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

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