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Posts Tagged ‘copyright trolls’

The Speculative Invoicing Handbook – Part 2 :UPDATED

December 14, 2012 2 comments

With news reaching us that the “Golden Eye International” launch of their Speculative Invoicing(Copyright Trolling) action is due to start in the New Year, we wanted to bring this latest tome to your attention.  This quality guide was written by those fine folks at Being Threatened, in response to the number of innocent people targeted by previous companies, involved with these actions.

Download the PDF file here

Comments are always welcome.

We at ACS:BORE are not affiliated with the production of this book, although we endorse it as the best information to read with regard to receiving a letter from one of these companies.  For further reading on this please see the excellent Torrent Freak post

My apologies, as pointed out I wrongfully referred to “Golden Eye International” as “Golden Eye Interactive”, my apologies, it was an inadvertent mistake made in a moment of acute clarity of mind that a shell company based on an industrial estate in the UK with only two employees, and who operate only within the UK is NOT really an international company, my apologies again:-)

Tilly Bailey Irvine accept paltry Fine handed to them for “Copyright Trolling” UPDATE 1

November 4, 2011 5 comments

Tilly Bailey Irvine (TBI) the Law Firm that jumped on the “Speculative Invoicing” bandwagon driven by ACS:LAW has “Agreed” to accept a monetary punishment of £2800. This is a sad sad day for those who followed this case and were expecting more from the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

TBI launched their letter campaign in January 2010 and by April had had enough. They represented “Media & More GMBH” and also “Golden Eye International” sending out letters of claim to members of the general public that they claim were infringing the copyright of their clients.

Problem for TBI was that it was a deeply flawed system that rounded up far to many innocent people.

TBI like ACS:LAW and the law firm that followed Gallant Macmillan, never sought to go to court but relied heavily on the embarrassment of receiving one of these letters, and the assumption that no one would challenge them because of the damage to their reputation in doing so.

One of the more infamous titles represented by TBI was “Army Fu**ers”,  I cant publish the titles of the others as they are that bad (You can type in Media & More into a search engine to see what I mean)

Ironically TBI withdrew from the “Speculative Invoicing” plan, in a letter to the SRA TBI stated:

 “We have been surprised and disappointed at the amount of adverse publicity that our firm has attracted in relation to this work and the extra time and resources that have been required to deal solely with this issue.

We are concerned that the adverse publicity could affect other areas of our practice and therefore following discussions with our clients, we have reluctantly agreed that we will cease sending out further letters of claim.”

Hmmm well not as surprised and disappointed as a military man returning from service to one of their letters accusing him of downloading a porn film called “Army Fu*kers” but still.

TBI went on to try to eradicate all trace of their “Speculative Invoicing” actions by Vandalising” an entry on Wikipedia. This led to a rather amusing clash with one of the editors:

Please do not remove sourced content from Wikipedia, as you did with TBI Solicitors — this is vandalism,” wrote a Wikipedia admin to Tilly Bailey & Irvine.

Furthermore, your IP address geolocates to ‘TILLY BAILEY & IRVINE’ which suggests that you have a conflict of interest in removing criticism of the firm from Wikipedia. I suggest that you familiarise yourself with that policy before editing this particular article any further,”

Oops.

They were slammed in the House of Lords and now have an entry in Hansard, describing them as “an embarrassment to the creative industry”  see 1:06 – 1:40

The Speculative Invoicing plan that TBI took wholesale from ACS:LAW as shown in the ACS leaked emails (And for which ACS:LAWs Andrew Crossley originally threatened to report them to the SRA, but later relaxed and attempted to “Work together” when the SRA came down on them both), was also described in the House Of Lords as “no better than Legal blackmail” 

I attempted a satirical post regarding this comment, and TBI saw fit to threaten my Blog Host and also imply they would sue me for defamation.

In the end most people who read my Blog know that I seek only one thing from these Lawyers, and that is an apology, an apology for the pain they have caused in falsely accusing people who were left with a feeling of helplessness, and having no option but to pay up to avoid losing their homes or their jobs.

Did Tilly Bailey Irvine feel they could apologise? Well here is what one of their Bosses said,

TBI managing partner John Hall said the firm was “delighted to be able to dispose of this matter in a way that makes it clear that the firm has never acted with any conscious or deliberate impropriety”.

He added: “We take pride in our reputation for fighting our clients’ corner to the best of our ability. Although on this occasion the SRA has ruled that we went too far – on their interpretation of the rules – we shall continue always to put the interests of clients first, as our clients and the public generally would expect.

“Copyright breaches cost business £200m per year. We hope that these cases will highlight the lack of clarity in the rules and ensure that, in future, criminal activities such as these can be dealt with by the legal process so that copyright is safeguarded and clients’ legitimate interests are protected.”

noting that the SRA ruled that the company went “too far”, that decision was based on “their (SRAs) interpretation of the rules”.

One wonders what on earth John Hall means by this, the SRA after all are the ones who MAKE THE RULES and regulate Solicitors, this is no apology, and I hope the SRA will reconsider referring Tilly Bailey Irvine to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal which is independent, and where the likes of John Hall can argue the rules all he wants.

Davenport Lyons Two Suspended for “Intimidation” :UPDATE 1

August 2, 2011 4 comments

Dave Gore and Brian Miller have been suspended by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal for sending intimidating letters of claim to members of the general public that they accused of filesharing. *

Although Gore and Miller accused the people they sent letters to , they never gave them a chance to prove their innocence in Court, they relied on people not responding to their letters to get dubious “Default payments”

They had both been found in violation of SIX rules of the Solicitors Regualtion Authority

The Suspension willl be for three months and they will be fined £20,000.

The SDT said:

Their judgment became distorted and they pursued the scheme regardless of the impact on the people receiving the letters and even of their own clients.

In addition to the £20,000 fine, Miller and Gore were ordered to pay interim costs to the SRA of £150,000.

The SDT went on to say:

“Some of those affected were vulnerable members of the public. There was significant distress. We are pleased that this matter has been brought to a conclusion and hope that it serves as a warning to others.

“Solicitors have a duty to act with integrity, independence and in the best interests of their clients. Solicitors who breach those duties can expect to face action by the SRA.”

The order has been suspended for 21 days to allow for appeals.

ACS:BORE opinion

Although this is a welcome development, it no way goes to be an adequate punishment for the pain caused.  £20,000 fine would be easily miniscule to the profit that was made from people scared of legal letters and paying up to make the situation “Go away”, Davenport like their successor ACS:LAW aimed the letter of claim at a cynical price of £500 – £750, the same cost to employ a lawer to fight the claim.

A Three month supension will allow them to be back in work for the New Year.

We look forward to seeing what the SDT does with the ACS:LAW/Andrew Crossley hearing later in the year, but after this rather dissapointing ruling we dont expect much.

*(For more on the background of Davenport Lyons “Letter of Claim” see the excellent Torrentfreak that broke the news way back in 2007)

**Davenport Lyons has issued a response to the SDT Findings.

 “We were instructed by the owners of intellectual property rights in music, film and games to help them curtail the significant losses they were suffering as a result of the unlawful file-sharing of their products. 

“The steps we took on behalf of our clients were for the protection of their legitimate legal rights. We consider that we acted in our clients’ best interests at all times.

“We wholeheartedly support David and Brian’s intention to appeal both the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal’s original decision and the resulting suspension and fine.”

Just a thought Davenport Lyons, when you are in a hole, STOP digging, you have been found guilty in the Court of Public Opinion a long time ago, and that could be easy to dismiss, however NOW you have been found guilty by you own regulatory body and their disciplinary body. 

Accept you have done wrong and APOLOGISE for the pain you have caused.

You are going down the same road as Andrew Crossley and ACS:LAW by denying that you have done anything wrong.  Last time we looked that path was not good…

ACS:LAW – A Brief History of Speculative Invoicing

February 13, 2011 6 comments

The hearing regarding ACS:LAW and Media C.A.T has now been well covered.  My own personal favourite moments from Judge Birss  are at the foot of this article.

The reason for this post though is that it seems we have forgotten those OTHER people involved with all this over the last THREE years now.

I would like to show those who are only just reading up about all this, the bigger picture.

Davenport Lyons were the original Law firm (2007), who gave over a lot of their material and clients, to ACS:LAW (May 2009) including a number of the paralegals,  amongst them Terence Tsang.  Davenport Lyons were investigated by the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) and referred  to the SDT (Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal) [2] [3]

ACS:LAW represented Games, Music and Pornographic films, and started sending letters out  “en masse”

Tilly Bailey Irvine were up next (January 2010) and for a few months sent out letters defending Pornographic films, Although the films were legal in the sense they were certificated, the actual names of these films were VERY provocative and one could only imagine the distress caused to the Wife or indeed Husband who opened one of those letters.

Tilly Bailey Irvine withdrew citing “Adverse publicity” (April 2010) [2] not before being condemned in the House of Lords as “Latest entrants to the hall of infamy” and “An embarrassment to the creative industries” and also being accused by Wikipedia of “Vandalising” their entry.

In a wider attack by the Lords during the Digital Economy Bill, the actions of these “Piracy Chasers” was condemned as “Blackmail and a Scam”

Gallant Macmillan entered the fray defending The Ministry of Sound in July 2010With the online community outraged at yet another “Speculative invoice” entering the scene, letters started being sent to the Chief Master who issued the NPO’s that forced ISP’s to hand over details of their subscribers.

The “Anonymous DDos attacks on ACS:LAW brought down their website in September 2010 and then ACS:LAW accidently released a HUGE email archive online which was quickly snatched and posted to torrent sites, The contents of the emails were explosive.

The huge data leak gave added impetus to the Courts handing out the NPOs and a hearing was adjourned [2].  When it was reconvened BT/Plusnet refused to hand over their subscribers data and then it was learnt that BT had destroyed the records it held for Gallant Macmillan.  Gallant Macmilan were subject to DDos attacks.

Gallant Macmillan withdrew after BT destroyed the data they requested after a delay in obtaining a “norwich pharmacal” order, they deemed they could not make enough money out of the scheme to make it worth their while.

ACS:LAW just kept ploughing on though, using Logistep first as a “Data monitor” then Digiprotect, and then an obscure firm called NG3Systems.

After the DDos attack that destroyed their web presence it was thought that that would be the end of them.  They continued issuing letters however with  Media C.A.T who represented Pornographers Sheptonhurst amongst others.  ACS:LAW were investigated by the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) and referred  to the SDT (Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal)

Forced into a corner of ”put up or shut up” after claims he would never take a case to court, Crossley attempted a Court hearing against some recipients who had NOT responded, what is known as a “Default Judgement” It failed on an epic scale.

Some of those accused actually sent in a response and a defence and the hearing ended in disarray as the Judge ordered a search for all other cases on the Court system. He found 27 of them and arranged for a Court hearing to work out what direction should be taken.

With the Community totally focused against them and watching every move they made, it became clear that  ACS:LAW/Media C.A.T were desperate, to drop all the cases. The Judge refused adjourned the hearing and set a new date for January 2011 [2]

A new letter went out from a company called GCB Ltd, the community smelt a rat and rightly so. According to the Judge it was an attempt by Crossley and Bowden to get the last bits of money they could.

For the rest read the judgment online.  My favourite parts are below, and show what we knew all along, it was a Scam of epic proportions.

Media CAT and ACS:Law have a very real interest in avoiding public scrutiny of the cause of action because in parallel to the 26 court cases, a wholesale letter writing campaign is being conducted from which revenues are being generated. This letter writing exercise is founded on the threat of legal proceedings such as the claims before this court.

The information annexed to Mr Batstone’s letter refers to ACS:Law having “recovered” £1 Million. Whether that was right and even if so whether it was solely in relation to Media CAT or other file sharing cases I do not know. Simple arithmetic shows that the sums involved in the Media CAT exercise must be considerable. 10,000 letters for Media CAT claiming £495 each would still generate about £1 Million if 80% of the recipients refused to pay and only the 20% remainder did so. Note that ACS:Law’s interest is specifically mentioned in the previous paragraph because of course they receive 65% of the revenues from the letter writing exercise. In fact Media CAT’s financial interest is actually much less than that of ACS:Law. Whether it was intended to or not, I cannot imagine a system better designed to create disincentives to test the issues in court. Why take cases to court and test the assertions when one can just write more letters and collect payments from a proportion of the recipients?

Friday 09 April 2010 by Andrew J Crossley (My clients are pleased with the service I provide. I have conducted file sharing-related work for 11 months; to date I have recovered close to £1m for my clients.)

The GCB episode is damning in my judgment. This shows that Media CAT is a party who, while coming to court to discontinue, is at the very same time trying to ram home claims formulated on exactly the same basis away from the gaze of the court. That will not do. I find that these notices of discontinuance are indeed an abuse of the court’s process. The advantage of discontinuing as opposed to applying to amend is unwarranted in that it avoids judicial scrutiny of the underlying basis for wider campaign orchestrated by Media CAT and ACS:Law to generate revenue under the various agreements such as the Sheptonhurst agreement.

 One might think a claimant (and their legal adviser) who was giving their claim serious further consideration before perhaps starting it afresh in a different form or dropping it altogether, would certainly not assert the very same claim against other people not (yet) before the court. The GCB episode shows that Mr Crossley’s client had every intention of doing precisely that and that ACS:Law were perfectly well aware of it. It is very difficult not to draw the inference that this was nothing more than a last ditch attempt to make some money from the letter writing exercise.

And maybe the most damning part with implications for the Digital Economy Bill,  that an IP address alone; “cannot and does not purport to identify the individual who actually did anything.”

Just listened to the “BBC RADIO 5 Investigates” Program Good effort on their part. 30 minutes dedicated to this issue.

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