Lawyers work to fleece and scare "illegal filesharers"

UK lawyers are trying to gain extra money by framing “illegal file-sharers.”

In a controversial move, UK law firm ACS has done a dirty deal with anti-piracy firm DigiProtect, which involves mass-mailing alleged file-sharers asking them to pay a fine or face court.  

However, it seems they’ve been too eager. While it’s claimed it wants to “protect their rights holders”, thousands of people complained to Which? magazine that they have been wrongly accused.

The method, which has been described by Which? as “bullying” works through a mutual agreement with rights holders.

DigiProtect kicks off the cycle by first identifying it’s clients’ content – although it wouldn’t specify who they are –  which it claims is being shared illegally on file-sharing networks, according to the BBC.

After DigiProtect has obtained IP addresses it sends the details over to the money hungry lawyers who gain a physical address from the ISP through a court order and send a letter asking for a one off fee of around £700 per infringement. If users don’t cough up, then they face court action.

Tilly, Bailey & Irvine Solicitors (TBI) also fell foul of the public when it introduced a similar scheme. Although a representative for the law firm said it had stopped this practice because of the negative feedback, Which? said it was because the  Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) found the firm to be in breach of the Solicitors’ Code of Conduct.

Deborah Prince, head of legal affairs at Which? said she was pleased that TBI had decided to stop the practice. “Hopefully, other law firms thinking of going down a similar route will refrain as we believe the practice is inherently unfair and unethical,” she said.

We contacted both the Law Society and RSA to ask them for their views. The Law Society said it was unable to comment and RSA had not responded at the time of going to press.