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,”
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”
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.
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 email@example.com
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
In a startling email between Andrew Crossley and Andrew Hopper QC (concerning collaborating with Tilly Bailey and Irvine), Andrew Crossley dismisses Davenport Lyons efforts (Which he based his whole practice on) as “.. a little bit rubbish at doing this work” and adds “….to arrogant”
What is really interesting is that it appears that Andrew Hopper QC is actually working with ACS:LAW and also Tilly Bailey and Irvine by advising them how best to deal with the SRA.
In the email Crossley continues regarding Davenport Lyons arrogance by stating “…not like me, TBI or the latest brigand Gallant Macmillan”
The link with Gallant Macmillan is unfortunate timing for them in light of the email leak. Gallant Macmillan are back in Court on 4th October to contest the release of an NPO which will give them permission to get lots of further names from the IP addresses they already hold (for the Ministry of Sound).
The original hearing was on the 20th September 2010 but was adjourned as Chief Master Winegarten the presiding Judge had reservations about granting the NPO. This was covered in an article by Torrentfreak
It will be a VERY interesting October 4th when Simon Gallant walks through the door and has to put his case before the Judge, in light of ACS:LAW releasing their emails to the public
To write to Chief Master Winegarten CHANCERY DIVISION, ROOM TM 7.08, THE ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE, STRAND, LONDON, WC2A 2LL
The full email is here
Gallant Macmilan the lawyers representing “Ministry of Sound” amongst others as well as ironically “Liberty” are the latest Lawyers to jump onto the “Speculative Invoicing” Bandwagon, causing the recipients of their letters a whole lot of upset and confusion.
Whilst I personally would be embarrassed even being caught on a CCTV camera in the Lawyers favourite music store HMV 2, actually BUYING a Ministy of Sound album, personal taste is NOT the issue here though.
In their letters Gallant Macmillan state that “Ministry of Sound instructed a Software Company to identify occasions when their music is made availiable for download on peer to peer (“p2p”) Networks without it’s consent”. Now Gallant Macmillan DO NO STATE which “Software Company” this is. ACSBORE can reveal that the “Software Company” is none other than DIGIRIGHTS SOLUTIONS(DRS).
In an interview Simon Gallant stated “We’ve only just started doing this work. We are working for our client Ministry of Sound and we work with a German software company called DigiRights, who go on file-sharing sites and they identify IP addresses that are making available Ministry of Sound music”
DRS were the subject of a leak last November when their “SALES PITCH” Information was leaked by a dissatisfied worker. Torrentfreak did an excellent post regarding this issue which is available here.
Basically the “Turn Piracy into Profit” Scheme works like this, according to the Powerpoint DRS send out an email demanding say £500, they work on the principle that 25% of people will be scared into paying up, the last thing they want is to actually go to court. From the monies they collect they keep a whopping 80% leaving 20% for the “Rightsholders” who are rarely the creative people behind the works but usually the Lawyers and Labels. DRS claim that 25% of people pay up WITHOUT question.
As has been stated elsewhere “DRS states that it’s realistic to track and pursue about 5,000 filesharers per month per title. Considering that 25% of those people pay the €90, then the copyright holders would have to make about 150,000 online sales. Which is equal to the number of sales that are required for a Gold record award in Germany.”
As stated in the Torrentfreak article this makes it 150X more profitable to target YOU than it does to make money through normal routes. This is what is SO distasteful, it is like a Mob run racket. As an Attorney working a similar scheme in the US said “We’re creating a revenue stream and monetizing the equivalent of an alternative distribution channel”
The Powerpoint in German is available on the Torrentfreak Site there is a rough English version here.
So there we have it, Gallant Macmillan may well have learnt from the mistakes that ACS:LAW have made but by using the same “Forensic Experts” system that they and others have used, it is no good for the “Letters” to be sweetened. If it looks like a turd and smells like a turd, It is of no use to pick it up, you KNOW what it is…..
Well ACS:LAWs Andrew Crossley had his chance to defend his “Foolproof” method of identifying people file sharing and he blew it. Not only did he blow it but he has now taken his reputation even lower than anyone previously thought possible.
The One show had been putting together a segment relating to a number of complaints from innocent people who have been accused by Crossley and his cohorts (Logistep/Digirights/Digiprotect/NG3Systems)
ACS:LAW has been investigated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority(SRA) as have the previous Solicitors who attempted to execute this so called “Foolproof” method which amounts to nothing more than “Speculative Invoicing”.
It is a way for Solicitors to recoup money for rights owners whose products are usually so bad that no one has bought them, in the words of one of these “People” to “Generate alternative revenue streams”
On the “One Show” Program, it clearly showed there were problems with the way ACS:LAW go about their business. It highlighted Three innocent people, Lawdits Michael Coyle was damning in his assessment. Which? Legal Expert Deborah Prince also appeared
Andrew Crossley is standing now on the precipice, the Solicitors Regulation Authority(SRA) are due to conclude their investigation against him at the end of this month, the previous Solicitors who attempted this “Scheme” Davenport Lyons, have already been referred to the disciplinary tribunal at a date still to be set.
What was Andrew Crossleys reason for NOT appearing on the show? Believe it or not, it was some hogwash about “Not prejudicing the SRA investigation into my business”. Well I say that is a very cowardly reason. Of course one has to wonder wether he considers he HAS a reputation to save anymore.
This “Scheme” of course is NOT Andrew Crossleys. The “Speculative Invoicing Scheme” is merely a conduit that IF ACS:LAW are forced to stop will be picked up by some other chancers. Already Davenport Lyons have attempted and then ceased, as mentioned they are awaiting disciplinary measures. Tilly Bailey Irvine attempted it and then withdrew, and now of course we have another firm called Gallant Macmillan
Here are some GOOD reasons for anyone who has received a letter from these “People” to consider
Online coverage of the issue in all kinds of digital media has been huge
Tilly Bailey Irvine beat a hasty retreat from the practice following damage to their business as a result of their participation in the scheme – an investigation was started by the SRA following complaints – this has not yet concluded.
We await The SRAs conclusion and we also await a response from Andrew Crossley, although don’t hold your breath….
In a letter dated 8th February Bridget Prentice MP writes a letter of response to Lord Young of Northwood Green regarding amongst other things the conduct of ACS:LAW.
The letter has been published on the National Archives Website.
What is fascinating about the letter is that the Under Secretary expresses and acknowledges the distress that the actions of ACS:LAW are causing. She also states that whilst the Government itself cannot do anything about it the SRA can, and also alludes to the fact that the SRA can ONLY deal with disciplinary actions whereas Compensation claims must be sought through the CIVIL COURT. Just read that again, here is an extract
Now the REALLY cool bit for ALL those worrying about “how many letters to send”, “Should I reply”, “What should I do if I reply and get another letter”
Can you see it? “It is open to them to inform ACS:LAW that they are not liable and do NOT intend to reply to any further correspondence save to defend a claim should one be brought”
So NO MORE LETTER TENNIS/PING PONG. REPLY, DENY, DEFY!
A month ago I posted what seemed by ACS:LAW a startling admission regarding Terence Tsang. In a press release on the ACS:LAW Website it stated that Terence had joined from Davenport Lyons, something that ACS had ALWAYS denied to the point that Lawdits Michael Coyle had to apologise for suggesting such a thing
Now it seems after Terence Tsang has EXCLUDED ACS:LAW from his CV and merely stated that he previously worked at Davenport Lyons, Andrew Crossley has dropped the potentially embarrassing Release from his Website.
The page BEFORE Terence was erased
Why would he do such a thing? Maybe he is upset that he was excluded from the CV, it must hurt when a previous employee is so embarrassed he does not put you as a previous place of work. But the facts are plain was there and then it was gone. Just like the photo in 1984
“‘Ashes,’ he said. ‘Not even identifiable ashes. Dust. It does not exist. It never existed.’
‘But it did exist! It does exist! It exists in memory. I remember it. You remember it.’
‘I do not remember it,’ said O’Brien.”
“It’s all for one my friends
All my Schemes are forgotten
When you leave me on the shelf
I can think of nothing better
Than to sit here by myself”
Deep Purple – Soon Forgotten