Feeds

Anti-piracy lawyers 'knowingly targeted the innocent', says law body

Watchdog howls at 'revenue-generating scheme'

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

A major law firm knew it sometimes had no reliable evidence of unlawful filesharing when it demanded hundreds of pounds damages from internet users, according to the solicitors' watchdog.

London-based Davenport Lyons threatened thousands of people with legal action for alleged copyright infringement between 2006 and 2009. They were told that by quickly paying around £500 damages, plus costs, they could avoid court.

Following complaints to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), Davenport Lyons now stands accused of deliberately ignoring concerns over the standard of its evidence. It matched IP addresses captured from movie and videogame BitTorrent swarms with customer records obtained from ISPs by court order.

David Gore and Brian Miller, two Davenport Lyons partners, will face disciplinary proceedings in March.

In a submission to the Tribunal, the SRA says: "Each of the respondents knew that in conducting generic campaigns against those identified as IP holders whose IP numeric had been used for downloading or uploading of material that they might in such generic campaigns be targeting people innocent of any copyright breach."

"An IP address does not however necessarily lead to a conclusion that the ISP account holder has infringed copyright or authorised another person to infringe copyright. There were other factual possibilities known to [Gore and Miller] such as unauthorised access or a change in IP address after a 24-hour gap following modem switch off follow or other such occurence."

The submission highlights customers' use of poorly-secured Wi-Fi routers and ISPs' deployment of DHCP as problems with the evidence that were allegedly known to Davenport Lyons.

The pair are also accused of acting in the interests of Davenport Lyons, rather than those of their copyright-holding clients. They sent 6,113 demands for money and were "regarding the scheme which they were operating as a revenue-generating scheme", according to the SRA.

Gore and Miller also disregarded the harm the campaign of legal threats might do to Davenport Lyons' reputation, regulators claim, in breach of the Solicitors Code of Conduct.

Davenport Lyons declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

Amid public controversy, Davenport Lyons passed the business to another legal firm, ACS:Law, in 2009. ACS:Law's founder, Andrew Crossley, also faces SRA disciplinary action over the demands next year.

He recently hit headlines when a DDoS attack by 4Chan users led to the leak of company records online. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Why Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had to go ... Except he hasn't
Silicon Valley's veteran seadog in piratical Putin impression
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.