Complaints over 'false' illegal file sharer letters

Red letter day for non-pirates on the internet
Red letter day for non-pirates on the internet

Consumer magazine Which? Computer says it has received complaints from a number of people who claim they have been falsely targeted by a law firm going after illegal file sharers.

Which? states that some of those who have received letters from ACS:Law have no knowledge of the offences they're alleged to have committed. 10 new people have approached the magazine since the law company sent out its most recent round of letters a fortnight ago.

According to the magazine's technology editor, Matt Bath: "Innocent consumers are being threatened with legal action for copyright infringements they not only haven't committed, but wouldn't know how to commit."

Out-of-court settlements

ACS:Law offers those it contacts the opportunity to settle out of court for around £500, and Bath fears that many will choose that route to avoid the stress and expense of a court battle.

On its website, ACS:Law claims that "80 per cent of all defendants opt for settlements outside of court, for amounts more than originally claimed," and says that it has been instructed "to increase the number of claims we issue at court by at least 300 per cent over the coming months."

However, it admitted it had dropped some cases from last year. To date none of its actions has resulted in a court appearance, and the company is under investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

According to ACS:Law spokesman Anthony Crossley, the firm represents a number of clients, including DigiProtect, a German content forum based in Frankfurt. The front page of the DigiProtect website says "We love music".

Bath advises those who are innocent but accused to "rigorously deny it and, if possible, provide physical evidence of where they were when the infringement took place," and to contact Which?.