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Falsely Accused UK File-Sharers Urged to Sue for “Harassment”

Falsely Accused UK File-Sharers Urged to Sue for “Harassment”

UK law firm Ralli is urging those that have been “bullied” by ACS: Law with threatening letters and demands for compensation for alleged copyright infringement to come forward and be included in a group action they are pursuing.

Lawyers at UK law firm Ralli are trying to round up support from file-sharers that have been “bullied” by ACS Law with threatening letters and demands for compensation, usually around £500 ($773 USD), for alleged copyright infringement, believing they may be entitled to compensation for harassment.

“The legal basis for the claims being made against these alleged file sharers involves complex legal and technical principles,” says Michael Forrester, an attorney with Ralli’s Intellectual Property and Harassment Law team. These are extremely difficult for a lay person to understand and can often mean that an innocent person is being pursued.

The ACS: Law anti-P2P campaign began in earnest last May after another law firm, Davenport Lyons, quit suing file-sharers en masse after a spate of bad publicity primarily involving non-gaming and non-porn watching elderly couples. Those efforts by Davenport Lyons eventually led to them being reported to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) for “bullying” and “excessive” conduct by the consumer watchdog Which?

ACS: Law paid no attention to the concerns of Which? and others and lauded its own efforts for being part of what it calls its “revolutionary business model” that “generates revenue for rights holders and effectively decreases copyright infringement in a measurable and sustainable way” unlike the “costly and ineffective” anti-piracy measures of other companies.

It kicked off the new model with plans to sue 15,000 illegal file-sharers in the first batch alone, and has hardly held back ever since. In that first batch Which? was alerted by more than 150 people that they had been falsely accused.

Andrew Crossley, a spokesman for ACS:Law, defended the firms approach, saying it’s “unaware” of any innocent people being targeted and that the plan is necessary to “eradicate” illegal file-sharing.

Which? eventually reported ACS: Law to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for the same reason it did Davenport Lyons – ‘bullying’ and ‘excessive’ conduct. Last week the SRA decided to refer Crossley to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).

Ralli is now urging falsely accused file-sharers that have been a victim of ACS: Law’s “bullying” and “excessive” conduct to come forward and be included in a group action they are pursuing against ACS: Law for harassment.

“We are advising people who have received these letters but have never even heard of the media they are supposed to have obtained,” adds Forrester. “For example, a middle aged gentleman who has been accused of obtaining dance music when he has no idea what the genre is, let alone the artist!”

“It can be incredibly upsetting for people to receive such letters and they may well have a claim for harassment against ACS Law so I am urging them to come forward.”

Stay tuned.

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