Pirates call for ACS:Law to walk the plank

The UK Pirate Party has called for ACS:Law to be investigated over the methods it used to gather evidence into alleged file sharing. 

The party said today that much had been done behind closed doors – and that the Digital Economy Act would be unlikely to change the situation in the future.

It suggested it might even be appropriate for the European Commission to launch an EU-wide investigation to see whether there was a conflict with the various European directives and regulations on the subject.

The comments came as ACS:Law announced it had stopped chasing file sharers as part of the court case on behalf of its client MediaCAT.

In a statement read to the court, ACS:Law solicitor Andrew Crossley is reported to have said he was withdrawing from the case after receiving death threats.

The BBC reported that, in the statement, read to the court by MediaCAT’s barrister Tim Ludbrook, Mr Crossley said: “I have ceased my work…I have been subject to criminal attack. My emails have been hacked. I have had death threats and bomb threats.”

He added that it had “caused immense hassle to me and my family.”

A spokesman for the Pirate Party, which is a campaigner for reform on copyright laws, commented: “While the Party is pleased that MediaCAT and ACS Law’s campaign of threatening people seems to have come to an end, this will be of little comfort to those people who have already been through this process.”

According to the party, many questions remain over how evidence was gathered for the case.

The Pirates spokesman added: “In the countries where these types of cases have gone to court, the methods have been heavily criticized and even declared unlawful.

“The Party would also like to see the level of evidence challenged in court as there have been serious concerns raised over wrongful accusations (some of which was discussed at the hearing on Monday, although was not investigated further).

“With regard to Mr Crossley’s claims of receiving bomb threats and being the subject of DDoS attacks; while the Party cannot condone any illegal activity against him, we feel he is unlikely to receive much sympathy from the many thousands of people who have been put under great stress by his firm’s actions and, in many cases, paid hundreds of pounds attempting to dispel the threats and accusations against them and those close to them.”

ACS:Law had brought 26 cases to the patent court in London on behalf of MediaCAT. This was after the firm had sent thousands of threatening letters to people suspected of alleged file sharing.

Its methods have been widely criticised.

In addition, the BBC reported that Judge Birss, who is expected to deliver his judgement on the case later this week, said he was considering banning MediaCAT from sending any more such letters until the issues raised by the cases had been resolved.

The Pirate Party stated that the fact that the cases had gone as far as they had demonstrates how badly equipped our copyright and privacy laws are for the twenty-first century.

It added: “It is likely the judge’s ruling will not prevent any new company doing exactly the same thing in the future, particularly once the Digital Economy Act is in full force, which is designed to make this process cheaper (for those making the claims) and give it an illusion of authority and legal backing.

“It was of little surprise to those who have been following this issue that ACS:Law and MediaCAT have pulled out of these actions as, so far, they have appeared to take every step they could to avoid any real judicial scrutiny.

“It seems that despite this hearing none of these cases will go to trial and there will be no investigation into methods of evidence-gathering, and the level of damages being demanded.”

Meanwhile, TechEye spoke to Terence Tsang, the former ACS:Law employee widely believed to be behind the ACS:Law letters.

Mr Tsang said he had received no death threats himself, and was unable to comment on the case due to being “bound by confidentiality agreements”.

He also declined to reveal where he was now working.