The 27 controversial alleged copyright infringement cases brought before the courts by ACS:Law have now been officially closed by Judge Birss following a hearing at the patent courts yesterday. ACS:Law had been working on behalf of a company called MediaCAT who were accusing 27 defendants of using file-sharing software to distribute content. ACS:Law had written to around 11,000 people demanding payment of around £500 or face legal action for alleged copyright infringement.
Ralli, the law firm representing five of the accused is seeking £90,000 in costs against ACS:Law, although this is only usually imposed where legal representatives have behaved improperly. However, due to the peculiarities in how the case was handled, this may be one of those times. Judge Birss stated "If ever there was a case with conduct out of the norm it was this one."
ACS:Law were accused of performing a letter writing campaign as a way of making money but Paul Parker, the barrister acting on behalf of ACS:Law's owner, Andrew Crossley, said that he had spent £750,000 pursuing Internet pirates whilst only receiving £300,000 in fines from people. Crossley is also under investigation for misconduct by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) whilst the Information Commissioner is also considering a fine against ACS:Law following a data leak of alleged file-sharers details from the company.
The ACS:Law case has also raised questions over whether IP addresses are suitable to be used for identifying a person alleged of participating in file-sharing. This remains untested in the courts but MPs are hearing evidence over the Digital Economy Act which relies on this information next week after a judicial review was granted following complaints from ISPs BT and TalkTalk.