UK illegal downloaders reprieved

Source: BBC News

Companies and law firms going after internet pirates in the UK are finding it not all to easy to bring them to justice. Their methods which have included threats to pay out of court, or face a law suit have proven to fall on the deaf ears of hobbyists and in addition their  ‘heavy handed’ tactics criticised by the courts and regulatory bodies, have ended them in big trouble.  So it seems, UK illegal file-sharers can breath a bit easier now.

The recent collapse of MediaCAT, a company hired to pursue illegal downloaders and whose solicitors were solicitors ACS: Law, has sent a stark warning to other such firms in the UK that strong arm methods are unlikely to bear fruit.  

MediaCAT’s failure, it appears, was brought about by the company’s consideration of its likelihood of failure in the context of its current hi-profile case against 26 alleged illegal downloaders. Also, the recent resignation of its lawyer solicitor Andrew Crossley who said:  “I have ceased my work… I have been subject to criminal attack. My e-mails have been hacked. I have had death threats and bomb threats..”, did not seem to help.

In late 2010, MediaCAT’s lawyer, Mr. Crossley and his law firm, ACS: Law allegedly suffered a cyber attack which caused thousands of its e-mails to appear online when its website re-booted.  The emails had given details of all the people ACS: Law were chasing on behalf of its client and the pornographic films they had been accused of viewing for free.  Those affected by the leakage are reputed to be claiming that this was not an accident, but a deliberate act designed to blackmail them into paying money to Mr. Crossley’s firm. This breach of data privacy law, highlighted by the UK court’s recent criticism of the methods used by the law firm in pursuing the alleged filesharers, could end up with Mr. Crossley facing a huge fine instigated by the privacy protection regulators in the United Kingdom.  The British Phonograpic Industry (‘BPI’) commented: “We don’t favour the approach taken by ACS:Law to tackle illegal file-sharing,” said spokesman Adam Liversage. “Our view is that legal action is best reserved for the most persistent or serious offenders – rather than widely used as a first response,”.

Mr Crossley, of ACS: Law,  is currently being investigated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

BBC News has more on this story …  read further and let us have your views..


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