A controversial law firm that sent letters to alleged illegal file sharers has been told it cannot drop its cases to “avoid public scrutiny”.
ACS:Law contacted thousands of people accusing them of illegally downloading movies and songs and demanding payments of £500 to avoid court action.
The concerns stepped up last month when the head of ACS:Law, solicitor Andrew Crossley, told the court he wanted to withdraw all of the cases.
He then announced in a statement to the court that he would no longer be representing MediaCAT or pursuing any other copyright infringement cases.
Mr Crossley blamed a campaign of harassment and threats that had “caused immense hassle to me and my family”.
But the court said that the move was confusing and gave the impression that ACS:Law was attempting to avoid scrutiny.
Judge Birss added that the case could not be discontinued, since the copyright holders themselves should be given time to take further action if they wanted, but strongly criticised the tactics used by the two companies.
Read more on BBC.
Josh Halliday of the Guardian also covers the latest development and focuses on the drug’s ruling with respect to the use of IP addresses to identify infringers:
In a ruling in the patents county court, Birss asked: “Does the process of identifying an IP address in this way establish that any infringement of copyright has taken place by anyone related to that IP address at all?”
He said that the assertion did not hold up: “Even if it is proof of infringement by somebody, merely identifying that an IP address has been involved with infringement [does not make it] clear to me that the person identified must be infringing one way or another. The fact that someone may have infringed does not mean the particular named defendant has done so.”
“What if the defendant authorises another to use their internet connection in general and, unknown to them, the authorised user uses P2P [peer-to-peer] software and infringes copyright?” he noted in his ruling.
“Does the act of authorising use of an internet connection turn the person doing the authorising into a person authorising the infringement within s16(2) [of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act]? I am not aware of a case which decides that question either.”
Read more in the Guardian. It’s nice to see a judge that gets it.