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ACS: Law Withdraws Pursuing Illegal File-Sharers

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the sad-about-that dept.

The Courts 105

Necroloth writes "As mentioned previously on Slashdot, ACS: Law has been sending out letters to thousands of alleged file-sharers on behalf on its client, MediaCAT. However, solicitor Andrew Crossley has now ceased all work on such cases, citing criminal attacks and death threats. Judge Birss doesn't seem to be taken by this, and comments, 'I am getting the impression with every twist and turn since I started looking at these cases that there is a desire to avoid any judicial scrutiny.' Judge Birss is expected to deliver his judgment on the case later in the week... perhaps all is not lost in the British judicial system."

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Translation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34995686)

Translation: ACS:Law sensed they were about to lose, and are trying to withdraw to avoid actually having a precedent set which could hurt their MafiAA-type overlords.

Re:Translation (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996310)

I don't think it was losing cases that scared them so much is actually having cases appear in court at all. There seems to have been no small risk of some sort of censure out of all of this.

Re:Translation (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997004)

I don't think it was losing cases that scared them so much is actually having cases appear in court at all. There seems to have been no small risk of some sort of censure out of all of this.

What astounds me is that somewhere along the line this group of, um, "educated professionals" (if I may be so bold) sat down at a conference table, discussed this "tactic" and decided that it would be a good idea. Surely this has to taint their judgement in any future client's eyes, no?

Re:Translation (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997110)

Well, the firm is probably tainted, but like any scamster, you ride the horse until it drops dead, then you get on another horse.

Re:Translation (2)

MHDK (894720) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997624)

There are no statutory damages in the UK so they would have to prove actual damages, which would be in the region of the cost of a DVD since their evidence is only of one infringement. But that assumes the IP address is accepted as satisfactory. Moreover the leaked ACS law emails included advice to Crossley to this effect so the plan was never to take this stuff to court

Re:Translation (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996320)

Translation: ACS:Law sensed they were about to lose, and are trying to withdraw to avoid actually having a precedent set which could hurt their MafiAA-type overlords.

Thanks for that. The debate would have been much less useful without clear translation. I wish there were "translation" like this for things more often and more easily, often it's near impossible to figure out what the hell is behind a particular story...

Re:Translation (1, Troll)

neokushan (932374) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998444)

There is, it's called reading the actual article and not just the summary.

Re:Translation (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997158)

They don't care too much about that. They'll lose a potential cash cow. They've had to abandon that anyway. It's not like they're going to have any loyalty to the media cartels.

It looks like ACS:Law may well be considered to be behaving unethically. This seems to actually be a serious matter in English law.

Re:Translation (1)

blind monkey 3 (773904) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000112)

It looks like ACS:Law may well be considered to be behaving unethically. This seems to actually be a serious matter in English law.

Perhaps they should consider a career change and join the ranks of British politicians.

Re:Translation (1)

NekSnappa (803141) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997220)

Since it seems this was in Britain, precedent might have been part of it.
There it is also a loser pays system. So they could have ended up owing money on any and all lost cases.

Re:Translation (1)

Grumbleduke (789126) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001608)

It's not just that they are going to lose (which they are - actually, they've already lost every case that they let go before a judge, even the undefended ones), but that they don't want their methods or claims to be examined.

It seems that there are barely any stages of this business that they haven't (or possibly "he hasn't") screwed up. Just off the top of my head:

  • The claimed to be a "copyright protection society" which they are definitely not, and which the judge described as "misleading"
  • They claimed to have an exclusive licence in the UK, which it seems they didn't
  • They weren't entitled to make copyright proceedings without being joined with the copyright owner, which they weren't
  • They (may have) used "materially inaccurate" stuff in their threats to people (over previous cases that are completely irrelevant)...

The judge was definitely "not happy" (and stated that several times); words like "inept", "incompetent" kept coming up (even from claimant's barrister...) - and at one point it was noted that "no sane lawyer" would have done what was done. There's not just a risk of losing, there's also a risk of getting into serious trouble for abuse of process.

It seems that those involved have been really lucky (or unlucky, as the case may be) that this new judge (HHJ Birss QC) has taken over the Patents County Court; he certainly seemed to be on top of things, knew what was going on and wasn't letting the claimants get away with anything. He was asking the right questions (nearly all the time) and seemed to have a pretty good idea about the technologies involved.

Legally, this court can't set a precedent (it is only county-level), but it is likely that if they lost a real case, it would seriously weaken their threats at a later date; particularly the publicity that merely announcing their intention to stop (in a witness statement read out in court) has raised. In terms of the actual statement, I'm not sure if it received quite the reaction in court as it has in the press... it was mostly received with scepticism and a certain degree of disbelief (particularly that it had to be read out by the barrister after the solicitor had not returned to the court after lunch). That said, the part about backing out may lead the judge to make a completely ineffective ruling that won't help anyone. Still, whatever happens I think the defendants will all get their costs awarded, although without an effective ruling, it is unlikely they will be paid.

It's good news (3, Interesting)

initialE (758110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995702)

Any lawsuit filed, even one you can successfully defend against, is a pain to deal with and causes emotional stress. It's good to see practices like these become less popular.

Re:It's good news (2)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995804)

Any lawsuit filed, even one you can successfully defend against, is a pain to deal with and causes emotional stress. It's good to see practices like these become less popular.

Emotional stress, money stress, and a hell of a lot more.

Re:It's good news (5, Informative)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995902)

Part of the problem in this particular case was that these cases couldn't be defended against, since the accusers didn't actually take the cases to court, preferring instead to send more threats, or just move on to the next potential victim leaving the threat hanging. The hearing in the article was the first time a judge ever saw a contested ACS:law filesharing case, and even then ACS tried (unsuccessfully) to drop all the cases before the the court date.

Re:It's good news (4, Informative)

Xest (935314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997888)

"The hearing in the article was the first time a judge ever saw a contested ACS:law filesharing case, and even then ACS tried (unsuccessfully) to drop all the cases before the the court date."

Indeed, at every step of the way ACS:Law has been trying to scare people into just giving them money, it was becoming common knowledge that their demands had no teeth and that they weren't really taking people to court, and so ACS:Law decided to up the game and see if actual real substantial threats of court action would turn that tide. What ACS:Law didn't count on was people not actually bowing down and settling, they didn't count on people actually trying to fight their case in court, and this is why they are now shitting bricks.

It's a high stakes bit of brinkmanship - one side would be set to pay hefty fees if they lose, the other would see their entire business model destroyed. ACS:Law appears to have folded first, and lost the game.

Re:It's good news (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#35007698)

What we need are two new laws.

1. Make all invoices have to have the word "INVOICE" printed in large letters at the top, followed by "This document is an invoice and does not legally require payment" or similar.

2. Make threats of legal action legally binding with penalties if not followed though. Even vague crap like "legal documents may be being prepared" or "this case may be passed to our solicitors" should count. Anything that gives the recipient reasonable cause to believe that the sender intends legal action if they do not comply with their demands.

Of course this won't happen because the entire debt collection industry is built in threatening people in the hopes they will pay. If it ever gets to court they usually lose out because the person can't pay anyway.

Re:It's good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34996732)

I've read that in England, using the courts as a weapon against someone is itself a crime called "Barratry".

Nils K. Hammer

Re:It's good news (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998112)

It's called that. It hasn't been against the law since 1967 though.

Re:It's good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34999670)

sudo mod me up

OK.

Re:It's good news (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999800)

The more effective system is - if you lose, you pay. That stops a good chunk of frivolous lawsuits from the very beginning.

Wait, what? (2)

Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995720)

Logic? In the justice system? Please let this continue!

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34996070)

Logic? In the justice system? Please let this continue!

Don't worry. The persons responsible for sacking the users of logic have been sacked.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Tr3vin (1220548) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996478)

Løgic once bit my sister

Re:Wait, what? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996764)

Løgic once bit my sister

"No realli! She was Karving her initials on the Løgic with the sharpened end
of an interspace toothbrush given her by Svenge - her brother-in-law - an
Oslo dentist and star of many Norwegian movies: "The Hot Hands of an Oslo
Dentist", "Fillings of Passion", "The Huge Molars of Horst Nordfink"..."

Re:Wait, what? (1)

NekSnappa (803141) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997392)

The /. posters hired to continue the thread after the other posters had been sacked, wish it to be known that they have just been sacked.
This thread will be completed in an entirely different style at great expense and at the last minute.
(/. changes to a brightly colored colored theme moderated by llamas)

Re:Wait, what? (2)

coolmadsi (823103) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997668)

(/. changes to a brightly colored colored theme moderated by llamas)

I thought the "OMG! PONIES!" theme was only on an April Fools day...

Re:Wait, what? (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998588)

Perhaps you're looking for the Oi! Llamas! theme?

Re:Wait, what? (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998132)

In the justice system?

No, in the legal system. Any similarities between the two are entirely coincidental.

Death threats, my ass... (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995732)

A lawyer has dramatically withdrawn from pursuing alleged illegal file-sharers in the middle of a court case he brought.

The patent court in London is currently scrutinising 26 cases brought by ACS: Law on behalf of its client MediaCAT.

The law firm had sent thousands of letters to alleged file-sharers.

Those who received such letters may pursue ACS: Law for harrassment, said law firm Ralli, which represents some of the defendants.

In a statement read to the court, solicitor Andrew Crossley said he had now ceased all such work.

He cited criminal attacks and bomb threats as reasons.

Yeah, death threats. Sure, buddy *snicker*

Re:Death threats, my ass... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996080)

Yarr, they're pirates after all! The murderous scum of the sea!

Re:Death threats, my ass... (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996784)

arrr! make 'em walk the blank disk. yarrr!

" ...terrorists! " (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996206)

Pretty sad when people will actually scream "terrorist" as a fake distraction. It shows how much credibility the term has left in it, every politician and their mother has screamed "terrorists!" for one advantage or another. He should be forced to back up that assertion or be accused of perjury or whatever.

Re:" ...terrorists! " (1, Insightful)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996474)

Pretty sad when people will actually scream "terrorist" as a fake distraction.

You're the only one who used the word "terrorist". Ironic much?

Re:" ...terrorists! " (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34996494)

It appears that quotation marks mean nothing anymore.

Re:" ...terrorists! " (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34996862)

Better than it meaning "whatever saves face for the poster in whatever context is needed". GGP was the only one who used the word, quotes or no. Do the quotes magically make it some other word, or could it be that it was intended as, well, a quote?

Re:Death threats, my ass... (3, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996400)

"Yeah, death threats. Sure, buddy *snicker* "

Too bad none were carried out.

Re:Death threats, my ass... (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998606)

I'd much prefer to see them live with the consequences of their actions, as it then gets to set some legal precedents.

Re:Death threats, my ass... (1)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | more than 3 years ago | (#35004476)

Anonymous would've gone ahead... but their mum's wouldn't let them out!

Re:Death threats, my ass... (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996574)

Those who received such letters may pursue ACS: Law for harrassment, said law firm Ralli, which represents some of the defendants.

that's some nice news and consolation for whoever was indeed subject to harrassment.

Re:Death threats, my ass... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34997346)

Yeah, death threats. Sure, buddy *snicker*

It is possible. A box of bullets is far cheaper than a lawyer. Find out what he drives, what route he takes, what time he take it. Wait along his route or at his destination. When he stops walk up to his car and shoot him to death. That's the really simple part of the exercise. Then you have to escape and evade and not get caught. That's the tricky part.

Re:Death threats, my ass... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001276)

Not as easy to get hold of bullets in Britain though.

Re:Death threats, my ass... (2)

Kiralan (765796) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997830)

To Andrew: Let's see the evidence of 'attacks' and 'bomb threats'. If you have evidence of same,why aren't you turning that over to your justice system for action, rather than bailing on a client? You would probably have better results than you could expect from ACS:Law.

Re:Death threats, my ass... (1)

didroe84 (1324187) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998054)

To be fair, they were the target of 4chan so death threats are par for the course.

Re:Death threats, my ass... (1)

Paul1969 (1976328) | more than 3 years ago | (#35003368)

4chan threats are usually much more creative than simple death.

Re:Death threats, my ass... (1)

anyGould (1295481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998446)

Given the general attitude of the judge, that fellow is very lucky that he wasn't asked to provide documentation regarding the "criminal attacks" and "bomb threats"...

Using the law to abuse the law (4, Insightful)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995744)

It wouldn't be the first or last of "brilliant" lawyers to find ways to abuse the spirit of the law while following the letter of the law. Defamation, copyright, patent, trademark, licenses, brands, contracts, a number of things are created which ultimately are applied in such a manner as to become a legalized form of censorship.

Re:Using the law to abuse the law (5, Interesting)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996162)

The judge in the case appears to have strong feelings on that matter, and has yet to have his final word on the case. He refused to let ACS:Law withdraw their prosecution earlier because he felt the heinous mess needed to see a courtroom, so things might get more interesting.

Re:Using the law to abuse the law (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996358)

so things might get more interesting.

Yay!

Re:Using the law to abuse the law (1)

19061969 (939279) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000594)

So, assuming the case goes through and the alleged sharers win, would the judge be likely to award costs against ACS:Law? That would be awesome.

Re:Using the law to abuse the law (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000786)

It's not a matter of them "winning" per se as the claimants don't even have the legal right to sue as neither they nor MediaCAT are the rights-holders, or acting on behalf of the rights-holders, of the properties that are alleged to have been infringed.

At this point, with all the legal bodies that are investigating his firm, Andrew Crossley will be lucky to walk away from all of this without being disbarred.

Re:Using the law to abuse the law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35002572)

Forgive the posting as AC; it is a bit sloppy to post under my usual pseudonym.

Mr Crossley cannot be disbarred as he has never been called to the Bar of England and Wales; he is a solicitor and is subject to discipline by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Law Society. The SRA decided in August 2010 that there was sufficient evidence for them to Apply for a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal hearing against Mr Crossley in matters related to the fine article at the top. The Tribunal accepted that there is a case to answer and has already served the Application and supporting papers on him. It is probable that the outcome will be that Mr Crossley will be struck from the Roll and ordered to remit a fine, and that he will be ordered to make reasonable (and possibly full) contributions to the costs of the persons sent harassing letters.

As this is not the first time Mr Crossley has been before the SDT, the forthcoming appearance is unlikely to go very well for him.

http://www.sra.org.uk/documents/consumers/SDT/Crossley%209346.05_0206.pdf [sra.org.uk]

The Deputy Chairman of the Copyright Tribunal (Mr Briss) can also move to sanction the claimant (Media C.A.T.) in various ways, and is likely to make a costs order they will find adverse. It is possible that they may have some remedy against Mr Crossley, depending on what advice he gave them.

This case was pleaded unusually and it is possible that one or more barristers were consulted and were "unable" to take instruction from ACS:Law. It is a little more probable that no barrister was consulted because of the combination of the law suit being in an early stage and before the patents court, or for reasons particular to Mr Crossley or his client.

However, it is also possible (but improbable) that a barrister acted as Counsel, and therefore could face disciplinary action.

Complaints against barristers are somewhat Byzantine because of deficiencies in the system administered by the Bar Council until 2005, and because different types of complaints may apply. If the complaint involves a matter of the service provided, the current system involves complaints procedures set by the barrister's chambers (or employer where that applies (e.g. a barrister working in the Crown Prosecution Service)) followed by a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, who can then apply to the Bar Standards Board. Complaints about professional misconduct can be made through the Legal Ombudsman or raised independently by the BSB. Ultimately the matter may be brought by the Complaints Committee (which includes lay members) to a Disciplinary Tribunal which can indeed disbar (or suspend) and/or fine a barrister.

Only porn filesharers? (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995772)

FTA :

In September, ACS: Law was the victim of a cyber attack and it accidentally exposed thousands of its e-mails online when its website went live again. These e-mails detailed all the people it was pursuing and the pornographic films they were accused of downloading for free.

They pursued porn filesharers? Surely that's about 75% of people who use the internet?

Re:Only porn filesharers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34996198)

They pursued porn filesharers? Surely that's about 75% of people who use the internet?

Porn consumers? Sure. Porn fileshareres? Doubt it.

While I can pull down an endless supply of free porn, I'm not putting it up for file sharing.

Getcherowndamnedporn, it's not like it's difficult to find.

Re:Only porn filesharers? (3, Interesting)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997196)

Kind of makes me wonder if the porn accusations were all smoke and mirrors in a barely-legal extortion attempt. As in "Our data shows you downloading 'Naked Underage Midgets 3'. You wouldn't want your friends and family to find out you've been sued for downloading this movie, would you? Just pay our settlement fee and this can go away quietly."

Turning Point (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995916)

It's interesting that the lawyers and people who have controlled our world are brushing up against a reality where their targets/victims can find out who they are and retaliate. It has become absurdly easy to track them, and respond in kind.

Wikileaks is part of this process. The stage has been set for a turning point in human society. Governments and the Powers-that-Be will fight the process, but they will be overcome, at last, by Justice.

Re:Turning Point (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996192)

It's only a turning point if enough people care to LEARN and also to TAKE ACTION. For masses of people to learn something important would not be a miracle, but is highly unlikely given that most of the education consumed by the masses come across "the media." And for the masses to take action? Once again, not a miracle but highly unlikely. The masses are not anonymous and they know it all too well. The individual members of the masses mostly have too much to lose to risk taking any significant action.

Things have to change further. Wikileaks readers are a miniscule minority and so it's simply not "media enough" for the masses yet. The situation for most have to lose a lot more before they feel they have little left to lose.

We're just not there yet... and while we are moving in that direction, we have a long way to go yet.

Re:Turning Point (2)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997066)

This case illustrates it's sufficient for a clued-up subset of the masses to learn. The main issue in going after filesharers is that your dragnet is likely to scoop up a lot of people who are a) net savvy, b) are pretty clued-up on IP and filesharing or c) both. In this case they obviously annoyed enough of group c to scare them off - it's not so one-way when you're not specifically going after single mothers who don't know about filesharing or octogenarians who don't even own a computer.

Re:Turning Point (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996322)

The stage has been set for a turning point in human society. Governments and the Powers-that-Be will fight the process, but they will be overcome, at last, by Justice.

Yeah, kid, I thought that when I was young, too. Didn't happen, even though my generation made a few inroads like ending the Vietnam war, getting equal rights for minorities, getting environmental legislation passed, etc. I don't see any real activism at all with your generation; you kids seem to not give a shit about anything but what the celebrities are doing and what the next shiny toy will be.

Re:Turning Point (2)

Mysteray (713473) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996382)

Probably your parents thought you didn't care about America too.

Re:Turning Point (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996858)

You damn smelly hippie! Why don't you cut your hair and get a job!

Sincerely,
Your Dad

Re:Turning Point (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997164)

Dear Dad,

I did, and I regret to inform you that because of shrinking profits and budget constraints, your position in the company has been eliminated. Sadly your pension fund was slashed last year so there will be no compensation or retirement options, but HR will be glad to help you with all the paperwork.

We're looking forward to seeing you at Thanksgiving.

Take care,

Your Son
(CEO, Uncaring Corporation)

(baby boomers changed the world...for themselves)

Re:Turning Point (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998558)

Dude, I retire next year! Now let the nice nurse show you where your room is again.

Re:Turning Point (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000072)

I don't see any real activism at all with your generation; you kids seem to not give a shit about anything but what the celebrities are doing and what the next shiny toy will be.

How much was that serious and how much was it playing the 'curmudgeonly old man' character? If you did mean it genuinely, I can assure you that we decry the actions of these morons in our peer group just as you do. That said, was there ever really a time in history when a significant proportion (perhaps even the majority) of a given generation weren't morons (or, if you're feeling charitable, 'people disinclined to question the status quo, or to try to improve the world around them')? The old 'bread and circuses' quote seems particularly appropriate here.

Re:Turning Point (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996834)

Governments and the Powers-that-Be will fight the process, but they will be overcome, at last, by Justice.

read a lot of stories, do you? movies? heroic themes where good wins over evil?

that's so cute. I remember being young and impressionable, once, too.

Re:Turning Point (2)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998192)

I remember being young and impressionable, once, too.

Cynicism is the goopy shit left over when idealism curdles.

Re:Turning Point (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999410)

Not likely. Any threat against the power structure that runs society can be easily twisted into a threat against society itself. Those in power then use that to get the people to put up with even more oppressive rules.

Re:Turning Point (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000672)

The stage has been set for a turning point in human society. Governments and the Powers-that-Be will fight the process, but they will be overcome, at last, by Justice.

Good luck with that.

HOORAY FOR CHINA (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 3 years ago | (#34995980)

I am here to geete you slasot readers with the good news that CHINA IS THE GREATEST and amerikins are ugly and smelly people with small penisus.

choose your clients carefully (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34996112)

must be terrible when your client threatens to kill you after making a hash of the job

Bomb threats, sure... (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996164)

Filesharing is terrorism!

Huh? Well, we needed a new strawman. The old one [wired.com] has been reduced to a source for caricature and ridicule.

Re:Bomb threats, sure... (2)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997174)

There's nothing new about "filesharing is terrorism" - I remember seeing warnings on DVDs several years ago (mid 00's ish) claiming that the funds from piracy directly fed into organised crime and terrorist organisations (even though the vast majority of "piracy" by that point was in the form of downloads). They've just changed the focus from the people distributing it to the people receiving it.

Sticking it to the criminals and terrorists (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998172)

I remember seeing warnings on DVDs several years ago (mid 00's ish) claiming that the funds from piracy directly fed into organised crime and terrorist organisations (even though the vast majority of "piracy" by that point was in the form of downloads).

So, if rather than buy a pirated movie, I were to go download it, I would be depriving terrorists and organized crime money? Sounds like a solid argument for filesharing to me!

ROBIN, TO THE BAT-TORRENTS!

Re:Sticking it to the criminals and terrorists (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998716)

Not to mention that most CDs these days are manufactured in countries that are either possibly or blatantly obviously working against the interests of the United States.

Be a patriot! Don't buy Red! Download your music!

Illegal they are not (2)

metageek (466836) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996226)

If they are not going to be prosecuted, and therefore not found guilty, no one should be labelling these people or their actions as "illegal". You are only illegal if a court finds you breaking the law. Accusations don't make anything be illegal. Let's stop playing into this scare game.

Re:Illegal they are not (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996276)

But the scare game is what it has already been about for almost 50 years! I remember when videos used to ship with an "FBI WARNING" that scared people (except when you actually read it, all it said was that Interpol had met and decided that copyright infringement was against (at the time) CIVIL law - what Interpol or the FBI were doing discussing civil issues in the first place is another matter). Boo.

Re:Illegal they are not (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998376)

I remember when videos used to ship with an "FBI WARNING" that scared people (except when you actually read it,

I think this FBI warning is still present on DVDs. I haven't purchased a DVD in the last 1-2 years, true, but I have not heard that the practice had ceased in the meantime. But the more interesting question is: why on Earth does the FBI allow for their "brand" to be abused in such a way? Maybe I should put on my door something to the effect "If you try to break in, the KGB will poison you with Polonium".

Sharers were invited to pay up 500 and avoid court (5, Insightful)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996262)

A totally criminal scam if I ever heard of one. File sharers were threatened with court, and told if they 'settled out of court', paid up 500 quid, then the case would be dropped against them. Meanwhile the media in the UK and USA are full of stories of people being sued for millions by music companies etc, and everybody knows it costs thousands of pounds to hire a lawyer. So what are you going to do if you don't know your rights and you're not particularly assertive? Probably get frightened and pay up 500 pounds which is a lot of money but most people can find it somehow. I can imagine a number of people thinking that's their cheapest and easiest way to end the nightmare.

A pure criminal exercise, no more than blackmail and extortion I'd say. The company has sat down and said "well I reckon if we pull this stunt 10% (or whatever) people will just get scared and pay up, let's send out a few thousand letters and watch the money roll in, and ignore anybody who fights back, just move on to the next poor victim". Easy money. Just a step up from a gang of muggers sitting outside a bar on a Saturday night waiting for easy targets to come past...

As for the legal firm getting death threats? well put up or shut up. Here in the UK that's taken very seriously. If they have received death threats, well turn over the evidence to the police and the police will duly investigate and arrest anybody who has being making these threats. And if the law firm is lying about this, well making false claims like these are also considered serious offenses. If there have been such threats, I would have thought a law firm before anybody else would know their rights and call in the police. I am not convinced...

Re:Sharers were invited to pay up 500 and avoid co (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996456)

You missed the point where he was targeting porn fileshareres, so presumably he was attempting to target people who would settle rather than go in to court to explain why they downloaded "Daddy's Little Girl #6" from a Torrent.

Re:Sharers were invited to pay up 500 and avoid co (1)

coolmadsi (823103) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997760)

You missed the point where he was targeting porn fileshareres, so presumably he was attempting to target people who would settle rather than go in to court to explain why they downloaded "Daddy's Little Girl #6" from a Torrent.

I don't think they were targeting porn file sharers exclusively. Also some music files (I can't remember what at the moment though).

Re:Sharers were invited to pay up 500 and avoid co (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999174)

I don't know if you've been overseas but porn doesn't have the stigma it has here in the states. In the UK [wikipedia.org] hardcore porn magazines are sold wherever newspapers and magazines are sold. They have the usual protective covers on them and are only sold to adults. Hardcore porn videos are sold in licensed shops. I was in Germany a few years back and after 10pm, there's some very graphic stuff on regular TV. The Europeans seem to treat it just like they treat violent depictions: It's restricted for certain ages but not banned.

Re:Sharers were invited to pay up 500 and avoid co (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35000230)

You're giving a little too much credit there. The UK may not be as puritanical as the States, but there are still plenty of people who wouldn't want their particular porn-viewing choices made public (or to be publicly linked to porn titles that they didn't actually even download, for that matter). I'm imagining the porn tactic worked particularly well against older, married types - higher disposable income, more likely to feel that sex carries some negative stigma, more likely to raise uncomfortable questions with their families, etc.

Even for younger people I imagine the willingness to be associated with this would vary - some might laugh it off, maybe get a few jokes from their mates along the lines of "What's the matter, couldn't get laid in real life?", while others (particularly those from a religious background) would still find it very embarrassing.

Re:Sharers were invited to pay up 500 and avoid co (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999484)

A totally criminal scam if I ever heard of one. File sharers were threatened with court, and told if they 'settled out of court', paid up 500 quid, then the case would be dropped against them.

Here in America, we call that "plea bargaining". Hey, freedom ain't free!

pwned (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996270)

ACS: law was owned by one guy, and pwned by another.

Next excuse (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996482)

Crossley asserts: "The lurkers support us in email".

intimidation... (3, Insightful)

hAckz0r (989977) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996692)

Intimidation is a two edged sword. You can't expect to try to ruin someone's financial life and not expect some kind of retaliation in return. When things are completely out of balance you will see more of one than the other, and there are certainly more poor people being sued than those rich ones doing the suing. Those that are more inclined to file share for financial reasons have little to loose in the high stakes legal arena, and they are therefore much more prone to engaging in such anti-social behaviour. Its human nature to want to fight back, and if all you have is email and a phone then that is what you will use. They are after all emotionally compromised. If you are going to try and sue a Jane Doe, don't expect her to just sit back and take it. For these people sitting back and 'enjoying it' is never going to happen, even if they know they should not do what they are doing. The threat just justifies their cause in their own mind and makes them want to fight back even more, by file sharing more. Emotionally speaking, intimidation by threat is a loosing move.

Re:intimidation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34998206)

And if some lawyer should be hurt or worse then so be it. I don't really think anyone is going to cry over some lawyer getting hurt or killed. The less lawyers the better.

Re:intimidation... (1, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34998904)

Those that are more inclined to file share for financial reasons have little to loose in the high stakes legal arena... Emotionally speaking, intimidation by threat is a loosing move.

I don't think you said what you intended to say.

a : to let loose (see 1loose): release b : to free from restraint
2: to make loose : untie
3: to cast loose : detach
4: to let fly : discharge
5: to make less rigid, tight, or strict : relax
intransitive verb
: to let fly a missile (as an arrow) : fire
  See loose defined for English-language learners
Examples of LOOSE
The soldiers loosed a volley of rifle fire.

I don't think you said what YOU intended to say. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001120)

I read your post as:

I am a grammar Nazi, which means I have no argument or ability to argue or contribute anything, so therefore I will focus on some inconsequential part of a post which has NOTHING to do with the issue. It is my way of making myself look important, which my mommy told me I was.

Death threats? (1, Troll)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 3 years ago | (#34996800)

Not enough. Nothing less than the cold reality of death will do for the ACS:Law thugs. Their skin shall be ripped to shreds, their bones broken, their sinews snapped and their eyes gouged. Bloody intestines shall burst from their sliced bellies and their quivering remains shall be defecated upon and set on fire.

Re:Death threats? (3, Funny)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997378)

I really wish you'd stop beating about the bush and tell us how you really feel.

Re:Death threats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35000858)

I really wish you'd stop beating about the bush and tell us how you really feel.

Yeah, send that bush this way so I can beat them with it!

Re:Death threats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35001632)

beating about the bush

Is that something to do with animal porn, or maybe (intellectual) midget porn?

Apologies to real people who may or may not bear an actual or passing resemblence to any fictional person or entity that may or may not have been harmed in the production of the above screenplay

Re:Death threats? (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997414)

Cast your net too widely and you run the risk of ensnaring a genuine psycho.

That's the problem with violating the number one legal principle: Only sue solvent parties.

Solvent parties are far less likely to go Unabomber on you.

Re:Death threats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34998194)

I think that's a good point. All too often people get caught up with the "hey why not, it's legal!" view of their actions without considering that the opposing party might resort to actions that are "less than legal". I'd like to see the statistics for the number of times a defendant murdered a plaintiff over a civil case. Or statistics for crimes against debt collectors, repo men, etc. I imagine that minor acts of retaliation take place all the time and never even recorded.

Consider this anecdote from my everyday life. There's no law in the U.S. forcing me to tip a waitperson, and it is supposedly customary to leave a good tip for good service and a bad tip for bad service. There have been times that I've eaten lunch with friends and colleagues and the service was horrible. And then they are shocked and even argue with me when I proceed to leave at least a 15% min. tip.

I have to explain that while the service earned a bad tip, and I am legally, ethically, and culturally entitled to leave a bad tip, I am at least going to leave an acceptable tip to avoid angering the waitperson. Why would I do this? Because I can't be sure when I might eat at the same place again and if I have the same waitperson (or the same waitperson gets a job at another restaurant that receives my patronage) I don't want them to have any motive to "get back" at me. No [insert bodily fluid] in my entree please!

Revolutions and uprisings are what happen when those in power exert their "noble and God given rights" without any restraint or concern for the weaker party. It makes one wonder how far consumers can be pushed into boiler plate, non-negotiable contracts of adhession; laws written and funded by industry lobbyists; and clauses that strip consumers of their civil liberties, such as binding arbitration that replaces government courts with typically pro-industry, under-regulated arbitrators who are allowed to make rulings that conflict with the law of the land; and other contracts that deny consumers what would otherwise be their legal rights to jury trial, class actions, statutes of limitations, etc.

While I don't condone illegal filesharing, it is a foreseeable consequence of a strong party imposing harsh terms onto a weaker party.

Re:Death threats? (1)

harmonise (1484057) | more than 3 years ago | (#34999272)

I also cannot wait for the release of "World of Warcraft: ACS:Law"!

Submissions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34997450)

I tried posting this earlier as my first submission ever but couldn't get it to post as an Anonymous Coward. Stupid thing.

It get's worse (5, Informative)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34997556)

The new company pursuing the claims, GCB, is a dormant company that was "borrowed" from a friend by none other than... Andrew Crossley. It's real owner, David Fisher, now disavows any connection and advises anyone who received a demand letter from GCB to ignore it. (See the techdirt article for more info.) So while publicly proclaiming he was "no longer persuing" file downloader, Crossley was in fact still persuing them, but trying to obfuscate who was actually responsible.

Re:It get's worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34997788)

Given the skills at obfuscating reality... I think he might have a good shot at running for public office. There's a lot of those in government. :-P

Spell out acronyms at least once!!! (1)

Atraxen (790188) | more than 3 years ago | (#35001116)

ACS = ....
American Chemical Society
American Cancer Society (I immediately think of these first two because I'm a member of one and a follower of the other...)
American Constitution Society (wow, i.e. we can play Mad Libs here - American Cxxxxxx Society)
American College of Surgeons
Association of Caribbean States (hah - now I'm not an Americentric...)
American Colleges of the South
Adobe Creative Suite (would make sense in a story about piracy)
Applied/Academic/Accounting/Agile/Awesome Computer Systems (this pattern is a regular pattern mine!)
Applied Common Sense (the summary is in need of, so an unlikely match...)

Shall I continue...?

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