UK law firm ACS:Law has made quite a name for itself in recent times. Representing companies such as Germany’s DigiProtect and their pornography business partners, ACS:Law has sent out many thousands of letters to individuals it claims have been sharing their clients’ movies illegally online.
Their scheme has attracted much negative press, even provoking statements from Members of the House of Lords in the UK.
“Of late, we have seen a proliferation of lawyers’ letters, acting for the pornography industry, as the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, pointed out, often against innocent people asserting copyright claims and threatening court action,” said Lord Clement-Jones recently.
Now there has been a surprising “Christmas update” from ACS:Law. Referencing earlier legal threats they made to thousands of individuals in the UK (you’ve been caught file-sharing, we can prove it, and if you don’t pay up we’re taking you to court), the law firm has announced that it will drop many of its cases.
As Christmas approaches, here at ACS Law we have been working hard dealing with our file sharing projects. We have been reviewing all cases which are currently open, and a good number of these cases have been dropped, where we do not either consider litigation to be a viable option or to be beneficial to our clients.
So, despite the “forensic” standard proof the company claims to hold on individuals, it appears that, as we’ve said many times here on TorrentFreak, this scheme is all about money. If individuals have no money to pay, ACS:Law cannot get blood from a stone.
Furthermore, when trying to force others to pay up who may actually have the money, faced with holding a single IP address as evidence and absolutely no way of identifying a specific individual sitting at a keyboard and conducting or authorizing the actual infringement, they have little choice but to back down.
James Bench, who works with Being Threatened, a consumer group which offers resources to individuals who are targeted by ACS:Law, says that those accused are becoming increasingly empowered by the knowledge currently available.
“Recently leaked documents exposed the inner workings of the process, dubbed by some ‘speculative invoicing,’ showing that claims are assigned a ‘litigation rating’,” he told TorrentFreak.
“Factors affecting the rating tended not to be based on the evidence supporting the claim but on the appointment of legal representation, technical ‘savvy’ and the finances of the client – or lack thereof,” he added.
So does this mean that ACS:Law will be backing down completely? Hardly. The law firm says that following the court orders they obtained in November, more threatening ‘pay up or else’ letters will be sent out in January 2010.
Anyone receiving a letter from ACS:Law should refrain from replying to the company until they have spoken to the support team at BeingThreatened.com, who will give completely free advice.