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File-sharing lawyers ACS Law shuts down

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By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 4 Feb 2011 at 17:11

A law firm under increasing pressure for its anti-file-sharing letter campaign has shut up shop - days before a key court decision.

ACS Law has been sending so-called "speculative invoicing" letters to people suspected of illegally downloading its client's content, threatening court action if recipients don't pay up.

The firm apparently shut down on 31 January, along with its sole piracy client, pornography licensee Media CAT. Earlier in the month, Crossley said the firm was leaving the piracy litigation business, after threats to his family.

The news comes via TorrentFreak, which says it obtained a document showing the two firms had closed.

Crossley confirmed to the BBC that both firms have ceased trading, and ACS Law's phone number is now disconnected.

The move comes ahead of a judgement in the Patents County Court on Tuesday afternoon. ACS Law had brought 27 cases to the court, but then attempted to drop them without any evidence being heard. Lawyers for the defendants want the case to continue, in order to be able to claim damages.

After attempting to drop the cases, ACS Law said it was passing the collection of settlement funds to a third-party firm called GCB Limited, which turned out to be a dormant company used by people connected to the law firm.

Aside from Tuesday's looming decision, Crossley is also being investigated by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, after a consumer watchdog brought a complaint.

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User comments

Good Riddance

And I wish that the defendants could take them/him for every penny he's got.

"The firm apparently shut down on 31 January, along with its sole piracy client, pornography licensee Media CAT"
Strange that they both closed down at same time. Was there more to the relationship than solicitor to client, as there was more to the relationship between ACS and GCB Limited?

By chapelgarth on 4 Feb 2011

And what next?

I think to openly announce that you are closing such a lucrative business model, simply means that it will just re-appear somewhere else. He will no doubt continue from behind a different "front".
What about all the cash he has collected so far?
He should be ordered to repay ALL the victims of his speculative invoicing, with interest!
Concerned Lincolnshire.

By Concerned on 4 Feb 2011

Criminal investigation

Perhaps the Police can be persuaded to begin a criminal investigation?

Perhaps Crossley can hide behind his role as a legal representative (although that status seems to be in some doubt as some of his activities appear to be in some sense those of a "principal") however there are other parties in this extortion racket that should be brought to account if possible.

By JamesJones on 5 Feb 2011

Bullies sometimes lose

If you take action against someone in the lower (small claims and county) courts, you are required to demonstrate good faith i.e you must have a genuine case, you must use court action only as a last resort, and you must not bring proceedings "frivolously". I recently won a case (and costs!) against a parking company when the court decided that REGARDLESS of the rights and wrongs, bringing a disputed and unpaid £40 ticket to court was an abuse of process.

I wonder how well ACS would have satisfied these legal requirements. It is worth remembering that a solictor's letter is usually used as a threat and/or means of coercion, it doesn't necessarily mean that they have an actionable case against you. Sometimes it's worth calling their bluff ...

By howardabates1 on 5 Feb 2011

Yey!!!

I shall celebrate tonight that some official scam company had been shut down!!!!

By mobilegnet on 5 Feb 2011

but... but... but...

Am I the only one sitting here gawping at the idea of a *pornography licensee* company??? This isn't about mainstream copyright theft at all - ACS weren't representing EMI or someone like that. They were collecting legal licences from smutmakers and then pursuing people who could be identified as having torrented (I guess...!) that material. The quasi extortionary nature, I suppose, was given extra twist by the nature of what's downloaded. Or have I missed something?

By Steve_Cassidy on 6 Feb 2011

Are you saying that legally copyright material should not have the protection of law because you disapprove of it?

By chapelgarth on 6 Feb 2011

Noooo...but...

Are you saying that legally copyright material should not have the protection of law because you disapprove of it?

...what he is suggesting is that 'embarrassing' nature of the supposed illegal down would encourage those accused to pay up with little or no grumble to stop any hint of this getting into local press etc.

This could be interpreted as more blackmail rather than just speculative invoicing.

The use of the term 'smutmakers' does however give a clue as to Mr Cassidy's general views on porn.

By fingerbob69 on 6 Feb 2011

A Statement of Position...

...on Porn, typed with both hands! My view, since you asked so nicely, is that to discuss porn at all, the most important thing to do is include the most prudish possible reader. That obliges the use of a certain vocabulary - fail to do that and you just drop about 80% of your readers on the spot. The choice is, should I address the issue with that problem in mind, or should I put "when Leigh Bowery and me ended up on the traffic news..." as an introduction, to satisfy an incredibly small minority of cognoscenti?

The whole point about ACS Law is that this story follows on from the single PC Pro article I am most proud to have seen published, in the entire history of the mag, about "Operation Ore". There's a major social sickness that circulates around the nature of sexuality and blackmail, and it's upkept by some very peculiar forces indeed. Operation Ore involved the US Secret Service, no less...

When one digs into a story like this (as with Ore), all too often one discovers frankly evil people, who won't care especially whose lives they ruin. That's a good reason, in my book, to make sure that all the parts of an accusation - technical, procedural and legal - stack up before the nasty letter hits the suburban doormat.

By Steve_Cassidy on 7 Feb 2011

@Steve_Cassidy

Can you point a link to that article. If its not online, a back issue reference?

Thanks

By alan_lj on 10 Feb 2011

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