UK lawyers pay high price for file-sharing demand letter schemes

Attorneys who ran two UK law firms that were exposed for copyright infringement settlement letter schemes are finding out that consequences can be pretty dire for knowingly targeting innocent citizens and wasting the court’s time.

Andrew Crossley, owner of ACS:Law, and David Gore and Brian Miller, two partners of Davenport Lyons, have found themselves have all been dealt some hefty personal and professional blows over the past few weeks, as a result of the shady behavior they employed while claiming to fight piracy.

According to a report by PC Pro, Crossley declared bankruptcy in May. As a result of that filing, he can no longer practice law without permission from the Solicitor’s Regulatory Agency. Crossley is scheduled for a hearing with the agency later this in regards to ACS:Law’s practices.

Crossley already had a “directions hearing,” where he made a number of requests to the tribunal. According to hearing attendee Will Gilmour, every one of those requests was turned down.

“[E]very single one was refused,” Gilmour wrote. “No SRA funding, no exclusion of expert testimony, the SRA are free to request disclosure of further documents from him, he can’t have the Gore/Miller documents and there can be no unwarranted delay just because the Gore/Miller case is ongoing.”

Meanwhile, all of the allegations brought against Gore and Miller for their questionable settlement letter activities were upheld by the Solicitor’s Regulatory Agency this week.

Timothy Dutton QC admonished the pair’s campaign “to make money” and “browbeat people into submission,” and called using IP addresses to hold someone responsible for infringement the “flimsiest” evidence.

“This hopefully serves as a funeral for speculative invoicing in the UK. These schemes used quite indiscriminate allegations of copyright infringement as a way of scoring easy money from the public,” Peter Bradwell of the Open Rights Group told UK website Computer Active. “It does nothing for artists and has no place in the modern copyright rulebook.”