After all the efforts of Golden Eye International Limited (“GEIL”) to “protect their copyright” by applying for disclosure from O2 for subscriber names in their Norwich Pharmacal Order (“NPO”), we get to the situation where GEIL leave those who deny their claim in limbo.
GEILs replies vary, but one constant in all replies remain the same. A sort of “GEIL are very nice people who follow rules and judgements and would never harm anybody or anything”.
That constant in their letter is:
We have followed the procedure laid down by the Court when corresponding with you.
Such noble words, but what does that really mean?
From the NPO Court Judgement, let us see what Justice Arnold said about the monitoring:
For the results to be reliable, it is important to ensure that the monitoring software is functioning correctly. In particular, it is vital that the computer on which it is running has a correctly synchronised clock.
Who knows that? Who officially knows that? GEILs “forensic” expert says he “has identified the clock synchronisation source he used, which he says is accurate to 0.1 second”. Who officially saw that when they did the monitoring? We have to take their words for it.
Any more thoughts Justice Arnold?
Even if the monitoring software is functioning correctly, ISPs sometimes misidentify the subscriber to whom the IP address which has been detected was allocated at the relevant time. This can occur, for example, because of mistakes over time zones.
Maybe I am reading a different Court judgement than the one GEIL are saying they are following.
The evidence we have shows the following:
1) Hash of the content being uploaded by you, along with the content name, size and Torrent name. This will uniquely identify the file/movie that was being shared over P2P network.
2) Percentage of the file/movie that was being shared at the time of capture and detection of the infringement.
3) If you are seeding (or partially) more than one content, we have those identified by the ISP.
4) The P2P software, name and version, you were using and the hash that was generated by your software during that session of seeding or partial seeding.
5) The date and the time of seeding of any piece of the content by you with the index of the piece which shows where in the content that piece of data is. As we ask for just one identification by the ISP, this is a snapshot of this as it was happening. All of this could again be sent to the ISP to further identify you.
If we proceed to Court, we will be able to produce the following in digital format:
1) All the pieces seeded by you in a raw format that can then be inspected and further analysed.
2) The raw capture of the packets sent by your P2P software to the Internet at the time of identification. This is raw data that can be analysed further that will essentially show the piece of the content being seeded by you.
I don’t see this as following procedures laid down by the Court. The Court said that ISPs sometimes misidentify the subscriber. GEILs words are specific and accuse the subscriber as the infringer.
Not enough to convince? Let us look also at what Justice Arnold said:
Even if the monitoring software is functioning correctly and the ISP correctly identifies the subscriber to whom the IP address which has been detected was allocated at the relevant time, it does not necessarily follow that the subscriber was the person who was participating in the P2P filesharing which was detected.
Damn! It’s not looking good for GEILs evidence is it? Directly accusing the subscriber of infringing when the Court mentions very plausible issues as regards the monitoring, it escapes me. I’m beginning to think that Court judgments are not worth following any more. If you are sentenced to imprisonment in Court, ignore it and just be free and go home.
So let us use our imagination a bit and say that the monitoring software is perfect and the “Expert Witness” is clever and the ISP is useful. Let us believe in GEIL for one moment. They had 2,845 IP addresses that were monitored by Mr Torabi (Not NG3 Systems because they were crap for MediaCAT) for Ben Dover Productions (“BDP”). How many subscribers were disclosed by O2? Apparently less than 1,000! 33% hit rate! That’s it. I tried. I tried to believe in GEIL and it lasted for all of 3 seconds, which is less than the difference between the monitoring software timestamp and O2s timestamp (Ouch! Low blow!).
Let’s get back on to Court procedures and get back to the Court judgement and what Justice Arnold says:
I agree with counsel for Consumer Focus that the figure of £700 is unsupportable. My reasons are as follows. First, the Claimants know that an unknown percentage of the Intended Defendants are not infringers at all. Intended Defendants who have not in fact committed any infringements are not liable to pay any sum.
Let me re-align my reality sensors. How silly I was to try and imagine GEIL are right in their claim! I have to agree with Justice Arnold when he says “the Claimants know that an unknown percentage of the Intended Defendants are not infringers at all” and Justice Arnold is specific to say “Intended Defendants who have not in fact committed any infringements are not liable to pay any sum”.
But…..Justice Arnold says more:
Secondly, in the case of those Intended Defendants who are infringers, the Claimants have no idea about the scale of the infringements committed by each infringer. Some might have infringed on a very substantial scale indeed, while others might only have infringed to a minor extent.
Hmmm, I see. So why do GEIL ask for £350.00 per infringement? Oh yes, in the original draft letter GEIL asked for £700.00 per infringement. Why not £699.99? Why is £350.00 per infringement acceptable as a settlement based on the Justice Arnolds words?
I need more information Justice Arnold! Ah, he provided it:
I think that Mr Becker’s response in his second witness statement to the point made by counsel for Consumer Focus referred to in sub-paragraph 60(v) above is telling: ”… it assumes that £700 will be successfully obtained from each of the 9000, when that is plainly wrong. In fact, it is likely that only a small proportion will result in a successfully obtained payment of any sum.”
Mr Beckers words are “it is likely that only a small proportion will result in a successfully obtained payment of any sum”. That is a telling statement. What did Justice Arnold say to that?
This comes quite close to an admission that the figure of £700 has been selected so as to maximise the revenue obtained from the letters of claim, rather than as a realistic estimate of the damages recoverable by the relevant Claimant from each Intended Defendant
Mr Becker, please! Justice Arnold seems to have figured that an awful statement to make! Whatever actions are taken after the judgement, Mr Becker has been shown by Justice Arnold what could be considered a charlatan.
So Justice Arnold says £700.00 is unrealistic and GEIL think £350.00 is realistic. I think Justice Arnolds words “the Claimants have no idea about the scale of the infringements committed by each infringer” gives an excellent clue to what the suggested settlement should be from GEIL. They have the “Evidence” of one download from the alleged infringer and that is the only “Evidence”. That is the value of one video.
Having accepted before Justice Arnolds words that innocent subscribers will be targeted, it is fair to say that the monitoring software will capture those who did infringe GEILs copyright. In this situation, a subscriber will accept GEILs claim and what happens then Justice Arnold?
Accordingly, I do not consider that the Claimants are justified in sending letters of claim to every Intended Defendant demanding the payment of £700. What the Claimants ought to do is to proceed in the conventional manner, that is to say, to require the Intended Defendants who do not dispute liability to disclose such information as they are able to provide as to the extent to which they have engaged in P2P filesharing of the relevant Claimants’ copyright works. In my view it would be acceptable for the Claimants to indicate that they are prepared to accept a lump sum in settlement of their claims, including the request for disclosure, but not to specify a figure in the initial letter. The settlement sum should be individually negotiated with each Intended Defendant.
Hmmm. But we have seen a settlement figure from GEIL sent to subscribers who deny their claim. GEIL are not following Court procedures so much that it would be enough to get Justice Arnolds wig spinning!
Before I start to lose faith in the Courts and justice, I will quote one last statement from Justice Arnold:
I conclude that the Claimants’ interests in enforcing their copyrights outweigh the Intended Defendants’ interest in protecting their privacy and data protection rights, and thus it is proportionate to order disclosure, provided that the order and the proposed letter of claim are framed so as properly to safeguard the legitimate interests of the Intended Defendants, and in particular the interests of Intended Defendants who have not in fact committed the infringements in question.
The most important two words in that paragraph are “the order”. That says it is an Order to GEIL as well as the intended defendants. The “proposed letter” was drafted and approved by Court, and any subsequent actions taken by GEIL after the proposed letter are governed by the judgement of the Court.
I will re-write that paragraph which would be more appropriate for GEIL:
I wish we would have followed the procedure laid down by the Court when corresponding with you.
Without doubt the whole “Speculative Invoicing” operation employed by various participants with various roles has proven to be flawed and has targeted innocent people. That is proof alone that there has been no justification in operating such a scheme, even if infringers are caught.
Sadly, I know of certain people involved in the GEIL operation who have stated that “Collateral Damage” is acceptable if it catches the infringers. I take this to mean that no matter how many innocent people are targeted and pay up through fear, this “Justifies” their actions if they catch infringers.
As regards GEILs Letter Of Claim (“LoC”), the one small problem in what happened to be an excellent outcome of their original LoC being neutered is there is no initial settlement figure, and thus the real threat of the LoC is dumbed down. That could be a problem because an infringer (Or an infringer who seeks legal guidance) may see a figure of compensation far differently than GEIL.
It now transpires that unsuspecting subscribers who admitted the infringement have immediately received another letter from GEIL demanding a settlement figure which is more close to their original LoC and completely ignores everything that was decided by the Judge in GEILs original Norwich Pharmacal Order (“NPO”) back in March 2012. I suppose GEIL are not going to let a decision from an “unimportant” High Court Judge dissuade them from carrying on their absurd claims!
So what can a subscriber who has been led in to admission of guilt take from it? And what can they do when they receive the unjustified claim of compensation from GEIL?
If the alleged infringer admits GEILs claim then I believe clarification must be given to what extent. Admission could be:
1. An actual download took place by accident and cancelled quickly.
2. An actual download took place by accident and cancelled eventually.
3. An actual download took place in completion in anything from X hours to X days and removed by the infringer from the p2p software.
4. An actual download took place in completion in anything from X hours to X days and not removed by the infringer from the p2p software.
What about the infringement? It may be accepted that “Two acts” of infringements occurred:
1. The alleged infringer has admitted to downloading the copyright material.
2. The alleged infringer has made the copyright material available for GEIL to download a small part.
What is in dispute is GEILs value of compensation of a demand for £350.00 per infringement or £700.00 for four infringements.
Let us start by looking at GEILs letter of claim under the section “Our claim for damages”:
The act of file sharing the Work without the consent of GEIL or BDP has caused damage to our business. We contend that every copy of the Work that is downloaded represents a potential lost sale. Whenever the Work is made available for download to other parties there is the opportunity for multiple downloads to take place resulting in lost revenue. In addition to GEIL selling direct, we also enter into licensing agreements for third party organisations to distribute our content. File sharing also results in lost royalty revenue and weakening of the Ben Dover brand. The court has power in such circumstances to award GEIL and BDP damages for our loss and, in appropriate circumstances, additional damages where the unlawful file sharing has been flagrant
The level of damages we claim will depend on the extent to which you have downloaded the Work and/or made it available for the download by others.
Now the decision from the Judge Mr Justice Arnold in the Court case:
134. Secondly, in the case of those Intended Defendants who are infringers, the Claimants have no idea about the scale of the infringements committed by each infringer. Some might have infringed on a very substantial scale indeed, while others might only have infringed to a minor extent.
Now I will look at particular aspects of GEILs evidence, claim, proposed settlement and their claim of legal consequences.
The single most important fact is GEILs evidence has a small part of an upload from an IP address. This is very evident from GEILs claim of “Whenever the Work is made available for download to other parties there is the opportunity for multiple downloads to take place resulting in lost revenue”. This is backed up by the Judge when he states “the Claimants have no idea about the scale of the infringements committed by each infringer”.
So making a claim of “the opportunity for multiple downloads” when the Judge quite rightly says that they have no idea how much, is where GEIL have the major problem of lack of evidence. GEIL have the evidence of one upload.
What about GEILs claim of lost revenue? Surely lost revenue must be taken in to account after all relevant costs are taken out for sending a DVD to a consumer. Compiling a DVD and packaging costs need to be considered, then the sale value to a distributor and finally the postage costs to post it to a distributor.
After all this is taken in to consideration, even a 30% gross profit on the £30.00 sale of a DVD to a distributor is £9.00 profit.
This is also on the basis that you can actually buy the film if it is at all available through Distribution. It cannot be deemed lost revenue if the film is not available to purchase.
Although it is the case the Judge declared GEIL have the right to protect their copyright, it is certainly not right for GEIL to claim disproportionate compensation. If GEILs claim to an alleged infringer is lost revenue through sharing and uploading, making the same claim against other alleged infringers is double-counting.
If 10 alleged infringers were asked to pay compensation, each alleged infringer would be asked to pay for the infringement of the others. This would in the case of the 10 alleged infringers make them pay for a total of 90 infringements.
From the Judgment, Mr Becker makes reference to “the reasonable royalty should be assessed on the basis of a ‘time limited license [sic] to exploit a work by providing copies of it on an unlimited worldwide basis’ “, whilst the LoC claims “In addition to GEIL selling direct, we also enter into licensing agreements for third party organisations to distribute our content. File sharing also results in lost royalty revenue and weakening of the Ben Dover brand”.
It now transpires that GEIL are making the claim that the Court will grant their claim for a “One year” standard licence agreement for one film which they would typically grant for Distributors. This could be as much (If not more) as £1,500.00. Exactly how they can equate sharing one film to a one year licence is baffling! It can only be considered the basis of a licence for as long as the download took place. If it took two days to download the film by the infringer, it can only be a licence for that amount of time, which would be no more than £10.00.
It may be argued by GEIL that they would only ever negotiate the minimum term of a licence to be one year, but negotiation is precisely the point when it comes to an agreement for a licence. It cannot be one way. A Distributor can make the decision if they wish to agree to those terms or not.
It also has to be taken in to consideration that you have the disproportionate situation (Above) of infringers having to pay for all other infringements resulting in double-counting again.
The particular claim of flagrancy in GEILs LoC relates to their claim that an infringement has damaged the Ben Dover Productions (“BDP”) brand. I will set aside the notion that this is a possibility as it could be argued that is what GEIL are doing. This claim fails again through the evidence situation (Above). To what level can GEIL claim an infringer has damaged the BDP brand? Again no evidence to back up such claim.
My summary of GEIL and their latest claim against those who admitted the infringement are:
1. To what level of infringement has GEIL established from the infringer?
2. What evidence does GEIL have to prove an infringers level of infringement?
3. Why do GEIL quite directly ignore the Judges opinion?
4. Do GEIL consider the profit only aspect of lost revenue?
5. How can GEIL consider the idea of multiple uploads, licencing and flagrancy when it results in double-counting?
6. How can GEIL impose the one year licence on an infringer without negotiation when a download may take up to two days?
Special thanks to Hickster
Mr Becker was quoted here:
Disregarding the fact that our films when purchased sell for far in excess of £10, he totally missed the fact that file sharing occurs not in a closed user group of those circa 9,000 Telefonica customers, but in a far larger community of millions of users. Fundamentally we are pursuing those that are uploading not downloading, they are potentially uploading to millions of others who are also using these networks. How many they upload to is impossible to calculate, but in effect these violations are unauthorized distribution, we are not pursuing those who have simply downloaded one film.
“millions of users”………Oh dear God.
“potentially uploading to millions of others”……..Oh dear God, please!!!
“How many they upload to is impossible to calculate”………..No evidence?
“we are not pursuing those who have simply downloaded one film.”………Untrue!!!
Demanding £350.00 for one infringement makes what Mr Julian Fraser Becker says as untrue.
Despite assurances from GEILs “Commercial Director” Julian Becker that he is NOT connected to ACS:LAWs Andrew Crossley, the release of the template of their Pre-Action letter, shows that he is at least a fan of the format of letter that was developed by Davenport Lyons, and licensed by them to ACS:LAW , who then in turn let Tilly Baily Irvine use them. TBI were the Solicitors for GEIL/BDP.
It is watered down for sure, as I have said all along, it would be a “Refinement”, but it is still essentially the same format with the same evidence, or should that be, LACK OF EVIDENCE.
The letter is really an exercise in Phishing, you would have thought a company who had gone to Court and gained a Norwich Pharmacal order, would at least have some kind of concrete evidence, right? Err no not quite.
The letter states that
“This letter assumes that you, as the internet account holder at your address, were the user of the relevant computer on the day and time in question,” the letter states under the title “Infringing acts.”
“In the event that you were not responsible for the infringing acts outlined above because, for example, another member of your household was the user of the computer, you should make full disclosure to us of the other parties at your residence using your internet connection to make the Work available for download,” the letter states.
“A failure to make such disclosure may lead to a claim being made against you with the court being asked to conclude, on the balance of probabilities, that you were the user of the computer.”
ACS:LAW in their desperation issued a questionnaire that covered the same criteria, GEIL are using it in their initial letter! One thing is missing though and that is a demand for money,(GEIL had wanted to demand £700 per letter, but were slapped down by the High Court), this on the face of things seems a good thing, however, it almost certainly guarantees at least a second letter.
We know from the ACS:LAW cases that when they got to court, they were laughed back out. Judge Birss said of ACS:LAWs client Media C.A.T,
The letter also contains another similarity to the ACS:LAW letter, the “Forensic computer analyst”, Hmm that would be Alireza Torabi, the same one that ACS:LAW used, of course Becker has already stated he had no problems with Torabis system, only Crossleys use, but that is the issue, a lot of the captured data was duff.
One final concern, is that in the Solicitors Regulation Authorities report, they stated,
“Neither MCAT nor the Respondent had evidence that the “Work” had been made available. They had a report from the monitoring company which showed that its software had captured pieces of the two pornographic videos being made available from an IP address at a particular second in time.”
What was true a year ago is as true as today, there IS NO EVIDENCE, that is why the letter is designed to trip up a person who has not infringed but at least could be hoodwinked into paying up. It is a scare tactic being used by a failing pornography business to generate money.. PURE AND SIMPLE
Now what was it that Lindsay Honey (Ben Dover) said? Ahh yes..
Says it all really
EDIT: If YOU receive a letter from Golden Eye International, then contact your local Citizens Advice Center. Citizens Advice Consumer Service (08454 04 05 06) or your local Citizens Advice Bureau And of course post comments here or on the Slyck forums!
I sent the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) an email regarding their investigation into the ACS:LAW Data Leak.
The email contained a few simple questions.
1: Why is ACS:LAW/Andrew Crossley still registered at 20 Hanover Sq London as a Data Controller.
2: Do you think it is appropriate to offer Mr Crossley a 20% for early payment of his fine?
3: Do you think that Mr Crossley may have been in a better position to pay his fine had the ICO not taken so long to conclude it’s investigation?
The reply I got from the ICO after 14 days was this.
An obvious template response, I even got the ICO’s ACS:LAW FACT SHEET. And (wait for it) How to get compensation from ACS:LAW!!! (See Below)
Well of course my thinking was that if the ICO thought that it was only worth under 20p for everyone who has had their details leaked then imagine the Compo I would get from ACS:LAW I mean I might even get a penny a WHOLE Penny. Wow well it truly has got me thinking until of course I realised that even the cheapest postal stamp (36p) would be many times my compensation, and incidentally more than the ICO fined ACS:LAW per individual.
There has been talk by Christopher Graham the head of the ICO that he would have liked to have fined ACS:LAW £200,000 but of course that was proven to be merely a dose of hot air. (See question 2)
Mr Graham in fact has been in the news a few times since regarding other “Data protection issues” and again appears to be a mighty knight roaring about the rights and wrongs of the issue and how people should protect data, but he wields a foam sword.1 2
Maybe it is not his fault, maybe the ICO is handcuffed by legislation as Mr Graham seems to believe. One thing is sure, I and many others have been through too much disruption in our lives to leave this alone now, we have invested the most precious of commodities know to humans, that of TIME, we did not ask Mr Crossley and his ACS:LAW “clown asses” to invade our lives with their preposterous allegations.
A investigation into ACS:LAW by PCPRO this week was revealing and showed how Andrew Crossley had shown the ICO to be mugs. An ICO spokesperson had told ZDNET “The £1,000 reflects his financial condition. He did drive a Bentley at one point, but he doesn’t now.” Well guess what PCPRO saw when they turned up at Crossley house? The Bentley still on his drive.
We are now over two years into this now and those accused by Davenport Lyons into their third year. This whole situation has been a travesty of Justice, where the bad guys have been allowed to accuse thousands, leak their details and remain in a good position when they should be skulking back to the rock they crawled from.
There is still light though, on Tuesday this week (31st May) Dave Gore and Brian Miller the two Solicitors accused by the Solicitors Regulation Authority(SRA) will stand before their Disciplinary board (SDT) to answer for their actions in pursuing people they KNEW to be innocent. Andrew Crossleys date is also coming soon. There is real hope that partial justice may be done to these people.
It remains to be seen wether the SRA will act in a proper way and not in the way that the ICO has acted like a “Toothless Tiger”
When the ACS:LAW scandal broke, the lives of thousands of people were turned upside down, up until that point people had been upset with letters threatening to take them to court for fictitious file sharing,
But September last year things turned even more bizarre as ACS:LAW released an archive of their emails online. This date breach exposed up to 10,000 peoples names addresses and credit card details alongside their names being linked with vile pornographic material.
Indeed the ICO had been given powers to fine companies £500,000, they messed up with the BT data breach because they said that It was an individual at fault and NOT BT, Hmmmmm. Things did not bode well for the ACS:LAW investigation.
The ICO decided the case against ACS:LAW stating:
“The security measures ACS Law had in place were barely fit for purpose in a person’s home environment, let alone a business handling such sensitive details.”
Wow powerful stuff right?
The ICO went on
“As Mr Crossley was a sole trader it falls on the individual to pay the fine. Were it not for the fact that ACS Law has ceased trading so that Mr Crossley now has limited means, a monetary penalty of £200,000 would have been imposed, given the severity of the breach. Penalties are a tool for achieving compliance with the law and, as set out in our criteria, we take people’s circumstances and their ability to pay into account.”
“Were it not for the fact that ACS Law has ceased trading so that Mr Crossley now has limited means, a monetary penalty of £200,000 would have been imposed”
Hmmm so Crossley gets to CLOSE his company the very action which brought derision from Judge Birss along with many man people who had been affected by his nasty letters, and he gets off with a grand to pay becuase of this deception?
The ICO goes on to say:
The ICO’s investigation found serious flaws in ACS Law’s IT security system. Mr Crossley did not seek professional advice when setting up and developing the IT system which did not include basic elements such as a firewall and access control. In addition ACS Law’s web-hosting package was only intended for domestic use. Mr Crossley had received no assurances from the web-host that information would be kept secure.
While the firm should have been aware of their obligations under the Data Protection Act, they continued to act negligently and failed to ensure that appropriate technical and organisational measures were in place to keep personal information secure.
This is worse than outrageous, as ACS:LAW actually used the fact that people had not secured their home systems and used the fact against them. They did not care if an elderly person had not secured their router or modem or their computer, it was the persons fault and they were held to account for being negligent by ACS:LAW.
Andrew Crossley must be laughing at this and the rest of us now. A measly £1000 penalty for a man who bragged of making over £1,500,000 in a year, and who lavished expensive cars on himself and his girlfriend, this is a joke. A man who lives in a 7 bedroom house worth nearly a million pound yet he pleads poverty? The ICO has let us all down. They are unfit for purpose.
Indeed £1000 is less than the price of just two of his letters that he sent out to the general public.
The interview with Christopher Graham can be seen here, please don’t hold a hot drink whilst watching the sheer disconnect between the interview and the reality might just choke you.
UPDATE: To add insult to injury it is revealed that IF Andrew Crossley pay his “Penalty” by June 6th 2011, he will receive an “Early pay Bonus” of 20% meaning he will only have to pay £800.
UPDATE 2 :See below for the ICO Ruling
UPDATE 3: For those of you who wish to comlain about this ruling
To Complain to the ICO themselves: http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/satisfied_with_our_service/complaints_and_compliments.aspx
To write to your MP: http://www.writetothem.com/
Yesterday at the Patents Court Judge Birss gave ACS:LAW/Andrew Crossley such a kick up his ample backside that the ripples will be felt throughout the Legal Profession.
In one of the final hearings into the Court Cases that ACS:LAW were due to bring against 27 alleged infringers (Read Innocent people) the Judge has turned his attention to Wasted Costs, ie ACS:LAW/Andrew Crossley wasting everyone’s time with his ridiculous Business Plan of targeting innocent people for alleged filesharing
I have covered the previous parts of this case on my Blog and it has also been reported rather nicely on the Torrent Freak Website.
Some stand out moments from yesterday include, comments from Judge Birss
Agreements between ACS:LAW and Media C.A.T) In my judgment there is an apparently strong prima facie case that the Basic Agreements are improper and champertous
Assuming Mr Crossley has indeed made a loss so far (and I am not satisfied I have the whole picture relating to the finances of this exercise in any event) it does not alter the fact that the Basic Agreements are improper and unreasonable.
Mr Tritton (Ralli Barrister) submitted that the Basic Agreements were negligently drafted by ACS:Law and the negligence was not merely an unintended act of incompetence but was done for ACS:Law’s benefit
In my judgment the drafting of operative clause 1.1.1 in the Basic Agreements was prima facie negligent. Mr Parker(ACS:LAW Barrister) did not advance a case to deny that, he submitted there was no evidence Mr Crossley was responsible for the drafting of the Basic Agreements. I have already dealt with that above. Mr Crossley was plainly responsible.
(NPO Applications)This is yet another example of conduct by ACS:Law which, at best, can be described as amateurish and slipshod.
(On reports that SHOULD have been sent to ISPs) I will hear counsel as to whether I should direct ACS:Law and/or Media CAT to provide the report to the court and the defendants’ solicitors or explain why there is no report to provide.
In summary, consideration of the Norwich Pharmacal orders in this case reveals, prima facie, a series of errors and questionable conduct by ACS:Law….
(On the letter of claim) In my judgment the letter is plainly negligent and may well be improper.
(Negligent Correspondance) ACS:Law’s conduct was chaotic and lamentable. Documents which plainly should have been provided were not provided. This was not the behaviour of a solicitor advancing a normal piece of litigation.
( GCB Debacle) I have already found the GCB episode shows that ACS:Law knew perfectly well that Media CAT intended the letter writing campaign to be pressed ahead with despite the court being told that the Notices of Discontinuance were being used in order for the claimant to give the matter further consideration. That finding provides further support for my finding that there is a prima facie case of unreasonable conduct by ACS:Law in relation to the Notices.
In my judgment the combination of Mr Crossley’s revenue sharing arrangements and his service of the Notices of Discontinuance serves to illustrate the dangers of such a revenue sharing arrangement and has, prima facie, brought the legal profession into disrepute
(Crossley 3rd Witness Statement) In his third witness statement Mr Crossley set out draft accounts and in paragraph 7 he summarised his position. He stated that the business model has been neither profitable nor rewarding for him in any way at all, and that neither himself nor ACS:Law solicitors have funded these proceedings and have not benefited from them. He said the control which ACS:Law has had over these proceedings is only to the extent that any litigation solicitor would have over his litigation client’s affairs and no more. He continued “By contrast both the claimant and the various copyright owners that it was representing received considerable income from the business model without any cost to them.”
There is a good arguable case that ACS:Law / Mr Crossley will be liable for the costs of this case and I will add ACS:Law / Mr Crossley as a party to this action for that purpose.
Barrister Guy Tritton is already on record describing the ACS Law case as the “most appalling case” he’d seen in his career, stressing it was a unique incident.
The Court hearing will be reconvened on the 17th June just two weeks AFTER the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal meets to decide what THEY are going to do with Andrew Crossley.
In Crossleys own words “Exciting times”
“It has been said that we have no intention of going to court but we have no fear of it”, so spoke ACS:LAWs Principle Andrew Crossley. Well this was his big chance to prove all his critics wrong, and he failed completely. True he had an excuse, an accident so it has been said, but there is a pattern that emerges that just before ACS:LAW are to be held to account “something” always happens.
Andrew Crossley has already been referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal for a THIRD time, and this Court Case must truly raise some searching questions amongst his peers. Media C.A.T who Crossley represents are headed by Lee Bowden who is the Managing Director of Piri Ltd.
This case was called by Judge Birss, after an attempt by ACS:LAW and Media C.A.T to gain some “Default” judgements, so easy money for people who don’t turn up to defend themselves. This hearing failed spectacularly as Judge Birss appeared astonished at the slack work that had gone into preparing the case for the nine people they were asking for judgments against. The Judge called a halt to proceedings and after a search for all similar cases filed by ACS:LAW and Media C.A.T it was discovered their were another 27 on the record, the Judge ordered a hearing to try to sort out all the mess.
In the weeks between the Case being halted in December 2010 and the new one that happened today a new wave of letters went out to people, from a Company that stated that they were now acting for Media C.A.T and that ACS:LAW had handed over the work to them. After much enquiry from the forums set up to help those accused the new Company GCB LTD withdraw from the work on the SAME day as this case was adjourned.
In the last week letters have been going out to the 27 people due in Court today stating that ACS:LAW and Media C.A.T were DROPPING the cases. You just could not make up a more amateurish ham fisted load of crap if you tried. ACS:LAW and Media C.A.T Barristers attempted to discontinue all the cases but the Judge said only HE could give permission for that to happen
So with Crossley and Bowden not turning up it was left to the Barristers to try to deal with the mess, and by all accounts they were very badly briefed. So badly were they briefed that the Judge called an adjournment again until next week. The Barristers for those accused are asking for punitive costs, and saying that the cases brought are “Pernicious” Rallis Barristers stated they were putting Media C.A.T “On notice” hinting that the “Wastage costs” would be “Off the scale”
One sad moment was when one of those accused and denying accusations of sharing copyrighted porn, representing himself in court, said: “I just want this whole sordid tale behind me” he apparently settled with no recourse to cost. Although I understand the pressure on him it is the mark of this despicable “Pay or we Sue, Speculative Invoicing” that it can push people to despair.
The Judges reported opinion on hearing that ASC:LAW and Media C.A.T may resubmit the claims they have dropped, the Judge stated the “the reissue threat was “unprecedented” in his career.
I will leave the rest of this down to those who are better at reporting it 2. I just wanted to get it off my chest. The SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) should take a long hard look at itself. We are here talking of a man who has been referred now THREE times to their Disciplinary Tribunal yet he is free to continue to wage his “war of attrition” against innocent people in the pursuit of money. NO evidence, has EVER been tested in Court and it will be TWO years in May since he started, OVER two years if you take into account the previous Law Firm Davenport Lyons.
How can it be that the SRA is so powerless to stop a seemingly rogue solicitor like Andrew Crossley who has threatened individuals with ruin for trying to stand up to his bullying ways and has threatened whole forums as well. It is just not acceptable in this day and age to allow this kind of travesty to continue.
UPDATE ON THIS STORY 20th January 2011
To the 26 remaining people with cases outstanding
I understand that ACS LAW have been sending out letters in the last two days. Please could you send me a scan of this, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
People who have received letters from ACS:LAW the now INFAMOUS Law Firm based in the UK who have since May 2009 been sending out what many consider to be “Speculative invoices” and others “Pay us or we SUE” mail to people they suspect of filesharing, seem to have switched to a rather obscure company to continue their dubious practice.
People have started to receive a letter pack from a company called GCB Ltd, C/O Mclean Reid
Mclean Reid are a Chartered accountants
and quite what their connection with this is, is not clear. The letters are posted on here to support others who may be receiving them soon.
The letter is somewhat amusing in the sense that it refers the reader to “A copy of the case between “Polydor and others vs Brown and others” which even ACS:LAW staff felt was irrelevant as the person in the case ADMITTED he was at fault, and also even stranger for a law firm regarding a legal ruling, rather than include Court documents, they refer the reader to a BBC NEWS story about the now discredited Barwinska case.
I would urge ANYONE who has received a letter from GCB LTD on behalf of ACS:LAW to contact the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority)
Solicitors Regulation Authority
Tel: 0870 606 2555
Fax: 0207 320 5964
UPDATE: Mclean Reid have issued a statement on their Website concerning this situation (Confirmed)
We have no connection whatsoever with ACS Law
GCB Ltd was formed by us and appears to be being misused by some third party.
We are taking urgent steps to ensure that our name is not in any way abused in this connection.
This rather terse statement was followed by a further posting on one of the forums covering the ACS:LAW debacle (UnConfirmed)
GCB Ltd was a dormant company formed by us at the request of a client, we were the registered office for convenience. Our client thought he was helping out an ‘associate’ of his by allowing that ‘associate’ to use this dormant company for a business venture (which we knew nothing about). Neither we, nor our client, knew it was going to be used for this purpose. We only discovered this yesterday (13th January) and accordingly advised our client, who also wants to remove his association from this company.
This latest news just adds to the fog, I would urge ALL recipients to complain to the relevant authorities about this as it does seem very suspicious. On contacting Holborn Place it appears that a Mr Miller is the Director of GBC Ltd
Mclean Reid have now stated the following although I can not confirm it
Mclean Reid can confirm that they are cancelling the registered office facility for GCB Ltd and have contacted the various regulatory authorities and other interested parties.
We also confirm that we have no connection whatsoever with ASB Law, its directors or shareholders.
Email from Mclean Reid, just after the ACS:LAW Court case ended:
We are advised that the Director has taken the decision stop further trading through GCB Ltd in respect of alleged copyright infringement.
We believe that he has moved swiftly to minimise the damage to his name in taking this decisive action.
We are further advised that he was unaware of the background involved in these claims or the precise nature of the claims. To that end anyone receiving letters from or on behalf of GCB Ltd in respect of copyright infringement should ignore these letters. We have been assured that no further action will be taken.
Make of this what you will! But it does seem like the latest threat from ACS:LAW/Media C.A.T via GCB LTD is over!
IMPORTANT NEW NEWS
The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:
The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.
The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 130,000 times in 2010. If it were an exhibit at The Louvre Museum, it would take 6 days for that many people to see it.
In 2010, there were 57 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 147 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 24mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.
The busiest day of the year was May 27th with 6,649 views. The most popular post that day was ACS LAW send out Phishing Questionnaires UPDATED.
Where did they come from?
The top referring sites in 2010 were torrentfreak.com, slyck.com, consumeractiongroup.co.uk, ispreview.co.uk, and twitter.com.
Some visitors came searching, mostly for gallant macmillan, andrew crossley, wordpress blog acs law, acs bore, and acs law wordpress.
Attractions in 2010
These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.
ACS LAW send out Phishing Questionnaires UPDATED February 2010
“Tilly Bailey and Irvine” Stop sending “Speculative Invoices” to save their Reputation April 2010
Davenport Lyons, ACS:LAW, Tilly Bailey and Irvine, SHAME ON YOU March 2010
Received a letter from ACS LAW? Dont panic January 2010
I would like to thanks Slyck, Enigmax of Torrentfreak and ACS:FLAW, or just Flaw who is a legend! Thanks guys and gals onto 2011……
It was rumoured in the forums but now it is official, Gallant Macmillan are no longer representing Ministry of Sound.
In a terse letter to a person accused, Gallant Macmillan the controversial Law firm with links to the Infamous ACS:LAW has announced that it is no longer being instructed by Ministry of Sound, ALTHOUGH it also states that Ministry of Sound are in the process of instructing another firm and that the recipient would “likely to hear from in due course”
Although this sounds rather sinister, it may well be bluster, it is hard to think of what Law firm would pick up the Poison Chalice of further “Speculative Invoicing” cases.
Davenport Lyons fell by the wayside in May 2009, the firm who gained the paralegals from Davenport Lyons, ACS:LAW are still struggling with the legal issues that they have brought on themselves what with the email leak that is being investigated by the ICO and the SRA referring their Principal Andrew Crossley to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal as a result of sending out these letters.
Tilly Bailey Irvine attempted these “Speculative invoicing” for a short time, but long enough to also attract the attention of the SRA who are investigating them for the same reasons. Their reputation was further damaged whenthey were caught “vandalising” their page on Wikipedia in an attempt to erase all mention of their actions.
Terence Tsang the paralegal who left Davenport Lyons for ACS:LAW, left them for Cramer Pelmont. Cramer Pelmont announced that they would start issuing letters in the same model. This did not actually come to fruition though as the ACS:LAW email leaks showed that Tsang has also been working for ACS:LAW whilst at Cramer Pelmont, an accusation that Cramer Pelmonts head honcho Alex Brassey had denied just a week previous.
So just who WILL take instructions from the Ministry of Sound? I would like to think that no one would, but I have underestimated ACS:LAW before…..
Just also want ot say, HAVE A GREAT CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR….PLEASE DO NOT ALLOW THESE PEOPLE TO RUIN YOUR HOLIDAYS.