Could this be the sound at the Davenport & Lyons office? Who knows, but it certainly again muddies the waters in the file sharing issue.

In news that will certainly make for happy reading for some, its being reported that the SRA has sent two Davenport & Lyons Solicitors to a disciplinary tribunal allegedly following complaints from letters sent demanding payment (or court action) for infringement of copyright via file sharing.

The SRA is reportedly not stopping there and its reported that ACS Law is also being investigated re: complaints of similar nature.

Now for me personally (and in addition to the previous article on piracy) I cannot condone file sharing, however the allegations of the behaviour of these two firms in particular leave a lot to be desired and in my opinion certainly do not put them in the position of having the moral high ground or have a prospect of getting support towards the anti-piracy view.

Looking at the Davenport & Lyons website and it’s “news” section, there appears to be no mention of these recent “troubles” so I can only quote from the Which? article reported on ZDnet:

….a message to law firms like ACS and TBI that they can’t make a quick buck by accusing people of copyright infringements they haven’t committed

and in respect of the letters sent:

made incorrect assertions about the nature of copyright infringement; ignored the evidence presented in defence; and increased the level of compensation claimed over the period of correspondence

and

We now want to see some decisive action to stop these bully-boy tactics

Source: http://news.zdnet.co.uk/communications/0,1000000085,40072976,00.htm

It should be noted though that apparently this is not the first time that Which? has been involved in the file sharing debate and back in 2008 Which? made a complaint to the SRA which resulted in the following statement from Davenport & Lyons:

We’re baffled as to why this sort of action warrants their attention. Essentially they’re doing the work of the illegal file-sharers for them. If the SRA want to investigate then we are happy to co-operate – we’ve got nothing to hide..

Source: http://www.thelawyer.com/which?-makes-formal-bullying-complaint-about-davenport-lyons/136039.article

Which won’t be quite true if the allegations that Which? has made saying Davenport Lyons’s letters had also stated that failing to secure a broadband connection was grounds for legal action.

Lets make this clear, there is no offence for failing to secure your broadband and no specific civil action either, it could be used as “evidence” to further a case, but merely leaving your broadband open is no issue in itself (certainly in the UK).

Now on the other side of the coin, one has to look at Which?

Surely this is not a consumer problem since if the alleged file-sharer proclaims innocence, then he/she is hardly a consumer of a product and this is more a human rights issue or a data protection issue (in respect of the ISP sharing the details of the alleged infringer) its certainly in my opinion not a consumer one.  So why is Which? getting involved? – Maybe someone can answer that question.

Whilst the act of file-sharing cannot be condoned in respect of copyrighted material, neither can the actions of firms who attempt to make money off the back of it.  A little like the ambulance chasing “claims” we see in the civil courts and those that sit behind a desk dribbling at the thought of being able to help you make some money out of nothing.   Ever wonder why there is so much bureaucracy, paperwork, health and safety?  It’s all back covering to prevent the vultures from suing.  Next time you hear someone quote health and safety which is so silly it’s embarrassing, remember to mentally thank the vultures we see advertising their “skills” on the TV.

I digress.  I refer you back to my article here where I propose the Digital Economy Bill be changed as I think that this type of conflict will only become bigger and more costly as a government imposed 3 strikes policy investigates an area which in my view requires so many resources to be fair and effective that it will do more harm than good.  Let’s face it, if the “experts” can find themselves referred to the SRA, what hope is there for anyone else?

I keep repeating myself when I write about this topic and it seems always a case of one step forward two steps back.  Whilst it seems to me we also have FACT basking in the glory of removing DVD sellers from the streets, the real issue, the real damage to the industry in being done online by the file-sharer.  Even the price of a “pirate” DVD can’t compete with free file sharing, especially when the material is often newer and far better quality than the things you can buy at a “dodgy” market. – Food for thought that not only do the entertainment industry suffer as a result of file sharing, but also your average pirate DVD seller on the street!

Now if FACT are correct and pirate DVD’s help fund all manner of naughty behaviour, they surely celebrate file sharing as it takes away the revenue from the criminal.  What do you think?😉

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

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