Copyright infringement "bailiffs" back with a bang

Discussion in 'Finance, Property, Law' started by skintboymike, May 7, 2009.

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  1. I received a lovely letter today from ACS:LAW solicitors, informing me that I have illegally downloaded and distributed Dream Pinball 3D, and demanding that I pay £665 within 21 days to make the bad men go away, or face a court summons. For those interested, I refer you to this forum;

    http://www.slyck.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=66&t=44092

    with more references here;

    http://torrentfreak.com/youre-caught-downloading-dream-pinball-settle-now-or-go-broke/

    http://news.softpedia.com/news/Pirated-Dream-Pinball-3D-Draws-16-000-Payment-92174.shtml

    My letter of outright denial will be written at some point over the weekend, and I may also be firing off a letter to my ISP in disgust at the fact they have divulged their customer's personal info, and made £50 into the bargain. (Does anyone know if they under any obligation to do this, or are they just grateful for the easy cash?) I want to take a deep breathe before replying though as I need to choose my words very carefully.

    I'd be interested to hear from any others who have received this letter, and also from any legal eagles who may have any good advice on the best steps to take next.
     
  2. So did you nick their software?
     
  3. Interesting that "they" can sometimes locate and identify a subscriber on Broadband, even if there are multiple points at one address :? I've heard of people getting cut off by their ISP because they were accused of nefarious downloading. No amount of spinning your IP addy, or firewalling or cloaking seems to work. Just when you think you're bulletproof.....

    Oh and get proper advice, don't reply to the mail either. They are fishing.
     
  4. in_the_cheapseats

    in_the_cheapseats LE Moderator

    I'd ignore the request and leave them with the challenge of taking you to court. Paying now could be taken as an admission of guilt.

    But yes, I'd agree with getting in touch with a lawyer post haste. Oh and I'd form a group of you that have been written to so that corporately you can take a test case forward when the courts swing into action.
     
  5. I've never had this game, nor can I find any trace of it on my computer.
     
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  12. Skintboymike, does anyone else have access to your wireless connection? Having read the threads you quoted above, it seems that the software publisher are just fishing to try and make some money, but I am certainly not qualified to give legal advice. I have heard, however, that the detection methods used in those cases, however, heve been proven suspect.

    I hope nobody thinks I'm trying to teach people egg sucking here, but I thought it might be worth a little explanation on how people might be caught file sharing, for anyone reading this thread in the future.

    All computers connected to the internet through the same router will appear to have the same IP address (the address of the router) to the outside world, so the ISP can trace activity to the router (and hence customer) but not to the individual user behind it.

    Also, when you use P2P software (like torrent clients) to download software, anything you have downloaded then becomes available to upload for other people to find and download from you. Often, ISPs identify illegal activity based on what is being uploaded (or available for upload) from your internet connection, since it must have been downloaded first.

    I know from experience - my work, not having been caught - that your ISP should warn you that they see you filesharing and you should stop, before lawyers get involved.

    I hope this helps.


    T.
     
  13. It does tarpaulin, thanks. I've read through dozens of threads on various forums, including the links I posted earlier, and the general message is - don't pay a penny. My only point to ponder now is whether to send them the letter protesting my innocence and refusing to pay, or whether to just bin the letter. I'll see what the CAB say on Monday before I do anything, but in the meanwhile if anyone else gets one of these letters - DON'T PAY.
     
  14. If you didn't do it:

    Either write a short letter denying their claims yourself, or get a solicitor to do it for you. In the three years that this sort of thing has been going on nobody who has replied and denied their accusations have ended up in court.

    Keep it brief. Their evidence is not as strong as they like to make out and they know that. Previously, people have been sending letters back and forth for months (years in some cases) debating points of evidence. The briefer it is the less protracted your correspondence is likely to be.
    Make a point to specifically deny breaching the parts of the CDPA 1988 which they allege were breached using your connection. It is usually sections 16(1)(d) and 20 of the act. (It might also be worth noting that, section 16(2) of the act requires you to directly infringe copyright, or authorise someone else to do so. )
    It might be an idea to write something along the lines of "I have never possessed a copy of the work in any form, nor have I distributed it, or authorised anyone else to distribute it using my internet connection.", obviously changing it for your specific situation.
    There is no law in the UK under which they could sensibly hold you responsible for someone using your internet connection, without your knowledge, for illegal activity. Failing to secure your wireless or keep your anti virus up to date is not illegal.
    Note that if you read the letter carefully they don't accuse you of committing the infringement. The only say an infringement occurred which was allegedly traced to your connection. This subtle point is important to grasp. They have no evidence you did anything, and admit as much. You should remind them of this. Loudly.
    If you are writing your own letters, it may be an idea to inform them you are levying a charge (of say £50 per letter) on any future correspondence which will form part of a counter claim. There are provisions in the civil procedure rules (specifically section 52, rule 48.6) regarding how much a lay person defending themselves can charge. It will not deter them from pursuing the matter, but at least you will be able to claim expenses if you win in court. Keep thorough records of how much time you are taking researching the matter and writing letters. It might be an idea to put a sentence in your letter reading something like "Please inform your clients that if they wish to pursue this matter, I will seek to recover all my costs to the maximum permitted by the Civil Procedure Rules.".
    From past experience, they almost certainly will not listen. Instead, they will simply try and intimidate you further. If it was a self drafted letter they will probably tell you to seek representation (or tell you to stop taking advice from internet forums), and they will almost certainly make claims of successful cases awarding them £16,000. Despite the quotes from David Harris in that article, this case (involving the mysterious Ms. Barwiniska) was entireley undefended and not contested in any way, so it is worthless as a precident. They could have asked for a million bajillion pounds in the shape of a swan, and the judge would have awarded them it. Keep your head. Repeat your denials, ask them for full evidence and if you feel out of your depth, contact a solicitor and ask for legal advice.
     
  15. Over at torrentfreak there was a post about the legal document from the high court ... there are a few errors but how much that holds is doubtful and a possible clutch at straws so to speak.

    http://www.acs-law.org.uk/images/rea3.pdf

    There is also this

    Proceedings Before the Masters – Chancery Division
    ROOM TM7.08
    Before CHIEF MASTER WINEGARTEN
    Monday 11th May 2009
    At 11 o'clock
    Topware Interactive Inc v Be Un Ltd