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ACS:Law judgement raises questions over DEA
Friday 11 February 2011 10:09:42 by John Hunt

This week has seen some interesting developments in the ACS:Law/Media CAT case again 27 alleged file-sharers who have been taken to court by Media CAT. After having brought the cases, Media CAT then tried to have them thrown out so that they might be re-filed at a later date. Judge Birss, presiding over the case noted this was probably an attempt to avoid judicial scrutiny, and for this reason he did not allow the cases to be dismissed. Lawyers for the defendants were concerned that Media CAT, or the copyright owner would re-issue the cases leading to them being dragged out yet further.

Following peculiarities which include both ACS:Law and Media CAT writing to the court stating they have ceased trading and will be taking no further part in this activities, Judge Birss has now issued his judgement in the case. It is a long but interesting read which draws attention to the failings of Media CAT and their solicitors within the case which includes whether Media CAT actually has the right to bring the cases to the court without the copyright owner being present.

Judge Birss also questions the process used and suggests that a neutral, experienced supervising solicitor be appointed when a copyright owner or someone acting on their behalf requests a 'Norwich Pharmacal order' (which is used to force an ISP to identify who owned the IP address at the alleged time of infringement), to ensure that these are not abused. The intention here seems to be to avoid such companies just performing a letter-writing campaign without an intention to bring cases to court.

Of equal interest is Judge Birss' questioning of using an IP address to identify a copyright owner, which he states will likely just identify a wireless home broadband router and that Media CAT therefore do not know who actually caused the alleged and infringement. The judge also asked whether if someone allows others access to their broadband connection does this mean that they have authorized it for use for file-sharing, and questioned what defines an 'unsecure' wireless network. This could have implications for the Digital Economy Act (DEA) which is implementing rules to force broadband providers to identify users who have taken part in alleged file-sharing when identified by an IP address. The use of IP address information in this way remains untested within the courts.

The next steps in this debacle will see the Judge hear counsel to see if there would be anything gained from requiring Media CAT to apply to join with the copyright owners so the cases can proceed, but considering Media CAT have now ceased trading, the cases will likely be dismissed.


Posted by herdwick over 6 years ago
I would think there is a parallel with private parking enforcement. My car may well have been parked against the owners wishes, and they may have put a sticker on it and taken it's photo, but you can't take a car to court so they have to assume it's the registered keeper who owes them their "fee" (aka penalty). Unfortunately the registered keeper refuses to communicate with them. Stalemate.

If it did go to court I may have to demonstrate under oath that I was not the driver, and a similar principle could be applied here.
Posted by JohnUK over 6 years ago
The government, sooner or later will have to pander to the copyright holders and will have to further infringe on our privacy, on net neutrality.
The sooner IPV6 and quantum encryption become the standard the bigger the nightmare to impose the orwellian control freak dream will be.
Posted by tommy45 over 6 years ago
Acs:law no more, they will look so dumb in court they will not win one case,as according to their own leaked e-mails they know that the evidence they used to extort upto £500 a time by sending threatening letters, isn't good enough to be scrutinised in a court room,there is even some doubt's about lee bowdens outfit(mediaCAT)
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Judge Birss sounds like a top guy to me, if DEA won't stand up in court its useless, like we didn't already know that!
Posted by DavidNorris over 6 years ago
Help! Help! I'm being oppressed!
Posted by Sheilah_ALeigh over 6 years ago
File sharing means getting to sample some poor quality 128kbps album in a single .mp3 file before deciding if I actually like it and going buy a CD. And I do. As part of an Open University DRM research project a couple/three years ago I got the figures of CD sales v 'illegal' downloads from official sources and it showed an actual increase in CD sales coinciding with peaks in file-sharing. Actually the cause and effect is all in the consumer's and seller's benefits, if you study and breakdown the figures. And the figures show a place in the market for 'try before you buy'.
Posted by SheepFarmer over 6 years ago
@Sheilah_ALeigh that's why you see some people with thousands of MP3s and not a single one has been paid for is it?
Posted by tommy45 over 6 years ago
Whether or not people commit the really serious offece of copyright infringement or not is not really what this is about, it's about common sense and putting a stop to crooks like Andrew crossley & lee bowden AKA ACS:LAW & MediaCAT and the methods they used, & to protect the public from them in future
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
Its all a stupid waste of time. Its a ridiculous act and wants throwing out and writing again properly, by people who understand digital.
Posted by otester over 6 years ago

I thought VPN's already did a good enough job?


File-sharing actually means getting lossless FLAC music files (MP3 = depreciated) and only buying from independent artists which don't push anti-freedom laws.
Posted by m0aur over 6 years ago
What people fail to grasp, is that someone with thousands of MP3's downloaded for free, could not afford to buy them all anyway, so nobody has lost anything. Also, there is software like Replay Music that legally allows me to record anything that comes over my speakers to MP3, as well as auto-tagging and splitting tracks. No different to those that taped Top OF tHe Pops years ago!
Posted by otester over 6 years ago

It doesn't have to be justified.

Enforcing copyright violates freedom, to be specific, the right to privacy.
Posted by pigfister over 6 years ago
closing down before a ruling of the maffia tactics, scum bags.

all this is a mute point as the government has been paid off and given the RIAA, MPAA (Sony, Warner, Disney, Fox, Universal) a carte blanche on vexatious claims by bypassing our current legal system and removing funding to fight the tribunals that are set up by the media insustry!

Its kind of like asking the USA to reside over peace talks with Israel & Palestine!
Posted by SheepFarmer over 6 years ago
@m0aur somebody with thousands of MP3s might not be able to afford to buy all of them, but they could afford to buy some. But they don't buy any, because they're selfish like that. They steal other people's work instead and let others pay for their free lunch.

@otester I work damn hard to produce material. Why should anybody believe that not being allowed a free copy violates their freedom?

Pay your way and stop freeloading.
Posted by Gzero over 6 years ago
@SheepFarmer: shame the music industry doesn't practice what you preach. I'd buy your stuff if there wasn't a thieving middleman. ;)
Posted by mcowley01 over 6 years ago
@otester and @JohnUK:
VPN does do a pretty good job but IPv6 has vulnerabilties one of which is to make it possible for the originating IP address to be traced. This cannot be done if IPv4 alone is used. So it's not good news for VPN-ers when IPv6 becomes the norm. Don't know if a 'patch' could be found.
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