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Ghost of 'ACS:Law' threatens alleged Greek filesharers

'Likely to be imposter' posing as bankrupt pirate-taker

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Controversial law firm ACS:Law – or someone posing as the firm – has returned with threats to sue alleged filesharers, this time outside the UK.

Andrew Crossley, the sole principal behind ACS:Law, was declared bankrupt back in May. The bankruptcy filing occurred shortly after a UK case against alleged filesharers who had refused to pay up in response to legal threats from his firm was dismissed. Ralli Solicitors – a firm representing some of the 26 people accused of filesharing in the UK court case – is now advising a client based in Greece who is at the receiving end of legal nastygrams supposedly from ACS:Law, the BBC reports.

The email messages claim that the recipient has infringed copyright of DigiProtect Ltd and request payment of £1,665 – payable to ACS:Law – to prevent a threatened court action under the UK Copyrights, Design and Patents Act. The address for payment is adjacent to ACS:Law's former London offices.

The basic approach is near identical to previous actions in the UK by ACS:Law – which were heavily criticised by consumer group Which? and assorted judges, and which remain the subject of a Solicitors' Regulation Authority disciplinary action.

Crossley used IP addresses obtained from ISPs by copyright owners to accuse UK-based individuals of illegal filesharing. ACS:Law partnered with technology firms DigiProtect and MediaCAT in identifying supposed filesharers.

Alleged miscreants were offered the chance to settle out of court by paying £500 or else face threatened court action.

Many of those accused said they were innocent. Crossley eventually brought the cases of 26 people to court before trying to have the case withdrawn, citing personal threats. Judge Colin Birss QC rejected this application, accusing Crossley of trying to avoid judicial scrutiny. The case was ultimately dismissed with legal costs awarded against Crossley. Soon after, ACS:Law was wound up.

Against this background, it seems the new round of threatening emails are likely to be the work of an imposter.

Ralli solicitor Michael Forrester told the BBC: "It is unclear how the firm ACS:Law is continuing to operate, despite purporting to close earlier this year and the sole principal recently being made bankrupt. We have advised clients that we may be dealing with an imposter." ®

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