that ACS:Law really aren’t the best at “getting things right” after all.

Needless to say, Slyck aren’t going to be bullied by ACS:Law and have refused to take down the posts.

You can read the whole sorry episode in Thomas Mennecke’s article “Wank Plan Goes Wrong: ACS:Law Threatens Slyck.com With a Lawsuit” over on Slyck.

TorrentFreak has also been informed that a torrent of all the discussions is being prepared and will soon be seeded on every major BitTorrent tracker. If ACS:Law haven’t yet heard of the Streisand Effect, maybe they should look it up.

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