acs law

ACS:LAW on BBC 1 – Thursday 10th March @ 7pm

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It would have been hard to have missed the drama played out in a London court involving Andrew Crossley and his firm ACS:Law.

As 2011 progresses, I have the feeling that Mr Crossley is going to be rather busy answering questions from the SRA and the information commissioner in respect of the events occurring late last year and into the earlier part of this one.

In the meantime, its reported that BBC ONE is to air a documentary on ACS:Law with interviews and opinions from recipients of the “speculative invoicing letters” sent out (accusing internet subscribers of downloading pornography), this  is in collaboration with law firm Ralli who in respect of the show are reported to have said:

Michael Forrester, the solicitor leading the team preparing the group action for consumers alleging harassment against ACS Law, explains in details the complex issues and consumers’ rights following the recent court case criticising the activities of ACS Law and the sole principle Andrew Crossley.

….In depth interviews by Dominic Littlewood with two Ralli clients alleging harassment against ACS Law, explain how they received letters accusing them of downloading pornography and threatening to take them to court if they did not pay £500

I am sure there will be plenty discuss after the show and I wonder, which firm will be next in line to step up for a go with the “speculative invoicing” cash cow?

We should though keep in mind that ACS:Law and Andrew Crossley is not the only party that has been involved in this “work”.  There have been other firms who pulled out (no pun intended) when it became too hot and its only fair that when the opinions on the ACS:Law documentary are given, we mention those companies who ran away with their tails between their legs before it received national exposure (again no pun intended)  I don’t think any firm which was involved in this type of “work” should be allowed to avoid the limelight.  There has been much misery caused but one could argue that Mr Crossley ran the better law firm since at least he didn’t give up without an attempt at a fight and I mentioned some months ago that if I had given instructions to a law firm to represent me, I would not expect them to give up just because of bad publicity.

And more importantly, after all these incidents, letters, innocent people accused, we are still asking the same questions.  When will the industry jump on-board with the business model that so many users want and what exactly has been achieved in the “fight against piracy”? – I’d suggest nothing since the perceived problem appears even larger now than it ever was.


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CRAMER PELMONT – 2 day u-turn? and what of the others?

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The ongoing battle against alleged unlawful file sharing continues as its reported that Cramer & Pelmont were the “new kids on the block” in the world of what has been dubbed speculative invoicing or were they?  Cramer & Pelmont seem to have the record for the quickest u-turn and whilst they were reportedly not going down the route of warning letters like so many before them.

Which? magazine was told recently by Dr Brassley of Cramer Pelmont:

We are working with the film and music industry (strictly non-adult) in the development of an appropriate response to the Digital Economy Act, but I can assure you we have no intentions of taking any business model ideas from ACS Law.

And maybe Dr Brassley has sage advice when he says “no intentions of taking any business model ideas from ACS Law” because I wouldn’t have thought there are many law firms out there at the moment which would see the ACS:Law business model as very desirable.  This was reported on the 4th of October, however things seem to change in the world of p2p pursuit, quicker than a torrent of ACS:Law’s leaked emails.  I find it very interesting when they use the term “strictly non-adult” because we have been led to believe by other firms working in this area that their motives (aswell as representing their clients) is some sort of crusade to curb piracy.  Surely “piracy” is “piracy” adult material or not?

I will move onto what it’s believed Cramer and Pelmont were to be up to, but first have some questions that I think need answered.  Firstly, what is the current status of ACS:Law?  assuming that at least for the time being their revenue stream has dried up and, assuming that there are still outstanding privacy issues and SRA complaints that need resolving (no pun intended) can we assume that ACS:Law has now effectively shut up shop? ISP’s don’t seem to want to co-operate with them either, so is it fair to say that ACS:Law is out of the game?  ISPReview certainly seems to think so and say in a recent article:

A London based law firm, Cramer Pelmont Solicitors, has threatened to pick up where ACS:Law left off by pursuing broadband ISP customers whom it suspects of being involved with “illegal” copyright p2p file sharing activity.

Now maybe ISPReview is privy to some press release/report that I’m not, but Ive certainly not seen anything to suggest that ACS:Law is officially shutting up shop for Cramer Pelmont “to pick up”.  Infact I would suggest that ACS:Law is currently trying to carry on with business as usual, defiantly in the face of the mess that has been created by the leak of their emails.  And what of Gallant Macmillan? there does not seem to have been a press release from them either and on monday 4th October 2010, when their application for a court order to reveal the names and address of suspected file sharers of material belonging to Ministry of Sound was adjourned until January 2011.  Surely as far as GM are concerned, this particular revenue stream has dried up until the new year?

Then theres Ministry of Sound, the company who retained GM to do this “work” for them, there does not seem to be any statement regarding the 4chan Ddos attacks, nor the fact that in respect of pursuing those which are alleged to have infringed on their copyright will have to wait until next year.

So what was Cramer Pelmont up to?

It could be an interesting question.  From Dr Brassley seemingly trying to distance himself from an ACS:Law-esque approach to the subject, it seems the suggestion is that the work would have been in respect of the Digital Economy Act, an act which seems to receive criticism from people on both sides of the alleged unlawful file sharing debate.  How that work would manifest itself is pretty academic now since they appear to have given up after 2 days.

Don’t call us, we’ll call you

The “branching out” of Cramer Pelmont was reported on the 4th of October and in a lifespan so short that makes the Kin look long lived, Pelmont Cramer announced on the 6th of October that they no longer would be pursuing this line of “work”, again ISPreview reports Dr Brassley saying (on the Cramer Pelmont site):

Cramer Pelmont has ceased its interest in working with clients in the area of the Digital Economy Act. It continues to work on all other aspects of [Intellectual Property].

(Although I cannot see that quote on their homepage at all – has it been removed?)

I’ll try to ignore that “Brassley” is very similar to ACS:Law’s “Crossley” and I think we can rule out any allegations of an alter-ego since I think Andrew Crossley’s dedication to the p2p world is far more determined than Brassley’s.

So Cramer Pelmont were in and now they are out again?  Could this be as a result of the Ddos attacks by 4chan members on anyone who has a remote connection to this line of “work” or could it be, more likely, that Monday’s adjournment has demonstrated that it’s no longer a line of work where a quick buck can be made? – I’ll let you decide and probably come up with your own reason and more importantly, on whose instructions was it to “pull out”? the clients of Cramer and Pelmont or Cramer Pelmont themselves?

Terence Tsang

And now we look at Mr Terence Tsang.  Its reported that he was to be employed by Cramer and Pelmont to assist in this new scheme of theirs, but now after the u-turn seems to have been shown the door.  Mr Tsang has a past with ACS:Law and is mentioned in the leaked emails from the aforementioned firm.

It’s reported that Cramer Pelmont have already taken his page from their site,  Mr Tsang’s quick name removal is probably a good idea if they intend to pull out of this type of “scheme” and his actions have been reported widely on the net over this whole issue.

Those who have been following this whole file sharing debacle as diligently as me will remember that Mr Tsang advertised for a coder to create a package to log and resolve IP addresses, a package which could be created in Python in a matter of hours (for example)  Im not sure if he ever got a return on that investment and if he’s dragged into any future legal action against ACS:law, I would doubt that it was worth the money.

A good word for Andrew Crossley and ACS:Law?

If there were not reportedly innocent people accused here or breaches of privacy, the whole saga would be rather humorous.  It does bring up a point which I don’t believe has been covered before.

I would like you to put aside for one minute any feelings you may have about the actions of Andrew Crossley/ACS:Law and lets consider TBI solicitors. [1]  Imagine you had instructed a law firm to represent your interests in court only to have them pull out through bad publicity fears or simply just pull out.  I can’t speak for you, but if it was me I would not want to employ any law firm to represent me if they had a background of backing off when things got a little hot.  Whilst TBI Solicitors might be pleased that they have removed themselves from the whole file sharing fiasco, the one thing you can say about Andrew Crossley and ACS:Law is that they are determined – whatever their motives, be it on the grounds on honest held belief in the “wrongs of copyright infringement” or merely after a quick buck.  Can the same be said of TBI?

ACS:Law appears to me now to have passed the point of no return, I think if they are allowed to continue to practice, a retreat from the file-sharing issue would probably do more harm to their reputation than good.  With that in mind though (and no further press releases) one is only left to wonder what’s really going on in ACS:Law offices at the moment and what the future holds for Mr Crossley and his staff.

Here’s something else to consider, could it be the “average” user sat behind their computer screen as a hobby has managed to stop the legal profession?  It certainly seems that way to me and the law firms involved have certainly not had an easy time of it, challenged by, not some legal monster, but the average person.  What ever happens in the future, one things for sure, it would make a great movie and really shows that whilst corporations can use the net as a powerful sales tool, the same internet can turn just as quickly and bring even the large firm to their knees.


[1] TBI Solicitors briefly dabbled (allegedly) in the business dubbed “speculative invoicing”

Goblin –

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No court order for Gallant Macmillan today!

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Filtering through the internet is news that Gallant Macmillan did not walk away from the High Court today with an order for demanding names of IP addresses from BTplc and instead the matter has been adjourned to a later date (whilst the court examines more closely the concerns) .  As reported in the Guardian BTplc said:

We’re pleased that the court has agreed to an adjournment so that our concerns can be examined by the court, this will then act as a precedent/test case for the future……..We want to ensure broadband subscribers are adequately protected so that rights holders can pursue their claims for copyright infringement without causing unnecessary worry to innocent people. We have not simply consented to these orders in the past, we have asked for stricter terms as public concern has risen. The data leak with ACS:Law prompted us to take further action today.


And I strongly recommend you read the rest of that article.

In the meantime one has to wonder, if BTplc had expressed concerns in the past, why is it only now they get an adjournment?  Could it be that in not only damaging ACS:Law, the recent email leaks have also damaged the system which some wished to seek revenue from?  and now Gallant Macmillan has been put on hold, what of Ministry of Sound? their site is still appearing to be down.  How much damage to their reputation with its potential customers has been done?  From some forums, I’m seeing quite alot.

For those interested, Wired has written an article summarizing some of the emails leaked from ACS:Law.  You can read it here.

Torrent Freak is currently reporting a comedy spoof of a certain historical figure finding out about the leak at ACS:Law.  You can find that here:

Goblin –

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

Gallant Macmillan – site is down but 4chan not to blame? Who’s next?

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It’s being reported by some tech writers that Gallant Macmillan might have been taken down with a new ddos by users from 4chan (It also suggests the possibility that the site was taken down intentionally by its owners.)

It is unclear whether the host disconnected the domain in advance of the attack or whether Gallant & Macmillan is now the latest company to be forced offline through traffic overload.


The fallout from the last ddos attack (ACS:Law) is still being felt with accusations on both sides, private emails exposed, complaints and the personal details of many being exposed on the net…its all a bit of a mess.

It was reported on the net that Gallant Macmillan would be the next target for a 4chan ddos attack.  Having said that, the Gallant Macmillan site has been down for a few days and it would appear have been taken down by GM themselves.

This theory seems to have some credibility since over on Twitter, “savetpb” (Save The Pirate Bay)  is quoted as saying:

If gmlegal is still down before the countdown, we will change the target! #ddos #payback #savetpb

So who will be the target instead?


It appears the new target is Ministry of Sound, which for those that don’t know are reportedly clients of Gallant Macmillan. On Monday 4th of October Gallant Macmillan are allegedly going to court again to attempt to get a court order for more names in the continuing controversy that is, what some call “speculative invoicing”

UPDATE 1am 04/10/10
It appears savetpb is giving the credit to the ddos bringing down GMlegal. The tweet mentioned in the article is now removed, so I can only assume (if a ddos is responsible) that the attack actually started before the official time…..
Ministry of Sound is also down.

Goblin –

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“Evacuate the dance floor” says ACS Law? – The Scorpion and the Frog?

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The Scorpion and the Frog is a fable of unknown author, though often mis-attributed to Aesop.[1] The story is about a scorpion asking a frog to carry him across a river. The frog is afraid of being stung, but the scorpion reassures him that if it stung the frog, the frog would sink and the scorpion would drown as well. The frog then agrees; nevertheless, in mid-river, the scorpion stings him, dooming the two of them. When asked why, the scorpion explains, “I’m a scorpion; it’s my nature.”


Please don’t be confused by the excerpt, all will be clear by the end of the article.

It’s currently being reported by users that ACS:Law is sending out copyright infringement letters again.  Now I would say that ACS:Law have not seen the publicity they received in the same light as TBI (in respect of alleged copyright infringement) , but then looking at the ACS: Law website, it appears that they do little else. (and please, someone correct me if I’m wrong)

Putting aside my views on ACS:Law lack of law diversity, it appears that in the later part of last year ACS:Law was very interested in “Evacuate the dance floor” and was busy collecting IP address (via proxy) in order to get some names and addresses for another letter campaign (which is being documented now at: , the latest post claiming receipt of a letter dated 7th July 2010).

So why the Scorpion and Frog quote? Simple, can ACS:Law be “blamed” for sending out letters in regards to suspected copyright infringement? afterall, “I’m a scorpion; it’s my nature.”  ACS:Law deals with IP infringement, if you are a downloading frog, don’t be surprised if mid-river it stings you.

I think the campaigns, complaints and numerous articles outlining the rights (or wrongs) of ACS: Laws practice have been misplaced.  Should people not instead be looking towards the people who are hiring them to do this “work”?  Speaking as someone who has always reflected a strong anti-piracy stance on this blog over the years, I cannot and will not condone the practice of accusation (and effectively) trial by letter, by anyone.

I think the campaign against this practice (and a call for a more sensible and achievable policy on anti-piracy) should be looking towards the companies and artists that are instructing people like ACS: Law to “work” on their behalf.  If customers of ACS: Law find that their image is damaged by association, then I think they would pretty quickly stop being clients of them ergo no more letters.  You won’t get ACS:Law or indeed any other similar firm to stop merely by complaining about them, IP work is in their nature.

I would personally boycott and expose the products of any record label/artist/company that hired firms like ACS: Law, although I would expect the client list to be a closely guarded secret and its only when users report letters like this that a picture can be built up of who is hiring them.

For those people who have received a letter from ACS: Law or anyone else, there is plenty of advise on the net for dealing with them.  Just don’t blame the firm sending the letter: “I’m a scorpion; it’s my nature.”

Having said that, after listening to “Evacuate the dance floor” on YouTube, I’d say anyone who thinks it worth a download needs their head examined… Then again I’m a heavy metal fan, what do I know? ;)

Goblin –

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

ACS:Law – Back in the news again!

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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 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 news, they report that:

In response to the lawsuits in the UK, three major discussion threads were started on, 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

Now this is where a chain of emails flowed between ACS:Law and, 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 (“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 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 –

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