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ACS:Law – Back in the news again!

or/ ACS: Law – “Slyck fought the law and er….the Slyck won”?

Whilst I promote a copyright infringement free computing experience (as in FOSS), its often a good talking point for Openbytes.  Certainly many of the technologies involved are FOSS packages so I feel justified for that reason alone to report on this news.

It was reported to me via email that the site Slyck.com had received an email from ACS: Law (one of the firms alleged to be sending warning letters to those in the UK it suspects of file sharing copyrighted material)  We briefly touched on them in an article looking at allegations being made towards another firm (Davenport & Lyons).  You can read this article here.

Going back to the Slyck.com news, they report that:

In response to the lawsuits in the UK, three major discussion threads were started on Slyck.com, where people talk about their experiences and lend help to each other on the legal matters facing them. These discussion threads were targeted by ACS:Law Solicitor Andrew Crossley in a letter threatening a lawsuit against Slyck.com.

Now this is where a chain of emails flowed between ACS:Law and Slyck.com, the upshot being that Slyck have not taken down the material which ACS: Law is said to have claimed is defamatory.  It is alleged that ACS:Law said in an email:

We have evidence to believe that the forums hosted by your website http://www.slyck.com (“Slyck”) contains serious, untrue and defamatory comments towards our law firm, the principal of our firm, employees and Clients of our firm. In doing so, defamatory comments are being communicated to thousands of people throughout the world, posing a serious threat to the reputation of our firm, various individuals in our firm and our Clients.

However unfortunately? for ACS:Law, Slyck did their own research and came back with the following response:

…..the statements to which you object (identified in your “Schedule A”) do not appear to be defamatory in nature and therefore are protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The statements are at worst hyperbolic opinions and therefore cannot be found to be defamatory. An online poster calling your firm’s “5 Point Plan” a “wank plan” or stating that he or she hopes that you “choke on your mince pie” hardly subjects the speaker to legal liability.

Apparently nothing has been heard since (and the “deadline” was March 12th).  So there’s ACS:Law for you.

Now whilst I have blogged repeatedly about my anti-piracy views, I am very dubious of P2P issues (as in IP infringement) being dealt with in any other way than my suggestion for amendments to the Digital Economy Bill.  You can read those opinions on Openbytes.

Slyck summed up by saying:

In light of these allegations and threats from ACS:Law, a whole new credibility is given to the many Internet headlines that combine the words “ACS:Law” and “bully”. There’s no doubt that ACS:Law tried to prevent Slyck.com and its users from exercising their First Amendment right to free speech. Such an effort illustrates the unfortunate lengths taken by some under the pretense of copyright enforcement.

and you can read the entire article here.

In relation to similar allegations and Davenport & Lyons, it comes as no surprise to me that Which? legal affairs chief Deborah Prince said:

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

I will let you decide and will ask, if you have received a file sharing allegation letter from any firm or a similar take down notice, to get in touch with Openbytes where the matter can be further looked at.  In particular (if it not made clear on the allegation put to you) request information of exactly WHAT you are suspected of infringing the copyright of.  It would be very interesting to know who the clients of these firms are.

Seeing an end to piracy is what I want, but in doing so I don’t like reading allegations like the one I reported.   As I say repeatedly if a solution to piracy is to be found it will be will level heads and sound ideas.

There are other sites on ACS:Law, one of which is Acsflaw that can be found here.

ZDnet are reporting that even the BPI is distancing itself from the practice that ACS:Law (and others) engage in.  The BPI are reported to have said:

We don’t favour the approach taken by ACS:Law to tackling illegal file-sharing, which is at odds with the proportionate and graduated response advocated by BPI and proposed in the Digital Economy Bill….

and you can read that article here. It does make me wonder, if ACS:Law cannot seem to get the support of the BPI in its actions, whose interests is it really serving? – I’ll let you answer that whilst considering what the average person might do after receiving one of these letters even if they havent shared anything.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the Openbytes statement, here.

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About Tim Sparrow

Online tech writer, novelist/author of sci-fi literature and co-host of the TechBytes Show! I believe in multi-culturism & diversity. Luton Town FC supporter.

Discussion

7 thoughts on “ACS:Law – Back in the news again!

    • Firstly I am sorry for your post taking so long to show. Ive only just noticed that Akismet had blocked it.

      Thats fixed now.

      Great site you have there btw. I’ll tweet it now and hopefully its another talking point for another article.

      Posted by openbytes | March 26, 2010, 12:21 am
  1. Several quibbles:

    1) It’s not piracy. Piracy involves violence on the high seas, and theft. The proper term is ‘Copyright Infringement’.

    2) ACS Law appears to be a bastard child of Davenport Lyons.

    3) ACS Law is under investigation for it’s actions.

    4) There is no proof that non-commercial copyright infringement damages anyone.

    5) There is proof that non-commercial copyright infringement increases sales.

    Now I think I’ll go back to bed.

    Posted by The Mad Hatter | March 24, 2010, 10:17 am
  2. 1.We have this every time! Whilst it is agreed copyright infringment has no resembelance to the high seas its generally accepted that the word has two meanings , its even used by the cracking crews themselves.

    2. But they are separate companies.

    3. I reported this a few articles ago.

    4. + 5 There is no proof that it doeesnt harm (conclusively) I would draw upon my own experiences of a user I met a a lug once…his collectection of copied films certainly saved him from buying anything…. regardless though its going against copyright law and the ip owners wishes…..surely that can’t be condoned regardless of the truth about sales?

    Posted by goblin | March 24, 2010, 1:10 pm
    • 1) Actually it isn’t generally accepted, or I wouldn’t be arguing the point. See this article about a legal case where this was argued.

      2) ACS Law was apparently founded by staff who left Davenport Lyons. Whether there are financial ties I do not know.

      4 + 5) Hum, like all those Ubuntu users who download tons of software for free? No wonder the IIPA wants to get the US Trade Representative to take action against countries that use Free and Open Source Software.

      Posted by The Mad Hatter | March 25, 2010, 6:40 pm
  3. 1. Im not talking about legal cases Im talking a matter of terminology….its a generic word that has been adopted to mean a vast spectrum of subjects under the banner of copyright infringement. If you take a look at the traditional “crews” ie Fairlight, Red Sector, Skidrow etc…they all delight in the word “pirate” just like how for many “google” has a meaning of search, “pirate” has its own meaning which in the context of IP wholly different to that of stripped jumpers. parrots on shoulders and walking the plank.

    Heck you even have the Pirate party.

    2. I wasn’t aware of that, although even if true is still a different firm.

    4+5 “Hum, like all those Ubuntu users who download tons of software for free”

    Im not quite sure of your point. Ive been using (and sharing FOSS) for many years and have never had a problem. In respect of trade, of course there is a reason why FOSS might be considered bad, however thats no fault of FOSS, no fault of proprietary firms in general and certainly nothing to do with the term “piracy” where is the infringement of copyright without permission that is the issue.

    The day a filesharer who is sharing Fedora via P2P gets taken to court and I might think you have a point. In regards to US Trade Representatives, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, we conduct our own affairs, the US is not the measuring stick for others to follow like sheep and the world does not start and stop with the US.

    (Im not BTW suggesting you think like this)

    Posted by openbytes | March 25, 2010, 11:16 pm
  4. This is interesting – a test done by a university into the technology used to generate DMCA Notices, which is the same technology used by ACS Law and Davenport Lyons to send out infringement notices.

    Posted by The Mad Hatter | March 29, 2010, 2:43 am

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