ACS:Law, the much-criticised scaremongering law firm, is famous for firing out thousands of threatening letters to alleged file sharers. The firm has previously tried to squeeze settlements out of accused people rather than going to trial. But this week it did actually try to take eight cases to court – but all were dismissed by the judge.
The letter-writing law firm tried to get default judgement – a quick way to avoid an expensive trial. Usually this action is taken if the defendant fails to respond to claims or does not file a defence.
But a judge in the Patent County Court this week threw all eight cases out of court.
In three cases a defence had been filed so there was no way a default judgement would be granted.
In three other cases there was no evidence that the claim had been served on the defendant.
In the two remaining cases, ACS:Law had failed to make a formal application – which the judge believed was necessary to get a default judgement.
Judge Birss also expressed strong doubts about ACS:Law's claims.
Firstly, he questioned whether the law firm could even really represent the owners of copyright – only the owner or a licensee has the right to pursue such a case.
Secondly, he said it was uncertain that the owner of an unsecured Wi-Fi connection could be held responsible for any copyright infringement that might take place over that connection.
Thirdly, he questioned the accusation that possessing such an insecure internet connection was the same as "allowing" copyright infringement. The term used in the act is "authorising".
It should be noted, as it was by barrister Francis Davey on his blog, that the county court judgement is not necessarily binding in future cases.
If you want the undiluted truth then Judge Birss's judgement on ACS:Law is here. ®